If you’re going to cut your own hair — or handle haircuts for family, friends or perhaps even paying customers — it's critical to have a good set of hair clippers.
Most people are acquainted with low-cost options available at the drugstore or big department stores. They're often sold as part of a full barber kit complete with guard combs and scissors, and they're perfectly adequate for the occasional trimming or maintaining low buzz cuts.
But if you’re ready to step up your game when cutting your own hair, or plan on becoming a barber, you'll need something more powerful, durable and versatile.
High-quality clippers can get expensive, ranging between $100 and $200 for just the machine, without attachments. Nevertheless, in between the cheap kits you find at the pharmacy and the $200 specialized pro tools, there’s a wide variety of clippers that offer the kind of power and precision many barbers use. That’s what we set out to find.
It's also important to think about hair clippers as an investment — and to consider the money you're saving every time you do a DIY trim rather than pay for a visit with a professional.
Hair Clippers vs. Beard Trimmers
You might encounter a lot of beard or all-in-one trimmers when searching for new hair clippers. However, they’re not the same tool and are not designed for the same job.
Trimmers, depending on the type, are meant to maintain beards, shape the edges or trim body hair. They’re meant for precision and generally don't pack the power needed to cut through thick hair or long, bristly beards. That’s why you’ll notice a significant difference between trimmers and clippers in size and, on many units, in shape.
If you attempt to cut large amounts of hair with a small trimmer, it’ll probably snag, pull your hair or overheat. It’s like trying to clear a jungle path with a kitchen knife.
Good hair clippers, on the other hand, will seamlessly and evenly cut through even the thickest hair. You can then use smaller trimmers to shape the edges or as a middle step before using a razor or electric shaver.
Hair Clippers Buying Guide
Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for the best hair clippers for your money:
• Power. The more power you get, the easier it will be to cut any type of hair. However, determining power is often tricky.
Sometimes, you’ll brands highlight see SPM (strokes per minute), which describes the blade’s side-to-side speed; in others, you’ll see RPM (revolutions per minute), which refers to the motor’s power. In simple terms, SPM translates to speed, good for short or small amounts of hair, while RPM translates to power, which you’ll need for thicker hair.
You can also compare motor types: pivot motors are powerful but slow, and are becoming a rarity with newer, more modern options taking their place. Electromagnetic motors have a lot more speed and tend to be more reliable. Rotary motors are the most powerful, and best for handling thick hair.
• Guard combs. The guard combs are the plastic pieces that attach to the clippers to control the length of hair it cuts. They are a key part of the process, especially for beginners.
They range from a #0 (1/16”) to a #8 (1”); keep in mind, though, that these numbers may change from brand to brand. The most important thing is to look at how many guards the kit has, what they’re made of, and whether they are properly labeled to avoid mistakes.
Many inexpensive clippers will either not include guards or include very cheap ones that can bend or break — and might even be broken when you open the box. If you want to add a good set of guards to your kit, consider something like the Wahl Premium Cutting Guides, which are not that expensive given the quality.
• Haircut kits and scissors. Besides guard combs, many clippers come as part of haircutting kits that include capes, scissors, brushes and cleaning tools. This is important, as beginners might need all of this to complete a haircut, and the cleaning components will help keep the clippers working. Scissors are probably the most valuable. They’re important for cutting hair that you'll want to keep long: even the biggest guard combs will leave hair very short. Scissors can also be beneficial because they don’t "bite" hair aggressively and give the user more control, leaving hair healthier and more relaxed.
If you were wondering, the answer is no, you should not use a regular pair of scissors for haircuts. Hair-cutting scissors have thinner blades than regular scissors, can be opened up wide for sharpening, and have high-quality steel for edge retention. The scissors that come with haircut kits will generally do a decent job and last a while with good maintenance, but you may want to upgrade to more comfortable and durable scissors, like the Equinox Professional Razor Edge Series.
Other items are not necessarily as vital to the haircut itself, so buyers can get by with whatever's included. However, capes are sometimes just a large piece of plastic, so buying a separate one that lasts long and can be washed is also a good option.
• Blade and taper lever. There are different types of clipper blades, made from a variety of materials. The widely used high-carbon steels will do just fine for almost everybody, especially if you’re only giving them light use. However, ceramic is becoming more common and stays sharp for longer.
There are also two main styles of blade: the taper blade, which is curved, to control length; and the fade blade, which is straight, and helps with blending. For casual home haircuts, the more common taper blade will suffice.
The lever you often see on clippers also helps control length. It’s similar to the guard combs, but it’s controlled directly on the blade. It can vary from what’s called a zero gap, which leaves about 0.25mm (1/100”) of hair; all the way up to a classic #1, which is normally 1/8”. On professional models, that range can be larger. The lever is very important when it comes to blending. But if you don’t plan on doing much blending, guard combs will serve you well.
The Best Hair Clippers of 2023
1. Best overall: Wahl 5-Star Series Cordless Senior
List Price: $114.00
Motor: Rotary │ RPM: 6400-6900 │ SPM: Undisclosed │ Guard combs: 3 │ Advertised run time: 70 minutes
Barbers have unique preferences and opinions when it comes to their tools. However, quite a few agree on one thing: The Wahl 5-Star Senior is the best all-around clipper out there.
Made by the company that invented the electric hair clipper, the Senior's reliability and durability have been praised by many barbers who have used Wahl products every day for decades.
The Senior is the brand’s most powerful model, boasting a rotary motor that reaches 6900 RPM. Yet it’s relatively quiet and guards don’t rattle when attached. One of the downsides is that it only comes with three guards, so you’ll probably want to purchase additional ones separately.
This model does have a fade blade and can be zero-gapped to help you cut as close as possible to the skin. Overall, there is plenty of versatility between this model's adjustable lever and the three included comb guards.
The trade-off for its high cutting power is its so-so run time — advertised at 70 minutes, which is not very long when compared to competitors. However, like other newer cordless clippers, it can be used while connected to a cord and charging.
- Powerful motor and proven durability
- Comfortable ergonomics for haircutting
- Capable of running while charging
- Relatively quiet and doesn’t rattle
- Only three comb guards included
- Shorter battery life than comparable models
2. Editor’s pick: Andis Envy Li 73000 Cordless Clipper
List Price: $85.54
Motor: Rotary │ RPM: Undisclosed │ SPM: 5500 │ Guard combs: 11 │ Advertised run time: 2 hours
Andis is one of the world's most recognizable hair clipper brands, and for good reason. Many barbers swear by their Andis tools, and among hair clippers, the Envy is a clear standout — especially the cordless version.
For under $90, its rotary motor is more than powerful enough, and the battery life is advertised as a solid two hours after only 90 minutes of charging. And if it runs out, you can use it while plugged in.
It has a very good range on the taper lever, from #000 (1/50”) to #1 (3/32”), and can be zero-gapped for even closer cuts and easier transitions when doing fades. On top of that, it comes with 11 guard combs, so you’ll have a wide selection of sizes to experiment with.
- Great value from a reliable brand
- Eleven guard combs for a wide range of sizes
- Cordless design for convenient use
- High-speed magnetic motor operates efficiently
- Not as powerful as higher-end models
- Somewhat difficult to clean
3. Best for low prices: Wahl 79434 Haircutting Kit
List Price: $44.99
Motor: Undisclosed │ RPM: Undisclosed │ SPM: Undisclosed │ Guard combs: 12 │ Advertised run time: 60 minutes
You don’t need to spend too much money if all you need is a tool to trim your hair once or twice a month. But as tempting as it is to buy the cheap unknown brands found online, it's best to stick with reputable companies with proven quality. Wahl has a wide variety of budget options, and this kit is one of the best values at under $50.
It comes with all you need to get started giving haircuts: 12 properly labeled guard combs, a comb, scissors, blade oil and a carrying case. Keep in mind, though, that the items in the kit aren’t top quality. The guard combs, for example, can bend or break if you’re not careful. The scissors might become blunt quickly, especially if you use them a lot cutting thick hair. And the clippers' runtime is only one hour, although you can use it plugged in.
These clippers don’t have a taper lever to control length directly on the unit, so you’ll have to depend solely on the guard combs, and making fades might prove troublesome. At this price point, if you want a lever, you’ll have to use a corded clipper such as the Wahl Color Pro, which is a very good option if you don’t mind the restraints of a power cord.
- Cordless design for easy maneuvering
- Suitable for use while charging
- Very affordably priced for the set’s quality
- Included blade oil and carrying case for convenience
- Guard combs are somewhat flimsy
- Short runtime of one hour
4. Best trimmer: Andis Slimline Pro Li Cordless Trimmer
List Price: $70.98
Motor: Rotary │ RPM: Undisclosed │ SPM: 6000 │ Guard combs: 4 │ Advertised run time: 2 hours
The Andis Slimline Pro is somewhat legendary in barbershops. For $70, it offers incredible value. Its rotary motor is powerful enough to handle relatively thick beards and coarse hair and marks very clear lines when trimming and shaping the edges of the hair.
As a bonus, the slim, curved profile makes for great ergonomics, whether cutting somebody else’s hair or finding the least awkward grip to cut your own.
It’s also a good alternative to shaving every day because it cuts hair very close to the skin, and can be zero gapped for an even closer cut. The four added blade guards can help with trimming your beard and touching up your sides before they get a little too out of control.
This model comes with a lithium-ion battery that can last up to two hours on a single charge and, just like our other picks, can be used while plugged in. The main downside to this trimmer is that its build quality, mainly the switch, doesn’t last too long in professional settings. For regular household use, though, this shouldn’t be a problem.
- Slim and comfortable design
- Solid battery life of up to two hours
- Four blade guards for touchups
- Ideal for trimming beards
- Can sometimes snag in very thick hair
- May not be ideal for professional use
5. Best clipper trimmer combo: Wahl 5-Star Unicord Combo With Magic Clip Clipper and Razor Edge Trimmer
List Price: $92.00
Motor: Electromagnetic │ RPM: Undisclosed │ SPM: 14,400 │ Guard combs: 8 │ Advertised run time: N/A
If you want a full clipper and trimmer set, there are plenty of good options under $100. But the Wahl 5-Star Unicord combo, including a Magic Clip clipper and a Razor Edge trimmer, might be the best.
By adding the Magic Clip alone, this bundle is more than worth it given that it usually sells for less than $90. The Magic Clip is one of Wahl’s best offerings, with the brand's V9000 electromagnetic motor delivering both power and a speedy 14,400 SPM. It’s also well-known for durability in barbershops and salons.
The included Razor Edger trimmer is no slouch either. It also has an electromagnetic motor, which translates to speedy strokes that result in smooth performance when handling stubble and edges. Barbers say the blade on this trimmer is particularly sharp right out of the box, so lines will be very clean.
The downside to both of these reliable tools is the Unicord configuration unique to this set. They’re corded, not wireless and there's only one power cord. This can prove annoying or awkward, especially for professionals, since you’ll have to be plugging and unplugging the cord to switch between devices.
- Reliable, powerful, professional-grade motor
- Ideal for achieving a very close cut
- Sharp blades ensure clean lines
- Durable, chemical-resistant power cord
- Only corded operation
- Only one cord to switch between devices
6. Most stylish for professionals: BaBylissPRO FX Series
List Price: $209.99
Motor: Ferrari High-Torque Brushless Motor │ RPM: Undisclosed │ SPM: Undisclosed │ Guard combs: 8 │ Advertised run time: 2 hours
BaByliss has been making strides in the past few years with the FX series of clippers and trimmers. The brand's all-metal housing is aesthetically unique, first of all, and comes in a variety of colors. And now, the brand has come up with an app, CustomFX, that allows users to customize the look of their clippers, from the body, the buttons, the logo and the lever — if the model is ordered directly from the company.
Still, the BaBylissPRO is not just about looks. It packs a punch with a brushless motor (a feature that also aids in durability), and its blades are sharp and titanium-coated, which adds rust resistance. The FX series blades, particularly the trimmers, are said to draw smooth, clean lines.
Mind you, there’s a premium to pay for these stylish pieces, which go for around $200. For less than that, you could get good — perhaps even slightly better — clippers. But if you’re planning on becoming a career barber, this is an option to have a tool that feels uniquely yours.
- Durable, brushless motor for long-term use
- Rust-resistant, titanium-coated blades deliver smooth clean lines
- Compatible app for customizing your model
- Premium, all-metal housing offers a unique look
- Fairly expensive (about $200)
- Heavy weight can be tiring to handle
Why Trust Us
Our commitment to the consumer begins with product selection and ends with the last word we write in each article. Each hair clipper model is carefully vetted quantitatively through star ratings and the number of reviews and qualitatively through careful examination of reviews and the features each one has to offer. Leveraging our team of bargain hunters, we’re also always sure to keep your budget in mind while we find the best hair clippers on the market. Our team of experts is dedicated to accurately depicting the pros and cons of each hair clipper model, translating technical product specifications into information you can understand. Our goal is to help you find the ideal hair care tools for your needs without breaking the bank.