There has been a lot of innovation in the last few years when it comes to men’s hairstyles. There are a lot of options to choose from. Classic short hair cuts are still common, but so are longer do’s, undercuts, hair designs, braids, and so much more.
But one of the sharpest haircut types you can choose from are the buzzed fades. These can be done with super short hair, or with taller hair on top. The length and extent of your fade is incredibly customizable.
Plus, fades are one of the rare breeds of haircut that look just as sleek and fine in the office as they do at the club.
But they aren’t easy to care for. Fades are a high-maintenance haircut, and unless you want to spend an hour every couple weeks with your hairdresser, you’ll want to invest in a good set of clippers for quick touch-ups.
Not just any clipper will do. Some clippers are especially well suited to creating a sharp, even, well-blended fade. Not only will we compare some of your best options in this article, but we’ll also talk about the other accessories you should have in your kit.
|Surker Men’s Cordless Hair Clippers|
|Power Source: Battery-powered|
|Come with Cutting Guards?: Yes|
|LED indicator tells you when to charge, good for travel.|
|Wahl Professional Super Taper Hair Clippers|
|Power Source: Corded|
|Come with Cutting Guards?: Yes|
|Comes with a styling comb, oil, and other necessary accessories.|
|Wahl Professional 5-Star Barber Combo|
|Power Source: 8 ft cord|
|Come with Cutting Guards?: Yes|
|Suitable for fades, buzz cuts, and detailing facial hair, highly affordable.|
Some Things to Consider
Like any tool, good clippers have several different factors you need to take into account before you can pick the right set for your needs.
Size and Weight
The size and weight of your clippers can have a significant impact on the look you can create. Not so much because a super small or super large set of clippers won’t be able to get the job done, but because it’s comfort in your hand and maneuverability makes a difference in what you can do.
Ideally, you should try and hold a clipper before you buy it. We know that that isn’t always possible, so here are some guidelines.
Lightweight is Good
Since you’ll likely be reaching around behind your head, and relying on mirrors or a friend to tell you what it looks like, a lightweight clipper is a good idea. Your arm isn’t designed to have to lift and do delicate work behind your head.
The heavier the clippers, the less functional time you’ll have to create and perfect your fade.
Too Light is Bad
This is going to be ambiguous, but there is a point where the clippers are too light to trust. There isn’t one number to bet on here since clippers come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. But, if it seems too light to be believed, you’re probably right.
Lightweight machines can often mean something has been compromised in quality.
Most of the time battery operated clippers are a little heavier than corded clippers because of the weight of the batteries themselves. Small clippers should feel denser in your hand than large clippers, and no clippers should weight more than a few pounds.
Corded or Battery Powered
This is one of the first questions you should ask yourself when it comes to any electric grooming tool. What type of power will work best for me?
Battery-powered clippers are getting more and more common as battery life improves and size and weight go down. But they might not be the best option for men wanting to maintain a fade. Because fades require several passes on different settings, followed by blending and cleanup, they take a decent amount of time.
You should aim for at least 30 minutes of battery power if that’s your preference. You may also want to consider touching up your fade slightly more often so there is less hair and less cleanup required.
Corded clippers, on the other hand, have the advantage of being able to run much longer. But, you’re limited by the need for an outlet and the length of the cord.
While corded appliances and grooming tools seem to be on their way out, this is one area where the downsides of a cord may be worth the longer operational time. Especially if you’re new to creating and maintaining a fade haircut, corded clippers give you a little longer to create your look.
Not rushing means fewer bad hair days and fewer embarrassing trips to the hairdresser with a messed-up do.
One of the things you’ll often see listed on clippers is how many cutting motions the clipper makes per minute or per second. This is a reflection of the power of the motor on those clippers.
Here, faster is usually better. The more power your clipper brings to the table, the fewer passes you’ll have to make to get a clean cut. Not only does that save you time, but it also helps prevent a lot of unevenness that can ruin a good fade.
Good motors also reduce the chances of having a missed hair or three that only crop up a few days later when they refuse to lay flat.
If you don’t want people to be able to tell when your hairdresser cut your hair vs when you did, buy clippers with a good motor.
Blades are another hugely important aspect of a good set of clippers. Don’t buy clippers with cheap blades, they won’t do the job well and quickly turn into money sinks since you have to replace them a lot more often.
Almost all clippers will claim to have good blades, and most will say that replacement is easy to do. Rather than relying on company claims, look for reviews. People who love their hair, and are good at maintaining it, pay special attention to the blades on their tools, and they’ll point it out right away if something’s wrong with the quality.
Clippers are like most tools in that the best clipper in the world will fail if you don’t maintain it properly. Fortunately, there isn’t that much to clipper maintenance. Taking these steps and making it a regular part of your routine will help keep the clippers working and in top condition a lot longer.
All clippers will eventually break down, but maintenance will save money in the long term.
Clean the Blades
Clean your blades. Clean your Blades. Clean Your Blades! We can’t say this often enough.
All kinds of bacteria and other gunk can grow on your clipper blades if you don’t care for them properly. Beyond becoming less effective over time, that dirt, leftover strands of hair, and bacteria can cause skin irritation and breakouts.
Trust us. You do not want to get a breakout to bacteria-caused flaky patch in your fade cut.
Beyond the hygiene considerations, failure to clean your blades means that they will dull, and possibly even rust, much faster.
Many clippers can just be run under warm running water to be cleaned. Others come with a specialty brush. If you don’t have a specialty brush or want a more thorough clean than you can get with running water, a toothbrush (not the one you use on your teeth!) will do a good job cleaning your clipper blades.
Clipper spray is another cleaning and maintenance alternative. Mostly intended for professionals who need to worry about disinfecting and cooling the blades between clients, clipper spray can also be a useful addition at home.
Especially if your clippers tend to heat up while you’re using them, clipper spray is a quick way to bring the temperature down so you can finish off your cut.
It’s also a disinfectant, which can be important for people who know that they have sensitive skin, or who have previously had a dandruff for scalp condition.
Most clipper blades are easy to align, but it’s something you should check every single time you get them out. That’s because an uneven alignment on your clipper blades causes serious problems for your haircut and can also stress the motor and shorten the life of your clippers.
Alignment is easy to check by eye. Hold the clippers so that the blades are parallel, and so that you can gaze directly down the length of the blade.
The blades should be perfectly straight and parallel. If they aren’t, you should loosen the blades slightly so that you can adjust. Don’t take them completely out, since you’ll still have to adjust the same way after. Adjust the blades until they appear straight, tighten them down, and then check your work.
This should be fairly easy. But, until you’re used to your clippers, go ahead and give yourself a couple attempts to get this right. Don’t stop until the blades are straight.
Oil the Blades
Depending on the clippers, this should be done somewhere between every time you use them, and every 3rd or 4th time. Oiling the blades is simple.
Almost all clippers should be angled down to reduce the chances of oil getting into the motor housing and surrounding other electric and moving parts. Some may recommend removing the blades entirely to oil or clean them.
You should always use blade oil, though the proprietary blend that goes with your clippers doesn’t necessarily have to be the blend that you use. Just don’t reach for the olive oil unless you want to gum up and slow down your blades.
Usually, 1-3 drops per blade is sufficient. We also recommend lightly wiping off your blades after oiling them to remove the excess oil.
Even though too much oil is a problem, regular oiling is important. If you don’t oil the blades regularly, they’ll experience more friction, dull faster, and are also more likely to rust or corrode.
5 Best Clippers for Fades Comparison Table
If you already know all about clippers and are just looking for an updated source for the best sets, this table is for you. If you’re looking to learn more about clippers, and why these clippers made our list, read on.
|Product Name||Power Source||Come with Cutting Guards?||Price|
|Wahl Professional 5-Star Barber Combo||8 ft cord||Yes, for both clippers||Check Price|
|Andis Master 15-Watt Adjustable Blade Clippers||Corded||No, but blades are adjustable and cutting guards available.||Check Price|
|Surker Men’s Hair Clippers||Battery-powered, 150 minute operation time||Yes||Check Price|
|Wahl Professional Super Taper Hair Clippers||Corded||Yes||Check Price|
|Oster Fast Feed Adjustable Blade Hair Clipper||Corded||Yes||Check Price|
5 Best Clippers for Fades: Detailed Reviews
Last but certainly not least, here are the best clippers for fade haircuts. We’ll go over some pros and cons of each, in addition to talking about how they work and where each clipper set stands out most.
Editor’s Rating: 4.9/5.0
It should come as no surprise to most of you that Wahl dominated this list of clippers for fades. This particular clipper, and many of the clippers on this list, is actually designed for professional barbers. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t good for home use, quite the opposite.
We do want to note, however, that clippers designed for professionals are often a little heavier than clippers designed for consumer use. So, some of those contortionist poses you have to adopt to create your fade will require a little more strength with these clippers.
Okay, disclaimers out of the way, let’s dig into the Barber Combo specifically.
This set got our best overall rating for a few reasons. At the top of the list, you get two different clippers in this set. The Legend (a larger clipper) and the Hero (a smaller detail clipper/trimmer). Between the two you get plenty of power for removing and shaping hair, and the ability to detail and even add art and designs to your cut.
The two different clippers combine to make this a set suited for fades, undercuts, hair art, and a lot more.
Wahl is also a well-known and highly trusted brand for all clipped hair lovers. Their tools are durable, usually, a little on the heavy side, and performance-driven.
You also get a good kit of guards and many of the other hair care accessories needed to cut and maintain your fade haircut.
Both clippers come with an 8-foot power cord. That length gives you a lot of space and maneuverability, perfect for creating your look or having a friend help with the tricky parts in back.
We also appreciate that neither clipper exceeds 1 lb. That’s a good weight for clippers this size, enough to make maneuvering a little easier, but not so heavy that you feel like you’re getting an upper arm workout.
|Clipper: 2 clippers, full size ‘Legend’ and detailer ‘Hero’|
|Power: 110-volt power|
|Includes: Cord powered, 8 ft power cord, 8 blade combs for the clipper, 3 blade combs for the trimmer|
|Comes with: Initial accessories like blade guards, oil and instruction book|
|Comes with both a large clipper and a detail clipper|
|Suitable for fades, buzz cuts, and detailing facial hair|
|Continuous power from long power cords|
|Comes with a good range of clipper guards and accessories|
|Blades will need replacement slightly more often than self-sharpening models|
|Blades tend to need adjustment frequently|
Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5.0
This clipper is a good choice for consumers and professionals alike. The heavy-duty aluminum housing is perfect for the kind of long-term regular use you need to maintain a perfect fade look. It’s adjustable blade lengths make creating a perfectly sculpted and blended fade easy.
While Andis produces another clipper than they call the fade master, we went with this one for two reasons. For one, the higher motor speed will improve performance and cutting quality over the other version. And, since the blades that make the fade master good at fades are compatible with this clipper as well, you won’t lose any flexibility going with this model.
However, since it doesn’t come with any cutting guards, you will need some additional accessories if you want to use this clipper on longer sections of hair.
But, those accessories are available and relatively affordable. Plus, this is a very quiet set of clippers. No more post haircut headaches.
We did want to note that the metal casing means that this set weighs a little more, still under 2 lbs., but the extra weight makes a big difference when you’re working behind your head.
|Motions per minutes: 14,000 cutting motions per minutes|
|Power: 120 volts|
|Strong, scratch-resistant outer housing|
|Corded power for longer operational time|
|Heating is very slow and not normally a concern|
|Speed and power determined with a thumb switch|
|No guard combs for cutting|
|Slightly heavier than other models|
Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5.0
The first battery-powered set of clippers on our list, we were a little worried that either the battery life or cutting power would disappoint. Fortunately, the Surker clippers served us a pleasant surprise. This is a good option for most men at home, with a battery long enough to work even for some professionals.
It’s also a good choice for men who need to travel internationally, but don’t want to let their style fade on the road.
This clipper has both a length adjustment lever and 6 length guard combs. We’ll admit that these combs weren’t our favorite, they didn’t seem to guide hair the way we wanted. It’s not that they don’t work, but you may need a couple passes to truly catch every hair.
However, the clippers themselves, are highly effective. They cut through hair well, without pulling or irritating the skin underneath.
The LED light indicator is also a handy feature, letting you know exactly when you need to plug it in for a quick charge.
It made our best bargain rating because it’s both a highly affordable and quality clipper. We do think another set of guards would be beneficial, but that wasn’t a serious detractor. This is a good choice for men on a budget, who need a traveling set of clippers, or who would prefer a cordless battery powered set.
|Weight: 1.5 lbs.|
|Charging time: 3-hour charging time|
|Charger type: USB|
|Running time: 150-minute average|
|Includes: 6 guide combs, oil, and instruction manual|
|3-hour battery life|
|Good for travel|
|LED indicator tells you when to charge|
|Comes with several guard combs|
|Guard combs are less effective than some alternatives|
|Heavier than corded options|
Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5.0
This is another set of clippers designed more for professional use than use in a consumer home. In this case, that means you’ll want to use extra care with the blades and guards because these clippers are sharp.
However, that’s also one of the reasons that this is our best value pick. A highly affordable option, it’s designed for the blades and the clippers both to last through consistent and heavy use.
It’s also a reasonable weight for professionals and consumers alike, only 1 lb.
While this kit only comes with three guide combs, those three combs are incredibly useful for creating a whole head look, yes, including the fades on the sides. You may want to purchase additional combs, but these are readily available and affordable.
|Motor: V5000 motor|
|Power: 120 volts|
|Lenght: 8 ft long power cord|
|Includes: 3 guide combs|
|Extra sharp blades|
|Comes with a styling comb, oil, and other necessary accessories|
|May need more guard combs|
|Blades require extra care when handling|
Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5.0
While there are more complete kits from Oster, we tend to recommend this one because the differences between this kit and the more complete versions don’t justify the cost differences. Instead of buying a more advanced fade kit, we recommend this option plus a few additional clipper guards.
This clipper is also ergonomically designed, relatively lightweight, and comfortable in your hand.
It’s also one of the only clipper sets we found that comes in a variety of colors and designs. While this is a small benefit, if appearance matters to you this may be the set of clippers for you.
It also designed for all hair types, with adjustable blades and design, and can be used on wet or dry hair.
With this kit, you’ll get 4 guide combs, including a blending comb, the power cord, blade oil, and an instruction manual.
|Weight: 1 lb.|
|Size: Sized 000 – 1|
|Includes: 8ft power cord|
|Ergonomic design fits well in your hand|
|Comes with 4 guiding combs including a blending comb|
|8 ft power cord|
|Easy to adjust blade lever|
|May need other guide combs and accessories for a better fade|
- Some Things to Consider
- Clipper Maintenance
- 5 Best Clippers for Fades Comparison Table
- 5 Best Clippers for Fades: Detailed Reviews