Oh, and before we jump in, some advice: Remember to read the instructions before you break out your new blades. Treat ’em right by brushing out the hair afterward and using a little bit of (usually included) lubricant so the clippers don’t overheat. Honor the beard-to-hair ratio rule, and never match your hair length to your beard length unless you want to look like a tennis ball. And never, ever, not-once should you try cutting your hair on a zero gap (what pros use to finish a skin fade) unless you want to end up with a head or neck full of cuts. If in doubt, ask your barber for tips on how to handle between-cut DIY trims at home.
How We Tested the Best Hair Clippers for Men
The GQ staff, blessed with all sorts of domes, is constantly trying new grooming products as they hit the market, hair clippers included. At least once a year we revisit this list, adding the latest and greatest, while making sure time-tested favorites get pricing and availability updates. In our testing, we consider the different needs of DIY haircutters as we vet products, and that’s reflected in the way we assign the winners their titles. Particularly because some of you may want more than one clipper besides one for everyday use—maybe a more portable one for the road, or a clipper that excels at edgework. The below list takes into account those possibilities, as well as our experience actually using the clippers.
Best Men’s Hair Clipper Overal: Wahl Color Pro Cordless hair clipper set
Why it’s great: The best hair clipper bargain is also the best hair clipper, period. This is the set you remember owning in college, or from when your mom shaved your head in high school. And now it’s not only the web’s best-selling hair clipper—it’s cordless! The steel blades on Wahl’s professional model are as durable as any you’ll find in the barbershop, but the sturdy, indefatigable guards that pushes it into first place on the podium. Trustworthy guards mean you’ll get a clean, even buzz no matter how much pressure you apply.
The guards’ color coding is brilliant. In the standard, arcane guard system, a “1” is actually ⅛-inch; a “4” is half an inch. Each number adds an ⅛-inch increment. The colors make it foolproof for newbies and hungover hair trimmers alike.
Battery life, at 50-60 minutes of cordless life, is strong. The Wahl Color Pro needs a full overnight charge to refill the tank, but one big upside is that the clippers can be used while plugged in. That’s not true of all hair clippers—and it ensures there’s never a moment where you can’t get a trim.
Best Dual Hair Clipper + Beard Trimmer: Bevel Pro hair clipper and beard trimmer
Why it’s great: Bevel officially makes the sexiest and most muscled-up device on the market; the Bevel Pro even makes its user feel powerful, given its heft and strength. It’s a barber’s dream product, but well worth the spend for anyone demanding a professional-grade beard and/or hair cleanup at home. Its leverless button-powered gap delivers a clip anywhere from 0-2.5mm sans any clipper guards. Swap in the #1-4 guards for a clip of up to half an inch and admire how they swivel into place on the magnetic head. You can also choose from three different clipping or trimming heads (T-blade, wide-tooth clipper, and finer trimming).
Best Vacuum Hair Clipper: Remington vacuum haircut clipper kit
Why it’s great: You can’t overstate the magic of a vacuum-ized hair clipper. Remington’s sucks up some 90% of clippings, to make cleanup a breeze. It also comes with 8 different blade guards, including some for fading and tapering.
Best Barber Clippers: BaBylissPRO Barberology GOLDFX hair clipper
Why it’s great: Is this is an objectively absurd amount of money to spend on a hair clipper? Sure. But BaByliss Pro’s FX line deals in extremes—in this case, a grooming device designed by the same team of Italian engineers responsible for Ferrari’s engines. What sounds like a Rick Ross flex (“My clipper a Ferrari/my whip a Bugatti”) is what makes these clippers worth the big price. That baroque silhouette masks some serious horsepower for slicing through thick hair quickly and easily. If the high-torque motor isn’t enough to convince you, the ultra-strong titanium-coated blades—which will stay sharp longer than steel blades, and shouldn’t rust—just might.
Best Bald-headed Hair Clipper: Mangroomer palm-held hair clipper
Why it’s great: With nine guards, Mangroomer’s palm-held clipper delivers a customizable trim as it glides beautifully over and around your dome. The ergonomic design makes it easy to buzz the back and sides, unlike the awkward fumbling that some clippers require. And, for what it’s worth, cutting with this guy is actually lots of fun. It’s the device to get if you plan on being bare-headed forever.
Best Barber-Level Upgrade: Panasonic ER-GP80 hair clipper
Why it’s great: Panasonic’s hair clipper is an investment, but well worth the spend. This is one of the sturdiest clippers in the game, outlasting any drops or checked-luggage abuse. It has some of the fastest blades in the game, at 10,000 rpm, and it’s cordless, with a 50-minute run time. You can achieve dozens of different lengths with the adjustable clipper, and the carbon-fiber and titanium shell looks sleek in its upright charging stand.
Best Corded Hair Clipper: Oster Fast Feed hair clipper
Why it’s great: Oster is a perennial barbershop staple, so it’s little surprise that its adjustable clipper gets the job done at home, too. Though it comes with just four guards, its razors are sharp and well-suited to buzzing it all off or tightening-up a once-crispy fade. Best yet, it’s built for ridiculously long use so it won’t sputter out on you midway through. It’s a little pricier than some of its counterparts but well worth the investment, especially if you’re chasing that telltale just-back-from-the-barber look but can’t muster the energy to book an appointment.
Best Travel Hair Clipper: Wahl Peanut cordless hair clipper
Why it’s great: Pack the Wahl Peanut in your bag for touch-ups and styling on the go; at only 4 inches long and weighing just 4 ounces, it totes easily and doubles well as a cheek and neckline detailer, should your weekend beard need a dusting-off. The storage case is sold separately, but you can still pick up the whole rig for around $80. Note, too, that there is a corded Peanut option, should you not mind the extra bulk. (You’ll save a Hamilton or two, if so.)
Best Clipper for Clean Edges and Detailing: Andis Professional T-Outliner
Why it’s great: Another Andis favorite to round out our roster: The T-Outliner isn’t a clipper—it’s a trimmer, technically. That’s the gold standard in line ups, shape ups, edgework—whatever term you use for the perimeter of your hair line, neck line, side burns, and even the beard borders. There are plenty of lower cost products out there, but this professional-grade tidier-upper is a true cut above the rest. You can zero gap it for ultra-clean lines, and if you fancy a fresh fade from some trusted hands, it’s also got four blade guards for that task.
Can you buzz your head with a beard trimmer?
Please don’t. Beard trimmers are meant for less-dense hair and more detailed tasks. If you mow through your head hair with a beard trimmer, you’ll spend more time to get an uneven buzz, and probably painfully yank on your hair in the process. Two of our favorite choices above, the Bevel Pro and the Wahl Peanut, are built to handle both beard trimming and hair clipping.
How do you buzz your own hair?
Not to be a broken record here, but rule 1: if you’re going to buzz your own hair, use hair clippers—not a beard trimmer. Don’t try to do anything fancy, like fading the edges, since you’re not a pro (and it’ll be impossible to fade the back of your head and behind your ears by yourself, anyways). Clean and dry your hair before you start, then keep things simple: put your clipper on the same guard setting all around the hair, trimming against the grain of growth to lift hairs as you go. Read GQ’s guide to buzzing your own hair.