The Guide to Clippers and Trimmers: Which is Best for Your Needs?

Clippers and blades are ideal for executing well-coiffed hair cuts and sharp lines. The former is designed for cutting bulk hair over a larger surface area but not extremely close to the scalp. In contrast, the latter is used for edging, outlining, dry shaving, and light shaping smaller surface areas around the ears and sideburns.

Clipper vs trimmer? Most men’s haircuts (and shorter women’s styles) require both, so one isn’t superior to the other. However, several factors go into choosing quality, durable equipment that provides the best pro cuts and detailing. Let’s take a closer look so you can equip yourself with the best tools of the trade.

What to Consider When Buying Clippers

There are several variables to consider when choosing clippers. You must consider your client’s hair type and the style you’re trying to achieve. Secondly, it’s essential to look for a quality pair that will last — especially if you have several male or short hair requests on your books. Of course, you also want comfortable and easy-to-use clippers.  


Clippers are designed with one of a few  motor types, all of which support the blades in cutting the hair efficiently.  

  • Magnetic: A spring and an electromagnet work together to make the blade vibrate, the catalyst for the clipping action. This motor type is what you’ll find in most of the inexpensive clippers on the market, so likely not the best choice for a busy professional, but suitable for occasional home use. However, the Gamma+ X-Ergo Magnetic Motor Cordless Clipper is a top-notch quality option.
  • Pivot: This motor is similar to the magnetic model but relies on two electromagnets and no spring to produce double the cutting power. With that said, it’s an excellent option for cutting through even thick, wet hair. Professionals favor clippers like the Andis Pivot Motor Combo since they’re perfect for everyday use.
  • Rotary: As it’s the most powerful (and expensive) motor of the three, you’ll find it in AC and DC-powered units. AC devices require a cord, whereas AC allows the freedom of cordless movement — though they’re not as powerful since they run on batteries. Rotary motor clippers, such as the Wahl Cordless Designer Clipper, are best suited for bulky areas of hair. 
  • Brushless: Quickly becoming the standard nowadays, these motors run smoother and create less friction. Electronically driven, these motors allow for greater efficiency and performance. 
  • Vector: The newest breakthrough in clipper motor types, the vector motor is only used in the new Stylecraft Instinct Clipper and Stylecraft Instinct Trimmer. This new motor allows the clippers to be one of the smallest, most lightweight, and most powerful clippers on the market.


When achieving a clean, sharp, cut clipper blade, quality is as important as the integrity of the blades on a set of shears. There are different blades, including those that specialize in specific types of cutting, such as the Andis clipper blades that specialize in the fading technique. 

  • Sharpness: Sharp (high-quality steel in many cases) blades provide you with the ultimate precision without tugging at your client’s hair as dull blades are likely to do. Clipper blade sharpening is one of the keys to clipper maintenance (more on that in a bit), yet you can also opt for a pair with self-sharpening blades. Some blades are more suitable for home use, such as the Wahl Professional Home Use Clipper Blade
  • Material: There are ceramic clipper blades and stainless and carbon steel blades. The ceramic variety is advantageous because they typically stay sharper longer due to their hardness.

Clippers and Clipper Guards in a Row

Guide Combs

Clipper blade sizes vary depending on the model. Most clippers have approximately eight adjustable blade guards that are numbered. The numbers indicate the volume of hair that will be left on the client’s head after clipping — the smaller the number, the shorter the hair. The combs are a way to adjust the taper level., so they’re handy for fading, blending, and adding precision to your cuts. Most clipper brands offer refill guide combs, such as the Wahl Professional 1-8 Color-Coded Nylon Cutting Guides with Organizer.


Guide combs/guards aside, many clippers come with useful accessories such as a cleaning brush and comb, extra blades, oil, and a small pair of scissors. These small additions can make a big difference in the maintenance of your clipper. 


How long clippers last depends on how you take care of them. It’s simple as dusting with the brush in your accessories kit after use and lubricating your blades with Wahl Professional Clipper Oil. Just be sure not to use too much oil so you don’t leave a greasy line on your next client. 


What to Consider When Buying Trimmers

Trimmers are made up of two or more sliding trimmer blades used to precisely trim small areas of close-shaven hair in the back of the neck, around the ears, beard, and sideburns — but there are specific versions that cater to the nose, ears, and bikini line. 

Blade Size

Like clippers, trimmers are constructed with a blade and a motor. The difference is that the blades are thinner, making it easier to get a close cut on short hair.  Some models, such as the Andis Pivot Pro T-Blade Trimmer,  have pivoting heads to make it easier to trim hard-to-reach areas.


There are corded trimmers, and battery-operated models powered up on a charging base. Both pros and cons exist, but if you go the corded route, ensure you have a long enough tether to move around your client easily.

Clippers are designed for cutting bulk hair over a larger surface area but not extremely close to the scalp. Trimmers are used for edging, outlining, dry shaving, and light shaping smaller surface areas around ears and sideburns. One is not superior to the other. These tools can be used alone or in tandem.



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