“You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’”
It’s easy to channel Dirty Harry when you’re thinking about cutting your own hair – or even thinking about trimming someone else’s. The margin of error can be slim, and the very visible consequences of making just one mistake can be on public display for weeks or even months.
You don’t have to depend on luck. If you’re using one of the best hair clippers on the market, and you take enough time to do things properly, you’ll be able to enjoy what could be a scary experience and deliver a successful and attractive haircut. You’ll be saving a lot of money, too.
Why do high-quality hair clippers make such a big difference? Read on to learn more, and then check out Groom+Style’s roundup of the top 5 best hair clippers to make your choice.
Please find our detailed analysis and buying guide after the summary table below.
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How Hair Clippers Work
There’s really no mystery to hair clippers. They really are as simple as they look.
Two blades made of stainless steel, carbon steel, or ceramic do the work. One is permanently attached to the unit’s body while the other is powered by a motor, oscillating back and forth against the fixed blade to cut hair. Ceramic is the best material for blades but most expensive, stainless steel is most common, and carbon steel blades are self-sharpening. (Some stainless steel blades are, too.)
Here’s the thing, though: all of those blades will cut hair without a problem, so the material they’re made from is not the most important issue in choosing hair clippers. For home hair cutters, it is more important to have a “taper” control on the side of the clippers, because that’s the easiest way to adjust the cutting length while you work. The lever is what lets you taper or fade during the trimming process without having to stop to adjust the blades or the combs. That’s not the most important issue, either.
Combs Make All the Difference
The real key to a great hair clipper is the number and quality of the combs that come with it. Combs are the attachments with teeth that clip over the clipper’s head, setting the distance between the head and the cutting blade – and determining the actual length of hair that will be cut.
The more combs (of different sizes, naturally) that come with a hair clipper, the more versatile the model will be. A large set of combs gives you the ability to cut hair to the exact length you desire, create different hairstyles, and customize cuts for more than one person. The majority of combs are labeled by size from 1 to 8, corresponding to hair lengths between 1/8 of an inch and one inch.
The quality of the combs also matters. Almost all are made from plastic, but some are too pliable to hold firm and ensure a straight cut, and others are so stiff that they are liable to scratch the scalp or break under a small amount of pressure. High-quality combs will fall somewhere between those two extremes.
Other Factors to Consider When Judging Hair Clippers
It can be a pain to be tethered to a power outlet when cutting your hair, but the G+S review team for art of hair feels that a cord is worth the inconvenience (most of the time). Styling hair can take quite a bit of time, and the batteries (lithium-Ion are the best) in cordless hair clippers have an annoying tendency to run out of juice before you’ve finished the job. A corded clipper model ensures that you’ll be able to finish the job in one go. Just check the cord on the clipper before buying, since many are short and low-quality, making them susceptible to tangling or fraying.
A consideration that many people don’t think about until it’s too late is the size of a clipper. The “standard” size you see at the hair stylist is fine for cutting other peoples’ hair, but may be too heavy, large and unwieldy to comfortably use on your own hair. Some hair clippers are small and light enough to fit into the palm of your hand, which is perfect for do-it-yourself trims or cuts.
There are two types of motors common to clippers, magnetic motors and older-style pivot motors (those are the ones that make a humming sound). That’s less of an issue than the baseline power of the clippers. The more powerful they are the more hairs you can cut with every pass, the less likely they are to snag, and the faster the work will go.
Many units come with accessories like lubricating oil (clipper blades that aren’t self-sharpening need to be oiled regularly) and cleaning brush. They’re nice extras, but not worth thinking about when comparing the more important features of the best hair clippers.
Now that you have the full picture, let’s take a buzz through Groom+Style’s reviews of the top 5 best hair clippers.
1. Remington HC5850 Virtually Indestructible Haircut And Beard Trimmer
The review team often finds it difficult to come up with a clear-cut #1 product. In many categories, multiple options could each be “the best” depending on the user’s needs. This is one of those times where it actually is the case. The Virtually Indestructible is not the most powerful or full-featured hair clipper you can buy, but it’s definitely the easiest to use and best choice for cutting your own hair.
The body of this lightweight clipper fits into the palm and the rubber grips can be easily held with the fingers when cutting difficult-to-reach areas, giving you the type of control you would struggle to achieve with a standard-sized model.
The Remington HC5850’s size doesn’t make it a weakling, however. A super-torque motor delivers more than enough power to cut or trim hair, and there’s very little vibration (or noise) as it operates.
The stainless steel blades are precision-cut and do a nice job, and there’s a thick eight-foot cord giving you lots of maneuvering room.
Eight guide combs come with the Virtually Indestructible, from grade one to eight (1/8 inch to one inch). They’re rather sharp so it takes a little time (and probably a few scalp scratches) to get used to them, but they hold their form well and won’t flex during your haircut. This clipper also is missing a taper control, but that shouldn’t be a major problem if you’re cutting your own hair.
The unit really is virtually indestructible thanks to a tough polycarbonate casing and a lifetime warranty, and the price is great, too.
Groom+Style prefers other clippers for giving haircuts to the rest of the family, but you can’t beat this Remington if you plan on cutting or trimming your own hair.
Facts and figures for the Remington HC5850 Virtually Indestructible Trimmer:
SUMMARY: For the person who wants a small and light hair clipper that performs extremely well and can be used for do-it-yourself haircuts.
PROS: Lightweight, easy to hold/maneuver, powerful, inexpensive, strong build, lifetime warranty.
CONS: Not as many combs as some competitors, no taper lever.
2. Oster 76023-510 Fast Feed Adjustable Clipper
If this Oster clipper looks familiar when you check it out, there’s a good reason: your barber probably uses it. The Fast Feed is powerful and reliable, powered by a quiet but strong direct-drive pivot motor and an eight-foot AC cord.
The standard size of this model will make it tougher to use on your own head, but it’s ergonomically-designed (after all, barbers use the Fast Feed all day long so it has to be comfortable) and ideal to use to cut the hair of family members or friends.
Four combs ship with the clipper. Three of them allow you to cut hair to lengths of ¼ inch, 3/8 inch and ½ inch, and the fourth is a 1/16 inch comb that’s used for more sophisticated blending.
The Fast Feed has built-in flexibility, though, as its carbon-steel blades can be quickly adjusted with an easily-accessible lever to cut from grade 000 (1/32 inch) to 1 (one inch).
This clipper does a professional-quality job at a very reasonable price.
If you’ve ever wanted to be a barber or hairstylist, you’ve visualized yourself using a clipper just like this Oster. When you use it at home you’ll get the results you visualized, too.
More info on the Oster 76023-510 Fast Feed Adjustable Clipper:
SUMMARY: For the person who wants a professional-style clipper.
PROS: Powerful, adjustable blades, comfortable to hold and use, long cord.
CONS: Not easily used on your own head, only four combs, not good for balding.
3. Wahl 79602 Clipper Elite Pro
The Wahl Clipper Elite Pro gave the Oster a run for its money, but came in just a bit lower in the Groom+Style rankings at #3. If you want a terrific selection of guide combs, though, the Wahl should be your choice. It includes ten of them, sturdy but smooth and ranging in grade from ½ to 8, giving you a selection of hair trimming lengths from 1/16th of an inch to one inch. They lock on firmly with stainless steel attachment clips (a nice touch that we liked a lot) and come in a plastic storage case.
The motor on the Clipper Elite Pro is powerful and the blades are self-sharpening stainless steel.
The housing is primarily plastic, but it’s strong and should hold up well.
This hair clipper has a taper lever, although it’s not as easy to use as the blade adjustment lever on the Oster which is one of the reasons we ranked the Oster just a bit higher. The other reasons are that the Wahl is noisier and a little heavier. The power cord is thick and eight feet long.
The review team really liked the Clipper Elite Pro. It cuts hair well and would be welcomed in any of our homes. We just liked the first two entries on our best hair clipper list a little more.
Details for the Wahl 79602 Clipper Elite Pro:
SUMMARY: For the person who wants a high-quality, high-performing hair clipper with a large selection of combs.
PROS: Ten combs (ranging down to 1/16th of an inch) that fasten tightly, taper lever, well-built with lots of power, reasonably priced.
CONS: Not easily used on your own head, heavier than most competitors, taper lever can be somewhat difficult to move while cutting.
4. Philips Norelco QC5580/40 Do-It-Yourself Hair Clipper Pro
After reading our review of the Philips Norelco Hair Clipper Pro, you might think this is the best hair clipper on our Groom+Style list. We do too, but at four times the price of the other options we’ve reviewed, we can’t recommend this one for most people’s budget.
You’ve undoubtedly guessed from its name that this clipper is designed for those who want to cut their own hair, and it has a unique feature which makes that task simple. The head can rotate 180°, allowing you to easily reach any spot on your head.
Other features that make this Do-It-Yourself model special are a balding attachment, a trimmer for cutting around the ears, and 14 built-in length settings (from zero to 19/32”) that let you select hair length without changing combs.
The blades are self-sharpening stainless steel.
Here’s one other reason the Hair Clipper Pro didn’t automatically grab the #1 spot: it’s a rechargeable model. We prefer the reliability of a corded hair clipper, but if you really want a cordless clipper, don’t be scared off. The lithium-ion battery can run for nearly an hour on each charge. Recharging is quick as well, taking just 60 minutes.
This is an outstanding hair clipper for cutting your own hair and an option worth considering, if you want to pay big for it.
Details for the Philips Norelco QC5580/40 Do-It-Yourself Hair Clipper Pro:
SUMMARY: For the person who wants a rechargeable hair clipper designed for D-I-Y cuts and is willing to pay a lot.
PROS: 14 built-in length adjustments, rotating head, ear trimmer, balding attachment
CONS: Extremely high price, requires recharging.
5. Remington HKVAC2000A Vacuum Haircut Kit
Our final choice isn’t as well-built (it’s made from somewhat-cheap plastic and has a thin power cord) or as versatile as the other hair clippers on the Groom+Style list, and it isn’t much cheaper than its competitors.
The reason we’ve included the HKVAC2000A is that it does a good job cutting hair – and a great job cleaning up afterward. That’s because it has a built-in vacuum feature, with a high-speed fan that sucks up your clippings and deposits them right into a fairly large collection chamber that can be emptied when you’re done. Being able to avoid cleaning up hair makes this clipper a no-brainer for many users.
Don’t assume that this Remington is a dud otherwise. The precision-cut stainless steel blades work well and there are six comb lengths (from 1/8” to one inch) and two taper combs (left and right) that come with the unit. That’s more than enough to give most people a good, quick cut.
The real reason to choose the HKVAC200A, however, is for the vacuum. For many people, that’s all the reason they need.
Details for the Remington HKVAC2000A Vacuum Haircut Kit:
SUMMARY: For the person who wants a hair trimmer that also vacuums up the clippings.
PROS: Vacuum function with easy-to-clean collection chamber, left-and-right taper combs.
CONS: Not overly powerful, only six comb lengths, no taper lever, thin power cord.
Have you ever considered shaving your head? If so, then maybe an electric head shaver is worth considering. If you are curious, then check out our complete review via this link.