Hello Sir! Something for the weekend? If you're looking for the best hair clippers, it's probably because you are suddenly interested in knowing how to cut your hair at home. For most women this is a rather tricky area, but as with public urination, men have an easier time of it.
Men can fall back on a number of shorter, simple hairstyles that can be done with clippers. These range from The David Beckham/Chris Evans, through to The Jason Statham and culminating in the full Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson… Or, if you are older, the Right Said Fred. Or, if you're even older, The Kojak.
In a hurry to get barbering? I'd recommend you read my advice further down first but if you're not worried about having a barnet like Donald Trump or Boris Johnson, you go right ahead…
It's also worth noting that you can cut your hair with beard trimmers or even body groomers although I am not sure about the hygiene implications of that.
- Best beard trimmer
- Best male body groomer
- Best electric razor (for the full Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. Or your face)
Best hair clippers: what you need to know about cutting your hair at home
Hair clippers consist of two elements: the actual clipper/trimmer and a number of combs of varying sizes. The larger the comb, the longer it will leave your hair. Oh, and they all always come with a small brush, supposedly for cleaning. Many still come with a tiny bottle of oil, for oiling the blades. Increasingly, you can buy clippers that claim not to require oiling, although I always find that claim a little suspect.
Having cut my hair at home for many years, I have discovered a number of things. The first is that a good, wired hair clipper from someone like Wahl is still better than even the best cordless one.
That being said, there's a lot more convenience to cordless, especially if it's waterproof or at least water resistant, and hence bathroom friendly. I definitely do not recommend standing in the shower with a corded hair clipper – although you might be relieved that it turns out to be the last haircut you'll ever need.
But having said that, personally I don't recommend trying to shave your head, or a long beard come to that, in the shower. Wet hair matts together so it's harder to cut, and clogs the blades like a mother.
Even the best hair clippers tend to be a bit painful if you're cutting hair really short, as the blades start to scrape the scalp. If you've got dry skin this can be particularly unpleasant. For this reason, and many others, it's best to start with the longest comb feasible and work down. Usually you would also tend to have it longer on top than at the sides, but I am not going to try to dictate your personal style.
My advice is to do the following each time you essay a home haircut.
1. Oil your blades. Unless it's the type that doesn't require oiling – although even then it can't hurt.
2. Wash your hair, but don't cut it while wet. Some people find having it slightly damp is optimum. I don't, but I'm just passing on what 'some people' think.
3. You could try applying a little bit of moisturiser. This is tricky as too much will impede the blades and too little will make no odds. But just the right amount can reduce irritation and increase smooth gliding of blades.
4. Use a mirror. No, really.
5. Start with a bigger comb length than you need. This is especially true if you're attempting a more 'advanced' style with differing lengths, but it's also advisable if you are doing a straight French crop, army crop, suedehead or even a Full Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson.
6. Gradually work your way down through comb sizes.
7. As you'll already know from the barber's, you'll never ever remove all the cut hair from your head, neck, clothes and body by giving it a brush. The great thing about cutting your hair at home is you can just jump in the shower, though! If you've gone for a short crop, a handheld vacuum cleaner on a low setting is also a good option – no, really.
8. Apply moisturiser or after-shave balm. But probably not actual aftershave, as it may smart a tad.
8. Collect all your head hair and use it to stuff home-sewn pillows. It's a fun hobby to help you pass the time as you maintain social distance or self isolate!
How to buy the best hair clippers
So what are you looking for in the ultimate clipper for your hair taming needs? First up, let’s clarify that just as beard trimmers can be used to cut head hair, clippers are also all-rounders, and can handly beard maintenance and body hair upkeep. We wouldn’t recommend trying to cram a clipper up your nose so buy one of the best nose hair trimmers for that.
The main areas to look at are power, hair type and comfort – the last breaks down into weight and form factor.
The first decision you need to make is if you want a wired or wireless option. Wired means pure power, so if you’re taming long hair, or thick wiry hair, you should go for this. If you want to cut your hair in the bathroom, this may necessitate an extension cord, though. But then who says you have to do it in the bathroom?
If you’re using the clipper regularly for shorter hair, battery power can work well and of course cordless is more convenient. Nowadays, battery powered clippers use lithium-ion batteries, meaning they can hold a charge when left in a drawer, charge fast and offer lots of power.
Hair type is a big factor here as if you only want a clipper for your head and you’re balding then a specific model that shapes to your head can be helpful. If you need the clippers for longer hair and want to cut in the wet and dry you will need to go for a more powerful option. If it’s body hair you’re clipping too then a large cut area is useful so it doesn’t take you all day to hack through.
Comfort is a factor that breaks down into weight and form. You will ideally want a light option but sometimes that can be at the cost of quality. More powerful clippers can weigh more and battery operated units can also add heft. Shape is another factor as some are rounded to fit in your hand, ideal for working all angles on a balding head, while others are straighter which is great for control when on beards or body hair.
Got all that? Know what you need to cut? Then check out these best of the best hair clippers.
Best hair clippers, in order
A staple of barber's shops for decades, I can vouch for the quality of this, since I've had one since about 2005! The 4 combs the Super Fade comes with are easy to fit and they stay in place, with the exception of the very shortest one, which does sometimes require a bit of care (and thumb pressure) to stop it falling off. A range of 1mm to 1.3cm is enough for any short haircut, and you can buy longer Wahl combs if you want more. The power of this thing is sufficient to get the job done quickly and – with care and practice – painlessly.
You do have to bear in mind that this is quite a 'pro' device, designed for use by skilled barbers and hairdressers. This becomes particularly apparent when you use the blades without a comb to edge around your ears – be careful! Because it's built to last for years and years, you do really need to oil and maintain the blades. It's sometimes necessary to unscrew them to clean and realign them properly, too.
However, that is really not that difficult, and the results and longevity given by the Super Fade speak for themselves.
The Philips Series 9000 hair clipper – not to be confused with the Series 9000 beard trimmer or Series 9000 electric shaver, excellent though both of those are – has a whopping 400 different length settings. Admittedly, that is more than anyone needs, but the way it goes all the way up to 4.2cm in 0.1mm increments via a little touchscreen built into the body is very smart.
While the 9000 Series is lithium-ion battery powered that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. However, even though it actually accelerates when it hits longer tufts of hair, it's still not as effortless as the Wahl – but then it is both cordless, waterproof and easier to maintain than the Wahl. Battery life is good at two hours per charge, and it only takes one hour to charge back to full again.
This is a great clipper for head and beard hair as well as body hair, and the best cordless pick. For those who favour shorter cuts, the 0.5mm minimum trim may be frustratingly not quite short enough, but for most men, this is a great choice.
For the ultimate shortcut to a short head of hair the Remington QuickCut is ideal. This was designed to make cutting your own hair a doddle. While that is ideal for balding men that want one short, even length, there are guides with this to make varying lengths an option too, although I'm not too sure I'd try anything fancy with ut myself.
This clipper was one of the first to use a different shape to the standard barbershop clipper. It's almost more like a large, electric comb. The smooth lines of the QuickCut make for a smooth cut, especially on the contours of a head when cutting close. That means the end result is a nice even length all over, not those tufts you can sometimes get around the contours of the lower back of the head.
This clipper is light, meaning the overall effect is an easy sliding control that keeps going for a good 40 minutes before the battery needs a charge. Granted the charge time is four hours but how often do you need to cut your hair, realistically? When you have power it’s constant until it dies. There's none of that weakening at the end where hairs pull – it’s all or nothing.
For regular maintenance of a short 'do', this is excellent, although some may actually find the 1.5mm minimum length too long, ironically.
I was a bit sceptical of this cordless version of the Super Fade and it seems over-priced compared to many battery-powered trimmers you can buy, but it is remarkably similar in 'feel' to the corded version, and arguably the best cordless trimmer you can get, at least for shorter hair.
It does require the same careful application and maintenance as its big brother, whilst being less powerful and more expensive, however. The fact it uses a battery also means it won't last as long.
If you feel the Wahl is a little under-priced and underpowered for your lion-like mane of dense and wire-like hair, this all-out powerhouse is for you.
The Oster 97 will cut through any hair and just keep begging for more, and for denser or wet hair it's the best option, although clearly not the most affordable. Even more impressive, not only will it glide through the mass you aim it at but it will do so surprisingly quietly, with a much less ominous electrical throb than the Wahl.
The design is a very cool, old school, no nonsense styling. That means a chunky rounded body with ribbed finish for grip. There’s a large cable protection layer at the top so you can get a professional level of durability. Since this is something for the pros it also offers quick and easy blade swapping and cleaning although as with the Wahl you will need to oil and maintain your hair-cutting weapon for best results.
The downside of the pro status is even more marked than with the Wahl, however. The unit on sale in Amazon comes in rather raw form, with only a 0.25mm blade, and no combs. However both blades of different lengths – including one described as being 'Perfect for grooming your dog' – and combs for every imaginable eventuality, are also available online.