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Choosing the Right Hair Clippers

With so many high-calibre clippers on the commercial market, it’s never been easier for men to give themselves a top-quality haircut at home. While a good pair of clippers is an investment, you’ll save thousands in the long run by cutting the barber out of your life. Plus, it’s always great to have a new skill to add to your grooming toolkit!

Every guy’s hair is different, but given the wide range of options out there, you’re sure to find a clipper to suit your style. From classic cuts to textures and fades, we’ve put together a no-nonsense guide so you can find the right shears to keep you looking sharp.

What to look out for:

Stuck on where to begin? Here are some basic considerations to keep in mind before you purchase.

MOTOR:  Let’s not split hairs -- the power of the motor is hands down the most important spec on any type of clippers. This is particularly true if you have long or thick hair -- a more powerful clipper with glide through longer locks with ease. If your hair is particularly coarse, you might want to look into one with a turbo option

There are three main types of motors available. Universal motors are capable of working very fast, and run on AC/DС current. However, they are almost all corded and notoriously loud.

Rotaries are the Goldilocks of the clipper motor world. Often cordless and extremely versatile, they offer the widest range of cuts available -- but tend to overheat with heavy use.

Pivot motors are heavyweights when it comes to power, but often not the best when it comes to blade speed. Still, they’re ideal for chopping through coarser hair.

WEIGHT:  Gadget-lovers often get so excited looking at the many exciting features of this generation of hair clippers that they forget about some practical considerations. Simply put, you’re going to want to choose clippers that you’re comfortable waving around your head for a significant period of time. There’s no point dropping cash on something that you’re going to drop on the floor.

DETACHABLE BLADE CLIPPERS: With the right motor, these are the most powerful, and the best for wet or thick hair. Detachable blade clippers usually don’t come with a plastic guard -- instead, there are blades of different lengths to slot in and out. Accuracy and precision will depend on the blade you select, but once you’ve built up a little skill, they’re good for all kinds of haircuts.

ADJUSTABLE CLIPPERS: A little more forgiving to the novice than detachable blade clippers, these feature a lever on the body that adjusts blade length. A good choice for those with fine hair, they’re also better for precision you can adjust the blade to the exact level that suits you.

T-BLADES OR PRECISION TRIMMERS: T-blades are ideal for detailed work, fades, bald heads and close shaves. The shape of the blade makes it easy to work around your ears and the contours of your head, and as a bonus, the blades are often hypo-allergenic.

GUARDS, LIMIT COMBS AND GUIDES: These are usually snap-on attachments that come with your hair clipper. Generally speaking, the more accessories you can get with your model, the better! Available in plastic, stainless steel or chrome, they cover the blades to ensure a certain length over a larger area of hair -- good for beginners or those just looking for a quick trim.

POWER OPTIONS: You can choose from corded, cordless/rechargeable, and clippers that operate on lithium batteries.

With us so far? Read on to get into the nitty gritty.

Blade types:

At the most basic level, there are two main types of clipper blades -- carbon steel and ceramic.

CARBON STEEL: The gold standard for clipper blades everywhere, and the easiest to maintain. There’s no reason to stop at steel, though. Carbon steel blades often come coated with chrome in order to prevent rust. Stainless steel blades are also available. At the higher end, they can also be coated with a veneer titanium alloy. Though these blades last longer, they’re often harder to sharpen.

CERAMIC BLADES: Ceramic blades make for some of the sharpest cuts out there. However, they are more expensive and much more difficult to maintain. Keep weight at the front of your mind if you’re purchasing a ceramic bladed clippers -- sharp or not, the blades can break if you drop them.

MICRO-ADJUSTABLE: A subspecies of the adjustable clippers, these come without notches on the side of the blade, allowing you to cut to whichever length you like.

Cases and motors:

TURBO: Turbo motors are in development, but many higher-end models come with a turbo button that increases the speed to up to 300 mm/s.

WATERPROOF: Exactly what it says on the tin -- you can bring these into the shower, and they make for easier clean-up.

Speaking of which…

Caring for and maintaining your clippers:

After each haircut, you should brush any hair off the blades. A good clippers will come with its own clipper brush (see what we mean about accessories?) but you can also use an old, hard toothbrush. A can of compressed air (available in most computer stores) can also help.

Clean the blades with rubbing alcohol or clipper spray. Clipper spray is the best choice here -- not only does it clean and disinfect the blades, it can also be used to cool the blades down after use.

Oil the blades after every use. The best models come with their own clipper oil, but you can also pick it up from any salon suppliers.

Blades should be sharpened every few months. For adjustable clippers, you’ll need a screwdriver to remove the blades from the case. Use a coarse sharpening stone or oil stone for steel blades. Ceramic blades will require a diamond stone (another important consideration for blade choice). Run the clippers for a couple of minutes after sharpening.

Body groomers vs hair clippers:

How do hair clippers hold up when it comes to manscaping? The answer, of course, depends on your body hair and the model. If you can use your clippers with a guard come (and very carefully), they might be able to do double duty. However, a contoured body groomer is far better for those hard to reach areas, and are generally a good investment for those who take manscaping seriously.