- 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 I personally use each day and the most popular among the hundreds of barbers I've worked with over the years.
Adjustable Blade Clipper:
Andis Improved Master - Many believe this is the best adjustable blade clipper on the market. The housing is all aluminum and steel, which makes it one of the most durable clippers made. The drawback to the Andis Clipper is that it is a high-maintenance clipper which requires oil between haircuts and regular cleaning of the inside of the clipper. Use with Speed-O-Guard attachment combs when needed.
The Wahl Cordless Sterling 4 Clipper is the only cordless clipper I've found that holds up well in a professional environment. The Wahl Cordless Sterling 4 Clipper itself looks much like any corded clipper, but this one you can unplug. 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 75+ minute run time and I've found that to be true.
Detachable Blade Clipper:
Oster 76 - This clipper has been used for decades and is widely considered the finest detachable blade clipper ever made. It is reliable and effective in wet or dry hair. Its only drawback is that it is air-cooled and the fan can sometimes 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, I highly recommend the Andis BGR -- a detachable blade clipper that's about the same size, but is not fan cooled. The BGR's performance is on par with the 76 (and it even accepts the 76 blades).
Andis T-Outliner - The workhorse of trimmers. This trimmer cuts closer than any I've found. The T-shaped blade makes trimming around ears very easy and the clipper’s small, almost oval shape makes it easy to hold.
Joewell S2 7" - For everyday haircutting, I find this shear to be a good balance between value and performance. The choice of shear is very personal for each stylist, but I find this is one shear I reach for most often when I need a good, basic shear.
Supercut Taperfine 44/20 - 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 - An excellent razor with good ergonomics, balance, and feel. Blades have a very small guard to protect against cuts. Kit includes 10 blades and a no touch blade changing system.
Feather Artist Club Razor - 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 quite well and is balanced for great shaving.
Oster 1-2-3 System Combs - These combs offer a very flat surface which greatly reduces clipper drag when doing clipper-over-comb. They are also manufactured with a very rigid plastic and will not bend when doing flattop or clipper-over-comb work. These combs tend to be a bit expensive, but worth the price.
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!