What do barbers use to line up hair?

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Written By Dominic Howard

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Getting a fresh shape up or lineup is one of the best feelings ever. There’s nothing like walking out of the barbershop feeling crisp and looking sharp with clean lines and edges. But have you ever wondered what tools and products barbers actually use to create those perfect shape-ups and line-ups?

In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about the key tools and products professional barbers use for cutting and styling hairlines and beards. We’ll cover clippers, trimmers, shavers, blades, creams, oils, and more.

Do Barbers Use To Line Up Hair?

Barbers use several tools to create clean, crisp hairlines when cutting and styling hair. The most common tool is clippers with detachable blades. Barbers often use clippers with very fine blades, sometimes called liner or taper blades, to cut in precise hairlines around the forehead, sides, and neck. These blades allow for extremely close cutting to the skin. Another tool barbers use for lining up hair is an edger or outliner. These tools have very thin, sharp blades that barbers use to define hairlines with straight lines or well-defined curves. They can also use the edger for detailing around the ears and the nape of the neck. In addition to clippers and edgers, barbers may use trimmers or even straight razors in skilled hands to achieve very fine, detailed hairlines when cutting and styling men’s hair.

Read on to get an inside look into the barber’s arsenal so you can better understand the tools, techniques, and products used to achieve flawless shape-ups and line-ups.

Clippers and Trimmers

The most important tools for cutting and lining up hair are clippers and trimmers. Here are the key differences and uses for each:


Clippers are used to cut and trim the bulk of the hair on the head and face. They allow the barber to cleanly cut through longer sections of hair using adjustable guards to control length.

Most professional barbers use high-quality corded and cordless clippers from brands like Andis and Wahl. Quality clippers are powerful enough to glide through thick hair while staying cool to the touch.

Common clipper features include:

  • Adjustable blade lengths – Usually from sizes #00000 to #8+ to cut hair to different defined lengths.
  • Detachable blades – Allow for blade changing and cleaning. Popular options include ceramic, titanium, and carbon steel blades.
  • Cordless or cordless – Cordless offers more flexibility and movement, while cordless provides continuous power.
  • Heavy duty motors – For optimal torque and cutting power. Rotary and pivot/magnetic motors are common.

Clippers form the foundation of most barbers’ cut kits and are used to shape and trim hair down before refining it with trimmers and liners.


Trimmers are lighter-weight, more precise tools used for detail work, touch-ups, and light trimming. Many are cordless for maximum maneuverability.

Trimmers let barbers put the finishing touches on their work and create defined edges and lines. Common trimmers include:

  • Detail trimmers – For close trimming and cutting fine lines into hair. The blade usually sticks out to allow for detailed work.
  • Foil shavers – Uses an oscillating blade covered by a fine perforated foil guard for an extra close shave with less irritation. Perfect for sensitive skin.
  • Facial hair trimmers – Designed specifically for edging, outlining, and trimming beards and mustaches. May include guide combs.
  • Body trimmers – Used to trim and groom body hair including on the chest, abs, back, arms, and legs.

Quality trimmer brands include Wahl, Andis, and Oster. Many barbers will use multiple trimmers during a haircut or shave.


The types of blades used in clippers and trimmers directly impact cutting performance and the sharpness of lines and edges. Here are some key terms to know:

  • Ceramic – Made of smooth ceramic material that stays sharp for longer and creates less friction and heat. More gentle on the skin.
  • Titanium – An extremely hard, durable alloy that holds its edge well and stands up to heavy use. Also runs fairly cool.
  • Carbon steel – Classic durable alloy that offers a nice balance of sharpness and longevity. Requires more oiling than other metals.
  • T-blade – Special wider blade for outlining popular on trimmers and detachable clipper blades. Allows for both straight lines and fine detail work.
  • Zero gap – When the cutting teeth fully align with the comb guard for extra close cutting. Achieved by adjusting the blades.

Barber clippers usually come with multiple detachable blades to swap out as needed. This allows matching the right blade to the desired cut and style.

Liners and Shavers

After the main cut is complete, barbers rely on specialized liners and shavers for creating ultra-sharp hairlines and perfect edge-ups.


Also called line-up clippers or edge-up clippers. Liners utilize an exposed blade to cut extremely fine lines and details. Common features include:

  • Exposed blade – The cutting teeth fully stick out and are not protected by plastic guards. Allows for precise control and maneuvering.
  • T-blade – Widens the lining surface area compared to a standard blade.
  • Zero gapping – Adjust the liner so the blade is closed completely with no space between the teeth. Enables the closest shave.
  • Cordless – Most liners are cordless for maximum control and flexibility.

Quality liner brands include Andis Slimline Pro, Wahl Professional 5-Star, and Oster Fast Feed. A good liner is the finishing touch for creating crisply defined hairlines.


Electric and straight blade shavers provide the ultimate smooth, close shave when getting a shape up. Options include:

  • Foil shavers – Uses oscillating blades under a perforated foil guard to smoothly shave hair. Less skin irritation.
  • Rotary shavers – Circular heads with spinning blades shave down hair in a gentle sweeping motion. another irritation-free option.
  • Straight razor – The classic old-school barbershop shaving tool. requires skill and a steady hand but provides an extremely close shave.

Shavers allow barbers to safely achieve bald skin smoothness when doing shape-ups and line-ups around the hairline and edges.

Outlining Tools

Barbers employ a variety of edging and outlining tools to create razor-sharp hairlines and designs. Common tools include:

  • Edgers – Specialized clippers with a blade that protrudes out to taper and shape around the hairline.
  • Outliners – Detachable clipper blades used to outline hair and give shape to designs.
  • Razors – Both straight-edge and safety razors are used to shave lines and make edges stand out.
  • Detailing blades – Small fixed blades and removable clipper blades are used for fine detail work.
  • Styling combs – Thin tail combs and precision combs help shape crisp lines and define parts.
  • Pencils – White pencils allow barbers to temporarily mark and outline sections before cutting.

Using the right mix of outlining tools enables barbers to cut hair into defined shapes, create artistic designs, and make lines as sharp as possible.

Cutting Technique

Of course, the tools are only part of the equation – a skilled barber also relies on refined cutting techniques to achieve flawless shape-ups. Here are some of the key techniques barbers use:

  • Sectioning – Using clips, combs, and pencils to separate and isolate areas for precision cutting.
  • Flicking – Using wrist motions to flick the clippers out and away from the hairline to taper the edge.
  • Stretching skin – Pulling the skin taut allows for a smooth flat surface for shaving lines.
  • Following angles – Moving the clippers at the same angle as the desired hairline to taper naturally.
  • Freehanding – Confidently cutting lines freehand without guides by eyeing angles and lengths
  • Layering – Cutting hair progressively shorter in layers to blend lengths seamlessly.
  • Fading – Blending hair smoothly from one length to another to create sharp fades.

Developing advanced scissor and clipper handling takes barbers years of practice and experience. But it leads to the ability to create shape-ups and line-ups that are works of art.

Shaving Creams, Oils, and Lotions

Not only are specialized tools required for shape-ups and line-ups, but also the right supporting products for lubricating and protecting the skin.

Shaving Creams

Shaving cream lubricates the skin and provides a protective barrier between the razor and the face to prevent irritation. Barbers often use professional-grade creams that create a richer lather with more cushioning. Popular options:

  • Cream soaps – Creates a thick, moisturizing lather. Avoid aerosol creams as the propellants can dry out the skin.
  • Badger brushes – Used to exfoliate the skin and work shaving cream into a frothy lather. Helps lift hairs and moisturize.
  • Pre-shave oils – Oils are massaged into the skin first to further lubricate and prepare the hair for shaving.


Aftershaves soothe freshly shaven skin and prevent bumps, burns, and irritation. They typically contain ingredients like:

  • Aloe vera – A natural humectant that soothes and hydrates skin.
  • Witch hazel – Has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to prevent razor burn.
  • Essential oils – Natural oils like lavender oil help moisturize and protect skin.
  • Alcohol – Acts as an antiseptic to prevent infection on small nicks and cuts.

A good aftershave will leave the skin feeling refreshed without stinging or drying.

Beard Oils and Balms

Oils and balms hydrate facial hair and the skin underneath to prevent itchiness after lining up beards and mustaches. Key ingredients:

  • Carrier oils – Nourishing oils like argan, jojoba, coconut, and olive oil condition the beard.
  • Essential oils – Provides scent profiles like sandalwood, cedarwood, and eucalyptus.
  • Butter & waxes – Shea/cocoa butter and beeswax give balms a thicker texture to tame beard hairs.

A finishing touch of beard oil or balm pulls the look together after meticulously lining and defining facial hair edges.

The Perfect Line-Up Step-By-Step

Now that we’ve covered all the tools, techniques, and products – let’s see how they come together to create flawless lineups:


  • Drape the client in a barber’s cape to catch fallen hairs.
  • Wet hair with a splash of water or detangling spray.
  • Massage shaving cream into the hairline area until the skin is lubricated.


  • Section off hair using clips. Start with coarse hair first.
  • Use clippers to trim and taper hair down towards the hairline perimeter.
  • Employ trimmers to begin edging and lining around details like sideburns.
  • Switch to liners and edgers for sharp definition on the nape and edges.
  • Stretch skin taut and shave down any remaining stubble.


  • Brush out cut hairs, and wipe away excess cream.
  • Apply aftershave to soothe and refresh the skin.
  • Finish with beard balm or oil to moisturize and define edges.
  • Use styling pomade or gel to perfect the hair shape and style.

And that’s it! With the right tools, techniques, and care, barbers can create lineups that look razor-sharp. The next time you see those crisp shapes and edges, you’ll know exactly what went into them. So embrace your inner barber knowledge and use it to communicate better with your stylist to achieve the perfect lineup!

Safely removes any remaining stubble for clean bald edges.

With the fundamentals of great barber tools, some spatial reasoning, and a steady hand, barbers can transform simple hair into works of art. The next time you get a shape up, appreciate the craftsmanship that went into it!

Frequently Asked Question

1: What is hair lining or hair lining up?

A: Hair lining, also known as lining up hair, is a barbering technique used to create clean and defined edges along the hairline and facial hair.

2: What tools do barbers use for lining up hair?

A: Barbers commonly use tools like straight razors, trimmers, and edgers to achieve precise and sharp hairlines when lining up hair.

3: Can I line up my hair at home?

A: While it’s possible to attempt hair lining at home, it’s recommended to visit a professional barber for the best results, as they have the expertise and tools to ensure a clean and safe job.

4: Is hair lining only for men?

A: No, hair lining is not limited to men. It’s a technique that can be used to define hairlines and edges for people of all genders.

5: How often should I get my hair lined up?

A: The frequency of lining up hair depends on individual hair growth rates. On average, it’s recommended to get a touch-up every 1 to 2 weeks to maintain a neat appearance.

6: Is lining up hair the same as getting a haircut?

A: No, lining up hair is a specific technique focused on creating sharp edges along the hairline, while a haircut involves trimming or reshaping the overall length and style of the hair.

7: Are there any risks associated with hair lining?

A: If not done correctly, there can be risks of cuts, skin irritation, or ingrown hairs. This is why it’s advisable to have a professional barber perform the technique.

8: Can I use a regular razor for lining up my hair?

A: It’s recommended to use specialized barbering tools like straight razors, trimmers, or edgers designed for hair lining, as they offer better control and precision.


In conclusion, achieving a well-defined and clean hairline is a common grooming goal, and barbers use various tools like straight razors, trimmers, and edgers to perform the technique known as hair lining. While it’s possible to attempt hair lining at home, seeking the expertise of a professional barber is recommended for the best results and to avoid potential risks. Regular maintenance and touch-ups can help maintain the sharpness of the hairline. Whether for men or women, the art of hair lining is a skill that contributes to a polished and tidy appearance.

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