How to Get the Most Out of Your Clippers

Published 30th Apr 2024 by Josie Jackson
With an ever-growing number of hair professionals looking to make their mark on social media, barbers are turning to more unique methods in order to gain online engagement – but it can be hard to know which techniques are worth trying, particularly when it comes to clippers. To find out which trends are worth it and which are a waste of time, we asked some experts to share their favourite clipper techniques – and here's what they had to say...

Outside the Lines

Using clippers for a blunt cut is a method commonly seen on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, but does this technique hold up in reality? Session Stylist Luke Benson says: “I’m not a fan of this unless it’s just to remove a lot of hair before a colour service. It gives too much graduation so you need to go through and correct with scissors in smaller sections anyway.”

George Smith from Smith England agrees, sharing: “My rule of thumb is when the hair is long enough to cut in the fingers, use your scissors – this is often a grade 5 and above." He adds that if you have mastered your clipper work then it does save time, explaining, “It’s about when and where. Hour appointments, use your scissors. Half-an-hour appointments and a 10-minute late gent, I'd grab the clipper."

Rhys Whitehouse, member of the Wahl Artistic Team, on the other hand, prefers blunt cutting curly hair with his Wahl Berets: “Wet, curly hair folds around the fingers when taking your sections and you can often find you nick yourself with scissors trying to be as accurate as possible, so using clippers means I get a clean and accurate cut without risking cutting myself. I also find this speeds up cutting the top when I have a curly haired client in my chair.”

Luke is keen to add that all tools serve a purpose: “They should be used in whatever way can help you achieve the desired result.”

Innovative Ideas

For some stylists, finding new ways of doing things can lead to unexpected results. “I’m always looking for innovative ways to use clippers and trimmers, and I have experimented on longer hair by using clippers to create layers, and for slicing,” shares Kevin Luchman, Andis International Artistic Team Lead. “This has proved very effective to create shape and texture internally. Clippers are usually used to remove bulk or for fading, so this brings a new dimension to using clippers on both men and women’s hair.”

Jody Taylor, Ambassador for BaByliss PRO has also seen some unusual techniques: “I’ve seen people cutting hair with fire and someone with an axe.” But on the more salon-friendly side, he adds: “I also watched someone do a freehand haircut on mid-length hair with clippers, and while I initially thought I would never approach a haircut like that, it was also really intriguing and now I want to test it out.”

Ultimately, it’s all about finding what works for you, with Andrew Plester, a member of the HARE&BONE Art Team, sharing: “I have used a clipper for a one-length blunt haircut before, but I found it too heavy and lacking movement, so it didn’t appeal to me.”


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Make Maintenance a Priority

Offering up his biggest piece of advice for apprentices new to using clippers, Wez Jones, Owner of the Heartbreak Club Barbershop, says: “Look after your clippers – a clean, well-maintained set of clippers will give you better haircuts, more respect from your clients and will save you money in the long run.” Joe Pomper, Master Barber at Murdock London, is proof that taking care of your tools really does make a difference. “If I could only have one clipper in my kitbag, I would have to go for the Wahl Seniors, as they’re cordless, durable and powerful,” he says. “I’ve had mine for about seven years and they’re still going strong.”

Want to learn more about looking after your electrical tools? Check out our maintenance guide here.

Practice Makes Perfect

Aside from staying on top of your maintenance, Ian Harrold, Owner of Attitude Men's Hairdressing and Lead UK Educator for American Crew, advises: “I would always recommend that an apprentice starts with a clipper that has a taper blade on it, not just one with a fade blade. The taper blade is more forgiving and lets you build confidence working free-hand off the head.”

Tariq Howes, Ambassador for BaByliss PRO, also agrees that developing confidence is key, telling us that it’s all about getting used to the feel of the clippers in your hand, the same way you do with scissors: “Practice the movements of the clippers or scissors, even if it’s for 20 mins while watching TV. The first art is knowing the different ways to hold them, and then the techniques behind using them.”

Josie Jackson

Josie Jackson

Published 30th Apr 2024

Josie supports the team with content for the print magazine, website and social media channels at HJ. Having grown up in a salon environment (thanks to her hairdresser mum) and even working as a Saturday girl before getting her degree in English Literature, Josie feels right at home in the industry. Although she’s experimented with a few creative colour looks in the past, she always comes back to blonde, and loves all things hydrating and bond building.

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