While we’ve seen more and more men show off newly buzzed heads over the past couple of weeks, we can’t blame the pandemic alone. According to barbers, the first weeks of spring and the warm weather they bring typically coincide with the time of year that men shed their winter manes in earnest. If you’re one of the many guys in need of a trim with no barber to turn to, your first impulse might be to grab the trimmer you already have for your beard — but the two can’t always be used interchangeably, according to the barbers we spoke with. “The rule of thumb in our industry is you can always go shorter,” says barber Mike Sposito, who explains that some beard trimmers, even used with their longest guards, will still cut too close to the head, leaving little room to “go shorter.”
That doesn’t mean you can’t use the same tool to clip hair and trim a beard, though — if you want one that does it all, just look for devices with guards that are long enough to ensure your first pass at hair-cutting won’t leave you with hair shorter than you’d like. In fact, in talking to Sposito and four other experts — including three more barbers and one editor who is known to buzz his head himself — they recommended three hair clippers that other barbers told us are just as good at trimming beards. Read on for all of our experts’ favorite hair clippers, but before we get to the products, Sposito has two more pieces of advice for would-be barbers. Before you even turn the clipper on, take whatever guard you want to use off “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.
Editor’s note: Hair clippers are seemingly in high demand at the moment, because we’ve had a hard time finding some models below other than at retailers like eBay, where prices can be higher than we’ve seen them in non-pandemic times. We’ll continue to update this piece as we notice products restocked elsewhere, so remember to check back.
Best overall hair clipper for men
The most recommended product by our barbers is Wahl’s Magic Clip, which all of our barbers say is the clipper they use at work, and the first they’d recommend to home cutters. According to Mark Miguez of New York City’s Matter of Instinct barbershop, the device comes with eight different guard sizes (ranging from 1/16-inch to 1-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 type of hair, 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: Its lithium battery, which gives it “almost two hours of battery life” on a single charge. Barber Miles 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.” 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 for men
For a more affordable option that will satisfy anyone in need of an interim cut before they can get back to a proper stylist, two of our barbers recommend the Wahl Color Pro clipper. Sposito says it has a “great guard setup,” which takes the form of 13 guards (ranging from 1/16-inch to 1-inch) color-coded by length. (And gives the product its 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 regular-guy-approved hair clipper for men
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 — a preference we’ve learned tends to stem from marketing more than anything else (because some brands are more commercial-facing than others). So it didn’t come as a surprise that this affordable gadget from name-brand Philips Norelco is the one that came most recommended by our “regular guy” Andy Baraghani, a senior food editor at Bon Appétit who’s been sharing his self-administered quarantine haircuts on Instagram. Baraghani told us he’s used this trimmer both to cut and style his hair 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 a men’s buzz cut
For anyone who knows they want a buzz cut, two of the barbers we spoke to recommended the lightweight Wahl Peanut 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.”
Best clipper for neatening a man’s hairline
The Slimline Pro, like the Peanut and 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 motors on the Color Pro and Philips clipper. And like the Magic Clip, this also has a lithium battery. Whether used on your hairline or beard line, experts like 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.
And an expert-recommended hair-clipper cleaner
To enhance your hair clipper’s performance and lifespan, Rivera says that anyone investing in one should care for it by “lubricating and disinfecting the tool before and after every use.” He says a “simple spray” of this Andis disinfectant — which pros also recommend for cleaning beard trimmers — along the blade will help rid it of any lingering body oil and hair.
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