Photos of Natural Hair Under the Microscope Show Why Cutting with Shears is Important

african_hair_microscope_cut_shears

Blog reader Charese has given me another reason to use my microscope, yay! She asks,

‘I’ve heard many people say that hair shears are superior to paper scissors and the hair trimmed with anything other than hair shears will soon split again. Is this true? Are hair shears so sharp that cutting paper or fabric with them with ruin them? Finally, is there any difference between a cut made with $5 shears vs. say $90 ones?’

The Experiment
The natural thing to do was to experiment! I used my own shed hair for the process. I snapped it with my hands, cut it with blunt scissors, a sharp pair of paper scissors and with hair shears (which cost about $25). I then looked at each cut end under the microscope.

The Results
First, if you didn’t think snapping your hair is bad, well here is the proof! It is terrible for your hair, creating a fibrillated end that is just ripe for splitting. Cutting hair with blunt scissors creates a slightly jagged cut and there are signs of damage to the cuticle where the scissor repeatedly rubbed against the fibre before cutting (highlighted within the white circles).

Hair cut with a sharp pair of paper scissors and hair cut with shears both produced a nice clean end. I would say though that this was just a single hair strand and I would subjectively prefer the hair shears when cutting more hair as the blades are slimmer which would prevent hair getting caught. Paper scissors have thicker blades so when handling a small fistful of hair, may not work so well.

The Conclusion
Do you need to purchase an expensive pair of shears? Perhaps not, unless you are a hairdresser. They are often more expensive because the blades are thinner and they may be lighter but sturdy and therefore can be used more times before becoming blunt. They can also often be professionally sharpened. Cheaper shears will still do the job, they will just blunt faster (I had a $10 pair that lasted about 2 years, my $25 pair is going on 4 years, probably will be replaced soon).

The bottom line is: cut your hair with a sharp pair of scissors. It is definitely worth having hair shears dedicated solely to cutting hair – no opening boxes or mail with them!

The Natural Haven

The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

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10 thoughts on “Photos of Natural Hair Under the Microscope Show Why Cutting with Shears is Important

  1. from those pics, shears are no better than sharp scissors. I use sharp scissors. Nothing against shears, but its nice to know I don’t have to run to the store to get them and ditch my scissors.

  2. Great Article! You are right, having a dedicated pair of shears for hair only is important. Hide them when they are not in use if you do not live alone, to prevent any mishaps. For home use, a pair of $25 hair shears will last for years, and if you get a brand that offers free lifetime sharpening, they could be in your family forever! Just check the package label at time of purchase to see if the service is offered. A good pair of paper or fabric shears will do in a pinch if they are relatively new and very sharp, but they are each made differently from hair shears. On hair shears you can feel, and see clearly, that at least one blade has very fine teeth; these teeth help hold the hair as you cut, so the hair is cut blunt, instead of at a tapered angle. Paper and fabric shears may have these teeth too, but they won’t be the same-not as many, not at the same angle, etc. Look at each type of shears closely, you will see there are differences in the blades. This is not to say that using shears not meant for hair will necessarily split your hair or cause breakage, but the possibility is greater than with hair shears. No need to risk it, when there are hair shears available for a reasonable price point at places like CVS now. Invest once you’ll have them forever.

  3. woo! i finally listened and bought a pair of £6.59 babyliss scissors from Superdrugs around december last year. it has a guard on it so i don’t accidentally pick it up and start cutting everything else with it. i hope it makes a different, might only be using it majorly 2-4 times a year too, so it should last a long time i hope.

  4. By far one of the most informative haircare articles I’ve ever read! Thank you for doing this experiment.

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