During the lockdowns of 2020 hair clipper sales hit an all-time high as men across the land, denied access to their usual barbers, became barbers themselves. And while there were a few DIY disasters and the odd faux paswith a fade, plenty of those men discovered true happiness in a home cut.
It’s easy to see why. Invest in a set of hair clippers and not only will you save money (most pay for themselves in a couple cuts) you’ll be able to have a trim whenever and wherever you want.
Mains-powered “corded” clippers – the ones used by pros – are a good choice if you’re going to be doing a lot of cutting and are looking for longevity (there are no batteries to wear down).
While cordless ones are good if convenience and manoeuvrability are key – look for Lithium-Ion batteries which tend to be longer-lasting.
If achieving graduated fades is important choose clippers with taper levers or digital adjusters that allow you to change cutting lengths in minute increments.
To get the most out of your investment clean your clippers after every use with the brush provided (or rinse if they’re waterproof) and finish off by oiling the blades. “Not only will oiling keep your blades running cooler, but they’ll also stay sharper for longer and the clippers will run quieter,” says Simon Shaw, global artistic director at Wahl, who suggests oiling them on first use too.
As for using your clippers, celebrity hairdresser Luke Benson recommends cutting hair when it’s dry, combing it through to eliminate tangles and starting on a longer length setting, working your way down, to reduce the risks of mistakes.
He says, “Place your fingers alongside where you need to shave up to as a guide, follow your head shape and gently flick the blades outwards out as you’re cutting, going down a grade at the lower parts.
“Then use the trimmer without the guard to tidy up the areas around the ears and finish off by blending any facial hair into the sideburns – again flicking out from the head.”
You never know, after giving a home cut a go you may even decide to become an actual proper barber. The tools of the trade we can certainly help you with, the rest is up to you.
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- Best hair clippers overall – Wahl colour pro lithium ion: £74.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best hair clippers for style-conscious techies – BaByliss men super-X metal series cordless hair clipper: £120, Lookfantastic.com
- Best hair clippers that are washable – Philips Series HC5632 hair clipper: £40, Boots.com
- Best hair clippers for regular users – Wahl elite pro haircutting kit: £54.99, Argos.co.uk
- Best hair clippers for fades – BaByliss men japanese steel digital hair clipper: £66.65, Johnlewis.com
- Best hair clippers for a multi-function cutting – Panasonic beard/hair/body trimmer: £45.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best hair clippers for beginners on a budget – Braun HC5010 hair clipper: £23.99, Allbeauty.com
- Best hair clippers for buzzcuts – Remington quickcut hair clipper: £40.01, Amazon.co.uk
Wahl colour pro lithium ion
As fun to look at as it is to use, Wahl’s cordless colour key clipper is robust, features a taper lever for precision cuts and comes with tapered ear guards to make it easy to trim around your lugholes. In a clever touch, all the comb guards are individually coloured to prevent you from accidentally using the wrong length guard (the shortest is sensibly coloured red) while each is clearly labelled with grade numbers to make choosing a length super easy – you can choose from 0.8mm to 25mm.
The Lithium-Ion battery provides 120 minutes cordless use on a three hour charge, offers a 15-minute chick charge and is designed to lose virtually no power during storage. It’s a little noisier than the others here and you certainly feel it vibrate in the hand but its overall performance is superb. It even comes with a handy barber-style haircutting cape too!
BaByliss men super-X metal series cordless hair clipper
Best for: Style-conscious techies
Brand new for 2021 this premium hair clipper for men from BaByliss Men is the coolest-looking of all the trimmers we reviewed. It’s sleek, elegant and a dream to use, while super-sharp Japanese blades allow for cuts from 0.8mm-25mm. Comb guards, left and right ear taper guides and a five-position taper control for graduated fades are also included, meaning you can cut with confidence.
In a cool touch, there’s a pulsating blue battery charge indicator down the side which gives it a space-age feel, while a handy USB charging stand marks it out from the other clippers here.
Philips Series HC5632 hair clipper
Best for: Washable clippers
Lightweight but solid, Philips’ cordless hair clipper offers an impressive 90 minutes cutting from a single 1hr charge, has self-sharpening blades and 28 separate length settings. It also features special “trim-n-flow” technology (yes, they actually went there and used “n” in the description) to channel hair clippings away from the blades, which minimises the risk of clogging. This helped it deliver a slightly faster cut because there wasn’t so much stopping to remove clipped hairs.
There’s a no-frills air to it ,which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it comes with a beard comb attachment which is a bonus. It’s 100 per cent washable too, which is handy hygiene-wise should other members of the family be brave enough to sample your barbering skills.
Wahl elite pro haircutting kit
Best for: Regular users
Wahl has long been the go-to brand for industry pros and these chunky clippers are the nearest you’ll find to the ones used in barbershops. Several things elevate this model above its rivals: it’s weighty, robust and built to last (the motor has a lifetime guarantee) and because it’s mains-powered the power is constant – handy if you’ve thick hair to power through and need consistency. What’s more, the guard combs are nice and strong so are unlikely to break or snap.
As well as 10 separate guards, providing lengths from 0.8-25mm, it features a taper lever on the side which was great for creating a smooth fade. It doesn’t look quite as flashy as its rivals but don’t judge a clipper by its looks: judge it by the looks it gives. It comes with a raft of accessories and a carry case too.
BaByliss 7785U Japanese steel hair clippers
Best for: Fades
Beautifully designed, this stylish, state-of-the-art digital clipper comes with eight comb guards, which, combined with an adjustable taper, offer a whopping 45 different lengths (from 0.6-28mm). You’re also able to lock the cutting length which is a big plus as it means you can’t accidentally slip into another grade whilst cutting (something which can happen with some clippers).
As well as being one of the quietest clippers tested, the digital display shows you exactly how much battery power you have left. And impressive that battery is too: a three-hour charge gives a full 160 minutes cutting, while a 20-minute “quick charge” will provide 20 minutes cutting time. A carry case to keep everything together is the icing on the cake.
Panasonic beard/hair/body trimmer
Best for: Multi-function cutting
We were initially suspicious of a clipper that promised to cut head hair as efficiently as the stuff that sprouts on the face and body – but this three-in-one trimmer ploughs through hair wherever it pops up with equal tenacity. It’s washable (an essential feature if you’re switching from scalp to scrotum in a single session), cuts from 0.5-20mm and features a precision trimmer for edging. The overall design, grip and finish means it both looks and feels much more expensive than it is. Perfect for men who can’t see hair without taking a trimmer to it.
Braun HC5010 hair clipper
Best for: Beginners on a budget
As you might expect from the hair clipper with the lowest RRP here this no-frills model from Braun eschews fancy functionality, add-ons and accessories in favour of does-what-it-say-on-the-tin simplicity, which is its strongest suit.
It’s cordless and washable like many of the other clippers here but has fewer length settings (just nine ranging from 3-24mm) but that’s fine if you’re not after pinpoint precision fades. A great entry point clipper for beginners and those on a budget though we’re not sure the comb guard would survive a dropping. It provides 50 minutes cordless action but be warned – for that you need to charge it for a full eight hours.
Remington quickcut hair clipper
Best for: Buzzcuts
This novel, washable palm-sized clipper doesn’t look like conventional clippers and doesn’t cut like them. Not only are the blades curved to follow the shape of your bonce, but the blades are also over 50 per cent bigger than those on other clippers. The upside of this is that it offers a super quick cut; the downside, however, is that it lacks the accuracy smaller blade surfaces allow. What’s more, its guide combs only offer cutting lengths of 1.5mm- 15mm and feels a little fragile.
It certainly feels odd in the hand at first, though you quickly get used to it, and its shape actually makes it easier to use on the back of the head and around the nape. Although you can grade and taper, this clipper is probably best for those wanting single length, all-over buzzcuts.
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Source: The Independent