What Do Barbers Use for Shape Ups?

What Do Barbers Use for Shape Ups?

Also known as a “line-up” or an “edge-up”, a shape-up is a grooming style that involves cutting along the natural hairline with the goal of creating a perfectly straight edge.

This style became popular in the 80’s among African-American people with thick and dark hair, and it then leads to other styles deriving from it. A wide variety of contours and shapes can be achieved through edge-ups.

So then you might be wondering how do barbers achieve those cool shapes and what tools are they using. Before diving in and discussing the tools, let’s mention that those barbers have many years of experience and that’s how they can achieve those perfect cuts.

Even if using the exact same tools, you might not end up with the exact same result. Now back to our question:

What Do Barbers Use for Shape Ups?

The most commonly used tool for creating a shape-up is a hair trimmer. But this technique can also be achieved with a hair clipper or a straight blade. Most of the times a barber will combine all three types of devices in order to achieve the desired haircut.

Beginner barbers or home users might also use a hairline template that will help them achieve a perfectly straight or round-cut (depending on the goal). But experienced barbers can achieve this with their bare hand, without the need of a template.


Brief History of Shape-ups

During the 70s and the era of disco, most African American people had an afro haircut, showing the love and proudness for their long and thick hair. But as time went by, in the next decade they started to change their preferences and to cut their afros for something more clean and neat.

The shape-up was first introduced in the late 1980s and became more popular thanks to influential hip hop artists such as Bid Daddy Kane, Eric B and Rakim. Shape-ups continued to grow in popularity and they are highly appreciated these days, by men of all ages.

They are basically the foundation of most haircuts nowadays. They look the best right after they are done, and most of the time are continued from the head on to the beard.

With the growing popularity of the internet and social media, men have a lot of sources for inspiration and they pay more attention to their looks. So they know exactly what they want and they can simply show a photo to the barber of what they are looking for.

Men are not afraid to experiment with new haircuts, especially that their hair grows back fast. So a barber needs to be prepared, to have all the needed tools and the right knowledge on how to achieve a perfect shape-up.

What To Look For When Choosing a Trimmer / Clipper?

Best Shape Up Clipper

There are so many models out there on the internet these days, that it can be quite overwhelming for a beginner to choose one. So here is a quick buying guide:

Brand Name

You will find a lot of low-quality products out there that are very cheap, so make sure to choose carefully. But there are also renowned brands known to make high-quality clippers.

Choosing a product made by one of the following companies will be a good decision: Wahl, Andis, Philips, Oster or Remington. These products are not as cheap, but they are well worth the price

Motor Power

If you’re planning to use the trimmer for professional use and on a wide variety of hair (including thick one), then you will need a powerful motor with a high number of strokes per minute

Ease of use

This applies especially if you are just starting out. The model you choose should have an ergonomic design and should be easy to use even by someone with no previous experience. It should also include a lot of accessories and detailed instructions of use

Corded or Cordless

You will find both types of devices on the market, so you need to decide if it’s really important for you to have a cordless clipper or not. If you are a home user that is also traveling a lot and you want to have the comfort of being able to shave or cut your hair anywhere on the go, then a cordless device is perfect.

The downside of such a device is that it loses motor power when the battery is getting low, and you need to make sure it is always fully charged

On the other hand, a corded device will offer high power all the time, and it is more suited for professionals who use it for hours on end each and every day and need consistent results


Whether you are a professional or a home user, you will need multiple accessories and hair combs of various sizes in order to get great results. Some devices come with a multitude of accessories right from the package, so you can get started right away instead of having to buy them separately.


Some devices make a lot more noise compared to others, so you might want to take this into consideration, especially if you will be using the clipper for extended periods of time.

Some also get heated, so make sure to read reviews and see what others have to say about the noise and temperature of the clipper


Some trimmers come with a warranty included, while for others you need to pay extra for it. Some devices even have a lifetime warranty for home use. So instead of buying a cheap product that will stop working in a few months, better get a more expensive one that comes with a long-term warranty

So now you know exactly what do barbers use for shape-ups and how to choose the right clipper or trimmer. Make sure to share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments area below.

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