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What Is The Difference Between A Shear Cut And A Clipper Cut?

April 03, 2023

In the world of barbering you will always hear barbers or customers talking about a "clipper cut" or a "shear cut/ scissor cut" and if you know nothing about the difference between the two then this article is for you.

Both tools are a must have for professional stylists and barbers. It really is all about the finished look. No one tool is better than the other, but they both have their strengths and weaknesses and knowing these can help you get the perfect cut every time.

Hair Clippers

Hair clippers are known for a fast effective way to remove bulk amounts of hair fast but what are their strengths and weaknesses? let's find out..

  • Pro: The only tool that can do a fade haircut due to the changeable clipper attachments. Clippers cut closer to the head which is a must for fades, especially skin fades. Fades need to be cut the perfect lengths and need such precise blending that scissor cuts simply can't achieve. 
  • Pro: Can cut all the same length perfectly with a clipper attachment and fast.
  • Pro: can do perfect line work and shaves to the skin. Can cut and shape a beard. to get closest to the skin you can also get balding electric clippers that are the closest shave to a razor.
  • Con: not suitable for longer hairstyles only suitable for short shaving styles. Even though some barbers can do a clipper over comb technique, most of the time the scissors/ shears can do a better cut.
  • Pro: Mini clippers can shave and cut perfectly around hard to get areas, where scissors could cut the skin
  • Pro: Has the neater finish over scissors and clipper cuts make the hair look thicker over scissor cuts.
  • Con: If you make a mistake with clippers, unless you can shave it to a zero then its near impossible to fix. That's why you really need to be confident to use clippers (they are not as easy as they seem) it's an art.
  • Con: Needs to be realigned if dropped and the clippers are fragile. They may not cut the same after being dropped
  • Con: Hard to clean the hair can build up on the inside. It is important to understand how to take apart your clippers and clean them properly.
  • Pro: The only tool that will be able to perfectly and symmetrical cut the hair all around the head without too much effort to make sure it all even (unless its a fade, this requires skill).

Scissor Cuts

Scissor cuts are best for longer textured styles and longer styled cuts. So what can you achieve with a scissor that you can't with a clipper?

  • Pro: can cut a longer tapered look that can be blended with the scissor over comb techniques.
  • Pro: Can chip into and ruff up the style with scissors, a technique clippers cannot do.
  • Pro: haircuts grow out more naturally after scissor cuts
  • Con: Can't go as short as a clipper cut when cutting hair with shears, unless you risk nipping the skin.
  • Con: Takes more time and concentration cutting a whole haircut with scissors.
  • Con: You have to take more care when cutting hair because you can easily cut yourself or customer
  • Pro: You can use different types of shears to create different types of results. For example you can use Thinning Shears or Texturizing shears to finish off a haircut so the customer can style it easier.
  • Pro: Due to longer length you can hide shears mistakes by blending or chipping into the hair around a mistake.
  • Pro: Professional sharpening services are easier to find for your shears and cleaning and oiling them yourself is easier or more effective.

Which of these two methods will you choose?

Really comparing the two you may have noticed the huge difference between them is really the need for one or the other. When you are learning to cut hair you will start to find you will favour one tool over the other, but this will be just a personal preference,

Clipper cuts are not better than shear cuts or vice versa.  It is all about knowing your tools and when to use them for the best results!

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