My love Patrick is a man of many talents: handyman, gardener, chef, athlete, and baker. Goodness, he even sings opera. Last week he added another skill to his list of accomplishments: hairstylist.
The economy’s squeezing the Kelly budget a bit, so I thought I’d let Patrick have a go with my hair. “I’ve only cut men’s hair,” he warned, “and that was in college for beer money.” But two glasses of pinot grigio had me feeling adventurous. I ended up with a fantastic haircut. I told my friends I went to “Patrizio’s Salon.”
The sewing scissors Patrizio used on me were a bit clumsy. If my man is to realize his potential to become the next Vidal Sassoon, then he’s going to need a decent pair of haircutting shears. But I wouldn’t know a decent pair of shears if they jumped up and cut my earlobe off.
“I like Hikari scissors [$300–$700 at hair shows],” said Erin Hall-Olivier, stylist at Tops in Mission Hills. “They are handmade, really delicate. For someone buying scissors for home use, I would recommend a shorter blade; a longer one, you run more of a risk of chopping your hand. And don’t buy scissors with plastic handles because usually they aren’t aligned right. Go to a beauty-supply shop to buy your scissors.”
“The brand that I’ve used the most over the past few years is called Matsuzaki,” said Rhys, co-owner of Jet Rhys Hair Salon in Hillcrest. Rhys has been cutting hair for 30 years. “They are manufactured in Japan, and they’re probably the best scissor-makers in the world. The art of making blades in Japan goes back a couple of thousand years, so they are skilled at making really great edges.
“The scissors that I use run in the $400 range, but they make things out of titanium and cobalt that go for up to $1000 a pair. [The price of scissors] is governed by several things, such as the grade of steel — most would certainly be an alloy. They’d always be tempered or ice-tempered. The other part is the way that they are sharpened. When Japanese scissors or better scissors are manufactured, they are always finished by hand. They hollow ground the blades, which really can only effectively be done by hand, and it gives you the finest edge that you can possibly get.”
Rhys added, “If you really want to go into the stratosphere of scissors, you can go to Japan, and they can measure your hand; they will videotape your movement, and make scissors for you.”
“You don’t want to buy a pair of scissors through the mail. You want to feel those pair of scissors in your hand. What I find great might not work in someone else’s hand.”
With regard to handle shape, “There are full offset, semi-offset, and standard. And offset is where the handle that your thumb goes into is actually set a little shorter than the handle where your third finger goes into. The idea is if you open and close a pair of scissors, your thumb actually ends a little shorter, so by having a standard fit, you are forcing your thumb into an unnatural position.”
With regard to blades, “Most hairdressers will use somewhere between a 4.5- and a 5.5-inch blade. Over the years, I found that the 5-inch blade works really well. For me, a longer blade is great if you are doing something that is a very long sort of blunt line, that you need lots of reach with. But if you are doing something more intricate and layered closer to the head, using a long blade is difficult.
“They say good scissors should last around 700 to 800 haircuts [before sharpening]. For me, I can go a year before I sharpen them. But I never quite like the next edge, it's never quite as great as the first one. If you think about a piece of metal being sharpened down, and it comes to an edge, as you take that edge down, that metal is getting thicker, and you start to feel some of that. The first sharpening is great, even maybe the second, but after a while, instead of hollow grinding, you are almost beveling your edges to get to that sharpness, and a beveled edge doesn’t work as well. So I am one of those people that tends to buy a new pair of scissors rather than sharpen.”
If you do take your scissors to be sharpened, “Your $300 pair of scissors can be ruined in an instant if it is incorrectly sharpened. They must not be machine sharpened; they must be done on flat, wet stones by someone who has been trained at sharpening.”
For cleaning, “Always clean out the little hairs because hair gets trapped where the blades come together. I only use my fingers to do that; there is always a little natural oil on your fingers. I don’t wipe them with water. I have a little leather piece of cloth that I use to wipe them over.”
For home use, Rhys says Cricket, Eclipse, or Fromm are decent brands and can be found at Sally’s Beauty Supply. “I would never use a serrated edge, but it’s good for a person that doesn’t cut hair; it has a little bit more grip. It will hold that hair as you are trimming into your bangs a little bit better.” The six-inch Cricket Gold Series Shear Collection at SallyBeauty.com runs $129.99. The site offers the 5.25-inch Fromm Swing shears for $39.99. The 5.5-inch Eclipse Cushion Grip Silver Series shears run $27.99.