Scissors Are The Work Of Mara!

This question is driving me mad. What is the deal with monks not being able to cut their hair with scissors? If I were a monk I’d rather confess that I used an electric razor, then use a blade on my skin. I know that monks are able to remove unsightly hairs from the face, but what about the nose and ears? This all just makes me want to get laser hair surgery all over my body so I don’t even have to deal with it. The only reason I won’t is because I’d probably eventually reborn with hypertrichosis or something. (A condition in which excessive hair growth anywhere on the body in either males or females.)

Could someone explain to me why scissors/clipper/electric razors are not allowed? Is there a story and/or real reason that is applicable or can I make a good case for no need for rites and rituals?

I’m making this out to seem like a huge deal to me, it’s really not. It just seems silly to me and I don’t understand why it’s a thing.

Scisors allow for a level of styling that a single blade does not. As well, one can maintain a specific length of hair with scisors, whereas with a blade you really need to go back to zero each time.

Tweezers are allowed for long nose hair.

If you are going to start accusing Vinaya rules of being rights and rituals, you will likely end up with bigger problems than hair growth. Just because something doesn’t make sense to you doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason. There are ways to ask a question humbly.


My speech was intended to be light-hearted and playful. I have failed, apologies SnowBird.

The use of electric razors apparently has been considered controversial. With your description it would seem that these things would be okay to use. As a uniform short cut (buzz cut), without styling can be achieved. With the correct electric razor it would be indistinguishable from a shave.

As for the tweezers this is an odd one too. As electric razors can deal with this too more effectively without cause unnecessary pain.

Also, razor blades are much cheaper.

To make a finely tuned pair of scissors requires precision metal work which, while definitely possible in the Buddha’s day, would have been more expensive (as, indeed, they still are, at least compared to the standard, non-patented razor blades made by companies whose names doesn’t start with the letter G).

Monastics who assume this was the reason for the rule make a compelling case for allowing scissors and sheers these days (since they’re no longer considered a luxurious item) but I agree there remains the danger of vanity cuts which only technically follow the length rule


There must be millions of people using disposable razors. There must be some negative impact there. Do monks tend to use straight blades, safety razors, disposable tip (cartridges), etc…?

Are there monks that do use electric razor/electric hair clippers?

Here are some pages that I found that may help with the conversation…

Attached images are from the pages 144, 185, 186, and 187 from the volume 5 of “The Book of the Discipline” by I.B. Horner, which is the English translation of the 4th book (Cūḷavagga Pāḷi) of the Vinaya Piṭaka.

Ah yes! Whataboutism! My favorite topic! </sarcasm>

FYI: We have a new and much improved translation of the Vinaya on SuttaCentral now, courtesy of our very own Ajahn Brahmali:

Best to not consider the pioneering translation authoritative.

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Ah yes the ‘parade of imaginary horrors’! :sweat_smile:

Here is perhaps some simple facts about the effect of both the disposable razors and electric razors on the planet…
Environmental Impact of Disposable Razors and Electric Shavers.

Do monks tend to use straight blades, safety razors, disposable tip (cartridges), etc…?
Are there monks that do use electric razor/electric hair clippers?

If I am being honest I am just kind of scared about cutting myself and getting rashes. I switched over to electric clippers in my early 20’s because of these issues. I know that it is probably really unlikely I’d convince anyone to let me continue to do this as a monk, but as a layperson I am curious what perspective and thoughts modern monks have on the topic.

Most monks tend to use what people donate. Some do use what I think you are calling safety razors where just the blade is disposable. I have heard of monks using disposable straight razors, which are just the kind I mentioned with the blade split in half and put into a holder.

If you had a medical reason to use an electric razor, I doubt if most monks would care.

Well, you know there are monks who do all sorts of things. I do know a rather famous monk who uses an electric shaver, or at least he did at one point.


This is really quite tangential, but this is not true. You can trim your hair with a razor, and I have done so dozens if not hundreds of times. I’m not a haircut tutorial writer, so sorry if this is unclear, but basically you just need to take the razor to the hair at some distance, not at the root. So, for the case I’ve most frequently done this, you take the hair near your ears, pull it over your ears, and then take the razor to the part that crosses the ear. In the case where a professional did this to my whole head, it was very similar to a standard haircut - they wetted my hair, drew a comb partway through it so that a little less than the desired length was between the comb and my scalp, then used the razor to cut the hair which was on the other side of the comb.

Even without a comb or any other tool, since the maximum monastic hair length is two finger-breadths, I bet you could do this with your fingers - just sort of run your hand through your hair and cut just barely above your hand. That might sound dangerous, but I think that with just a bit of practice and the usual carefulness called for by using a sharp blade so close to human skin, you’d be fine.

Totally unrelated, but I thought this was fun. Gotta use it!

It’s not that hard to use razors to shave bald. Just could take some time if the hair is let to be too long before the next shave. The 3 bladed razors with openings at the back to allow for washing off the hair is good.

So after every one or two shaves, wash the razor with high pressured water to wash off the hairs stuck there. Repeat until the head is smooth (by touch).

You can also experiment with more dangerous ones, should your monastery not provide the easiest 3 bladed, back opening ones.

One blade can be used for months. Or about 5 or more times (at once a week or 2 weeks shave), until it’s blunt.

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