Q: I'd like to purchase a pair of thinning scissors for slightly thinning the hair on the top of my wife's head. When I look
on the web, I see some have as few as 20 teeth and some have as many as 45 teeth and some have teeth on one blade, while others have
teeth on both blades. Some advertisements for thinning shears show as much as 50% hair being removed while others show as little as
15%. Please help me to understand what I need to know to buy the right thinning shears.
A: This is generally the number one problem people face when looking at thinning shears. The fact that the way they work seems
counter-intuitive. You see, the more teeth a pair of thinning shears has, the less hair is removed, while those shears that have
fewer, wider and more-widely-spaced teeth remove more hair and in chunks.
The percentages listed with a pair of thinning shears description is an approximate percentage of
hairs that are cut with each closure of the blades on a slice of hair. So those shears that list 15% removal will take away about 15%
of the hair between the blade in one snip, and additional 15% increments with multiple snips. Because of this, even with smaller
percentages, you want to make sure that you not “overdo” it with the shears or you can really make some significant hair removal.
The higher-tooth-count shears are generally used for blending and removing bulk from
hairstyles – particularly with fine-to-medium, straight-to-wavy hair types. These are probably what you want. I would actually opt
for the shears that remove about 15% of the hair per pass since you can always remove a little more, but you can’t add it back in once it’s cut.
The smaller-number/wider-teeth shears are meant for curly hair types as they can remove chunks
of curl and leave the hair looking lighter and less bulky without making it so “diffuse”. Using these kinds of shears on straighter
hair types will result in a choppy, gapped look and is generally not desired.
So remember, when it comes to thinning shears: More removes less and less removes more.