Choosing the Right Dryer and the Right Shears
by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, August 9th, 2010
I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’s.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.
See Antonio’s blog here.
Skill is a big part of one’s strength in the beauty industry, and having the right tools to support skill is very important. Over the years I have purchased enough tools to open my own beauty supply shop—some were great and some were a waste of money. After my personal, painstaking experience I’m here to share with you the tools I’ve found helped improve the quality of my work, hopefully saving you some money in the process.
THE BEST HAIR DRYER
T3 Bespoke Featherweight Hair Dryer
I can safely say that this is a product that’s ahead of its time. In my own words the dryer is very light, leaves the hair shinier than any hair dryer I have ever used, and in the long term it has kept my clients’ hair healthier, avoiding over-drying. For those of us who have used those old-school black dryers that weigh a ton and sound like a boat engine, the T3 Featherweight takes a little getting used to. When you first use it you will ask yourself, “Is it powerful or hot enough?” Yes it is—the difference being that it doesn’t produce too much unnecessary “hot air.” It’s an efficient tool, taking clean sections and getting even results from the roots to the ends.
The advantages when using this dryer are that it dries the hair 70% faster, due to the Tourmaline SoftAire and T3 patented process. The dryer blows a large stream of concentrated ionic and infrared heat for super-speed drying time and offers 8 different settings that allow for precision and versatility when drying the hair.
THE BEST SHEARS
As we all know, great shears do make a big difference and can really help us define our work and give a better haircut. I’m a firm believer that good tools give better results (like in any other industry); however, I do not believe that the most expensive tools are always the best. What makes one pair of scissors different from another is the design, workmanship, and material. There are so many manufacturers of shears that it can be confusing. Here are my recommendations to purchasing the right shears and why:
Personally my first choice in shears are those by Nic, which are made in Japan and have been around for about 40 years. I have used them for the past 10 years and I like the attention to design and workmanship, and have found Nic to be very consistent in their quality of shears. I even feel that over the years the quality of their products has improved. Furthermore, they also make a variety of styles and sizes for the left-handed stylist.
Choosing the Right Shears
When buying shears, do your research as to how long the company has been around and what is their history of making and maintaining shears. This is a serious investment and all decisions around purchasing new shears (no matter the price) should be well thought-out. Have you ever had some masked man with a flashy black velvet case of gleaming shears come by the salon with brands that you have never heard of and offering them at great prices? I have seen these masked crusaders over the years offering convenience and cheap shears, and let me tell you that this is a bad idea! I purchased many of those shears early in my career and regretted it every time.
Stick with the well-known, professional brands. And remember, when in the market for shears, try several on for size by holding and getting a feel for them. (It’s like buying a new car—you wouldn’t make a deal without test-driving it at least once, right?)
The Right Size
The size of the shears you choose is really a personal experience; however, it could also depend on if your training is American or European (Europeans tend to like bigger shears). It can also depend on which academy you trained with: Some cutting schools don’t teach razor cuts, so a variety of sizes will be needed to deliver a more intricate haircut.
Antonio shows everyone how it’s done.
After some research and inquiring into which sizes are most popular, I have learned that in the past, a five-inch shear used to be the most popular choice; today, though, it’s the six-inch. But I recommend having five-, six-, and seven-inch shears to start. These three sizes can help you achieve any haircut, be it curly, straight, thick, or thin, and when you can afford more, then invest in expanding your equipment supply.
The five-inch shears are, obviously, ideal for stylists with smaller hands. These are excellent when working against the neckline (bobs), fine hair (cutting wet), and detailed dry cutting on any hair type. I like small shears when fine-tuning diffused curly hair. After the hair is cut and styled, I take these smaller shears and almost cut in the wave/curl and remove bulk. It’s almost like I’m carving into the curl in a downward motion, or holding the curl out of the head and slicing out unnecessary bulk. For me, when dry cutting (after a wet cut) on straight hair, the smaller shears are perfect to establish control without changing my shape that I created wet. In other words, be careful of over-cutting and changing your haircut in unintended ways.
In my experience (having big hands), the six-inch shears are easy to hold, enabling total control when doing those detailed cuts and for bulk removal on dry or wet hair. I like these for point-cutting wet or dry hair and for slide-cutting.
I utilize my seven-inch shears on thick hair and when cutting the perimeter of the hair. I use these more often for bulk removal on thick hair, wet or dry. They are great for point- or slide-cutting bulk out of thick, straight, dried hair, in instances where I have enough control of the hair to safely remove bulk. If you have large hands, then most likely you’ll find these shears very comfortable to use.
For thinning shears, Nic gets my vote too, hands down. When choosing thinning shears, remember that the more teeth in your shears, the less hair it will remove (appropriate more for blending). The less teeth, the more hair it will remove (think bulk removal). I have had so many thinning shears, but this particular brand has lasted the longest and has stood up to a lot of abuse.
Keep in mind that choosing the right shears is a very personal experience, and any one of these shears can be used at any point. What I have given you are very basic guidelines on choosing the right shears that can save you time and money. Also remember to ask other stylists in your salon their thoughts on the shears they are using. You can also get valuable information from your co-workers on making the right investment.
In Part Two of this article I will feature my favorite razor, combs, brushes, and clippers.
The Shears Can Make or Break The Cut
by Megan Dorcey on Monday, August 9th, 2010
I have heard it all from stylists about what you should and should not do when cutting curly hair, which got me thinking: What is the difference between shears and how they shape your hair?
The right shears for the job
For more information about this, I went straight to my local curly expert, Ron Valdez at Estilo Valdez Salon in Austin, TX. There are so many different types of shears on the market, each claiming that it is one and only tool you will need. Ron Valdez sings a different tune, “I cycle through six pairs of sheers. You can’t tell which you will need to use until you cut down into the curly hair. Every head of hair is different, so it responds differently to each pair of scissors.”
How can you tell when you’re using the right pair or scissors? Valdez offers some advice, “Start off with one pair and (it) may change throughout the head. One pair won’t always cut it. When you close the shear and it glides through the hair and doesn’t push it out, that is the right type of shear for that hair.”
Not surprisingly, there are many types of haircutting scissors available on the market, including: barber shears, thinning shears, styling shears, tempered shears, left-handed shears and more.
One glance at these scissors will tell you just how different they are from each other. Each is designed to perform a specific task—some are used to create subtle effects while others are perfect for basic haircuts.
What Type of Shear is Best for You?
You have some choices to make before you select the right pair of scissors. Of course, you’ll also want to shop around for the best prices.
Type of Blades
Beveled blades feature one serrated edge and are ideal for layered cuts, tapered cuts and the “scissor over the comb” method.
Convex blades are razor sharp and promise a clean, smooth, flawless cut. They are ideal for slide cutting.
Type of Handles
Opposing grips feature handles of the same length that are symmetrical to the center screw. It is perfect for individuals who cut with the thumb and middle finger.
Offset grips feature a short thumb handle and a longer finger handle. This allows natural, fluid movement and is ideal for individuals who cut with the thumb and ring finger.
Crane grips feature a long finger handle and an angled thumb. This ensures less strain on the wrist and shoulder and allows a freer, open cut.
Types of Thumb Grips
Standard thumb scissors feature a removable and reversible finger resting piece that can be attached to either the left or right. This allows individuals greater versatility (with left and right hand use.
Cutaway thumb scissors do not feature the reversible finger resting piece, but does provide exceptional comfort.
Anatomic thumb scissors allow for greater radial movement due to its curved design. Thus it provides more freedom of movement for the stylist.
Rotating thumb scissors are a new advancement in the haircutting industry. They reduce hand and wrist strain and feature an open-hand grip design, which reduces thumb “travel” and creates a more comfortable experience for the stylist.
Length of Blade
You can only use one at a time, but switch if you need to.
Choosing the blade length is really a matter of comfort and preferred styling methods. You will find you probably need to utilize several different types of scissors, but your hand should feel comfortable no matter what size it is.
Short blades are useful for detailed touchups, such as cutting around the ears or very close to the skin. This type of blade is recommended for all stylists; chances are it will be used frequently for more intricate cutting. The blade should be no longer than 5.5 inches.
Long blades are ideal for cutting thick hair, slide cutting, scissor over comb methods, and bobs, to name a few.
Some other features that stylists may choose to focus on include the production material of the shears, the method of production of the shears and the tension system the shears provide.
So how can you get hands-on experience using various shears with different curl patterns? The new stylists at Estilio Valdez ask their curly friends to come in for a cut, and Valdez even puts an ad on Craigslist for all types of curls to receive a free cut while the stylists are learning how to shape and style curls correctly.
The best advice Ron could give me was, “It’s a craft and just like any other craft, you will master it over time.”
Hairdressing Scissors—A Professional Touch to an Otherwise Normal Item
by CurlStylist on Monday, March 15th, 2010
Each craftsman has a certain tool to help perfect his or her trade, and for a hair stylist, this tool is a pair of hairdressing scissors. These specialized tools help a stylist to make each haircut unique and professional. The end result being a cut that makes a personal statement for the customer as well as the stylist. These scissors are usually constructed of light steel with a certain amount of cobalt added for durability.
There are many types of scissors available such as those used for the initial cut. Some have a serrated blade for thinning, and others are for texturing the hair. Each stylist knows the appropriate tool for the look a client has requested. Whether the hairdresser is right- or left-handed, they can purchase scissors made with the dominant hand and thumb in mind. Not having the correct style of scissors that fits the dominant hand can create awkward positions and make for a very long and tiring day for the stylist.
Hairdressing scissors must be maintained in order to perform well. They must be properly sharpened and oiled. The pivot screw must be periodically adjusted. All of these elements will keep the feel of the scissors right for not only the stylist but the client as well. Most generally with proper use these scissors stay sharp and last for many years.
Some sets of hairdressing scissors have removable finger rests that can be changed out to fit the size of a hairdresser’s hand. These finger rests are offered in standard sizes and will fit the average hand. Specifically named types of hair scissors are designed to help perform some particular talk in cutting hair. For example, hair shears are for thinning thicker hair as part of the shaping process. Barber scissors have convex blades that aid with full bodied hair or hair with a lot of curls. Long tail scissors are used for trimming the ends of straight long hair or for cutting bangs for a client. Whatever the style the stylist knows which hairdressing scissors to use.
While professionals make the majority of the purchases of scissors, anyone can buy these in pairs or entire sets. They are available in nearly any retail store where professional hair supplies are offered. For those who enjoy trimming hair at home from time to time, basic hair scissors that are less expensive will be sufficient for these grooming tasks.