Scissors vs. Clippers On Haircuts: Is One Better Than the Other?

a barber cutting a man's hair

When it comes to haircuts, barbers choose between or use both scissors and clippers. They’re the same, so why bother, right? But perhaps the supposed difference isn’t as straightforward. Professional barber clippers are specialized tools for hairstyling. Whereas, a pair of scissors is more of a multi-purpose instrument. In terms of hairstyling, however, is there a noticeable difference? Read on to find out.

On the “Difference”

Matthew Bell writes that scissors shape and clippers cut. This won’t quickly make sense because both instruments can cut hair. However, other experts back Bell’s claim. After much of the hair has been cut, it needs some refining. Clippers are much better at trimming a lot of hair at once, following the head’s shape, and cleaning up lines, according to New York-based stylist Clyde Elezi. Scissors follow suit to further clean up the lines and give the hairstyle a cleaner and more refined look.

One can compare clippers and scissors to an artist’s paintbrushes using the above claim. If clippers lay down the broad, immediate brush strokes, the scissor finishes off the paint and makes it more refined. Elezi further states that the only time when there’s no difference is if the customer’s hair is too short. This means the difference between a clipper and scissor cuts depends on hair length.

Different Areas

Scissors are better for longer cuts. A stylist has better control of the scissor if he wants to shape the hairstyle using scissors. As for the texture, stylists or barbers use either clippers or scissors. High-texture hairstyles would require both. This allows the stylist to leave some parts long and short, allowing for a choppy, textured look.

Another example is a reverse mullet (long in the front, and short in the back) hairstyle. A stylist will use scissors to shape the front hair and clippers (even a razor) to get a short and even look in the back. The barber will decide which to use depending on the hair length, the client’s preferred hairstyle, and his personal preferences.