Tool Upgrade: As You Transition from Student to Professional You Will Need to Invest in Tools

by Staff Writer | June 17, 2019
 Getty Images
Getty Images

As you transition from student to professional you will need to upgrade your tools. Thermal tools and shears can be the most expensive investments. Take care in choosing the best options and protecting them to increase longevity.

Thermal Tools

Your investment in the tools and appliances necessary to dry, transform and reshape hair are critical. Since these blow dryers, flat irons, clippers and specialty irons can each cost up to $500, knowing how to protect that investment is essential to your financial success.

It’s important you do your homework to make sure you are not only getting the right tool, but that you also do everything to prolong the life of that investment.

David Gardiner, BaBylissPRO director of marketing, professional styling says regular maintenance will keep tools working at top performance.

“You can tell a blow dryer is not performing when it doesn’t get as hot or gets too hot,” Gardiner says. “It might have a clogged filter. If a flat iron needs more passes to get the desired result, it might just need a quick cleaning.”

Gardiner and Dennis Colpitts, BaBylissPRO director of marketing and education, clippers and trimmers, share their tips for protecting your investment:

  1. Perform Regular Maintenance: Common damage can be prevented with proper maintenance. Clogged filters can cause the dryer to overheat from a lack of air flow. For cutting tools, cleaning to remove loose hair and lubricating the blades is important to keep them cutting at top performance. Make sure to use the dedicated oil designed for salon tools that cleans, disinfects and lubricates. Styling irons should be wiped with a damp cloth to remove excess buildup on plates/barrels—never pour water directly on the styling iron.
  2. Follow Instructions: Read the manual when you purchase any tool. “It includes great information about how to properly care for a tool.
  3. Use the Correct Tool: Stylists have different tool needs. Some stylists will want a hair dryer that’s lightweight, while others might prefer a slightly heavier tool that dries hair faster. Gardiner and Colpitts say motors for clippers and hair dryers are a vital component for stylists to make their choice regarding weight, power and performance.For styling irons, it’s important to understand maximum temperature and recovery times. “The recovery time of irons can vary greatly, causing unnecessary and extra passes over hair,” Colpitts says. “Good performing tools are an investment to help stylists do their job better.”
  1. Store Properly: Power cord damage is another issue if stylists twist or wrap the cord around the base of the tool. Most professional tools have longer cords so it’s tempting but, over time, wrapping the cord will cause failure in the styling tool. Remember: Always allow the tool to cool before storing.
  2. Know the Warranty: Many manufacturers offer replacement of a styling tool during the entire warranty. Keep the proof of purchase and instruction manual to make the process easier.


Shears are a critical investment—and a costly one. The price of shears, determined by what it’s made of and how it’s made, can run up to several hundred dollars.

Shears are made from regular stainless steel, Japanese stainless steel or steel alloy. The highest-quality shears are forged—meaning each blade is shaped from one piece of metal for strength and durability. Some shears may be made entirely by hand and go through several steps in the finishing process, which increases the cost. Craftsmanship is particularly important in the edge of the shear. A convex edge will give you a nice clean cut, say experts, and it will let you easily perform techniques such as slide cutting or channel cutting, with optimal results.

You will need shears specific to the types of cutting you’ll be doing. In general it’s best to have three pairs: overall cutting shears, slice cutting shears, and thinning or texturizing shears. To find the right ones for you test a few pairs from different manufacturers and lines. Hold the shears in your hands and open and close them. Does it feel lightweight? Do the blades open easily and smoothly? Are they ergonomically designed with a comfortable thumb and finger position? If the answer is yes to all, you’ll know you’ve found a shear that will let you cut fast and precisely, and most importantly won’t stress and strain your fingers and hands—can lead to fatigue and even injury.

If you have trouble finding the right fit, or if your fingers tend to slide out of shears easily, look for a manufacturer that offers an adjustable sizing system with their shears. These flexible rings can be added or removed to fit your specific finger and thumb size.

To help them perform better and last longer, take good care of your shears. To protect your investment and keep shears in top shape:

  • Clean them after every cut.
  • Lubricate them regularly.
  • Balance or adjust tension when needed.
  • Sharpen them.
  • Store in a closed position to protect blades.
  • Pack in their case when not in use.
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