Hair Clipper Buying Guide

Going to a professional barber or hairdresser is always the best choice for the well-groomed person, but like for many professional services the costs can be astronomical. If you have a fancy haircut that requires weekly or even daily touchups the cost of looking good can become a bankrupting force.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a good hair clipper in the home, whether to maintain your own style or to keep your whole family looking good.

So what should you be looking for in a hair clipper? Let’s go over the key considerations.

Puppet Without Strings

One of the first big decisions you have to make is whether the clipper should be wired or wireless. If you go for a wired version you’ll usually pay less and never have to worry about the battery wearing out. Wired clippers can last for many years if you maintain them well.

On the other hand, the best places to get a haircut are often pretty far away from an outlet and even then the actual act of clipping hair can be made a bit more tedious by contending with the cord.

The Set Up

Hair clippers usually come with a number of combs that clip over the cutting head. Each of these sets the blades a certain distance away from the scalp. Pay attention to how many combs you get, what the increments are, and the maximum and minimum ends of the length range.

Unfortunately there is no standard across manufacturers for length adjustment, so it falls to the customer to make sure the clippers will go as long or short as they need it to.

The Extras

Hair clippers often come with some rather essential accessories. For example, a proper pair of hair shears for finishing touches or fine work. There may also be a comb included, which is another tool you’ll probably need while styling the cut. Other included items may be things like a barber’s cape, a carry case or pouch, and even a stand. Which, if any, of these you care about will of course depend on your needs, but you have to take note of exactly what you get for your money.

Keeping Up Appearances

You should also check what maintenance products are required and whether they are included. Usually the blades require oiling and brushing, so make sure that the kit includes both.

Making the Cut

The most important component is, of course, the blade assembly. Most blades are self-sharpening, but make a note if the metal has been treated so as to be corrosion resistant. Many cheaper models will rust if you don’t oil them religiously, so its worth getting something stainless or coated to save the cost of replacing the head or even whole clipper prematurely.

You should also look for blade guards or rounded blade tips. Generally any feature designed to ensure that the clippers clip hair and don’t nick the skin. Cheap models often have a rather lax attitude to keeping your skin cut-free. The cost saving is not worth the pain.

Absolute Power

The motor that drives the blades has to be strong enough to actually cut the hair that it will be applied to. While manufacturers don’t quote power figures for their motors in obvious places, if you have or intend to cut very thick hair, look for clippers that advertise a more powerful motor. Also pay attention to user reviews that say whether a motor is strong enough to clip their hair.

Battery Technology

If you go for a cordless clipper you’ll mainly see two kinds of built-in rechargeable batteries – NiMH and Li-Ion. NiMH or Nickel-metal hydride batteries take forever to recharge and don’t really have much of an advantage in terms of run length. They are, however, cheaper at the moment. Li-Ion or lithium-ion batteries are the newer technology. Usually they charge very quickly and provide good run times. They also provide consistent voltage even when nearly empty, which means that you get the full motor power throughout the charge.

Pay attention to charge times, since one haircut may drain a cordless clipper. It may also be useful to have a clipper that can run on battery power and a cord, which gives you ultimate flexibility.

Size Matters

Children and people with very small heads may be easier to trim with a smaller model with a narrower head. Wide clipper heads may make it faster to do buzzcuts, but it makes it harder to do fine or precision work.

Weight is also an important factor. You have to hold up a pair of clippers much longer than the five minutes it takes to shave or trim a beard; a very heavy clipper can quickly fatigue you.


If you intend to cut your own hair you’ll want to invest in the right kind of mirror to see the back of your own head. Having a light and maneuverable clipper becomes even more important. Clippers with swiveling heads are especially useful to make clipping your own hair easier.

Don’t forget to go check out my mini-reviews
of the most popular hair clippers you can
buy online today.