Caring for Your Haircutting Shears

Hair cutting shears
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 choice (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 shears 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 stylists shears just to give whatever “a quick snip”. Usually, the stylist is otherwise occupied or away from his or her station and unaware of this occurrence, and when they do see or learn of it, sparks begin 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 has. Hair is long, connected, microscopic strands of protein. Paper is pulped and compressed wood fiber with binding agents and often some cotton or other plant fibers. Fabric can be processed 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 negligible to you, but using your shears 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 creases and corners of the scissors during the cutting process, or droplets of perspiration will find their way to the shears in our hands as we work. And even if not, many areas have laws that require that shears be cleaned and sanitized between customers.
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 shears 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 shears with soap and water, rinsing thoroughly and drying them carefully, before using an alcohol or quaternium solution to sanitize the shears. Or it may mean putting the shears through an autoclave after they’ve 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 implements. 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.
#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 co-worker who graduated beauty school shortly before I did and whose parents had given her some beautiful (and beautifully expensive) shears as a graduation gift. She was so proud of them and showed them off frequently, telling the sweet story of their provenance. Unfortunately, the salon in which she was working was burglarized, and the drawer of her workstation was prised open (it WAS locked) and her shears were taken, along with the shears of another stylist who had left their shears on premises. Little else was taken.
The fact is that most criminals who would think of burglarizing a salon know enough to know that the stylists’ scissors are usually the single most valuable piece of equipment. They are imminently portable and concealable, and if you have the right buyer available, can be a lucrative 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 be in the same boat.
Because of the portable nature of shears (even in a typical case) many stylists simply pack their shears up and keep them on hand wherever they go. The cases usually keep the shears safe in a purse, bag or pocket, and the stylist has the added benefit of knowing that he or she 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 right, they do the same for you.
Stacy - Stylist     ©
Photo: Alekseigl/Shutterstock
See also:
How to Hold Your Shears
How To Choose Haircutting Scissors