Ever wonder why your fades don’t look as good as what you see on Instagram? While some barbers may cheat and doctor their pictures with Photoshop, that might not be the only difference.
For example, the Andis Master® clipper is a barber shop staple, but many of you might not know that over the years it has actually been produced with different cutter blade designs. Three blade variations exist—#18, #22 and #28—and have different characteristics that can impact the finished look of your haircuts. As a longtime Andis educator, I’ve used all three extensively and will shed some light on how they differ and perform on various hair types.
The #18 cutter – First, the blade numeral denotes the actual number of cutting teeth. The #18 is an older blade design that Andis discontinued several years ago. It had thicker teeth with wider spacing that made cutting through thick, coarse and/or wet hair easy. In my opinion, the thicker teeth were also stronger. New old stock can still can be found if you’re willing to hunt for it.
The #22 cutter – This is the standard blade that comes on the current Master clipper today. It is great for all-around cutting, but it won’t produce as fine a finish as a #28 cutter—especially for fading. The #22 cutter blade has taller, thinner teeth spaced closer than the #18, but wider than the #28. While this blade works best with dry hair, it can be used on wet or damp hair as well. If you do decide to use the #22 blade to cut wet or damp hair, take your time and cut hair in smaller sections.
The #28 cutter – This is my favorite of the three because it produces the most precise finished look for fading. The characteristics of this blade are tall, skinny teeth with very little spacing between them. If I had to compare it to anything, it would be like extra fine sand paper for woodworking. It performs best with dry hair and I don’t recommend using it on wet hair. The #28 can be found at most barber supply stores.
The Master isn’t the only tool with cutter blade teeth suited to smooth, blended finishes. The new Envy™ Li and ProAlloy™ clippers are equipped with the #28 cutter blades and I have used them both to create smoother fades than what I could achieve with the #22 equipped Master. It wasn’t the clipper body that made a difference, nor the technique…it was the cutter blade that effected the quality of the fade! For more information on blades, visit Andis.com.