Blades used to cut hair are made from either steel or ceramic, and each method has its followers. Whichever is selected, the comblike blades need to move with as little friction as possible, so choice of material is essential, as is a regular maintenance schedule for lubrication. So which is better?
Benefits of Steel
Stainless steel blades are selected over normal steel to overcome any tendency to rust. As a general rule, they are less expensive than ceramic blades, usually between $4 to $5 per blade as of publication time, and more durable. It is easier to sharpen and sanitize steel blades, so overall they are easier to maintain. Steel blades are also available in more sizes, so they fit a larger variety of clippers.
Advantages of Ceramic
On the other hand, ceramic blades are corrosion-free. They are a joy to use, according to the International Barber Association. They stay up to 75 percent cooler than steel blades when used over long periods of time, since they conduct less heat than steel blades. Many barbers embrace ceramic blades, insisting that they allow for a smoother and faster cut.
Ceramic blades, while easy to use, do have some disadvantages. Because they are more brittle than steel blades, they break more easily, and replacing them is slightly more expensive than steel. Modern ceramic blades are being produced in more break-resistant materials, however, so the debate may change in the near future.
No Clear Winner
Steel blades are traditionally smooth and reliable; ceramic blades are cooler and increasingly durable. There is no clear winner in the debate, with most barbers and hairstylists concluding that it comes down to individual choice.
Edith Robb has been a professional writer and editor since 1970. A winner of the Atlantic Journalism Award for commentary writing, she holds a Bachelor of Administration degree and a Master of Arts in integrated studies with a major in cultural studies, both from Athabasca University.