Not all hair is created equal, and certainly not all hair clippers are created equal. When it comes to black men, they need extra care and attention due to the nature of their hair.
You need high-quality, ridged, and powerful blades and motors that can go for a long time without dulling or weakening. You also need batteries that will last you a long time.
Black hair has special properties of being more coarse and harder to cut through with traditional clippers, which is why you need sharper clippers to get the job done.
WHAT MAKES BLACK HAIR DIFFERENT?
Genetically speaking, everyone has different hair genetics; some have fine, soft hair, some have wavy hair, some have… no hair (Sorry, bald men, we’re all getting there eventually).
However, each race shares specific hair properties. For Afro black hair, there are different kids; texture varies, as some have curly hair, some are wavy, some even have straight, but generally speaking, black hair is rougher and coarser.
The follicles of Afro hair appear to be more oval or elliptical which leads to curly to coiled hair. The hair also tends to be dryer and susceptible to breaking.
Volume is another major player, as the hair strands are tightly patterned together. While Afro hair grows at the same speed and pace as other textures, the curls make it look shorter.
Due to all this, hair clipper manufacturers are racing to produce the perfect, most powerful tool to use to make the process of cutting black hair, whether as an individual or barber, easier. Brands such as Wahl, Andis, OSTER, and Babyliss have a wide range of products made with this in mind.
CAN YOU USE CLIPPERS ON BLACK HAIR?
Many believe that black hair is simply too coarse to use clippers on, otherwise, they pull and hurt. While the nature of the hair is true, the misconception isn’t.
Using clippers on black hair is perfectly fine, and even encouraged as scissors just won’t get the job done and unless you’re growing out a massive Afro for a lifetime, you need to cut it somehow.
While most barbers prefer using a straight razor for lining up the hair instead of clippers without guards, the clippers are still necessary for the shaping and fading of the hair itself.
With this in mind, the products vary. You can’t use the same clippers or products on fine straight hair as you do thick, kinky hair.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU USE THE WRONG CLIPPERS?
Say you get just any clippers you find in the store to get the job done, unaware of the differences, you might run into a few pickles. If your blades aren’t sharp enough, this will happen.
Firstly, they’re not going to cut very well, which will tug and pull on the hair causing pain. One pass will certainly not be enough, since the hair will get caught between the blades and you’ll find yourself needing multiple passes, leading to more pulling, and a much longer time.
Trust me, nobody has that much time on their hands if you’re doing it by yourself in the bathroom. Not only will the clippers overheat with that much extra time, but you’ll also probably get bored and may even start making mistakes.
Worst of all, dull clippers will lead to bad irritation and redness on your scalp. Razor bumps and cuts can come from clippers too, not just razors.
While this all sounds horrible, it might actually get worse. You see, when using bad clippers too often, it becomes harder and harder to clean them.
If too much dirt and debris build-up and you use it on your skin, you might get acne, an infection, bacteria, and now you’re facing much worse than simply tugging. This is why it’s imperative that you find the perfect clippers.
WHAT CLIPPERS ARE GOOD FOR FADING?
When choosing the perfect clippers for you, you have to have a whole host of characteristics in mind. Clippers have so many parts and bells and whistles, such as the motor, the blades, the battery, whether it has a cord or not, the charging time, and even the guards themselves.
While you can use the same clippers on black hair as you do any hair, you still need a little more power and juice to account for the thickness.
When fading, you need a perfect combination of all of these together, especially for kinky thick black hair. Here are the things you need to keep in mind:
You know the saying “The pen is mightier than the sword” Well, so are clipper blades. Blades need to be of the highest quality since they’re what’s doing all the work and with contact to your skin.
The material is a massive contributor here. You have several options, such as stainless steel and titanium. Obviously, titanium is what goes best. It’s lightweight AND stronger compared to stainless steel.
The sturdier the blade, the more life you’ll get out of it and the less likely it will break (Yes, they do break). Definitely avoid plastic, for obvious reasons. It will just make things much harder and longer for yourself.
What Blade Do You Use For A Fade?
Some clippers come with multiple detachable blades of varying lengths. If you’re looking for a fade, you want to go for the longer blade first. Short blades lead to harsh lines, while a longer blade looks more seamless.
Going guard or no guard depends on how long or short you want your fade to be. Some clippers will come with adjustable blades with a lever on the side, while other clippers will have different detachable blades for you to switch between. The rules apply to both.
The motor is the lifeforce, the soul, the… engine(?) of the clippers. Mechanics 101 here, the more powerful the motor, the more powerful the thing it runs on.
Weak motors lead to slower movement of the blades themselves, which tugs and pulls at your hair, just like a beard trimmer that doesn’t have enough charge in it.
This is why corded clippers are superior to cordless, as you’ll never find yourself running out of juice. More power leads to a far easier and smoother cut. Sharp blades plus a powerful motor are all you need.
Say you’re not convinced by the cordless clippers and you want to go the portable route (Hey, maybe you want to give yourself a fade in the car, you do you).
On average, the battery of cordless trimmers should last you about an hour, but higher quality clippers last for double or triple that. Some high-quality tools also include fast charge, which… charges fast, if you need a trim in a pinch.
As we’ve mentioned, corded clippers will give you more juice and an easier trim. One downside is, you’re limited by the distance relative to the nearest plug and some clippers have cords that are far too short for comfort.
The length of the cord is definitely something you need to keep in mind (and where the plugs are in your bathroom).
THE GUARDS AND ATTACHMENTS
Clippers always come with a series of guards and attachments. You have the guards determining the length of the hair, the oil, the safety guard for when it’s not running, and even combs and brushes.
The better the clippers, the more stuff comes with them such as a nose hairpiece, ear hairpiece, beard piece. A key aspect is also how many guards, you don’t want to feel restricted to only getting your hair up to 12mm or 9mm.
You want more options. Of course, you can always buy attachments and guards for the clippers, but it’s nice to have them from the get-go.
Clippers come in all shapes, sizes, and materials not only for the blades but for the body itself. Have you ever tried to use flimsy plastic clippers that you feared were going to completely break in half as you used them? Not a good feeling. You want nice, firm grip that’s not too loose and slippery.
The shape is also a deciding factor, as some clippers are far too wide which hurts your hand the longer you go. Weight, too.
Some people prefer heavier clippers because they feel sturdier but become too much of a nuisance the longer you go, as you’re not looking for a wrist workout to go along with the trim or fade.
Best Clippers For Fading Black Hair 2023
What clippers are good for fading?
Now if you’re asking yourself “What clippers do barbers use for skin fades?” or “What are the best clippers on the market out there?” we’ve got you covered.
Below are the best, sturdiest, most powerful blades you can find that are perfect for using on black hair for fading or trimming. To make things easier, they’re organized by cheapest to most expensive:
#1. ANDIS 32400 SLIMLINE PRO LITHIUM ION T-BLADE TRIMMER
Andis is one of the leading, and most affordable brands when it comes to clippers for a hundred years. It’s lightweight with a carbon steel material throughout.
It comes with blade oil, a brush, and a charger stand, with four guards and even different plugs. It can run both corded and cordless. The lightweight, sharp carbon steel blades are perfect for detailing and shaping.
You get two hours out of the battery and only takes 2 hours 15 minutes for a full charge. The most notable feature is the T-blade trimmers for crisp outlines and designs.
While small, it packs a big punch and the slim and sleek design is fashionable. Reviews commended the sharpness of the blades, especially for details, and the design and grip of the handle fitting nicely in the hands. Make sure you zero-gap it first, as they don’t come zero-gapped out of the box.
#2. WAHL PROFESSIONAL – SUPER TAPER II HAIR CLIPPER #8470-500
The Wahl Super Taper packs a powerful punch with an ultra-powerful V5000 electromagnetic motor. The blade is specifically designed for thick hair, making it perfect for fading or trimming black hair.
Aimed directly at barbers for its function, Wahl promises extreme precision and heavy-duty work. The motor is faster than your average clippers motor, making it perfect for cutting, tapering, fading, and blending.
The clippers come with EIGHT color-coded attachments from 1” to 1/8”, as well as a safety guard, a styling comb, cleaning brush, blade oil, and instructions. The weight of the tool is notable at 1 pound, solidifying its rough heavy-duty work.
For thick hair, remember when we said you need a powerful motor for fast movement? This is it. The motor doesn’t slow down or bind with thick hair.
Reviews praised the power output, consistency, the comb sizes, the cord, and the grip and heft of the tool, while disappointed by the plastic body and how often you need to maintain and oil the blades so they won’t rust. The low number of repetitions and passes you need is also commendable.
#3. OSTER FAST FEED ADJUSTABLE PIVOT MOTOR CLIPPER 76023-510
The Oster Fast Feed comes with sharp stainless-steel blades adjustable between 000 and 1. The blades can cut through both wet and dry hair without clogging.
It’s corded with 4 different combs, which some might find a bit limiting. It also comes with a safety guard, blade oil, and a cleaning brush. Similar to the Wahl, the Oster Fast Feed is quite hefty with a one-pound weight. It’s durable and powerful and the most striking feature is the quiet motor, which saves you the noise of that brrrrr sound.
The Fast Feed is old-fashioned, but hey, old is gold. It’s efficient, durable, and the powerful motor is perfect for cutting through thick texture, making it very good for black kinky hair.
The Fast Feed lasts years, as mentioned by several reviews praising its longevity. The clippers also have two fade positions, which is great for black hair fading. One piece of advice is, you might want to invest in more or better comb guides.
#4. BABYLISS PRO BARBEROLOGY METALFX SERIES – OUTLINING TRIMMER
Another T-blade design optimal for fading and detailing, the Babyliss MetalFX comes in an all-metal design, with both corded and cordless options.
You’ve got high torque and a Ferrari-designed engine on this bad boy. The battery should give you 2 hours of use, and the battery fast charging too.
The grip is tight and comfortable. You can zero-gap it for a smooth and ultra-sharp cut, too. Similar to the Oster, it’s low noise with minimal vibrations.
Even though it’s lightweight, the Ferrari motor is incredibly powerful, don’t let the look and size fool you. Thick black hair is no match for this tool.
You get a titanium-coated blade, which is stronger than stainless steel, as we’ve previously mentioned. For the best fade, the trimers come with eight different attachments.
You have the perfect tool for both home use, professional use, and even traveling. Reviewers were enthralled by the design and look, and the power and sharpness of the blades, especially when they’re zero-gapped.
#5. OSTER® CLASSIC 76 PROFESSIONAL HAIR CLIPPERS FOR BARBERS AND MEN
The Oster Classic 76 will get you feeling as close to a barber as possible. The design, the color, the look, you can just feel like you’re traveling back in time to an old-school barber with those rotating color pole things outside.
These clippers are *hefty* at a weight of two pounds. They’re designed with barbers in mind for heavy-duty use. The universal motor is single-speed and powerful.
The motor is ideal for thick black hair for cutting, fading, trimming, or tapering. The detachable 000 to 1 blades are perfect for wet or dry hair. With its 120 years of service, the Oster classic 76 might be their ace in the hole.
It comes with a safety guard, oil, cleaning brush, grease, and a 9 ft cord. Reviewers praised how smooth the cut is, and that you don’t even feel it going through your hair.
While they may be too heavy, and the blade isn’t easily adjustable with a lever, the classic 76 will last you a long time with optimal fresh, smooth cuts for thick black hair.
With that in mind, you can’t forget to take care of your clippers to get the most years out of them, unless you want to keep replacing them every year or so. Always make sure the blades are well lubricated, and that no screws go loose.
Cleaning the clippers might sound difficult, but it’s necessary with some rubbing alcohol or distilled white vinegar unless you want to deal with infections or bacteria.
While you can always replace the comb guides, it’s still a good idea to hang on to the original ones and keep them in good condition. To avoid blade dullness, get them sharpened every now and then or even replaced.
CAN YOU FADE WITH WAHL BALDING CLIPPERS?
Wahl balding clippers are made for, well, balding. This means that they give the closest possible cut, as they’re meant to be used instead of razors.
Now, can you fade with them? Sure, as fades require ultra-sharp blades and the Wahl balding clippers definitely deliver. However, you need to be careful cutting too close as you might end up just completely shaving your hair.
They’re perfect for bald fades if your hair is short enough or if you’re trying to fade a buzzcut. The sharpness and precision are also ideal for lining and detailing, which every good black fade needs.
BIGGEST MISTAKES WHEN FADING OR CUTTING BLACK HAIR
Now you’ve got the perfect clippers to use, and you’re about to cut your own hair or if you’re a barber, about to cut a client’s black hair. Well, you best avoid these mistakes:
- Not Knowing The Direction: Black hair grows in one specific direction, and you need to pinpoint this direction to get the best cut. If you’re cutting against the grain or with the grain, the direction you can see matters. Thankfully, it’s easy to spot the growth direction and you don’t need much of a trained eye.
- Cutting Too Hard: While you might think that because Afro hair is thicker and coarser, you need to give it more gas and force. That’s simply not true. You need to trust the power of your clippers because that’s all that matters here. The more powerful the clippers, the less force you need. Applying too much pressure or force can cause scarring. Just give it a good comb, choose powerful trimmers, and go carefully.
- Mistaking The Hair Length: Because hair differs between individuals, the no. 1 on him might not look the same as a no.1 on you. This is why you need to understand how the curls, head shape, and texture look before just using the same length of comb guide. Always go for the higher guide, just to be safe. If it looks too long, then go shorter. This will prevent an accidental “Oh my God, I cut it too short”.
- Using Scissors: Fingers and scissors work well with fine or soft hair, but it does not yield the same result on thick black hair. For black hair, you *need* clippers. Scissors will lead to big uneven patches which will only look worse the more it grows.
All in all, whether it’s fine, European hair or thick black hair, fading and trimming follow the same rules. You’ll need powerful clippers and enough knowledge of their options and parts.
Styling and fading black hair are art and sometimes clients will go to their special barbers, as they tend to be more experienced in black hair.
If you’re cutting it yourself, make sure you’ve got enough knowledge and research of the clippers before you go. Always remember to take care of yourself and put as much effort as possible into looking your best and freshest.
See Also: Best Clippers for Black Men Hair.