Japanese Vs German Hairdressing Scissors
There are three main areas where Japanese and German hairdressing scissors differ: edge, hardness, and sharpness.
Traditionally, labor and manufacturing processes were dependent on location, but today the process is predominantly automated, and the results are based on the materials used, and the form those materials take.
The edge is the sharp part of the blade that cuts the hair. The blades themselves have many distinguishing features that help to keep the edge of the blades functional and sharp.
Japanese style scissors have convex blades, meaning that each blade slopes towards the cutting edge at an acute angle (less than 90 degrees). To prevent the edges from becoming dull, there’s a slight depression called the ‘hollow ground’ along the centre of the inward facing sides of both blades. The hollow ground reduces friction and concentrates the force of each cut onto the edges of the blade. The hollow ground also prevents hair from slipping between the blades, pushing them apart, and displacing the blades alignment. The ‘hone line’ is a thin flat line that runs along the inside of the cutting edge and above the hollow ground. The blades meet and glide along the hone line, preventing the edges of the blades from coming into contact. A convex Japanese blade can slide through both dry and wet hair for precision cuts.
The edge of German scissor blades are beveled, so that rather than coming to a sharp slopping edge like Japanese scissors, they are angled to form a flatter, more robust edge. A beveled edge does not require a hollow ground, so the inward facing sides of German scissor blades are flat; opening and closing flush against one-another. The hair is trapped when the edge of the two directionally opposing blades meet, chopping the hair like a guillotine. The beveled edge helps to grip the hair, preventing slippage which can disrupt a straight cut. German style scissors are good for over comb cutting but can’t be used on wet hair, or for slicing and sliding through hair.
Steel is made from two base components, iron and carbon. In its purest form iron is soft and malleable. The addition of small percentages of carbon causes the iron to harden, creating steel. The heating process also contributes to the hardness of the steel. ‘Stainless’ steel requires a third element, chromium, to make it corrosion resistant.
Harder steel is desirable because there’s less frequent need for sharpening, and the blade tends to hold its edge for longer. On the downside, harder steel is less durable and prone to chipping. Consequently, slightly softer steel is more durable, but it won't maintain its edge for as long as harder steel.
There are multiple steel hardness and quality scales, but one of the most common is the Rockwell scale. According to the Rockwell scale, the higher the number, the harder the steel. The number is determined by the depth of an indentation left from the force of a heavy object. Japanese scissors are higher on the scale than German scissors which come in around 52. OBU scissors have a superior Rockwell hardness score of 61-63.
Japanese steel is categorised and graded based on material composition and quality; for example, the 440 series is divided into three levels: 440A, 440B, and 440C. The letter refers to the amount of carbon in the steel; ‘A’ being the lowest percentage of carbon and ‘C’ the highest (therefore the hardest). Each category of steel has a different balance of elements, that expresses different traits, and is beneficial for different tasks. OBU uses 440C high-end stainless steel that is corrosion resistant, wear resistant, hard, strong, and backed by a lifetime quality guarantee.
Blade sharpness is crucial because it ensures a clean cut. It’s difficult to cut a straight line with dull scissors, and uneven haircuts will just need to be corrected later.
Dull scissors can also result in split ends. Hair follicles can be likened to a piece of fabric; if you cut the fabric with a blunt blade, the edge of the fabric will fray. Similarly, a blunt pair of hairdressing scissors can damage the hair cuticle, causing split ends shortly after the haircut. Split ends mean that you have to trim the hair more often; an endeavour that can become costly, time consuming, and make hair growth a very slow process. Without split ends, a client’s hair will absorb and retain moisture for healthier looking hair.
The convex blades of Japanese scissors create a fine cutting edge that is sharper than the German beveled edge. Despite the hardness of Japanese steel, this style of scissor may need to be sharpened more often to retain the blades’ fine edge. Regular sharpening, between 3-6 months, will ensure that each cut is quiet and smooth, while keeping the blades sharp. It’s also important that hairdressing scissors only be used on hair, to prevent them from becoming prematurely dull.
OBU’s Masuta and Minarai steel scissors have all the essential characteristics of a quality pair of hairdressing scissors. These hand crafted Japanese convex blades provide superior sharpness, for a smooth cut on wet or dry hair. OBU scissors are versatile and can be used for straight cuts, slide cutting, and slicing layers. Try them today, with a peace of mind, thanks to our 7-day money back guarantee.