Have you ever wondered why so many grooming tools come in both straight and curved styles? From slicker brushes to shears, and more recently, combs, curved tools are designed to help groomers achieve great results while being easier on our bodies while we work.
In my grooming studio, I have a variety of slicker brushes. Some have flat backs; others are designed with a curve. I use all of them, but I find I most often reach for the curved style, especially if I am trying to get mats and tangles out.
Recently I asked grooming educator Carol Visser why she thought the curved-back slickers were created. “When damage is done while brushing, such as scrapes or ‘brush burn’ (just as clipper burn, it’s not a burn but an irritation), it is usually done by the edge pins. Unless the person using the brush is moving their wrist incorrectly, the wrist shouldn’t be flexible while brushing. Instead, the brush should be visualized as connected at the elbow or shoulder to ensure that those top edge pins are not scraped along the skin,” Carol shared.
To most effectively use a slicker-style brush, groomers should utilize the “pat and pull” method. First, pat the brush into the coat, then pull it from the base of the hair to the tips. Slickers with a contoured back seem to go deeper into the fur, reducing the time it takes to brush the pet by decreasing the number of times the groomer has to go over each section. A curved back also helps give the user more control as they move and direct the brush through the fur.
How about curved shears? I know groomers who think they are gimmicks and don’t use them. However, I use my selection of curved scissors far more than any straight shears I own. No matter the blade length, stylists can choose scissors with just a hint of a curve all the way to some seriously extreme bends in longer blades. We can even get curved thinning shears or chunkers.
Randy Lowe with Precision Sharp was kind enough to share why he thinks groomers need curved scissors: “All dogs are contours; radiuses. To take a straight shear and make a contour, think of your thumb, raising and lowering, straight lines, one straight line after another to create a radius: small-angle, small-angle, small-angle until you are around the contour. With a curved blade, one raise and lower of the thumb, and you are around the contour. Curved shears allow you to do approximately one third less work, and you have no angle lines.”
Thinning shears and chunkers allow groomers to create soft, natural lines. But curved thinners and chunkers are marvelous for making those smooth lines happen on curved areas of pets. They both get a strenuous workout in my grooming studio, and I have no idea how I ever groomed without them.
I recently had an opportunity to try out a set of curved combs but, to be honest, I couldn’t quite figure them out. So, I reached out to some online groomer friends and award-winning grooming industry speaker Melissa Jepson kindly posted a short video showing how she uses them.
Melissa said, “The comb is curved for the exact same reasons as other curved tools.” And she demonstrated using a large curved comb on the topline of a Poodle in a longer scissored trim.
Watching how the curved comb lifted so much more of the hair than a straight comb was inspirational. She explained that the curved comb has different contact points on the dog than a traditional straight comb does. In addition, Melissa demonstrated how she could cover a large area of the dog with just a few strokes of the comb due to how the curve matched the shape of the dog’s body.
“It’s helpful in preventing hand fatigue,” she said. “And I get a smooth, even finish using them. They work more with you than against you.”
Smaller curved combs can be helpful not only on smaller dogs (they’d be perfect for Pomeranians), but also when setting lines for Asian fusion-style faces.
Shaped and designed to echo the form of the dogs we work on, curved tools are a valuable addition to every groomer’s toolbox. The ergonomics work in our favor, helping us achieve a superb finish while being kind to our hands and wrists. ✂️