Hair Clipper Blade Types Explained
There are various different types of hair clipper blades available on the market today. Quality and material of these blades go a long way towards the price of each unit and the type of cut you experience. After all, its the blades that do the actual cut and it doesn't really matter what sort of device holds the blades, its only the blades that cut.
Obviously there are other factors in the cut you get such as power and speed but its good to understand as much as you can about the blades and how type of blade, angle, shape and what they are actually made from, affect your cut.
Keeping the blades sharp and well maintained is important too so its well worth investigating what this might entail for each blade type
I know when I read that something is maintenance free or self sharpening that I tend to take these claims with a pinch of salt
Hair Clipper Blade Material Types
- Stainless Steel
- Chromium Steel
- Carbon Steel
- Japanese Steel
You will see all these different types of blades advertised but what is the difference between them all and does it really matter as long as they are sharp.
As you can see there are many varieties of steel blades and this is what the majority are made from. They then fall in to sub types as there are fundamentally four types of steel available in the market today and three of these types are used for clipper blades ( Carbon Steel, Alloy Steel and Stainless Steel ).
If this was not complicated enough, the alloy steel type then has a further sub section of different varieties
Silicon-manganese steels and various other SAE grades
All these different types of materials can then come in different qualities!
Although this is starting to look complicated its probably not as bad as that. Basically most blades are steel and they work very well. Japanese Steel is considered to be the best type of steel on the market for this type of application.
Ceramic blades are the main other type available and the were originally manufactured to stay sharper for longer and their main advantage is that they don't heat up at all. In the early days this was a major problem but not so much nowadays with high quality steel performing just as well in this department.
What are the Best Hair Clipper Blades
1. Ceramic Blades
Its generally considered that Ceramic blades are the best on the market. They don't heat up at all so its less likely that they will warp of wear down and they seem to last the longest and stay the sharpest of any blades. Usually you will find that any clipper with this type of blade is at the top of a manufacturers range and generally they will be the most expensive.
You might also find that if a clipper has this type of blade it will be somewhere in the name of the clipper, such as Babyliss for Men Ceramic Smooth Cut
2. Titanium Blades
Titanium blades are very popular in some of the better Philips and Braun models. These blades are harder than any of the steel alloy blades and would definitely last longer and stay sharper. You will see quite a few models with these blades such as the Philips 5000 being marketed as "self sharpening".
Really this means that they don't need any maintenance and in actual fact you wont even have to oil them. I tend to find that clippers with Titanium blades are some of the most expensive as people regard Titanium as a very high value material for some reason.
3. Japanese Steel
Closely following behind are Japanese Steel blades. These are not far behind the Ceramic or Titanium blades and are probably the best quality steel in the world. There aren't that many clippers with this type of blade on the market but again you will find them at the very top of any manufacturers range and there is really very little difference in price from models with Ceramic blades.
The price of the Babyliss Super Cutter with Japanese blades for instance is with in a couple of pounds of the Ceramic Smooth Cut, though price is not always a good measure of quality when making a purchase. Don't be dazzled because something is expensive, it doesn't mean that its good.
4. Steel Alloys
By far these are the most common blades you will find on hair clippers. There are lots of different types such as Plain steel, Stainless steel, Chrome Vanadium steel, carbon Hardened steel to name but a few. Really once you get something more than just plain steel the rest are pretty much just something slightly better that has been treated in some way to make them a bit harder and longer lasting.
So if you see blades just advertised as "steel" then you will know that this is the cheapest type of blade you are likely to get and I would stay away from them if you want a clipper that you intend to use regularly or for full hair cuts. The Babyliss 7437 for instance comes with steel blades and costs £10 so that's what you would expect to get for that price
A quick comparison of some different Wahl Blades
What you have to do when choosing what type of clipper you want is not get caught up too much in all the different materials of blade that are available. Just ask yourself a few simple questions. What do I want to spend? How much am I going to use these clippers? What exactly do I want to use them for
Unless you are a hairdresser doing 20 cuts a day then you don't need the best of the best. You just want value for money, so set a price then try to find which clippers are the best for the price you want to pay and I would advise that you stay away from plain steel blade clippers, the rest are all fairly good.
Just one last point of interest. We have come across one clipper that had dual Titanium and Ceramic blades and this combination has made them ideal for children as they are extremely smooth and very quiet. These are the Sminiker "quiet" Hair Clippers if you want to read more about them
If you need some help choosing just check out some of our review pages