I spend a lot of time on social media—probably too much time. Actually, let’s just be honest here, I definitely spend too much time on social media. But in all fairness, I’m not just aimlessly scrolling through posts and looking at pictures or Facebook–stalking people…well, maybe just a little, but I digress.
When I’m on social media I’m usually looking at grooming posts and reading threads to see what’s trending, what groomers are interested in and what they’re talking about. I call it “research”… yeah, let’s go with that. But the most common posts I seem to come across are people asking about what tools they should buy.
I constantly see posts from groomers who are in the market for a new clipper or brush or scissor and they’re asking their fellow groomers for some honest opinions like, “Which brush is the best?” or “I’m not happy with my scissors, which brand is the best?” And it got me thinking, what exactly does “the best” really mean? Of course we all have our favorite tools and our preferred brands, but why is one “the best” over another?
I think asking the question, “Which is the best?” of any product is a very vague question. If you ask an entire industry what “the best” is, you’re going to get quite a few different opinions. Are we talking the best quality, price or durability? Or are we asking which will hold up the best or feel the best in my hand?
You see where I’m going with this, right? Let’s look at a few popular products and throw out some food for thought for when a groomer might be in the market for a new tool.
Grooming shears have a huge variety of lengths, alloy blends, edges, weights, designs and so on. For me, “the best” shears are the ones that are right for the task I’m doing. I have a specific favorite for curly coats and an entirely different choice for dense or course coats, and yet another for soft or fine drop coats. You need to take into consideration your hand size, your strength, the dogs you’ll be grooming and what the shear was designed for. It’s great to ask for some opinions, but my best may not be your best.
Let’s talk brushes now. There are so many different types of brushes and they have many intended uses. But if you’re in the market for a new slicker and you ask, “What’s the best?”—you’re going to have to dig deeper than that. There are so many choices of slicker brushes on the market now, choosing one can be dizzying. There are those made of plastic, some of wood and others of metal. Some slickers have short, tight pins and others have long, flexible pins. There are some with hard rubber backing to keep the pins stiff—great for de–matting—and others with a softer, more flexible rubber backing designed to be gentler on delicate hair. But which is the best?
Think about the quality of the handle; will it break if it drops? Will this slicker brush be comfortable in my hand or is this handle an uncomfortable shape for me? Ask yourself, “Are these pins the ones that are right for the hair I’ll be using it on?” These are the questions that will help you determine which slicker brush is the best for you.
Another popular brush is the pin brush. Pin brushes are another style brush that come in a huge variety of sizes and pin styles. But again, to determine which pin brush is the best, you have to identify what task you need it for. Pin brushes are gentle on hair; they don’t grip and break hair the way that slicker brushes do so they are often selected to work with delicate hair such as Poodle topknots or the dropped show coats of Maltese or Yorkies. However, some pin brushes have metal pins and some have wooden pins, so which is the best?
Metal pins are more durable and a great choice for drying coats with a gentle ease or architecting a Poodle top knot. But wooden pins are an excellent choice for brushing products like conditioning sprays through the coat, and the smooth, flexible wooden pins offer gentle movement through the strands of hair. In this case, “the best” would depend on what breeds you groom and what you’re doing with the brush.
Clippers are another bone of contention. In today’s market, there are several types of clippers with different types of blade attachments. The traditional A5–style blades of the corded clippers have given way to cordless 5–in–1 blade styles featuring a lever that moves a blade from a 40 to a 9 instantly. And now a newer design of clippers has emerged featuring an entirely different type of blade that is a 4–in–1 blade which allows you to remove the 4–in–1 blade and attach either a 4–in–1 slim blade for closer precision shaving or a 7F, 5F or a 4F blade for more versatility. Now you have to look at all these options and decide which, in your opinion, is the best clipper for you.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, what I’m trying to say is that there are so many options in the tools that we use and “the best” choice is the one that you decide is the right one for you. Like I said, my best may not be your best and vice versa. Ask for opinions but don’t bet the farm on what others say. Try things out for yourself and see what new products have to offer you, and you just might find out that “the best” tools are the ones that you fall in love with. Happy grooming! ✂️