The Best Clippers for Fades to Freshen up Your Look
Are you tired of seeing that same old boring haircut in the mirror day in and day out? You may need some inspiration, and surprisingly enough, one of the first styles you’d see while browsing Pinterest boards or following your favorite Instagram celebrities also happens to be ideal for most guys’ heads.
The fade had its heyday as an expression of black culture in the 80s and early 90s, but has since been adopted, transformed and accepted by millions of guys who want a clean look that can go perfectly with the strict attire of the business culture or bring out your inner badass just as easily. Guys like Ryan Reynolds, Jamie Foxx and Johnny Depp totally rock the style, and the good news is that you can, and should, too!
There are two ways you can do this. The faster but more expensive way is to get down to your local stylist and pay him or her top dollar to fix you up with one. It will look good for a couple of weeks after which you’ll need to pay again to keep it in prime shape. If you’re willing to put in a little extra effort and practice a useful skill while you’re at it, why not start maintaining your own signature fade?
Provided you have some prior experience in keeping an immaculate beard and can do a passable, even buzz cut, stepping it up and getting a set of clippers designed with the fade haircut in mind can save you a pretty penny, unleash your follicular creativity and get you right back into the game as far as being up to date on what looks are currently a must.
Of course, you’ll want to get the right tools for the job. Clippers are a dime a dozen, especially when shopping online. You wouldn’t want to end up with a pair that have dull, flimsy blades or a motor that’s just strong enough to get your strands into an ugly tangle. That’s why we’ve put a number of devices through their paces. The five best clippers for fades secured spots in the guide, and you get to see why the buzz they’re creating isn’t just background motor noise.
What Makes Good Clippers for Fades?
You can’t expect to pull off a kickass fade with standard clippers. Here’s what sets good ones apart from the rest:
Lots of layering options
The fade is essentially one big stylish exercise in creating fine layers of closely cropped hair that culminates in a fun top. To achieve a seamless effect, the clippers you use need to be able to blend individual layers together immaculately. This is achieved through fine blade control as well as having the right guiding combs in proper small increments at hand.
Razor-sharp blades you can taper with
It goes without saying that you’ll want the blades to be as sharp as possible. The less passes it takes for your hair to get the desired length, the less skin irritation there is and your hair can get back into shape faster. For the taper fade and generally more control over your fade’s texture, blades whose tapering can be adjusted are a great advantage.
A motor that can keep up
If your hair keeps snagging and being pulled all the time, chances are your clippers have a less than stellar motor. Sure, you wouldn’t want to use something that sounds like you’re trying to trim your hair with a lawnmower, but quiet and cool operation are less important than raw power.
A good fit
Even the pros make mistakes, and you’re bound to make many more when first starting out. You know what will have you make a whole lot less of them? Clippers that feel natural when you grip them and whose surface has just a little bit of texture to it as to make slipping harder. Bonus points for designs that let you hold them as close to the blades as possible for pinpoint precision.
Wahl Professional 5-Star Magic Clip
Arguably the best of the bunch, Wahl’s Professional 5-Star Magic Clip provides power, versatility and fine control without breaking the bank. Easily one of Wahl’s best models in recent time, these clippers specifically cater to professional barbers, but will find their use in the skilled hands of DIY hair enthusiast without much trouble.
Sporting a long cord perfect for the salon, a weighty, classic body that’s almost as good to look at as it’s effective at steadily sculpting your hair and the much talked about V9000 motor, these are clippers that will cut any kind of hair down to size while remaining quiet, cool and ready to take on the next client or family member immediately after use. A plastic guard and comb are all you’ll get in terms of accessories, but more really isn’t needed as the responsive adjustment level takes care of different length and taper settings.
Finding any weak points to Wahl’s clippers has proven very hard. You could argue that some finesse is required in handling them and that there’s no storage case to put them back into, but neither of these should stop you from a purchase that ought to last long past its generous warranty period.
- Equipped with non-overlapping, extremely sharp blades
- Comes with eight comb attachments, a blade guard and maintenance accessories
- Has powerful electromagnetic motor
- Comes with a limited warranty
- Blades of the highest quality which perform well, don’t wear out quickly and require minimal maintenance
- Exceptionally strong motor that runs very cool. Suitable for cutting your whole family’s hair in one go without overheating
- Relies on a fixed power supply, but an 8-foot cord gives it the range and mobility you’d need in a professional setting
- Feels heavy enough in the hand and looks visually appealing
- Smart adjustment settings remove the need for a lot of clutter and unnecessary accessories
- A storage case for the clippers isn’t included
- A blade guard is, but that has a tendency to slip while used
Andis 20-Piece All Hair Clipper at Home Haircutting Kit
Andis is a respected American company that produces locally made shaving and grooming products which are praised as being affordable without being low quality. This is true of their clippers as well. As their name says, you can indeed use the clippers for more than just fades, but the many incremental guard combs they come with make the clippers particularly effective at cutting finely blended fades whose transitions no one will notice.
With 12 combs and 20 accessories in all, they’re a bit more diverse than Wahl’s model, and can even help the lady in your life style her own hair with the included scissors and comb. Meanwhile you can comfortably grip the pleasingly heavy device, fine-tune the stainless steel blades’ position and get to work as well. Once you’re done, everything can be stowed away inside a practical plastic case, provided you can fit all the bits and pieces into it again once you’ve taken them out for the first time.
All in all, Andis’ set is an inexpensive alternative to the overall winner with the clippers being surprisingly good in both quality and control. The combs are not as well-made, but are serviceable. If you weren’t planning to spend much on your first pair of clippers and want a set you can practice with and perfect your fade-making skills, this should be your go-to choice.
- Quality motor and stainless steel blades
- Comes with a 5-year warranty
- Has a set of 20 accessories, including 12 combs
- Everything comes in a plastic case for safekeeping
- Hardened blades are sharp and respond well to adjustment
- The clippers’ construction is durable, well adapted to the hand and enables precise cutting
- Creating complex, multi-layered fades is easy thanks to the many specific combs included
- Overall great balance of cost and quality
- The combs’ quality is worse than the clippers; they have a tendency to scratch the scalp and some of them have a hard time staying in place
- The motor vibrates quite noticeably. This can lead to your arm becoming tired sooner and makes longer grooming sessions more tedious
OSTER Fast Feed Adjustable Pivot Motor Clipper
Oster’s clippers are a close runner up with a unique feature which may even trump all the rest if you’re frequently taking care of your grooming but don’t want to disturb other people in your home. With these clippers, it’s all about the innovative pivot motor. It operates with a considerably lower rpm and the result is a lot less noise to worry about. It’s every bit as powerful as other premium clippers, even pulling ahead in situations where its extra torque comes in useful for trimming tangled locks or facial hair without causing pain.
Couple that with the finely engineered blades which quickly grab hold of your hair leaving only a close-cropped stubble behind, and you’ve got some solid clippers that perform well on their own and even more precisely when one of the four guard combs is attached.
The trend of a difference in quality between the main product and its add-ons continues here too, but isn’t as pronounced as with Andis’ clippers. While a perfectly shaven head is something you won’t get with Oster’s model, the its quiet, yet powerful shaving capabilities ought to make anyone who isn’t dead set on a balding fade very happy.
- Quiet and strong motor
- Highly adjustable blades
- Comes with 4 combs, a cleaning brush, blade guard and some oil
- Available in different vibrant designs
- Pivot motor that runs silently without generating much heat or vibrations
- Very good at tackling thick, luscious hair and stubborn growth that needs just a little trimming
- Easy to unscrew and open up, making maintenance which isn’t needed very often anyway even easier
- Fun-looking body is slightly textured for optimum grip
- Overall balance and precision are above average
- Leaves some stubble behind even at the lowest setting
- Rough combs aren’t as well made as the clippers
Sminiker Professional Cordless Rechargeable Hair Clippers Set
Fourth on the list is a portable, quiet and lightweight clipper set manufactured by Sminiker. Ideal for cutting your kids’ hair while saving some money and getting them used to the sounds and sensations associated with an electric hair cutting tool, they’re also capable of styling or maintaining your fade anywhere you wish.
The main appeal of Sminiker’s clippers is their remarkably long working time. Even with frequent use you shouldn’t need to charge them more than a couple times per year. Plugging them in is also an option with the convenient side effect of charging one of the two included batteries while making yourself look better at the same time. You can easily attach any of the 4 guiding combs to the clippers to do this, or simply rely on turning the adjuster ring to an appropriate setting and taking things from there. An accomplished combination of titanium and ceramic blades ought to take care of that swiftly without ever rusting and require only the occasional drop of oil.
Sminiker doesn’t supply the oil, but is bought separately easily enough. Other than that trifle, the only thing one could grumble about is that Sminiker’s clippers work best with hair which isn’t too long, and isn’t expected to vanish completely after using them either. Since all but the most extreme of fades fall within that category, you should be fine.
- Titanium and ceramic blades
- Adjusted by rotating a ring
- Works with or without a cord
- Comes with scissors, four guiding combs, two rechargeable batteries and an adapter
- Very long battery life ensures continued operation and portability
- Inclusion of extra battery gives you even more uninterrupted grooming time
- Titanium blades that never rust and whose settings can be changed quickly through the adjuster ring on the clippers themselves
- Lightweight construction allows for easier gliding and faster cuts
- Some stubble remains after cutting
- Hair mustn’t be too long to be cut neatly
- No maintenance oil
Conair Lithium Ion Cord/Cordless 20pc. Professional Clipper
The final clippers that made the cut (no pun intended) shares a lot of characteristics with the Sminiker’s and Andis’ models. They can be used anywhere once charged, come with a slew of different accessories that broaden your cutting and trimming capabilities, and can conveniently be transported in a flexible pack. So, what’s unique about Conair’s clippers?
How quickly they can get ready to rock for starters. Although it takes 3 hours for a standard 75-minute charge to finish, quick charge mode makes them ready to work for 15 minutes in as much time. Another bonus is their nuanced tapering control – with the flick of your finger you get to choose between a number of settings that simulate a taper done by hand and give your fade an added layer of sophistication. You can exercise even finer control by swapping in one of the ten guiding combs which, surprisingly, hold up well and stay firmly on the blades as intended.
You’ll want to do your grooming at an acceptable hour though since the motor produces enough noise to make people in adjacent rooms grumble, and after a long while the battery’s charge decreases a little, but both of these are acceptable shortcomings given that this model performs well in all other areas and, when on one of its frequent sales, is very affordable to boot.
- Powered by either a cord or a li-ion battery
- Stainless steel blades and taper control
- Two charging modes with up to an hour and a half of operation time
- Comes with 20-piece accessory set
- Perfect for people always on the go as recharging is lightning fast and the charge it holds lasts long
- Can be used with or without a cord. No drop in power or performance when using only the battery
- Guiding combs are well made, don’t slip and all it takes to remove them is a squeeze
- Battery doesn’t contribute much to the clippers’ weight, making them responsive and easy to cut hair quickly with
- Motor makes a lot of noise and can distract you
- Battery life diminishes after a time
A Note on Accessories
I’m still rounding out some solid content that covers the accessories I’d recommend. But for now, I can say if you’re a pro-barber with a lot of gear you should definitely check out my roundup on the best clipper cases. It covers all the most popular clipper cases, the pros and cons, what I recommend – everything.
As shown above, relying on visits to professional barber shops or salons to keep up a polished and modern appearance has definitely become a matter of personal preference, but there are clippers for fades out there capable of doing the job at home in the right pair of hands. With the right attitude and one of the clippers showcased here, a perfectly maintained fade becomes only a matter of practice, and just a little extra effort.
Whether you’re aiming for a seamlessly blended look, the ever-popular taper or anything in between, finding the best clippers for fades among our top picks comes down to details like portability and level of customization. The final choice is up to you, and it will be a good one whichever of the five you decide to get.