How to Use Thinning Scissors: The Ultimate Guide

How to Use Thinning Scissors
March 2, 2022

Rachael Grant

The best-known secret to how to use thinning scissors is: don’t overdo it! 

If you overuse the thinning shears, you may leave your client’s hair looking spiky and static. Thinning scissors on long hair can give that frizzy, damaged hair look. But if you approach thinning hair moderately and professionally, the result is juicy texture and unseen creative shapes that deserve a spot in beauty magazines. 

Here are the priceless tips about using thinning shears the way professional hairdressers do.

How to Use Thinning Scissors (and Choose the Perfect Pair)

Thinning scissors are also known as thinning shears, blending scissors, or texturising scissors. The idea behind thinning scissors is to remove volume, density, and weight in all the right places. If all goes smoothly, you end up with a flawless, manageable hairstyle. Watch for a common mistake: when you cut hair too close to the scalp, the result may be less than spectacular.

The proper way to use thinning shears is the following:
  • Find the right fit and size. Make sure the scissors lay well on your hand. Pay attention to whether they are right-handed, left-handed, or can be used with both hands. Get a pair with a detachable finger rest for maximum comfort during recurring movements. The most common sizes for thinning scissors are in the 5.5-7.0 inch range. Scissors with chunkier notches are convenient for especially thick hair. Finishing scissors have the most teeth and are designed to give the most subtle thinning styles. 
  • Choose type and tooth number. Texturise or blend? Usually, texturising scissors have both toothed blades, while blending scissors have one toothed blade and one sharp, classical blade. Wide-toothed blades (20 teeth per blade) give more texture, Densely toothed blades are ideal for softening the edges of short hair
    • Use thinning scissors on dry hair. This assumes you are finished (or nearly) with the core haircut and now all that is left to do is to add volume and seamlessness.
    • Work in sections. There are different techniques you can use just with regular haircutting scissors but the rule of thumb is that with thinning scissors you will remove less hair and have more control over the amount of hair you cut off. Working in sections gives you even more control. 
    Tip: Comb your hair thoroughly before you start thinning to enable an even, clean cut.

    Little Known Ways to How to Use Thinning Shears

    Thinning scissors can be used to remove weight, lighten a hairstyle, thin thick hair, and texturise longer and curly hair.  

    1. Add texture to bulky ends

    It works best on short to medium length hair. Grab ½” thick sections. Remove them from the face, and start cutting diagonally leaving one inch in length at the top. Overlap sections as you go all around the hair to thin it out evenly.

    2. Long thick hair 

    Use hair clips to separate hair into sections, each section about 3 inches wide. Keep the thinning scissors at a downward angle with closed blades and glide down as you comb the hair. If you start higher, you will remove more weight from thick hair. If you are unsure, it is better to start conservatively (lower) and go up if you feel there is a need.

    3. Lighten a short hairstyle

    Pull the dry hair away from the root and follow the shape you have created with the thinning scissors. Pay attention to texturising shorter hair as any slips are easier to notice and will be hard to rectify if you pull the texturising scissors one too many times through the hair.

    4. Curly hair

    Consider straightening the hair before diffusing a curly hairstyle to eliminate the possibility of uneven cuts. Use the brick-layering technique to texturise curly hair without disturbing the curls. You can use swivel scissors, too, but thinning shears work better on hair with less bulk. 

    5. Textured bobs and layers

    The bulk of the density of blunt bobs and layered hair starts beneath the top layers at the nape, close to the hairline. So, this is where you want to start using your thinners. Take the bottom layer and go up with the sections. Drop down the top section to see the results of the texturising. If you want to remove weight from layers, focus specifically on the weighted chunk — do not go all the way down to the neckline because you will remove the balance you wanted to create in the first place.

    6. Trim a fringe with thinning shears

    Use a clip to tuck the rest of the hair behind the ears. The best length to cut any fringe is between the eye and eyebrow. Dry hair to deal with kinks at the roots without having them ruin the fringe cut. Split and grab very small sections to avoid mistakes. Use the thinning scissors to soften the edges; when you approach the section closest to the ears, turn the shears downwards and remove the weight to blend in the fringe with the rest of the hair.

    Tip: Comb hair through when using thinning and texturising techniques to remove fallen hair and improve visibility as you go along the hairline.

    How to Clean Hair Thinning Scissors

    Depending on the notch density, it can be more difficult to clean thinning shears, simply because hair tends to stick in-between the teeth. 

    Use a cleaning cloth to remove dust, hair or debris. Steaming or washing scissors with hot water works well but don’t forget to dry your scissors thoroughly to avoid rust from occurring. 

    Skip alcohol if you can. If you have to use alcohol to disinfect scissors, it is best to take them apart and put them together again as you finish cleaning. Wipe only the blades otherwise. Use a paper towel to remove any remaining moisture.

    Good quality professional thinning scissors come with special cleaning oil when you buy them. Pour a drop or two on the blades if you store the scissors and don’t intend to use them for a long time. 

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