The hairdressing industry is full of little customs concerning how to train an apprentice. It seems that most seniors tend the follow the same structure and techniques that were taught to them when they themselves were apprentices. The problem is that it can take a long time for new ideas to take hold and for the industry to change it's "old habits".
From my perspective as a scissor designer and manufacturer the advice that many are giving apprentices about their first pair of scissors is just plain wrong! It goes something like this "just buy a cheap pair of $100 scissors, that's what I started with". Now we all know that this type of scissor is made to be disposable and really doesn't cut well. Most are simple designs with large finger holes and general cutting edges. They are made cheap, to a price and most senior hairdressers don't use this type because it takes a fair amount of pressure to make them cut and they don't perform precision cutting techniques (open blade such as slide cutting etc.). Advising your apprentice to buy this type of scissor is the wrong advice and here are my reason for saying this.
1. You can't expect a junior to learn to cut with a scissor that doesn't cut well in the first place. That just makes it double as difficult to learn. How many apprentices have been frustrated learning to cut and have left hairdressing thinking "I can't do this" when it wasn't them it was their tool!!
2. The old reason "its only for cutting doll's hair" doesn't cut it anymore because most dolls are real hair nowadays. Even if they are cutting synthetic hair, a decent pair of scissors is made to sharper and can be serviced after the doll cutting is over.
3. Most $100 scissors have big finger holes designed for large European male hands. Absolutely unsuitable for smaller women's hands . Poorly fitting scissors cause poor cutting technique because the apprentice is forced to use an incorrect grip. Desperately clutching their scissors, these poor apprentices are trying to cut with a scissor that is constantly slipping off their fingers! Poor grip technique can cause RSI later in their careers and this habit is hard to break, even when they are using a well fitted scissor. If the scissor is not correctly fitting they will twist the scissor to hold it. Thats how you get the calouses on the side of the thumb and below the knuckle on the ring finger. I have also seen many apprentices develop a bad habit of sliding their scissors up and over their knuckles when transferring the comb (instead of palming the scissor). They end up learning to cut with the scissor in this position all the time. I shudder when I see this because this is just asking for RSI problems, not to mention hand cramps.
4. How about "apprentices can't afford expensive scissors". A good scissor will last long into the senior years. Tool allowance is part of the industry award in Australia and the government also allocates up to $3200 for training costs (tax free) and your scissors are tax deductible. A well designed apprentice scissor will cost between $300 and $500, is made to service, and will precision cut. Why buy a cheapo pair now when the apprentice will probably be buying a pair that precision cuts in third year anyway? If money is really tight one of the seniors in the salon may donate an old pair of "quality" scissors. Just remember to have it serviced first as using an old "blunt" pair is no good to learn with either.
5. Cheap scissors don't come in fractional sizes so it can be hard to buy the correct size. If the blades are too long for the hand size you will constantly cut yourself at the palm end of your fingers. Too short is just as bad as you will cut yourself chasing that last bit of hair. Most women are either 5" or 5.3" as a cutting scissor and most men are 5.3" or 5.5". Well designed apprentice scissors cover these sizes.
I hope that all the seniors that have apprentices take the time to read this article again and consider the advice you are giving about buying your first scissor. Apprentices listen to you, you have an obligation to guide their training well. Please ensure that their first pair of scissors is correctly sized, fits well (doesn't slide over the knuckle on the ring finger), is comfortable to use and cuts well enough to learn ALL cutting techniques easily. If they can't afford a decent scissor why don't you help them out in some way, after all a good apprentice is an asset to your business and a reflection of your skill as a trainer.
:) happy cutting
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