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Can Hair Clippers Be Used On Wet Hair?

August 2, 2023
Can Hair Clippers Be Used On Wet Hair?

Hair clippers are an excellent tool for men who like to cut or neaten their own hair. Unlike scissors, hair clippers come with a variety of guard combs that automatically clip your hair down to a specific length. But can you use clippers on wet hair? 

Electric hair clippers should never be used on wet hair for safety reasons. In the unlikely event that a non-professional was using manual hair clippers, using them on dry hair would still usually be easier, more efficient, and more effective. 

Certain barbers may have cut your hair while it was damp or wet. However, they probably were using scissors, not hair clippers. 

In the unlikely event that you were using manual hair clippers instead of electric ones, using them on wet hair is possible. 

However, most people seem to feel that using them on dry hair is better, as this will prevent the blades from getting clogged or becoming rusty. 

But using electric clippers on wet hair will always be a no-no for safety reasons. 

Keep reading to learn more about why this question is important and when it might be OK to use a pair of manual clippers on wet hair. 

Why Clippers Should Almost Always Be Used On Dry Hair

Clippers should almost always be used on dry hair, mainly because the vast majority of clippers these days are electric. 

But using clippers on dry hair also tends to be more convenient and predictable than using them on wet hair. 

1. Most Clippers Are Electric These Days

I can’t stress this enough.

Yes, the more traditional barber may still rock a pair of manual clippers. 

But the everyday DIY home trimmer is almost always going to be using an electric pair of clippers, which essentially rules out using them on wet hair. 

Electric hair clippers should only be used on dry hair. This is one thing that everyone appears to agree on. It makes sense, as electricity and water should not mix. 

2. It’s Better For Long Hair

Long, wet hair is much more likely to get clogged up in the clipper blades. Clogged clippers cannot work properly, if at all. Hair clippers are the most effective on long hair if they are used while your hair is dry. 

3. It’s Better For Thick Hair

Thick hair can hold different amounts of water, and it will sit differently in thicker spots than thinner ones. It is nearly impossible to evenly cut thick hair with clippers while it is wet, as it will often look totally different, as well as uneven, once it dries. 

You’ll probably have noticed how your hair looks very difficult as you step out of the shower. The water-soaked hair is grouped together into clumps. 

Trying to style it, let alone trim it would be a pointless exercise. It just looks so different to how it will once it’s dried. 

4. It’s Better For Recently Washed Hair

Notice how I said recently washed hair and not wet hair. 

It’s always better to use clippers on clean hair that’s been recently washed but then dried. 

Hair that has been washed and dried is typically the easiest to cut. If you attempt to use clippers on dry hair that has not been washed, the clippers may become clogged with grease or old product instead of wet hair. 

5. It’s Better For Beginners

Again, wet hair becomes stretchy and does not sit the way your hair normally will. Due to this, it is much harder for men who are not used to cutting hair to predict what their hair will look like if they try to cut it while it is wet. 

Using clippers on dry hair also allows you to avoid clogged or rusty blades. 

As beginners aren’t typically used to maintaining a pair of clippers with proper brushing and oiling, dry clipping would be better to start with. 

Having said that, learning to oil clippers properly is just as important. If you haven’t got access to proper clipper oil, try to get hold of some (eg. Wahl clipper oil) – it’s readily available and also pretty cheap.

There are a couple of alternatives you can use as clipper oil – I’ve written about them before if you’re interested.

Should Manual Clippers Ever Be Used On Wet Hair? 

There are some situations in which manual hair clippers would be OK to use on wet hair. Electric clippers, once again, should never be used on wet hair. 

As unlikely as it may be that you’re using manual clippers, there are some situations in which using them on wet hair would be alright. 

While most people believe that using manual clippers on dry hair is better, some people have listed a few situations where it might actually be OK to use them on wet hair. 

Be sure to pay extra attention when cleaning out the blades of your hair clipper if you choose to do this, though, as it does make them much more likely to rust or clog. 

You can attempt to use manual clippers on your hair while it is wet in the following situations:

1. If Your Hair Is Damp And Not Wet

Many people think it is okay to cut your hair with manual clippers while it is damp. So long as you towel dry your hair fairly well before using them, the dampness should not be an issue as you work on your hair. 

In fact, some people find that leaving their hair slightly wet makes it lay better as they cut it. 

Whereas wet hair will be dripping with water, damp hair will only have a little bit of moisture left in it. You will easily be able to note the difference.

2. If Your Hair Is Very Short 

Usually, it is better to use manual hair clippers on wet hair that is very short, such as a buzz cut. Very short hair does not clog the blades nearly as much as longer hair. Short hair also cannot stretch very much no matter how much water is in it. 

You probably do not want your hair to be dripping while you attempt to use hair clippers on it, however, as that would be a bit distracting and require extra cleaning after. Be sure to at least pat your head with a towel. 

It’s important to point out, however, that trimming styles such as buzz cuts would be so much easier with an electric pair of clippers in any case. 

Once again, these should never be used on wet hair. 

3. If You Are Experienced  

Hair does stretch while it is wet. Some barbers cut certain styles while your hair is wet because hair is often easier to cut like that, but they also have to account for how much the hair will shrink once it dries. 

If you are used to cutting your hair while it is wet, you may be able to try it with manual hair clippers. However, clippers are not like scissors. Doing so will still be more difficult than using clippers on dry hair. Consider sticking with scissors for very wet hair. 


Let’s keep it simple. 

If we’re talking about electric clippers, your decision is simple. You should use them on dry hair and dry hair only. 

There are a few instances when it may be alright to use manual hair clippers on wet hair. 

If your hair is very short, you can probably get away with using manual clippers to cut it. 

The easiest way to use manual hair clippers on wet hair is to ensure that your hair is barely wet, only damp. 

But the safest and simplest option is to use clippers on hair that is dry, whether or not they are manual or electric. 

This is especially the case if you are new to using clippers and cutting your own hair. 

Using clippers on dry hair that has been washed recently is typically the best way to prevent clogged or rusty blades, as well as an uneven cut.