Associated Barber College of San Diego

The HistoryThe Evolution of Combs and Clippers: Tracing the Tools of the Trade

The Evolution of Combs and Clippers: Tracing the Tools of the Trade

The history of combs and clippers is as rich and varied as the history of human grooming itself. From the earliest civilizations, tools for cutting and styling hair have been a fundamental aspect of personal care, reflecting societal norms, technological advancements, and cultural trends.

Ancient Beginnings

The comb’s history stretches back to the origins of civilization, with artifacts found in archaeological sites dating as far back as 5,000 years. Early combs were made from a variety of materials, including wood, bone, and ivory, serving not only as grooming tools but also as objects of art and symbols of status.

The Birth of Clippers

The invention of hair clippers can be traced to the 19th century, revolutionizing the barbering industry. The first manual clippers were patented in the mid-1800s, offering a more efficient and precise way to cut hair than scissors. These early clippers utilized a series of blades and a hand-operated mechanism to trim hair close to the skin.

Electric Clippers Enter the Scene

The advent of electric hair clippers in the early 20th century marked a significant leap forward. These devices, powered by electric motors, allowed for even more precise and consistent cuts, further simplifying the barber’s job. The introduction of electric clippers coincided with a growing trend towards shorter, more uniform hairstyles, particularly for men.

Combs Through the Ages

Meanwhile, combs have evolved from simple grooming tools to intricate works of art and design. The 20th century saw the advent of combs made from synthetic materials, such as plastic, making them more durable and accessible. Today, combs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, specialized for different hair types and styling needs.

Modern Innovations

Today, the legacy of these tools continues, with combs and clippers incorporating modern technology to offer even more features and convenience. Wireless clippers, ergonomic designs, and combs with advanced materials that reduce static and friction are just a few examples of how these essential tools have evolved to meet the needs of contemporary users.


The history of combs and clippers is a testament to humanity’s enduring quest for personal grooming and expression. From ancient artifacts to cutting-edge technology, these tools have played a vital role in shaping hairstyles and grooming practices across cultures and eras. As we look to the future, it’s clear that combs and clippers will continue to evolve, reflecting the changing trends, technologies, and tastes of society.