The Sharpening and Care of your Professional Hairdressing Scissors

August 24, 2020

You know it’s scissor sharpening time when the hair folds, bends, catches or pushes off. Sounds more like a gym workout than a session at the hairdressers. But that’s what blunt scissors are – hard work.

So you call in the experts to give your scissors a makeover. Do you know what happens when you hand over your beloved scissors to a professional sharpener? It’s not a simple process and can go wrong if your sharpener is inexperienced. By being educated on how sharpeners work, you can ensure you’re only trusting your tools to the professionals. 

How Scissors are Sharpened

To be sharpened properly, scissors need to be disassembled but first the sharpener will check how the scissors are opening and closing and their general condition. 

Professional scissor sharpening businesses have access to custom-made hairdressing scissor sharpening machines. They have multiple sanding discs that are used for making fine adjustments to the blade. Having access to more than one disc means the scissors aren’t sanded on paper that is too coarse which can damage their finish. 

While it’s best to keep to the manufacturer’s original cutting angle, it is possible to modify the angle on the blade to suit the requirements of the hairdresser. Old scissors may also have the angle changed if they’re being repurposed for different types of cuts.    

Japanese scissors are more difficult to sharpen than German scissors because the sharpener needs to maintain the ryde line on the blade and sharpen to a thin convex edge. German scissors are sharpened to a thicker blade edge.  

Once the blade is at the right angle and super sharp, the scissors are buffed and polished back to their original shine. Any rubber stoppers that are showing signs of wear are replaced.  

The scissors are reassembled and the tension adjusted and realigned. Before the scissors are returned to their owner, the sharpener will do a test cut on a wet tissue or similar to ensure the scissors are cutting in a perfect straight, clean line. If not, the scissors need to be taken apart so the problem can be resolved.  

How Often You Should Sharpen Your Scissors

You will need to have your scissors sharpened every 3-12 months. It depends how often you use your scissors. A part-time stylist and someone who is doing colour treatments and not cutting all day may be able to go a year between sharpening. But a barber or hair stylist who only cuts will need to invest more in their tools and have them sharpened quarterly. 

Some hairdressers like to have a range of scissors they alternate between depending on the client’s hair type or cut they’re doing. Sharing the load between scissors means they last longer between services (but there are more pairs to service). 

You might be thankful you have an old pair of scissors you can pull out of the drawer when a client comes in with dirty or dusty hair after a hard day on their tools. Using your newly sharpened, pride of joy on their hair isn’t a good idea because foreign material can blunt your good scissors. Ideally, your scissors should only be used on clean hair that is free of product that can cause your scissors to gum up.  

Mobile or Mail In Service

If you have a salon full of blunt scissors, it may be quicker and easier to organise a mobile sharpening service to come to you. 

For individual hairdressers and barbers with just one or two pairs of scissors for sharpening, they often mail the scissors to a sharpener. Make sure the scissors are protected well with bubble wrap to ensure they aren’t damaged while in transit and don’t cause an injury by poking through the packaging. Tracking and insuring your package will provide peace of mind. 

After Care of your Hairdressing and Barber Scissors

Once your scissors have come back sharper than ever, it’s important you look after them to keep them in good shape for as long as possible. Remember to check the tension of your scissors before you start work each day. If it’s too tight, you can damage or cause premature wear to the blade. 

At the end of the day use a soft, clean towel to remove hair and all traces of moisture. Leaving scissors damp overnight is the fastest way to see pitting/corrosion or rust on your scissors. Oil your scissors to keep the moisture out and to ensure your scissors keep the smooth cutting action. If you use a sterilising solution or wipes on your scissors, be sure to oil them straight after as it will have removed all oil from your scissors. 

Keep your scissors in a protective case at night rather than leaving them out on a counter or in a drawer where they can be damaged. 

Benefits of Sharpening Your Hairdressing Scissors On Time

The time between sharpening scissors can vary due to the preferences of the hair stylist or barber. One hairdresser may only like using scissors with a razor sharp blade while another isn’t worried about dull or border-line blunt scissors. 

Some of the reasons for sharpening your scissors regularly include:

  • Well serviced scissors have a longer life
  • Less effort required of the hand and wrist so less fatigue
  • Reduced risk of RSI and carpal tunnel if blade does more of the work
  • Cleaner cut with less split ends for the client
  • More enjoyable experience

Use a Professional Sharpener

It is possible for an inexperienced sharpener to ruin a pair of professional scissors. And a good sharpener will remove the smallest amount of steel needed to ensure your scissors have the longest life possible. You should get around 10 sharpening sessions out of your professional scissors. 

Like many things in life you get what you pay for. Looking for the cheapest sharpening service is probably not ideal because they most likely won’t have invested in a high quality machine and won’t have years of sharpening experience behind them. Ask your colleagues for a recommendation so you can be sure you find a sharpener you can trust with the tools of your trade. 


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