Caring for Your Haircutting Shears

Haircutting shears
Photo: Alekseigl/Shutterstock
We've talked about what you should look for (and in some cases, look out for) when buying your haircutting shears. You've made your choices and you are now the proud owner of your brand-new shears. You can hardly wait to get them into use on your next client.
What about when they're not in use? How should you take care of them to make sure you don't ruin your (often significant) investment? Here are some tips to help you make sure your scissors stay in good working order:
#1 – My shears are for cutting hair and hair only.
Most stylists seem to know this almost instinctively, but I have seen cases where non-stylists (receptionists, visiting friends, kids) have stepped over to a workstation and grabbed the stylist's shears just to give whatever "a quick snip". Usually, the stylist is otherwise occupied or away from their station and unaware of this occurrence, and when they do see or learn of it, sparks start to fly.
If you cut anything other than hair with your shears, you run the risk of dulling or otherwise damaging them. Threads of fabric or sheets of paper have a different thickness and texture than hair does. Hair is long, interconnected, microscopic strands of protein. Paper is pulped and compressed wood fibers with binding agents and often some cotton or other plant fibers. Fabric can be processed from plant fibers (or synthetic polymers spun into fibers) twisted into threads and woven into sheets of cloth. The variation in density, texture, and size may seem insignificant to you, but using your scissors to cut anything other than hair will make them dull faster.
#2 – I will keep my scissors clean and protected.
If we’re going to follow the guidelines set down by the agency that governs hair stylists wherever we live, we are going to have to clean shears with some frequency. Often fragments of hair will be left behind in the crevices and corners of the scissors during the cutting process, or droplets of sweat will find their way to the shears in our hands as we work. And even if not, many areas have laws that require that scissors be cleaned and sanitized between customers.
Female Asian hairdresser with clean scissors
Photo: Sunabesyou/Getty Images via Canva
It’s important to remember that you should NEVER let water, cleaning agents or sweat dry on your shears. While working, have a small, clean, dry towel at your station on which to lay your scissors if you need to set them down. In between clients, carefully clean the shears and sanitize them using the methods practiced in your salon or recommended by your region. This may mean washing the scissors with soap and water, rinsing thoroughly and drying them carefully, before using an alcohol or quaternary solution to sanitize the scissors. Or it may mean putting the shears through an autoclave after they have been washed and dried.
At the end of the work day (after your last client) or if you're going to put them away for more than a couple of hours, you should follow your normal cleaning and sanitizing procedure then apply a small amount of oil, by rubbing the shears using a soft cloth to which the oil has been applied. Don’t apply too much oil, or else you could make them slippery to handle. Dropping the shears would be bad.
After they've been cleaned, sanitized, and protected, store your shears in a protective case with a soft, absorbent lining that will help keep the shears from moisture and environmental factors. The shears should have their own compartment in the storage case, and you should never store your shears loosely with other tools. If the shears and other tools are allowed to knock against each other, you run the risk of damaging the blades, marring the cutting edge, or misaligning the shears. Store the case in a location that will remain dry.
Happy hairdresser with haircutting scissors
Photo: Sunabesyou/Getty Images via Canva
#3 – I will remember that my shears are valuable.
One of the most heartbreaking stories I heard upon entering the hairstyling world was of a coworker who graduated beauty school shortly before I did and whose parents had given her some beautiful (and expensive) shears as a graduation gift. She was so proud of them and showed them off frequently, telling the sweet story of their origin. Unfortunately, the salon where she was working was burglarized, and the drawer of her workstation was pried open (it was locked) and her shears were taken, along with the shears of another stylist who had left their shears on the premises. Little else was taken.
The fact is that most criminals who would consider burglarizing a salon know enough to know that the stylists' scissors are usually the most valuable piece of equipment. They are highly portable and concealable, and if you have the right buyer available, can be a profitable target for theft. Of course, this burglary was very likely the result of someone who knew the situation and took advantage, but you never know when you might find yourself in the same situation.
Because of the portability of shears (even in a typical case) many stylists simply pack them up and keep them on hand wherever they go. The cases usually keep the scissors safe in a purse, bag, or pocket, and the stylist has the added benefit of knowing that they can ply their trade at a moment's notice.
The above tips are all really common sense: use them for their proper purpose, keep them clean and protected, and treat them as the valuables they are. Remember that your shears are the cornerstone of your livelihood. If you treat them well, they will do the same for you.
See also:
How to Hold Your Shears
How To Choose Haircutting Scissors