How would you rate a product that does exactly what you want?
Obviously, you would rate it “Five Stars.”
That’s the idea behind Wahl’s professional line of grooming tools, the Five Star series. The line is a staple in barber shops across North America.
I’ve never worked in a barber shop that doesn’t have at least a few Wahl brand products. They’re well built and designed for everyday use. When I heard Wahl released a new shaver to replace their aging Shaver Shaper, I bought one immediately.
With the newest hairstyles, I’ve noticed a resurgence in skin fades. To do a skin fade, or any super-close style justice, barbers must have a tool that creates the best razor less shave. In a busy barber shop wielding a real razor is out of the question. They’re time consuming to use, not to mention messy. The problem is barbers can’t just use any old shaver.
Consumer level shavers work fine, but despite what they say on the box, they rarely deliver a perfect shave. Top of the line professional products do away with fancy features and get right down to the essentials. A professional barber wants a product that works perfectly every time. The question is, does the new Wahl Five Star Shaver perform as expected?
I’ve used the Wahl Finale for a solid two months. I’ve had more than enough time to answer the question. Continue reading to find out if the Finale is your next shaver.
|Run Time||90 min|
What’s included with the Wahl Finale
Before we begin, let’s look at what’s inside the box, so you know exactly what you’re getting with the Finale.
- Finale Shaver and Plastic Foil Cover
- Thick cable and charger
- One Set of Gold Foils
- Plastic Stand
- Two cleaning brushes
- Manual Booklets
Overall, the unboxing experience is tame. Being a professional tool, I expected no special packaging or extras. The large manual that comes with the shaver contains a few decent “how to” guides. They’ll help a beginner, but nothing more than that. The cleaning guide, on the other hand, you should read. It’s clear on how delicately you need to treat the gold foils.
The stand does not work with the charger because the outlet is on the bottom of the shaver. You’d use the stand to hold the tool between uses, nothing more. It’s sturdy and works fine.
The brushes are stiff and well made. I wouldn’t use the smaller brush for the foil, as strange as it sounds. I’ll get into why later along in the review. But essentially, the gold foils should touch nothing but stubble. With the brushes you can sweep away hair from the cutting bars.
Lastly, the charge cable is long, like maybe five feet. This is music to a barber’s ears, and shouldn’t be a surprise. With the option to operate the Finale while charging, a long cable is crucial.
Why Does the Finale Look Like the Shaver Shaper?
Okay, you’re confused. I understand. The Wahl Five Star Shaver series doesn’t explain itself well. I’ll clear things up.
The Finale is an upgraded version of the renown Shaver Shaper. Times have changed since its release. Because barber shops have new, shiny finishing tools, Wahl decided to revisit their classic purple finishing tool. Enter the Finale. And you know what? I’m glad Wahl did.
The Shaver Shaper has been a staple in barber shops for a decade. But the battery life and limited power of the device was showing its age. The Andis shaver in particular has gained a lot of traction in recent years.
Wahl set out to once again regain their position as the top professional shaver. But they didn’t perform a complete overhaul on the device. Instead, Wahl upgraded only the necessary components and maintained the classic look of the Shaver Shaper.
Make no mistake, Wahl didn’t throw on a new coat of paint on an old model. The Finale isn’t just black instead of purple. The important upgrades are under the hood.
How are the Finale’s Ergonomics?
The first thing I noticed when I picked up the Finale? It’s light. Really light. The specs state it weighs 5.8 oz, which for us normal people means about one third of a pound. That’s about the weight of a can of tuna.
At 4.6” long, I can easily hold the shaver in my hand. The small stature allows me to flip the shaver over easily and maneuver it with no problems. One of the main differences between the Five Star line of shavers and Wahl’s consumer level rests in the design. Wahl designed the Finale to work, not to look good. When I hold the shaver, I’m ready to get to work.
The wide, rubbery switch on the front of the shaver slides up to turn it on. It’s not a button. It’s a switch. When the rubber switch clicks on, the shaver’s iconic sound satisfies a deep part of me. If there were a contest for best shaver sounds, I’d vote for the Finale.
Like the previous model Wahl finishing tool, the battery indicator light is on the front bottom corner. It blinks when charging and stays solid when at max capacity.
One drawback I found after a week with the product? The Finale’s vibrations when on are intense. Having spent time with all kinds of professional shavers, I’d say the Finale vibrates more than most. I’d wager the culprit is the new, beefy rotary motor.
Not the end of the world. Personally, I don’t mind the vibration. But if that sort of thing annoys you, then keep it in mind.
How’s the Shave?
You can’t get a closer shave than the Finale. I’d compare it to a single blade razor shave. You don’t get closer than this. I mean, anything closer would peel back layers of skin, and you don’t want that.
Other things you don’t need? You don’t need five foil heads. You don’t need swivel and tilting action. You just need a great tool and a smooth hand.
The hype around multi foils and other features arises from consumer doubt. Professional barbers know that the more blades you have, or the more features, just means more things that can break. A sharp cutting blade and a clean foil is all you need for a great shave. So the Finale is more than enough shaver for any job.
Back to the topic. After shaving with the Finale, skin is supple and clean. The tool’s compact size means I can manipulate it around any curve or bend, around the ear, under the chin. No tilt action? No problem.
The Finale comes equipped with a rotary motor. In case you didn’t know, rotary motors are the strongest out of the three types of motors installed in clippers and shavers. The other two types of motors are magnetic and pivot. But I will not explain them here. Google how they work if you’re interested.
Wahl upgraded the finishing tool’s rotary motor. The extra power from strong circular rotations eats up hair quickly and doesn’t snag or pull.
And yes, you can use this on your face. You can use it anywhere on your body, with one catch. You need to get the area down to stubble-length first, using a clipper. Then pull out the Finale. Wahl doesn’t call it a finishing tool for nothing, right? It’s designed to finish your cut or skin area, not start it.
Do Wahl’s Gold Foils Matter?
In my opinion, the true secret to the Finale’s close shave is the gold-plated hypoallergenic foils.
As far as I know, Wahl remains the only company with gold plated foils. Gold is a soft metal with little to no abrasion. That’s a fancy way of saying the Finale doesn’t rough up skin as it cuts. They work great for sensitive skin.
No one I’ve used these on, including myself, has had any razor bumps or irritation. I’ve read some reviews online where people have had problems with irritation. As far as I can see it that could be for one simple reason. Want to know what it is?
They’re using the Finale wrong. A professional shaver does not work like your consumer grade product. The trick? Don’t press down, there’s absolutely no need. In fact, a lighter touch with the Finale delivers a better shave.
I have one criticism with the gold foils. They damage easily. If you drop the shaver, expect to buy a new foil. If you use the shaver all day every day, expect to buy new foils every six months.
Let’s Talk about Lithium Ion
The battery life is better than the old version of Wahl’s professional finishing tool, too. You get about 30 to 40 minutes more with the new lithium battery packed in the Finale. On average, my total time of use tallied about 90 minutes between charges.
But rare is the day you will use the Finale for 90 minutes total. In reality what you’ll do is run the shaver for ten minutes and charge it again. That’s where the true benefit of the new lithium ion battery comes in.
Lithium batteries are renown to have less memory loss than nickel-cad batteries. So, you can plug in the Finale at half-charge and you won’t compromise the battery at all.
I found the new battery also added power to the rotary motor. The shaver simply does not struggle on hair. Two or three passes and you’ve got the perfect fade, no matter hair thickness or toughness.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Being a Five Star Series too, it’s no surprise that cleaning the Finale is easy. Foil shavers are generally simple to clean. If you need instructions down to the minute detail, check the cleaning manual that comes with the shaver. But I’ll give you the gist.
Basically, a button on the side unlocks the foil and you pull it off. Use a can of air to blow out the hair on the foil. Please, whatever you do, don’t use a brush on the gold foils. Remember, they are fragile.
To replacing the foils, push the same button on the side I mentioned and grab the foil head. The cutter bar is just as easy to replace. I push down and twist and off it comes.
In total, daily maintenance for the Finale takes me about five minutes.
A quick side note: I really like the call back to the previously mentioned Shaver Shaper hidden in the Finale. When you take off the foil head, Wahl inlaid purple plastic near the blades. It’s a little nod to their past, and only something true Wahl Five Star fans will notice.
What makes the Finale a Great Shaver
- The rotary motor carries plenty of power, and I had no problem cutting different hair types.
- I’m really impressed by the razor-close shave and fading ability of the Finale.
- The hypoallergenic gold foils are soft on skin, and I’ve yet to experience any razor bumps.
- The shaver’s compact body fits comfortably in my hand.
- I dig the power button placement and the rubberized grip.
- The lithium ion battery holds a long-lasting charge, up there with other top shavers.
- I can change out the foil head and cutting bar without a problem, no calibration required.
What Could Be Better About the Finale
- The gold-plated foils are weaker than other brands I’ve used and damage easily. Be careful!
- I found the Finale’s vibrations intense compared to other shavers because of the light chassis.
- Sorry international buyers, the Wahl Finale can only be used with 120v power.
My Verdict After Two Months of Daily Use
Look, I like this shaver a lot. The Finale has everything that made the past Wahl Five Star finishing tool a classic, and then some. The battery lasts longer and sends more power to the rotary motor. The gold foils give you or your customer a razor-smooth shave. And the ergonomics are refined and practical.
The Wahl Finale Five Star Shaver may not seem like much on the outside, but it works. Every day I picked up the Finale it impressed me. Not because of how it looked, but how it performed.
I will admit the gold foils could be tougher. I understand why Wahl kept them though. Titanium or stainless steel are more durable, yet they don’t compare to the soft shave afforded by Wahl’s foils.
I recommend the Finale to any barber or trade student in need of a finishing tool. Plus, I think the Finale is a great at-home shaver, too. They’re not as expensive as some consumer brand products on the market, and they deliver unmatchable performance.