It’s usually not a good idea to generalise about people, but we’re going to do it anyway. Here goes.
There are three types of men who wear beards. Some pay little attention to grooming and only shave or cut it when it starts interfering with their ability to eat. Some use their regular razor, in a usually-unsuccessful attempt to properly trim their beard and moustache while shaving.
The smart ones, however, use a beard trimmer. (Yes, we know some men have their barber do it for them, but we’re focusing here on those who manicure their own facial hair.)
Naturally, men who pay an inordinate amount of attention to “manscaping” and style already have at least one beard trimmer in their arsenal, along with oils, waxes, soaps and combs – and they’re probably as knowledgeable about all of those accessories as a professional. But most men, even those who’ve had full beards or goatees for years, have at best a passing acquaintance with the grooming tools that could turn their unmanageable facial hair into a masterpiece.
Men learn how to shave when their in their teens, so they’re comfortable with razors. The unfamiliar shapes and functions of beard trimmers, though, can be intimidating at first. Our goal here is first to demystify them for newbies, and then identify the best beard trimmer for first-time users as well as experienced manscapers. In our beard trimmer reviews we’ll discuss the most important features you should look for, as well as the unusual ones (clippers with lasers?) that can make caring for your beard a pleasure rather than a chore.
|Product Name||Length Settings||Usage Time per charge||Power source||Our Rating|
|Philips BT5200/13 Series 5000||17||60 minutes||Dual|
|Remington MB4045||28||120 minutes||Dual|
|Philips BT7202/13 Series 7000||20||60 minutes||Dual|
|Remington MB320C Barba||9||40 minutes||Rechargeable Battery|
|Gillette Fusion ProGlide Styler||3||NA||2 AA Disposable Batteries|
|Philips QT4013/23 Series 3000||30||60 minutes||Dual|
|Panasonic ER-GB40||19||50 minutes||Corded|
|Philips Series BT9280/33 9000||17||17 minutes||Rechargeable Battery|
|Wahl Blitz||12||4 hours||Rechargeable Battery|
|BaByliss Super Stubble||12||60 minutes||Rechargeable Battery|
If you think about the difference between a razor and a beard trimmer, it’s easy to understand some of the features that make a trimmer special.
Men’s razors or shaver are designed simply to shave wide swatches of facial hair, while beard clippers must be able to shave smaller areas, cut some hairs while leaving others untouched, and get into hard-to-reach spots when necessary. Just as you wouldn’t use a lawnmower to trim a hedgerow, it’s a fool’s errand to try trimming a beard with a razor.
In order to do a proper job your trimmer should be versatile, and that starts with being able to adjust the blade, so it cuts the right length of hair from your beard. In reality, the process doesn’t involve moving the blade at all; beard combs (or guards) attach to the trimmer in front of the blade, and you’re really adjusting the space between the comb and the blade.
Trimmers accomplish that in different ways. Some have a control wheel, lever or selector that lets you choose your desired cutting depth (measured in millimeters), others require you to remove one guard and attach another that’s the proper size. And there are beard trimmers that take a combined approach with a selection of combs, some of which are individually adjustable. As a general rule, 1-4 millimeters is stubble length, 6-10 millimeters is medium length, 12-18 millimeters is a long beard, and once you get well over 20 millimeters you’re getting into ZZ Top territory.
Beard trimmers that have an adjustable guide are more convenient, but they also restrict the flexibility of the trimmer. In other words, when you’re able to switch out the guide, you can attach other accessories like nose or ear clippers (or one for “other areas” of the body, if you get our meaning). That’s not possible when you can’t attach your choice of comb.
Another handy way to maximise flexibility is with a reversible or dual-sided beard trimmer, with a wide trimmer on one side and a narrower one that can neatly trim smaller areas (like under your nose) on the other. Some adjustable trimmers, by the way, let you choose and lock your preferred settings so you don’t have to fiddle with them every time you use the unit.
We don’t really find it necessary, but some models will have more than one speed to give you greater control over your trim. More importantly, many models require regular oiling of the blades in order to reduce the friction that can wear down blades quickly; a very useful feature is self-sharpening blades, which reduce the frequency of required maintenance. A waterproof trimmer is also worth considering, not specifically for the ability to trim in the shower but because it’s a lot easier to clean an appliance just by holding it under the faucet. There are models that will vacuum trimmed hair into a collection bin. Finally, the quality of the trimmer’s blades, and the material they’re made from, will play a big role in how comfortable the trim will be.
Once you’ve dealt with the specifics of beard trimming, you’ll need to think about the same variables that come into play with most personal grooming appliances. You can choose between corded, battery-powered or rechargeable cordless models, and the latter two options means judging a trimmer’s battery life, charging time and whether there’s an LED charge indicator on the model you’re considering. Many also come with extra “goodies” like detail scissors, storage cases or charging stations, which may be important to you.
That’s the rundown of what to look for. Since we’ve already looked, we decided to write a short review on each one for you.
You’ll find a number of Philips models in our top ten listing, and that’s because they make outstanding beard trimmers. The Philips BT5200/13 is an adjustable trimmer offering the most precise selection of cutting lengths of all the units we’ve reviewed: the control wheel starts at 0.4 mm and can be increased in steps of 0.2 mm up to 10 mm. After that, you can increase the length by 0.5 mm up to 10 mm, and then by 1 mm up to 10 mm. You can lock in any of those options; that’s a lot of choices and a lot of flexibility. The steel blades are self-sharpening, the trimmer is waterproof, it can be used either corded or cordless (with the battery providing 60 minutes of trimming time between one-hour charges), and you can add a fixed-position comb for added control. This is the best reasonably-priced beard trimmer you can buy, UK or anywhere else.
And this is the best trimmer for those who don’t mind changing guards (or prefer it that way). The MB4045 comes with three guards: a stubble comb adjustable from 1-5 mm, an adjustable standard comb (1.5-18 mm) and the ZZ Top training comb (our phrase, not Remington’s) that adjusts from 20-24 mm. There are self-sharpening titanium-coated blades, washable heads (second-best to being fully-waterproof), and a pop-up trimmer. The MB4045 is a corded/cordless model with the lithion-ion battery capable of two hours of run time before a four-hour recharge, and there’s a recharge indicator. Oh, the “kit” in the title? It includes stainless steel beard scissors and a “mixed boar bristle” brush to make your beard hair look great.
This is a mid-level Philips beard trimmer similar in most ways to the model we’ve already reviewed, with some added features not found on the BT5262/13; unfortunately there are also a few features that aren’t available on the BT7202/13. The most notable addition is a powerful internal vacuum system that collects up to 90% of the trimmed hair, and there’s also a precision trimming function that is designed to clean up sideburns as well as beards and moustaches. There are also three more length settings, but the increments for stubble are 0.5 mm instead of 0.2 mm (and the shortest setting is 0.5 instead of 0.4 mm, not much of a difference). The biggest negative is that only the heads are washable instead of the entire trimmer but even so, this is still a terrific model.
The Barba doesn’t have all the features of the Remington MB4045, but it’s the least expensive trimmer on our list and a good buy. This trimmer is an adjustable model with self-oiling ceramic-coated blades instead of steel, just nine length settings (1.5-18 mm) that can be locked-in, and a 40 minute runtime with a long 16-hour recharge required. It’s not the outstanding, versatile beard trimmer that the MB4045 is, but it’s quite good for the price.
This is a different type of trimmer, manufactured in conjunction with Braun and designed to trim just about anywhere, including the head and private areas as well as the beard. As a result, it does a very good job everywhere, but the beard trimming isn’t quite as comfortable as it is with a model designed specifically for the face. There are four combs but they only accommodate lengths up to about 5 mm, it runs on AA batteries, and it requires replacement Gillette blades (which are expensive) – all drawbacks that make this a good trimmer, but not an exceptional one.
The lowest-level Philips trimmer is a no-frills model, but the company’s quality makes this an extremely good value. It’s an adjustable, single-comb trimmer that lets you select lengths between 0.4 and 1 mm (0.2 mm increments) and then 1 mm to 10 mm (0.5 mm increments) with titanium blades, washable heads, and corded/cordless operation (60 minutes of trimming for a 60 minute charge). Very good trimmer, very good quality, wonderful for the price.
This beard trimmer offers a feature different than most competitors: it’s a wet/dry model designed to be used with shaving cream or in the shower if desired. The ER-GB40 is a non-reversible adjustable model with one removable guard and a quick-adjust dial that starts at 1.0 mm and goes up to 10 mm, in intervals of 0.5 millimeters. As befits a wet/dry model, there’s a rubber grip so the trimmer won’t slip out of your hand; the charge lasts for about 50 minutes before a 15 hour recharge is required, and this Panasonic comes with a charging stand. Not the best we’ve reviewed, but not bad except for the long charging time.
Here’s the top-of-the-line Philips and it’s almost exactly the same as the top choice in our review, the Philips BT5262/13, with two small exceptions and one big one. The small exceptions are that the upper limit of the adjustable comb is 7 mm instead of 10, and the maximum run time before a recharge is 60 minutes instead of 55. The big one: a laser guide that shines a thin line exactly where the blade will cut, so you can trim your beard with precision (if you have a steady hand, of course). Is the laser feature necessary? We’re not so sure – but it’s cool, if you don’t mind paying a bit extra for it.
The list of features provided by the Blitz is impressive, and it’s a very good beard trimmer. We don’t consider it the best simply because it can be a bit uncomfortable at times; when the angle isn’t quite right, the blades have an occasional tendency to pull longer hairs instead of trimming them. However, the Wahl is extremely versatile with twelve separate combs that range from 0.5 mm to a whopping 25 mm, four hours of trimming time per 60 minute charge (with a three minute extra charge function), plus a foil head for trimming below the beard and a detail shaver head for edging. If you don’t let your beard grow long, you’ll have no problems and you’ll love the Blitz.
Our final trimmer review is for a terrific performer, but beware: it’s only for stubble. The comb adjustments are motorised and controlled by an LED touch screen, allowing settings from 0.4 mm to 5 mm by 0.2 mm increments, and the floating, contoured head feels great as you use it. The Super Stubble is waterproof, the comb easily flips back to expose the edging blade, there’s an hour of runtime on a 90 minute charge (with a countdown clock on the LED display) – we just wish it was designed for longer beards as well.
Even if you’re dead set against the idea of manscaping or think you don’t have enough time or patience to make sure your beard is perfectly manicured, you should reconsider. The look of your beard says a lot about you, and when you choose the best beard trimmer for your needs it won’t take long to at least neaten-up your facial hair. Remember, when you have a beard, it’s the first thing anyone notices about you.
You may like the look of 2-3 day old stubble (many women do, too) or a short beard. On the other hand, you might prefer a short beard, goatee or luxurious forest of facial hair. For all of those alternatives, we’ve reviewed several trimmers which will tame the mane quickly and easily; just be sure to choose an adjustable model or comb that is designed for your chosen length of beard. Once you’ve made that selection, all that’s left is finding a trimmer with your preferred options – grooming will be a breeze and you’ll finally look “presentable.”