They both cut hair but the results are very different.
Hair scissors and clippers are not interchangeable tools. Whether you shave your own hair at home or go to a hairdresser, there a specific tool for the job.
Which tool depends on what kind of cut you want.
Here’s the skinny: use scissors when you want to shape and style your hair and clippers when you want a simple military style cut.
Here are their differences in more detail.
Scissors are almost always the best choice for both men and women.
Because they provide manual control, you (or the hairdresser) can precisely cut the hair to the desired shape and style.
Whether you want a stylish crew cut or you want to texture your hair, scissors are the best for the job.
You can cut the hair to the exact length you want, contour it exactly how you want and shape different sections exactly the way you want.
Unlike clippers that produce a uniform look, scissors are great for creating varied styles. But it’s important that you use the right pair of scissors.
If you are going to a hairdresser or barber, they’ll know which type of hairdressing scissors to use depending on the type of cut you want.
If you are doing it yourself at home, learn a bit about the different hairdressing scissors you can use.
The best are 5.5” straight or offset scissors. Look for those made from Japanese stainless steel. They are super sharp and last long without getting blunt.
Note: For a scissors cut, sharp blades are crucial. Invest in a good pair of Japanese steel scissors that will cut your hair neatly without leaving jagged or split ends.
The main difference with scissors is that clippers provide much less creative control. You cannot manipulate clippers the same way you would a pair of scissors, resulting in limited styling options.
That’s why scissors are ideal for short and military style haircuts. There’s no artful styling needed for a number 1 cut.
You simply cut off all the hair.
Where clippers are brilliant is in cleaning up the edges. In fact, many hairdressers will finish off a scissors cut with clippers around the edges.
Scissors vs Clippers
When to use Scissors
- When you want a hairstyle that requires precise cutting.
- When you want to vary the style on different parts of your head.
- If you are simply trimming your hair and want to leave it higher than half an inch.
When to use Clippers
- When you want a close uniform shave of less than half an inch.
- When you want a basic military style haircut.
- When you want to trim and clean up the edges around your head.
What about trimming your beard
This one mostly depends on your personal preferences and the tool you find easier to use.
Though scissors provide more control when trimming your beard, some people find clippers easier and faster to use.
I say use the tool you find most comfortable.
If you are comfortable using either, choose the scissors if you want a styled cut that doesn’t clean off all hair.
A sharp and short pair of hairdressing scissors gives you more control than clippers.
The ‘sharp’ bit here is really important. A cheap pair of blunt scissors is going to give your beard a rough unfinished look.
If you are going for a uniform shave all round, clippers are the best. Look for trimming clippers designed specifically for beards.
In some cases, you may need both tools.
Use the scissors to cut down the hair to the maximum length you want and then use the clippers to further cut down some areas.
This is helpful if you want a specific style with varying hair lengths such as tapered sideburns where you start clean at the top and leave longer hair towards the jawline.
The bottom line
Whichever tool you find ideal for your needs, make sure you get the best quality you can afford.
Low quality scissors or clippers will ruin your hair. Even if it costs you more, buy something that will cut well and last long.