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Clippers or Scissors? The Age Old Question

Clippers or Scissors? The Age Old Question

Many moons ago the majority of haircuts were done with scissors. It may sound obvious, but the main reason for this is that electric clippers hadn’t been invented yet. This meant that barbers had to be masters of the shears. It was a different time though, barbers were also commonly asked to carry out tooth extractions and blood transfusions too.  

Fast foward numerous decades (but still sadly a while back), to my secondary school days, and things had gone full circle - a full scissor cut was unofficially forbidden in many barbershops across the country in the late 90’s. I remember pretty much every kid had clippered short back and sides, with the only differentiator being the chosen guard number. 

If you wanted a softer scissor cut, like Beckham’s floppy curtains for example, you usually had to head for the salon where your mum had her tresses tamed. Furthermore, you’d have to spend the time in there secretly praying to the Gods above that your mates didn’t see you through the window. It goes without saying that getting your hair cut next to your mother rarely worked wonders for your street cred’.

Thankfully, things have moved on, and there are now many spots where your chosen barber or stylist can flit effortlessly between the tools of their craft. However, it would seem that still not everywhere is as flexible. 

A client recently told me a story of him recently walking into a barbershop and requesting a scissored mod cut to be told that it would be possible, but only if he were to pay double the charge for a clipper cut, which was the usual cut of choice in that particular establishment.

At Ruffians we like to pride ourselves on being skilled in all hair styles and types. So, here we take a look at the general differences between a clipper cut and a scissor cut so that you can make an informed decision on which is best for you. 

Soft or Sharp Edges 

One of the reasons why many people choose a clipper cut is because it looks so neat immediately afterwards, making you feel fresh and well groomed. One of the elements to this are the clean, sharp edges that frame the haircut. 

Whilst it is possible to get neat edges with a scissor cut, rarely will they look as pristine as on sides cropped with clippers. This is because where the hair is left longer the hairs will stray away from the scalp in different directions and form their own edges and shapes. 

This is no bad thing, and many looks benefit from a softer aesthetic, but is something to bear in mind if you like an immaculate look. 


Flexible or Fixed 

As a rule of thumb, full scissor cuts tend to be longer than clipper cuts and this means that they have more movement and flexibility. Inevitably, this has its plusses and minuses. 

It means that you may be able to achieve more different looks with the same haircut. For example, if cut in a certain way, mid length hair could be worn loosely down in say a curtains style or swept back for a slicker, more formal look. 

Layers are often cut into the sides which gives a greater sense of flow and movement and looks looser and more relaxed. It can be fun to try out new styles as the hair grows out too.

However, the downside of this can be that a particularly windy or rainy day can cause more havoc with your barnet than if it were clipper cut on the sides and connected through the top. Something to bear in mind if you like your hair to look consistent. 

Regular or Sporadic 

As previously mentioned, if you opt for a clipper cut then one of the main benefits is the precision and neatness. One of the downsides is that you’ll need to visit the barbershop relatively often to maintain this. 

Whilst your hair will grow at the same length whatever the style (around half an inch per month on average), the shorter the hair is the more you will notice the growth. So, for example, if you choose to go for a tight fade then an extra inch would change the look entirely. Whereas if your hair on the sides was cut to sweep behind your ears, the same amount of growth would impact far less on the overall look. 

As a general rule we would recommend a haircut every 4 weeks or so to maintain a short clipper cut, but you may be able to leave it a couple of months for a longer, looser style. 

High or Low Maintenance

Whilst not always the case, it’s common that a longer style will require more day-to-day styling. 

One of the easiest haircuts to style is the typical, clipper cut short back and sides with a connected top. This is because the cut naturally sits in the shape that it is meant to, the only exception to this may be the fringe if it is worn, say, to one side or off the face. 

With a longer scissor cut there is more to go wrong, styling-wise. When you wake up, for example, hairs are highly likely to have strayed out of place and it’s unlikely to look exactly as you would like.

This may mean you need to reach for the hairdryer or add more products to tame your mane. It may sound obvious too, but the longer the hair the longer it takes to dry when you get out of the shower. And it’s not nice leaving the house with soaking wet hair in winter, trust us on that.

So there you have it, our best nuggets of advice when considering whether to opt for a clipper or scissor cut in the future. Of course, we’re always on hand to offer more specific advice should you be looking to try something new, just drop us a line or pop into one of our barbershops.


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