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Thinning Shears Are A No-No For Curly Or Frizzy Hair

Recently a HairBoutique.com customer with tight curls called to say her new hairdresser had suggested he cut her hair with thinning shears to remove some of the bulk of her curls.

She wanted to know what I thought of the idea.  I told her to find a curly hair expert and discuss the matter with them before moving forward with a shear cut.

During my time in cosmetology school we learned all about thinning shears.  I was taught that if handled appropriately and with care, they are an indispensable tool for any hair cutter.



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Thinning shears are used to create movement throughout the ends of a hairstyle.  When done with skill they can be very a great tool.  When used on the ends to remove bulk, the shear blades should only be directed towards the last one to two inches of strands.

Thinning shears are designed to help remove excess bulk and thickness.  They are not designed for hair which is thin or fine.  They should also not be used on bone straight hair as they can leave actual markings.

Thinning shears should never be used to thin wet or damp strands.  Shears should only be used on dry hair.

When used to remove thickness from the entire head of hair they should be used on only half the length of the strands.  Thinning shears should never, except in very rare circumstances be used close to the roots or the scalp.  Most hair experts will say to keep the shears approximately 2 to 3 inches from the scalp.

When the shears are used on the lower half of the hair they have the result of providing lift to the roots.

Why should thinning shears never be used curly, coil rich, kinky or frizzy hair?  If the client doesn't know how to style the hair appropriately their hair can become fuzzy or excessively frizzy after they leave the salon.

Other texturizing or thinning methods not appropriate for curly, kinky or naturally frizzy hair tends to include:

  • slide cuts
  • point cuts
  • hair razors

If you have medium thick to very thick hair and access to a great hair cutter who knows how to use thinning shears, you can get a great appropriate cut.  However, if your hair already has a lot of texture you should probably stay away from texturizing cuts made with thinning shears, razors or other texturizing tools.

Curly hair should never have bulk removed by using thinning shears, razoring or slide-cutting since those types of cuts will most likely lead to frizz and potential damage. I will use point-cutting on occasion if I have a client who wears her curly hair short.

Curl expert Barbara Lhotan told me the "best way to remove bulk from curls is to follow a method where individual sections or clumps of curls are cut to honor the natural shape, texture, curl and wavy patterns of the strands."  Barbara said she wouldn't dream of using a thinning shears on natural curls.

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