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It's our firmly held belief that, if you intend on cutting hair other than your own, investing in quality haircutting tools is a necessity. Since your tools are what you use every day to create your work and earn a great living, shouldn't you put your money towards the best? Far too many stylists cut hair every day using the same tools that came with the kit they purchased in hair school. Having the right tools will improve your technical quality, and help increase your client retention. It's important that every barber or stylist's toolkit should contain eight essentials:
- Adjustable Blade Clipper (for all-purpose cutting and tapering)
- Detachable Blade Clipper (for free-hand clipper and clipper-over-comb work)
- Corded Trimmers (for creating outlines and trimming beards)
- Shears (for general cutting and layering)
- Blending Shears (for thinning and blending)
- Hairstyling Razor (for blending and texturizing)
- Straight Razor (for neck shaving, where allowed by law)
- Clipper Combs (for all-purpose cutting)
Following are my top picks in each category. These are the tools you should use each day and the most popular among the hundreds of barbers we've worked with over the years.
Adjustable Blade Clipper
Andis Improved Master ($112): It's a common belief that this is the best adjustable blade clipper on the market. The housing is entirely aluminum and steel, which makes it one of the most durable clippers made. The drawback to the Andis Clipper is that, like any high-quality item, it's high-maintenance. It requires oil between haircuts, and regular cleaning of the inside of the clipper. Use it with guide attachment combs when needed, of course.
Wahl Cordless Designer, $110: This is one of the only cordless clippers that holds up well in a professional environment. It itself looks much like any corded clipper, just, you can unplug it. The clipper itself is very lightweight, but still powerful enough to hold up to professional use. Wahl claims the motor-driven clipper with the built-in lithium-ion battery has a 90 minute runtime, and we've found that to be true.
Detachable Blade Clipper
Oster 76, $135: This clipper has been used for decades and is widely considered the finest detachable blade clipper ever made. It's reliable, and effective on wet or dry hair. Its only drawback is that it's air-cooled and the fan can occasionally blow hair in the stylist's face while doing clipper-over-comb work in dry hair. For those who think the fan is an issue, we highly recommend one of the Andis BGR models, as they're detachable blade clippers that's are about the same size but not fan cooled. The BGRs' performances are on par with the 76, and they even accept the 76 blades.
Andis T-Outliner, $52: The workhorse of trimmers. This trimmer cuts closer than any we've found. The T-shaped blade makes trimming around ears very easy, and the small, almost oval shape makes it easy to hold.
Joewell S2 6", $99: For everyday haircutting, this shear is a good balance between value and performance. The choice of shear is very personal for each stylist, but we find this is one shear we reach for most often when we need a good, basic shear.
Supercut Taperfine 44/20, $105: This is the barber's standard, and is one of the worlds most imitated shears. With 44 fine teeth, this shear creates a very smooth blend. Hardened steel retains a sharp edge, and the slotted and notched teeth provide the smoothest blend possible in a thinning/blending shear. This is an essential tool for easily removing lines of demarcation between your clipper and shear work.
Jatai Feather Styling Razor, $43: This is an excellent razor with good ergonomics, balance, and feel. The blades have a very small guard to protect against cuts. The kit includes 10 blades and a no-touch blade changing system.
Feather Artist Club SS Razor, $115: This razor combines classic design with modern technology. It looks and feels like a traditional straight razor, but has an innovative blade holder that makes changing the blade quite easy. The handle withstands disinfecting chemicals, well and the razor is intentionally balanced for great shaving.
Oster 1-2-3 System Combs, $8: These combs offer a very flat surface, one that intentionally greatly reduces clipper drag when doing clipper-over-comb. They're also manufactured with a very rigid plastic, and won't bend when doing flat top or clipper-over-comb work.
Investing in the right tools can increase the quality of your work, and make you much more efficient. The suggestions above are a few of my favorites, and have served me well for years. Happy cutting!