The Buzz on Clippers

You already have scissor-hands; what more could a stylist need to create a fabulous haircut? "Clippers," says David Guerin, international artistic director for Oster Professional Products. "Anything you do with a scissor can be accomplished twice as fast with a clipper, without sacrificing style." Not convinced? "They make haircutting more fun," Guerin adds. "But most importantly, they can increase your salon's profitability."

He should know. The son of a barber, Guerin, a familiar figure at industry trade shows and other events, has made it his mission to teach stylists how to master the art of clipper cutting for every type of hairstyle, even long layers and bobs. Not that he's suggesting you retire your scissors; Guerin clippers his way through most of a cut and uses scissors for finishing touches. "If you're dually clipper- and scissor-savvy, your creative limits are endless," Guerin says. Here, the "clipper king" offers the buzz on this efficient, effective styling tool.

 The future "clipper king" with his role model dad, David Sr.: The picture says it all.
The future "clipper king" with his role model dad, David Sr.: The picture says it all.


Any power tool (food processor, sewing machine) saves time over its manual counterpart, and the same holds true for clippers. "Stylists find they can service twice as many clients in the same amount of time," says Guerin. "A medium-length haircut that normally books an hour of your time takes just 30 minutes with the clipper." But you're not just plowing your way through a haircut, Guerin cautions. "The clipper blade filters the hair to create an uneven edge, basically eliminating the time-consuming need to snip through a finished cut to soften ends. You can also be creative with a texturizing blade in half the time it would take with texturizing scissors."

Oster Professional's David Guerin uses a clipper for every type of hairstyle.
Oster Professional's David Guerin uses a clipper for every type of hairstyle.


Start gradually so you don't get discouraged by mistakes. "Get used to the feel of the clipper and practice flexing your wrist to maneuver it," Guerin advises. "Hone your craft by initially using the clipper for short haircuts, to clean around the ears and the neckline. Then practice the clipper-over-comb technique. As you get savvier, go over the very ends of your scissor cuts with a clipper to make bangs wispier, the ends choppier and layers softer. Finally, as you gain even more skill, gradually incorporate it to create texture in your medium and longer cuts."


There are three clipper types Guerin says every stylist should own: a universal motor-driven, medium- to heavy-duty clipper with changeable blades for cutting (Oster's new Solaris performs like a heavy-duty clipper, yet it's lightweight and contoured for a small hand); a light-duty clipper with an adjustable fixed blade (such as Oster's Topaz) for comb-over-clipper work and trimming; and a finishing clipper (such as Oster's Artisan) for cutting blunt lines and cleaning up around the hairline.


Even if you're still learning, show your clients how confident you are. "Don't stare at their heads or at the clipper with a glazed look, or hold it with a death grip," cautions Guerin. "If a client asks why you're using a clipper, tell them it's a better way to cut hair—then change the subject!"

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You can never get enough education, so take a clipper class, says Guerin. This way you see how easy it can be, plus learn techniques for fading, slicing, blending, texturizing and more. His newly released DVD, Style Renegade : Metal Cuts Volume One, teaches beginners how to do 10 different clipper cuts and shows hundreds of techniques ( For more information, visit