A history of hairdressing scissors

Hairdressing scissors have become markedly smaller in the last half century. Up until 50 years ago, every hairdresser used long scissors with a 6 - 7 inch blade being the norm.

This all changed with the incredible Vidal Sassoon, a great exponent and founder of “Precision Cutting”, an approach focussed on cutting in small sections with a very short 4.5 -5inch blade. When Vidal Sassoon showed us how to cut hair in very small sections with absolute precision, it was like someone had rewritten the rule book. Such was the influence on the world of hairdressing that everyone wanted a very short pair of scissors like his. This lead to a trend among stylists who adopted the mentality of “The shorter the blades, the more precise your work would be.”

This then meant of course that the ‘Trend’ was to buy a shorter scissor. A 5 inch scissor is now the standard length for a short blade and it is designed to be used primarily when cutting inside the fingers and the palm of the hand. If you try this now, even without hair in your hand, you will see how easy it is to rest the bottom blade of the scissor on the inside edge of your middle finger.

After the Sassoon influence nothing much happened until the 1980`s when out of London came Tony and Guy, who would become hugely influential figures in the world of Global hair fashion. This school of haircutting, heavily influenced by Antony Mascolo then began using a much longer blade (6inches and longer).

Their techniques were created using a mix of skills and almost always they would use a slicing and point cutting technique when they cut. Why? Because the longer the blade, the easier it is to see the whole haircut when you are slicing as your vision isn’t obstructed by your hand being in the way. It`s also easy to cut a clean straight line in one go, not three. And lastly It`s actually more difficult to cut your finger with a long blade than a short one.

Point Cutting is widespread in our industry. If you have a shorter scissor, you will find yourself using an action with your scissor that looks a bit like a pecking chicken. This is where you are trying to get down the length of the hair in your fingers , but with a short blade you can`t because the blade is too short.

Looking for more advice?

Our blog offers a growing library of hairdressing advice but if you'd like to talk more about your choice of scissors or anything related to hairdressing then please don't hesitate to contact the Ellipse team or view our range of hairdressing training courses.