best in class

The Very Best Hair Clippers

Thirteen barbers (and a couple of regular folks known to buzz at home) recommend the clippers to use to get the job done.

Photo: Marcus McDonald
Photo: Marcus McDonald

In this article

Barbers have told us that the arrival of warmer weather often inspires men to shed their winter manes and neaten up.You might think your regular beard trimmer will do the job, but according to the barbers we spoke with, beard trimmers and hair clippers can’t always be used interchangeably. “The rule of thumb in our industry is you can always go shorter,” says barber Mike Sposito, who explains that many beard trimmers will cut too close to the head, leaving little room to “go shorter.” (Some clippers are multitaskers, though, and are suitable for both your beards and the hair on your head — you just have to look for a device with slightly longer guards.) Below, we spoke to Sposito and 13 other experts, about their favorite hair clippers — some of which other experts have told us are just as good at trimming beards.

What we’re looking for

Corded versus cordless

Professional barbers will often opt for a corded clipper over a cordless one because they tend to have the most powerful and consistent motors. Plus, they never have to be charged and won’t start to lose power after just one client. Cordless clippers can be more convenient, so choose what best suits your lifestyle.


Miles Wood Smith, the head barber at Murdock London, told us that it’s important to use a clipper with enough power to cut your hair consistently. And master barber Julien Howard (a.k.a. the Velo Barber), who has seen guys of all races with beards of all hair types, says that trimmers and clippers from brands like Wahl, Andis, Philips Norelco, and Oster typically have motors (and blades) strong enough to handle the coarsest of hair (or any that’s finer, too).

Battery life

If you find using a cordless clipper more convenient than a corded one, it’s also important to find a trimmer with decent battery life. Most will list the life of a full battery charge in minutes on their packaging.

Guards and attachments

Different-size blade guards are like training wheels. They help guide you without cutting the hair unevenly or too short. Guards come in a variety of lengths to keep the actual blade part of the clipper back a certain distance from your head and cut each hair to that length. Sposito also has two pieces of advice for would-be barbers when it comes to using them: Before you even turn the clipper on, take whatever guard you want to use “and slide it through your hair against your scalp.” Any hair that pokes out of the guard is what you’ll be cutting. And even though you may not be able to see everything you are doing, you can always listen to your clipper, which is a great way to ensure you’re doing it right. “The minute you stop hearing the noise of hair being cut, it means you’ve got an even line,” he says.

Best overall hair clipper

Cordless | Motor: Rotary | Battery life: 100 minutes | Guards and attachments: 8 guard attachments

The most recommended product by our barbers is Wahl’s Magic Clip. According to Mark Miguez, co-owner and barber at New York City’s Friend of a Barber, the device is not only multifunctional — it’s also a best-in-class beard trimmer — but comes with eight different guard sizes (ranging from 1/16-inch to one-inch) that cater to pretty much any length a home cutter may want. Lester Rivera, of Florida barbershop the Spot, adds that the Magic Clip can manage every hair type, telling us it’s “strong enough to cut through the coarsest of hair yet still able to deliver precision blending.” Another “huge plus” of the cordless clipper, according to Rivera, is its lithium battery, which gives it “almost two hours of battery life” on a single charge. Wood Smith agrees about the battery life, and notes that the Magic Clip is “light enough to be able to maneuver around easily by hand.”

Alejandro “AJ” Albano, creative director and barber at Tuft NYC, has been using the cordless Magic Clip since 2015 and agrees that it is the “lightest, easiest-on-the-wrist clipper” he’s used in his two decades of cutting hair. Once you get comfortable with it, Miguez says the Magic Clip can make hair trimming even easier via a lever that you can press to shorten the length of a guard while trimming, allowing you to taper around the ears and the neck without having to stop and swap in a shorter guard. Wahl actually makes the majority of the models on this list, some of which also appear on our list of expert-recommended beard trimmers. While reporting that story, we asked Fellow Barber founder Sam Buffa why the American manufacturer’s name is so popular among his peers, and he told us there are two reasons: The quality of Wahl blades makes its products “the most bang for your buck,” and those blades often “stay sharp for longer.”

Best less-expensive hair clipper

Corded | Motor: Not specified | Guards and attachments: 13 guard attachments, plus two combs and a pair of scissors

For a more affordable option that will satisfy anyone in need of a quick cut. Even though this clipper is on the cheaper end of Wahl’s product line, barber David Kim of the Electric Barbering Company in New Jersey says you’re always going to get a “professional product” from the brand, and this one is no exception. Sposito says the Color Pro has a “great guard setup,” which takes the form of 13 guards (ranging from 1/16-inch to one-inch) color-coded by length (hence the “Color Pro” name). The color-coded guards aren’t the only thing that makes this clipper great for at-home cutters: It also comes with two combs and a pair of scissors, or pretty much everything you’d need to cut men’s hair at home. Barber Ronnal Lee King also likes the Color Pro — the first clipper he says he ever used — telling us that home use will deliver “an almost-professional cut without professional prices.”

Best easy-to-use hair clipper

Cordless | Motor: Rotary | Battery life: 60 minutes | Guards and attachments: 3 hair cutting guards plus 7 more beard and shaving attachments

We’ve written before about how, in reporting stories on the best grooming tools for men, barbers sometimes tend to favor different brands than normal guys — it often simply comes down to marketing. . So it didn’t come as a surprise that this affordable gadget from Philips Norelco is the one that came most recommended by Andy Baraghani, cookbook author and recipe developer, who used to share his his self-administered quarantine haircuts on Instagram. Baraghani, who generally keeps his hair on the shorter side, told us he’s used this trimmer both to cut and style it for “about eight years now,” praising its ability to “get the job done as fast as possible,” whether he’s trimming hair, sideburns, or beard. The clipper comes with three beard-trimming guards, a stubble-trimming guard, and three hair-cutting guards (3/8-inch, 1/2-inch, and 5/8-inch).

Best hair clipper for longer hair

Cordless | Motor: Pivot | Battery life: 5 hours | Guards and attachments: 8 guard attachments

While the combination trimmer above is all Baraghani needs to keep his already-short hair neat, for guys who aren’t as regular with maintenance, this clipper (made for cutting head hair) is what Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo used to trim her fiancé’s “curly, fast-growing hair” during long pandemic barbershop closures. “I like it because it’s cordless, you can charge it with a USB cable, and it has a nice range of guards,” she says, the latter detail being especially important to her as a first-timer who wanted a wide margin for error. (The clipper comes with eight guards and a lever that adjusts their positioning to provide a cutting range from just under 1/16-inch to just over 3/4-inch.) Corsillo adds that the clipper is “really precise, with a lever for blending that I’ve got better at using each time.” It’s also made from sturdy stuff: “In the picture, it looks like it’s plastic with a chrome plate, but it’s actually steel throughout,” she notes.

Best hair clipper for a buzz cut

Cordless | Motor: Rotary | Battery life: Not specified; rechargeable batteries and charger included | Guards and attachments: 4 guard attachments

For anyone who knows they want a buzz cut, two of the barbers we spoke to recommended the lightweight Wahl Peanut — which is also one of our favorite beard trimmers — as the best clipper for getting that shorter style. Miguez, who has used the Peanut to cut his own hair at home, says that while it comes with fewer guards than the other Wahl clippers on this list, the ones included are all you need “for a basic buzz cut” (the four included guards range from 1/8-inch to 1/2-inch). Sposito also recommends the Peanut to prospective buzz-cutters, saying its modest size and weight is “meant for the home cutter but strong enough for professionals.” It’s also available in a corded version. Before buzzing everything off, some advice from Dhiran Mistry, hairstylist and owner of the Carriage House salon: “If your hair is already short, you can just go in with clippers, but if your hair is long, you’ll have to cut length before using clippers, because otherwise it can get caught and that would be really painful.”

Best clipper for buzz-cut maintenance

Cordless | Motor: Rotary | Battery life: 210 minutes | Guards and attachments: 10 guard attachments

For keeping on top of your newly buzzed head, Mistry recommends the Wahl clippers that he uses at work. “The box comes with a bunch of different guards, oil for the blades, and a pair of scissors,”says Mistry. “If you’re shaving it all off, it doesn’t matter if you start in the front or the back.” He doesn’t recommend trying a fade, though, “because those are extremely difficult for even a professional to do.” He suggests you pay close attention to your ears, hairline, and neckline, running the clippers over those areas another time to stay on top of fuzz. The long battery life should give you more than enough time to spot-check.

Best clipper for neatening a hairline

Cordless | Motor: Rotary | Battery life: 120 minutes | Guards and attachments: 4 guard attachments

The Andis Slimline Pro, like the Wahl Peanut and Wahl Magic Clip, is another expert-recommended hair clipper that also landed on our list of the best beard trimmers. That’s not the only detail those three clippers share: They all have rotary motors, which the pros say are more powerful than the motor on the Color Pro. And like the Magic Clip, the Slimline also has a lithium battery. Whether used on your hairline or beardline, experts like Albano, Miguez, and Rivera love the “wandlike, easy-to-maneuver” Slimline Pro for neatening edges — making it a tool to consider if you’re more concerned about tending the perimeter of your hairline than your whole head. Wood Smith says it’s “easily maneuverable to trim even hard-to-reach hairs on the neck.”

Best electric shaver for bald heads

Cordless | Motor: Rotary | Battery life: 30 minutes | Guards and attachments: 4 pivoting heads, no guards

Instead of a trimmer, those with bald heads should look for an electric razor that can be easily maneuvered across the curve of the skull and doesn’t miss hairs, says Brittany Raposo, a barber at the Paul Labrecque Salon. Steve Waldman, artistic and technical director at Hair Cuttery Family of Brands, adds that the key is to find one with pivoting and adjustable blades that can “navigate the head’s uneven landscape.” Both believe this Skull Shaver electric razor fits the bill — with its ergonomic design and rotary blades. The blades cut close but skip over any of the scalp’s irregularities and won’t irritate the skin, according to Raposo. Waldman recommends going in with gentle pressure and maintaining even contact for the best shave.

Our experts

• Alejandro “AJ” Albano, creative director and barber at Tuft NYC
Sam Buff, founder of Fellow Barber
Liza Corsillo, Strategist senior writer
• Julien Howard, master barber
David Kim, barber at Filthy Rich Barbershop
Ronnal Lee King, barber
• Mark Miguez, co-owner and barber at New York City’s Friend of a Barber
Dhiran Mistry, hairstylist and owner of the Carriage House salon
• Brittany Raposo, barber at the Paul Labrecque Salon
Mike Sposito, barber
• Lester Rivera, barber at Florida barbershop the Spot
• Steve Waldman, artistic and technical director at Hair Cuttery Family of Brands
Miles Wood Smith, head barber at Murdock London
• Andy Baraghani, cookbook author and former senior food editor at Bon Appétit
• Brittany Raposo, master barber and educator

Additional reporting by Liza Corsillo.

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The Very Best Hair Clippers