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5 Basic Hair Cutting Tools (+Tips on How to Use Them)

Do you know what the difference between a razor cut and scissor haircut is? Do you know that they look entirely different and can do different things to your hair?

It’s important to know what all the different hair cutting tools are, what they’re used for and even how to use them. This knowledge can come in handy whether you like to DIY your haircuts, trim your guy’s neckline in between haircuts or even if you just want to have better communication with your hairstylist.

So… let’s talk about some of the most common hair cutting tools used in the hair industry.

💡TIP: Pin this article so you can always come back to it when you need to! 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼

Razor cut or scissor cut? Learn about the industry's different hair cutting tools, which ones are the best and some tips on how to use them...

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1. Hair Cutting Shears/Scissors

Hair cutting shears are one of the essential 5 hair cutting tools. Learn about the 5 essential hair cutting tools, what the best ones are, and tips on how to use them.

Shears are the most basic and commonly-used tools to cut hair… but they’re a lot more complex than your basic kitchen scissors.

These scissors are explicitly designed to cut hair and fit perfectly into the hands of the stylists using them. They typically range between 5-7 inches and have a “tang” for the pinky finger to rest on (which gives the stylist more control).

Newer-type shears have been ergonomically designed to put less stress on the stylist’s hand, arm, shoulder, and back. This helps help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and bursitis (oh my).

Things like the shape of the shears, built-in swivels, and the spacing between finger holes all contribute to the overall design.

The best part of hair cutting shears is that they’re crafted to slice right through without bending or folding the hair. In other words, they’re really sharp. In fact, they need to be sharpened every so often to stay in tip-top shape.

You’ll want to use these types of shears to deliver a precision haircut or when the desired look is a blunt line.

✅ How to use Hair Cutting Shears:

Matt Beck, founder of Free Salon Education and world-famous educator, does a killer job at showing you how to handle your shears like a pro:

✅ Top Pick:

While scissors can cost upward of $1,000, you probably won’t need anything to that extent unless you’re a top-rated celebrity hairstylist.

Kamisori is a leading brand of hair cutting shears, and the award-winning Diablo model is a top choice for professional hairstylists across the world.

✅ Budget-Friendly Alternative:

I actually have a set like this to keep at home, and they’re perfect.

I promise that they’re a million times better than the shears you’ll find in the “hair accessories” section of Walmart.

No products found.

2. Thinning/Texturizing Shears

Thinning shears are one of the essential 5 hair cutting tools. Learn about the 5 essential hair cutting tools, what the best ones are, and tips on how to use them.

Thinning shears are similar to cutting shears except they have “teeth” notched out on one or both blades. This allows the stylist to either thin the hair, soften the lines or texturize the ends.

They can also be used to create volume with the use of various cutting techniques. Oh… and we can’t forget that they also help tame and blend stubborn hair.

Like everything else in life, different shear designs do different things. Some things that affect the end result are:

  • The number of teeth present
  • How far the teeth are spaced apart
  • Whether the teeth are on one or both blades

✅ How To Use Thinning Shears:

expertvillage on Youtube has a quick, yet simple guide on how to use thinning shears:

The only gripe I have with the video is that you should not cut “below the bend” of the hair (as she does when taking out bulk). This will leave you with really short pieces that stand up, which you probably don’t want.

✅ Top Pick:

To be completely honest, when I first started doing hair, I used some really cheap, crappy thinning shears that probably came with my beauty school kit. I always felt like they were something that wasn’t worth investing in.

However, somewhere down the line, I inherited a way nicer pair and let me tell you… it was a world of difference.

Joewell is an excellent mid-range brand with fabulous thinning shears.

✅ Budget-Friendly Alternative:

Like the cutting shears, you can find comparable thinning shears on Amazon for much lower prices. You can even purchase them in a set to save even more money.

Kilajojo Hair Scissors and thinning Shears Set - Professional Barber...
  • Set of Hair Cutting Shear and Thinning: Pay for just 1 price and get two hair cutting...
  • Premium Stainless Steel: Made of high quality stainless steel, enjoy sharp feeling. Also...
  • The rounded grip and finger rest making them easy to cut with less stress on hands, the...

3. Straight Razor/Razor Comb

Razors are one of the essential 5 hair cutting tools. Learn about the 5 essential hair cutting tools, what the best ones are, and tips on how to use them.

Did you know that you can literally cut hair with a razor blade?

Razor cuts are the best way to deliver tons of texture and movement to an otherwise standard haircut. This is because razors don’t cut the hair in a straight line.

In other words, they leave a jagged, textured style that doesn’t look like it was just cut. If you don’t like hard lines, I’d ask your stylist about this.

A cool trick is first to cut the hair with scissors and then go back through and texturize the ends with a razor. However, depending on the cutting technique used, a precise cut can still be achieved with a razor.

In beauty school, I learned how to cut hair with a straight razor, but these days I’m quite fond of razor combs since they are much easier to control.

✅ How To Use Razors:

I will say that you should be careful when using a razor to cut your own hair because they ‘re super sharp and can really mess up your hair.

Also, this isn’t a good choice for curly hair, as it can really frizz it out the ends.

Andrew Carruthers from Sam Villa Hair Tutorials does a stellar job at talking about the basics of razor cutting:

✅ Top Pick:

Hair Cutting Razor,Hair Styling Razor, Styling Razor, Thinner Razor, Black + 10...
  • Great for trimming, thinning or texturizing. Straight Handle without locking
  • Manual Comb style Hair thinner without exposed blade. No Batteries required.
  • Comes With 10 Spare Thinning Blades. Blade length : 2.36 Inches (6cm)

✅ Budget-Friendly Alternative:

Conair Pro Jilbere De Paris Precision Cut Comb
  • Professional texturizing comb
  • Features precision razors
  • Thins hair and adds texture and volume

4. Hair Clippers

Hair Clippers are one of the essential 5 hair cutting tools. Learn about the 5 essential hair cutting tools, what the best ones are, and tips on how to use them.

This might be pretty basic knowledge to some, but clippers are used to create very short cuts such as fades and military haircuts.

The way they work is similar to scissors but with two razor-sharp combs that move back and forth against each other to cut all hair that comes between them. An electric motor makes the blades oscillate from side to side.

✅ How To Use Clippers:

This perfect step-by-step guide by VICKTHEBARBER shows you how to do a clean fade with detachable blades:

✅ Top Pick:

I think that Oster Classic 76’s are pretty much the best thing since the carpet sweeper! They’re expensive, but they deliver such a clean and precise cut.

Oster Classic 76 Hair Clipper Comes with Blades Size 000 and 1
  • Comes with blades 000 and 1
  • Comes with one year manufacture warranty
  • Made in USA

You’ll have to buy the different blade attachments, which unfortunately adds to the cost, but trust me… it’s worth it. The different blades make for the PERFECT fade. 👌🏻

I couldn’t imagine using anything else.

✅ Budget-Friendly Alternative:

No products found.

5. Neck Trimmers/Edgers

Hair trimmers are one of the essential 5 hair cutting tools. Learn about the 5 essential hair cutting tools, what the best ones are, and tips on how to use them.

These little guys are basically designed to clean up edges on short haircuts, necklines, hairlines, and beards. They work exactly the same as clippers but are much smaller to really get in those tight spots.

To take it a step further, extra small trimmers allow extreme precision and are typically used to carve intricate designs into the hair.

✅ How To Use Trimmers:

Here is a basic guide by EZBLADESHAVINGPRODUCTS on how to clean up a neckline in between haircuts:

✅ Top Pick:

No products found.

✅ Budget-Friendly Alternative:

Wahl Professional - Peanut - Professional Beard Trimmer and Hair Clipper Kit -...
  • High-Performance Clipper: Can be used as both a clipper and a trimmer for versatile hair...
  • Professional-Grade Hair Clipper Kit: Includes lightweight 4” electric trimmer, 4 guide...
  • Replace Blades Easily: The detachable blade makes maintaining and replacing clipper blades...

Bonus Picks

Bonus Icon
Original CreaClip Set Hair Cutting Tool - As Seen on Shark Tank - DIY Home Hair...
  • FOR ALL TYPES OF HAIR; cut your hair in the convenience of your home and be your own...
  • EASY TO LEARN; just clip, slide, and cut; trim your bangs and create layers in just...
  • GREAT FOR KIDS HAIR CUTS AND EVEN MEN HAIR or just maintaining a hairstyle in between cuts
Beardclass Beard Shaping Tool - 8 in 1 Comb Multi-liner Beard Shaper Template...
  • 8 in 1 Multi-Liner Tool - The Proprietary and innovative design of this Beard Shaping Tool...
  • 1 Millimeter Edge Technology - This innovative design allows shaping your beard lines more...
  • Fully Transparent - Beardclass Line Up Tool is fully transparent and allows to clearly see...
CombPal Scissor Clipper Over Comb Hair Cutting Tool - Barber Hair cutting kit -...
  • Longer guides than clippers, from 1/4" to 2 1/2". Good for cutting longer lengths on top...
Remington Shortcut Pro Self-Haircut Kit, Waterproof Cordless Electric Razor for...
  • Bold Precision: Dive into the world of pro grooming with clippers for men. Our 9 Length...
  • Unbeatable Power: Harness the might of the Lithium Rechargeable Battery for 40 minutes of...
  • Curve, Contour, Cut: Elevate your look with our Extra Wide Curved Blade. As a top face...

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts Icon

The type of tool used to cut your hair determines the whole outcome of your haircut; knowing the difference between each instrument is vital.

If you want a super precise haircut with blunt edges, you’ll want your hair cut with scissors. However, if you want texture, volume or jagged edges, go with a razor cut or have it texturized with thinning shears (both of which can also be used to take out bulk on thick hair).

For super short haircuts, clippers are a must.

Detachable blades deliver an even cleaner haircut and make it easier to fade. Trimmers are used to clean up the neckline, beard, and edges on short haircuts, or even to carve small masterpieces into short canvases.

YOUR TURN: Do you have any favorite hair cutting tools or tips on how to use them? I want to know what you think in the comments section below! 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼

Until next time,


Last update on 2024-07-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Faye Pirere

Thursday 22nd of April 2021

What material for wrap would one use instead of plastic for hair cutting


Wednesday 19th of February 2014

Thank for sharing. I often cut my hair at home and I have a Oster Classic 76′s.