* Prices may differ from that shown
When our last set of bargain hair clippers went to the great electronic graveyard in the sky, we decided to pay a little more for the next set and buy a brand name. After a little hunting online I found the Wahl 79231 Self Cut Clippers on the Argos website at less than half price with free delivery. Although the standard retail price for these clippers was in excess of £60, we only paid around £30.
The clippers are supplied with a number of accessories all held in a zip-up, canvas-feel storage bag. The bag itself feels very durable and has a waterproof lining that holds one large and three small elasticated pockets for holding the accessories in place. The clippers themselves have an unusual design, which supposedly makes it easier for you to use them to clip your own hair. Rather than the handle section being straight there is a 90 degree bend and the clipping head can be rotated through four positions totalling 360 degrees. The body and head are mainly a very tacky silver colour, which as far as I'm concerned simply looks cheap no matter how stylish the manufacturer would like to claim it is. The hand grips are formed of a much nicer black, rubber-like material which proves to be non-slip and comfortable even after cutting two heads of hair. The clippers can be either powered direct from the mains or used cordless after charging, the power lead is of a good length, but rather thin and a little flimsy. The clippers are much lighter than many other sets I have used and even after cutting two heads of hair they don't feel heavy in my hands.
While the packaging claims that the clipper set comes with an impressive eighteen pieces, once you look at what those pieces are it becomes a little less impressive. There are a total of ten guide combs, including grades one through to eight and two ear guides, a comb, pair of scissors, bottle of oil, clipper guard, the carry bag, charger, little cleaning brush and of course the clippers. While the packaging isn't exactly misrepresenting the contents, who would really think to consider the charger or clippers themselves to be an actual part?
The clippers work almost exactly like any other set that I have used. They do need charging before the first use if you will be taking advantage of the cordless function, which is something I would really recommend. I generally leave them to charge the night before I'm planning to use them and then find the charge lasts more than long enough to clip two heads of hair. If you so find that you do need to use the clippers and they are running out of charge, it's nice to that unlike many cordless devices they can also be run off the mains. I will say though that I find the lead pulls free from the clippers a little too easily and feels rather thin and flimsy. The final aspect to preparing the clippers is to oil them using the little bottle of oil supplied, which is something to be repeated after each use.
Although the clippers feel very strange in the hands the first few uses, they soon become far more comfortable to hold than clippers of the usual design. The power switch is ergonomically positioned so that it is easy to turn them on and off with a push of the thumb. While the multi-positional head was actually designed to make it easier to cut your own hair, it also makes cutting someone else's hair far easier, especially if like me you are left-handed. I can simply change the head's position to make it easier to work my way right round the head. The comb guides are easy to place on the head and remove after use, although I have to admit that I only ever use the grade 2 on both my partner and son's head. I have found that with many cheaper clippers the guides damage quite easily, especially if my partner has waited for his hair to get quite long before asking me to cut it, but this guide has lasted through ten plus haircuts so far with not a sign of damage.
Once switched on the clippers do obviously make a noise, but they are much quieter than many other clippers I have used. My two year old son is very sensitive to noise and used to react quite badly to my last set of clippers, attempting to escape at every opportunity. I'm not going to say he likes having his hair cut any more with these clippers, but I do find it easier. Firstly as they are relatively quiet they don't startle him quite as much, then I don't have to worry about the lead getting tangled around him and I can react to his squirming and even chase him if need be. I also find that these clippers are more efficient at cutting hair than many others that I have used. My previous set would struggle with longer strands of hair and whenever they struggled the noise they emitted would intensify, but with these there is no noise variation.
While my son's hair is fine and a little flyaway, my partner's is much coarser with a curl that I just adore but can also prove a real challenge to clippers especially as he also has a prominent crown. While I adore these curls, my partner doesn't and as soon as they start to make an appearance he asks me to once more clip his hair. Cheap clippers really do struggle with this hair, occasionally ripping it out rather than cutting it. I can honestly say that they generally last for just two cuts of this thatch before giving up the ghost, as the blades get jarred out of alignment. I must admit I was a little concerned with how well these cordless clippers would perform, thinking that they would struggle and quickly lose charge, but I was pleasantly surprised. The clippers glide through his hair, not even struggling as they reach the crown and as I'm not tied to a plug socket I can easily work my way around his head without strangling him with the cord. The cut is very even and always looks good, especially after I have removed the guide comb and trimmed the neckline and side-burn areas.
As I've said before I've only ever used the grade two comb, meaning that the other combs are somewhat surplus to my needs, and I've never really got the hang of using the ear guides with any clippers. I'm sure they work for some people, but not for me, I prefer to simply use the clippers without a guide comb to tidy up that area. The supplied scissors are sharp and great for needlework, but I have never bothered using them on hair. The cleaning brush works as one would expect and it is easy enough to clean stray hairs from the clippers after use. With correct maintenance the clippers are working as well now as they did on the first use, but I have to admit that some of that tacky silver has started to wear off, making the clippers look even cheaper than they did at the start.
Although I wouldn't pay full price, these clippers have more than paid for themselves over the last few months. Unlike cheaper clippers they glide through even the thickest of thatches with ease and do not fall apart after a couple of uses. The cordless function also makes it far more of a pleasure for me to trim both my son and partner's hair as well as making it quicker and more pleasurable for them. My son is far more willing to allow me to cut his hair, meaning there are fewer meltdowns, while my partner says that he has not once experienced the pain of the clippers ripping his hair out instead of cutting them. While these are marketed as being suitable to use to cut your own hair, personally I still wouldn't recommend this unless you want the most basic of cuts, as they won't make it easier to produce an even, straight line. But all in all I'm going to give the Wahl 79231 Self Cut clippers four stars out of five, with them losing that star due to the tacky appearance, and if you can get hold of them for £40 or less than go for it.
(A standard buzz cut in our local hairdressers costs £5 for a child and £10 for an adult, meaning they had paid for themselves after just two cuts for each of them).