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Mastering Hair Clippers: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques (2024)

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how to use hair clippersMastering hair clippers is an essential skill for both professional hair stylists and individuals seeking to cut their own hair at home.

With a wide range of options available, from cordless clippers to various comb attachments, it’s crucial to understand the basics of using hair clippers effectively.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of using hair clippers, from preparing your space and washing your hair to choosing the right clippers and maintaining them.

Key Takeaways

  1. Start with the sides and cut your hair against the direction of the hair’s growth, starting from the bottom and moving in an upward motion.
  2. Use a mirror to check the back and work slowly and steadily for a clean, even cut.
  3. Wash and dry your hair before using clippers.
  4. Familiarize yourself with clipper features, including blade quality, attachments, and ergonomics.

How to Use Hair Clippers

How to Use Hair Clippers
To use hair clippers, follow these steps:

  1. Start with the longest blade guard to trim off excess length from all over the head.
  2. Move closer to the skin with the clippers, scooping them outwards from the head.
  3. Use a lower number guard to clean up the edges.
  4. Trim sideburns and the back with a trimmer.
  5. Wash and dry your hair before cutting.
  6. Use a 1 or 1.5 guard to fade the hair seamlessly down to the neck.

Additionally, experts recommend using an upward, rocking motion to cut the sides and back of the head, rotating the clipper head as you change sides. For more detailed instructions, consult the user manual that comes with your clippers.

Getting Started

Getting Started
To use hair clippers, follow these steps:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the clippers, reading the user manual and understanding the different parts and functions.
  2. Prepare a clean space, ideally with access to a mirror and water.
  3. Wash and dry your hair thoroughly, ensuring it’s tangle-free.
  4. Cover the person’s shoulders with a cape to prevent hair from getting on their clothes.
  5. Choose the longest blade guard length for the desired hairstyle.
  6. Start cutting from the sides or back, holding the clippers upside-down with the top of the guard against the scalp.
  7. Use short scooping strokes, moving against the hair growth and avoiding lifting the clippers straight away.
  8. Blend lines with intermediate guard lengths for a seamless transition.
  9. Clean up the back of the neck and trim sideburns in the direction of hair growth.
  10. Fold the ear down to trim stray hairs and use scissors to even the hairline.
  11. Clean the blade guards in soap and water, use a soft brush to clean the blades and exterior, and lubricate the blades with oil.
  12. Check the owner’s manual for internal oiling instructions.

When choosing electric hair clippers, consider the price range (ÂŁ20-ÂŁ70), whether you prefer mains-powered or cordless models, and the space and availability of power outlets. Cordless models are more convenient for home use, but mains-powered clippers provide full power.

Clippers come with multiple comb attachments, and the grades represent the millimeter measurement of the comb length. Common clipper grades include 0 (skin close), 1 (3mm), 2 (6mm), 3 (9mm), and 4 (12mm).

To maintain your clippers, purchase clipper oil, lubricate the blades regularly, clean after each use, and store in a dry place.

Familiarize With Clippers

Before diving into your next DIY haircut with electric hair clippers, take a moment to get cozy with your tool. Understanding your clipper’s features is like befriending a wise guide for your hair journey.

  • Explore clipper features and blade quality.
  • Check attachment compatibility.
  • Feel the ergonomic design.
  • Assess weight balance.
  • Practice adjusting cutting length.

This prep talk ensures you’re set for a smooth, confident cut.

Prepare Clean Space

To prepare a clean space for using hair clippers, ensure you have a comfortable chair, good lighting, and a suitable mirror. Have easy access to water, a hair-catching cloth, clipper oil, clipper grades, and comb attachments.

Setting up your workspace meticulously will enhance your experience with men’s hair cutting, making the process smoother and more enjoyable.

Wash and Dry Hair

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the clippers, it’s time to prepare your workspace. Start by washing and thoroughly drying your hair. This clean slate will make cutting much easier. Use a comb to detangle any knots, and you’re ready to begin trimming. Remember to take your time and work in small sections for the best results.

Start Cutting From Sides

Start cutting from the sides of your head. Use the longer guard length first and work your way down to shorter guards as you move up. Pay attention to the cutting angle and use short, scooping strokes to blend the lines.

Move to Back and Top

Next, move on to the back and top of your hair. Use short, scooping strokes with the clippers to create a smooth fade. Position the clippers upside-down and move against the direction of hair growth. Blend the lines between guard lengths with an intermediate guard for a seamless transition.

Choosing Electric Hair Clippers

Choosing Electric Hair Clippers
When it comes to choosing electric hair clippers, you’ll want to consider a few key factors.

First, you should decide on a price range, which is typically between ÂŁ20 and ÂŁ70.

Next, you’ll need to decide whether you prefer a mains-powered or cordless model. Cordless clippers offer more convenience, but you’ll also need to consider the availability of power outlets in your cutting space.

Price Range: ÂŁ20-ÂŁ70

When it comes to choosing electric hair clippers, budget considerations are crucial. With a price range of ÂŁ20-ÂŁ70, you can find a variety of options that offer affordability and value for money.

You can choose between mains-powered or cordless models, with cordless models being more convenient for those who want to clip their hair on the go.

Mains-powered or Cordless

When choosing between mains-powered or cordless hair clippers, consider the following factors:

  1. Charging Convenience: Cordless clippers require charging, which can be inconvenient if you have a lot of clients or need to travel frequently. On the other hand, corded clippers don’t require charging, making them more convenient for continuous use.

  2. Travel Portability: Cordless clippers are more portable because they don’t require a power outlet. They’re ideal for barbers who travel to different locations or work on-the-go.

  3. Salon Use: In a salon setting, corded clippers may be preferred because they don’t require charging and can be used continuously without interruption. However, cordless clippers can be more convenient for barbers who need to move around their clients.

  4. Battery Life Expectancy: Cordless clippers have a limited battery life, which can be a concern if you need to use them for extended periods. Corded clippers don’t have this issue.

  5. Cord Entanglement: Corded clippers can be more cumbersome to use because of the cord, which can get in the way during hair cutting. Cordless clippers eliminate this issue.

Ultimately, the choice between mains-powered or cordless hair clippers depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you need continuous power and don’t mind the cord, corded clippers may be the better option.

If you value portability and freedom of movement, cordless clippers might be more suitable for you.

Cordless for Convenience

Opting for cordless models brings the convenience factor front and center. You’re not tethered to a power outlet, giving you the freedom to move as you please.

This ease of use is a game-changer, especially when outlets are scarce. Plus, with improved battery life, you won’t be left in the lurch mid-trim.

It’s like having a barber shop in your hand.

Consider Power Outlets

When choosing between corded and cordless hair clippers, it’s essential to consider power outlet accessibility. Corded clippers are more powerful and can be used for longer periods without relying on a battery that drains and dies.

However, they require a power outlet, which may not always be convenient or accessible. Cordless clippers, on the other hand, offer more flexibility as they can be used anywhere without being tethered to an outlet.

They’re particularly convenient for those who like to cut hair outdoors, where there will be less mess to clean up later. However, you have to stay on top of charging a cordless clipper, otherwise you may not have the juice to get through your entire haircut.

In terms of cost and effectiveness, corded clippers are generally more expensive but can last longer, while cordless clippers are more affordable but may require more frequent battery replacements or recharging.

When comparing the two, consider the space and availability of power outlets in your cutting location. If you frequently cut hair outdoors or in a space with limited power outlets, a cordless clipper may be more suitable.

Clipper Grades and Cutting Length

Clipper Grades and Cutting Length
When using hair clippers, it’s essential to understand the different clipper grades and cutting lengths they offer.

These grades, represented by numbers, indicate the length of the comb attachments that come with the clippers.

For instance, grade 0 is for a skin-close cut, while grade 1 provides a 3mm cut.

By understanding these grades, you can achieve the desired hair length and style.

Multiple Comb Attachments

Mastering hair clippers involves understanding the multiple comb attachments, or clipper grades, that determine the cutting length.

These attachments are made from various materials like stainless steel, titanium, or ceramic, and come with different tooth spacing and blade sharpness.

They can be classified into attachment types such as fixed and adjustable, and their durability varies depending on the quality of the materials used.

By choosing the right comb attachment, you can achieve a variety of hairstyles, from a close skin cut to a longer, more textured look.

Grades Represent Length (0, 1, 2, 3, 4)

Mastering Hair Clippers: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

In the realm of hair clippers, the grading system is a crucial aspect of achieving the desired hair length. Each number corresponds to a specific length of hair left on the scalp after a haircut. The numbers typically range from 0 to 8, with 0 being the shortest length (almost bald) and 8 being the longest length (1 inch) .

Here’s a table to help you understand the haircut number system:

Haircut Number Length in Inches Length in Millimeters
0 0 0
1 1/8 3
2 1/4 6
3 3/8 10
4 1/2 13
5 5/8 16
6 3/4 19
7 7/8 22
8 1 25

This system allows barbers to achieve uniform and consistent haircuts, and it also helps clients communicate their preferred haircut length more effectively.

Common Grades: 0 (skin Close), 1 (3mm)

When it comes to clipper grades, a grade 0 will give you a skin-close cut, perfect for a sleek look. Opting for a grade 1 will leave your hair at a length of 3mm, ideal for a slightly longer style. Experiment with these grades to find the perfect length that suits your style and preference.

Clipper Maintenance

To ensure your clippers function smoothly, regularly lubricate the blades with clipper oil. Keep them clean after each use and store in a dry place to prevent rust and maintain performance.

Purchase Clipper Oil

To maintain the longevity of your hair clippers, it’s essential to purchase clipper oil. Clipper oil comes in various brands and types, such as mineral oil or silicone oil.

The frequency of oiling depends on your clipper’s usage, but it’s generally recommended to oil them after every use. To apply the oil, turn off and unplug the clippers, then apply a few drops to the blades and exterior.

Store the oil in a cool, dry place to ensure its longevity.

Regularly Lubricate Blades

Regularly lubricating your hair clippers’ blades is crucial for maintaining their performance and longevity.

  1. Choose the Right Oil: Use clipper-specific oil, such as Wahl Clipper Oil, which is scentless and designed to reduce friction and protect blades. Avoid using other oils, as they may gum up the blades.

  2. Frequency: Oil your clippers before each use to ensure optimal performance. This helps distribute the oil evenly and prevents overheating from friction.

  3. Oiling Techniques: Apply oil to the top blade of your clippers, using a dropper or by holding the clippers upside-down and dispensing oil onto the blade. Wipe off excess oil to prevent it from entering the motor compartment, which can lead to poor motor performance.

  4. Automatic Lubrication: Some clippers have automatic lubrication systems that dispense oil as needed. Check your clipper’s manual for instructions on how to use this feature.

  5. Cleaning and Maintenance: Regularly clean your clippers by brushing away hair clippings and debris from the blades and carriage with a stiff brush. Sanitize the clippers with a wall disinfectant spray to prevent cross-contamination and maintain hygiene.

Clean After Each Use

After every use, clean your clippers by brushing off the hair and debris with the mini brush included with your clippers.

Every other use, oil the blades with a lubricant like Teflon oil to prevent rust and keep the blades sharp.

Once a month, wash the attachments in hot water, unscrew the blades, and vacuum the inside of the clippers to remove any buildup.

Once a year, resharpen the blades to maintain their cutting efficiency.

Store in Dry Place

Store your hair clippers in a dry place to prevent moisture build-up and rust. Use sealed containers to keep them safe from dust and debris. Regularly check your clippers for signs of wear and tear, and replace any worn-out parts promptly.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure your clippers last longer and perform at their best.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I fix a hair clipper that won’t cut properly?

If your hair clippers aren’t cutting properly, there are several possible reasons:

  1. Dirty or Clogged Blades: Hair and debris can accumulate on the blades, preventing them from cutting effectively. To clean the blades, remove them from the clippers and use a clipper brush to remove any hair or debris. You can also use soap and water to clean the blades.

  2. Lack of Lubrication: Proper lubrication is essential for the smooth operation and longevity of your clipper blades. Make sure to lubricate the blades regularly with the recommended oil.

  3. Power Supply Issues: If your clippers aren’t getting enough power, they may not cut properly. Check to ensure that the clippers are properly plugged in and that the power outlet is working.

  4. Blade Alignment Issues: Misaligned blades can result in poor cutting performance. If the top blade and bottom blade aren’t aligned properly, they may not cut effectively.

  5. Worn Blades: Over time, clipper blades can become dull or worn out, which can affect their cutting performance.

  6. Improper Tension: If the tension on the blades is too high, it can cause the clippers to generate excess heat, which can affect their cutting ability.

To fix these issues, you can try the following steps:

  1. Clean the Blades: Use a clipper brush to remove any hair or debris from the blades. You can also clean the blades with soap and water.

  2. Lubricate the Blades: Apply the recommended oil to the blades to ensure proper lubrication.

  3. Check the Power Supply: Ensure that the clippers are properly plugged in and that the power outlet is working.

  4. Adjust the Blade Alignment: If the blades are misaligned, you may need to adjust them to ensure proper cutting performance.

  5. Replace Worn Blades: If the blades are too worn, you may need to replace them.

  6. Adjust the Tension: If the tension is too high, you may need to adjust it to ensure proper cutting performance.

Remember to consult the product manual or manufacturer’s guidelines for specific instructions on maintaining your hair clippers.

What should I do if my clipper blades are moving but not cutting?

If your hair clippers are moving but not cutting, there could be several reasons for this. One common cause is a lack of lubrication. Proper lubrication is essential for the smooth operation and longevity of your clipper blades.

  1. Read the product manual or manufacturer’s guidelines for the recommended oil or grease.
  2. Apply oil to the blades regularly during use, especially after extended periods of cutting.
  3. Clean the clippers after each use to remove hair and debris that can impede cutting performance.
  4. Store the clippers in a dry place to prevent moisture buildup.

If lubrication isn’t the issue, consider the following possibilities:

  • Dirty or clogged blades: Over time, hair and debris can accumulate on the blades, preventing them from performing at their best. Clean the blades regularly to maintain optimal cutting performance.
  • Worn-out or broken socket: If the socket is damaged, it may not hold the cutter blade evenly, leading to poor cutting performance. Replace the socket if necessary.
  • Loss of tension in the blade: The tension spring maintains tension to ensure the cutter sits just snug enough to slide along the deck of the blade. Check the tension and adjust if necessary.
  • Incorrect position of the setback: The setback is the amount of space the cutter is placed back from the teeth of the deck. Ensure the setback is correct for the length of the clipper blade.
  • Worn-out blade drive/lever: Over time, the blade drive can wear down, affecting the performance of the clipper blade. Replace the blade drive if necessary.
  • Worn-out hinge: The hinge is the part the clipper blade slides onto. A weak hinge can cause the blade to pop up away from the clipper.
  • Broken latch: The latch fits onto the bottom of the hinge and is secured by the hinge springs. If the hook on the latch is broken, there’s nothing to secure the clipper blade to the clipper.

If you have tried these solutions and your clipper blades are still not cutting properly, it may be best to consult with a professional sharpener for further assistance.

How can I clean my clipper blades to ensure they cut effectively?

To clean your clipper blades effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Unplug the clippers and remove any attachments.
  2. Use a cleaning brush to dislodge any hair and debris from the clippers.
  3. Apply an anti-bacterial clipper spray to loosen any remaining hairs and prevent cross-contamination.
  4. Allow the spray to sit for the recommended time before wiping the clippers clean.
  5. For a deeper clean, use a screwdriver to remove the clipper blade and give it a good brush before screwing it back in place.
  6. Fill a shallow bowl with blade care solution or liquid disinfectant and immerse only the teeth of the blade into the liquid for 10-20 seconds.
  7. Wipe the blade clean and oil it with specialist clipper oil, such as Wahl Clipper Oil, every time you use the clippers.

Remember to clean your clipper blades between each client to maintain proper hygiene and ensure the longevity of your clippers.

How often should I lubricate my clipper blades?

To maintain your clipper blades, it’s recommended to oil them after every use. This helps reduce friction and prevents the clippers from pulling and snagging your hair during the cut.

What is the best way to store my hair clippers to maintain their performance?

Store your clippers in a dry place, clean and oil the blades after each use, and consider a protective case to prevent damage and keep them organized.


To master hair clippers, start by familiarizing yourself with the clippers and preparing a clean space.

Wash and dry your hair, then begin cutting from the sides and move to the back and top.

Choose clippers within your budget, considering mains-powered or cordless options.

Understand clipper grades and their corresponding cutting lengths.

Maintain your clippers by lubricating blades, cleaning after each use, and storing in a dry place.

With these tips, you’ll be able to confidently use hair clippers, enhancing your grooming routine.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and beard care expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and get fatter. His work has been mentioned in countless notable publications on men's care and style and has been cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.