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For many men, growing facial hair is simply a matter of putting down the razor or shaver and walking away from the sink. The tricky part is finding a convenient way to convert that bushy mess into a well-groomed beard, mustache, goatee, or soul patch. One popular solution is a specialized grooming device known as a beard trimmer. A dedicated beard trimmer allows users to cut, shape, and maintain all sorts of facial hair styles.
Finding the ideal beard trimmer is not always easy, so we at BestReviews have created this shopping guide to help customers make the right decisions. BestReviews does not accept special “review” models from manufacturers that may not reflect a product’s true performance. Instead, we purchase our review products off the same shelves as our readers, and we perform our own tests in an independent lab. When our thorough review process is complete, we donate these items to nonprofit organizations.
For those who seek to tame their beard or create a new look through facial hair, here are some things to consider when shopping for a new beard trimmer.
A quality beard trimmer should have the power to cut through thick beard growth, the precision to create clean edges, and the flexibility to handle many different styles. Here are some specific elements to consider when shopping for a new beard trimmer.
A quality beard trimmer set should contain the lubricant and cleaning tools required for proper maintenance between uses. The blades, blade guards, and other components should be easy to remove and clean.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Philips Norelco 3100
Design & Features
The entry-level Philips Norelco 3100 beard trimmer is slender, modern, and relatively plain in design. The power button and cutting length indicator are back-lit in blue. The package is quite basic in terms of accessories: there's a locking function for the comb so you don't have to reset it each time you use it (with "skin-friendly" rounded edges), a cleaning brush, and a power cord for charging.
Some beard trimmers use a high-grade carbon steel blade; others use stainless steel. Both choices are good, but each has its pros and cons.
Carbon steel often maintains a sharper edge, but rust is a common concern.
Stainless steel provides a smoother cut, but the stainless coating can wear down over time.
Notably, only waterproof cordless beard trimmers can be safely used in the shower or rinsed under running water. To remove all doubt, read the manufacturer’s instructions before you use the beard trimmer.
Many beard trimmers are designed to fit well in the hand, but this isn’t always ideal for advanced beard styling.
A better choice allows for 360 degrees of angling without sacrificing control.
Blade combs should be easy to switch out, and fingertip control of the beard guide and power button is a good thing.
Some beard trimmers are battery-operated and safe for shower use, but others are not. Before you take a beard trimmer in the shower, make sure the manufacturer endorses this use.
Generally speaking, a more powerful motor (often measured in amps) creates a better trimming experience. Thicker hair growth can get bogged down in the blades if the motor is anemic.
Some beard trimmers actually offer a variable motor speed option. A slower or faster speed can make all the difference when dealing with different sections of a beard or other body hair.
The beard style that looks best on you depends on a number of factors, including the thickness and distribution of your facial hair. You may wish to experiment by growing out your beard and then trimming it down different ways to see what looks best.
When shopping for a new beard trimmer, there are a few schools of thought you could adhere to.
One is to go “minimalist” with a powerful trimmer and only a few essential accessories. The other is to go all out with a highly accessorized set!
For those with basic facial hair maintenance needs, simplicity is a good path to follow.
For those with more complicated beard styles or other body hair grooming needs, however, a kit with lots of accessories is probably the way to go.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
TRYM II Rechargeable Modern
Power & Comfort
TRYM does not provide actual charge and run times for the TRYM II. However, an overnight charge seems to be long enough for owners to achieve a full charge. After that, the TRYM II will run for several hours. Owner feedback on this varies, but nobody complains that it needs charging often. A small number of owners have said that their TRYM II stopped charging altogether after a few months of use, but these folks seem to be in the minority. The majority think it's a great product in spite of its unusual shape. If you're looking for an affordable trimmer that can handle just about any hair-trimming task, this could be your product.
Some beard trimmers use adjustable beard guide settings instead of blade guards or combs. A dial determines the cutting length, from a 0 (stubble) to 20 or higher.
The gradations can be subtle, but they are essential for beard styles requiring precise fades and blends.
One advantage of a beard guide system is that users do not have to keep track of individual blade guard combs and other accessories, since the adjustable blade itself controls the length.
A surprising number of design and construction differences exist between beard trimmer models. In the end, however, it all comes down to control. Look for a precise, flexible beard trimmer with power enough to handle thicker growth.
Some beard trimmer kits include only three basic blade guard options: long, medium, and short.
Users attach their preferred blade comb size and run the trimmer through the beard.
Some fading and blending is possible as long as the user switches out the blade guards and carefully chooses the areas to trim closer.
If you have an intricate beard design (or if you want to achieve one), a dry trimmer is the better choice. But if your beard style is rather straightforward, you might prefer the convenience of wet trimming in the shower.
For those seeking a whole-body hair-trimming experience, a beard trimmer kit with a complete set of accessories is recommended.
Besides a variety of blade guard combs for beard-trimming purposes, some beard trimmer kits include specialized attachments such as ear and nose hair trimmers.
A beard trimmer’s blade assembly easily traps hair, dirt, skin flakes, and oil. The ability to disinfect these components between uses is essential. Look for a beard trimmer kit that includes cleaning tools and lubricant.
Another important consideration when shopping for a beard trimmer is whether to go dry or wet.
Dry beard trimming appears to be the more popular option, since both corded and cordless trimmer models have this capability. One reason dry trimming is a more popular choice has to do with styling. A number of beard styles require a delicate touch that involves careful fading or blending. This level of styling is not easily achieved while showering. Stray hairs also appear more easily when dry, and trimming the lip and jawline almost always requires a mirror for best results. For those with more intricate beard designs, a dry trimmer makes the most sense.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Andis Professional Outliner II
Price & Value
The Andis Professional Trimmer is quite expensive, especially for a trimmer that comes with no attachments and has no adjustability. So why does it have so many fans? It uses top-quality blades and never suffers the kind of power drops you can get with cordless devices. It might be basic, but it does exactly what it claims to do, and it will continue doing so for years. The only real surprise is that the warranty on such a robust machine is a standard 12 months.
A wet beard trimmer offers a few advantages of its own. Some men prefer to take advantage of a shower’s moist environment to shave and trim their facial hair more comfortably. There’s less of a need for shaving cream or other lubricants, and the excess hairs are easily washed away.
Wet trimming is ideal for those with straightforward beards of a uniform length. Simply running a trimmer with the proper blade guard comb or beard guide setting will remove any unwanted thickness or stray hairs.
Many beard styles can be maintained with just three simple blade guards (long, medium, and short) and a powerful trimmer motor.
At first glance, using a cordless beard trimmer would appear to be the obvious choice. After all, there is no power cord to deal with, and a rechargeable model can travel practically anywhere. However, there are also some benefits to owning a corded beard trimmer, especially when it comes to power.
Corded beard trimmers use standard household current to maintain their power. Many users prefer the “instant on” convenience of corded models. But finding a power source while traveling can be challenging. And the power cord itself can limit the trimmer’s ability to achieve certain angles. Generally speaking, corded beard trimmers provide more cutting power than most cordless models, but they are often limited to “dry” uses.
Although marketed primarily as “beard trimmers,” a number of models are actually designed for all-over body hair grooming and trimming.
A cordless beard trimmer may rely on disposable batteries for its power, or it may have a rechargeable lithium-ion battery installed. Either way, the power meter will be running in one direction from the start of a beard-trimming session.
Better cordless beard trimmers feature a significant amount of run time on a single charge, but others can fade without warning.
The total amount of recharging time required is also a consideration. Some cordless beard trimmers require hours of downtime between uses, while others have a quick-charge feature that will revive the trimmer motor for several minutes.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Panasonic Milano All-in-One
Blade Quality and Cutting Options
Stainless steel is the material chosen for the blades of the Panasonic ER-GB40-S trimmer. High-carbon steel might ultimately give the sharpest edge, but stainless is still a quality material. It will never rust, and according to Panasonic, these blades have been precisely honed at the perfect cutting angle. Rather than having different combs which you must change to alter the length, this unit has a simple dial for setting length. The unit progresses up 19 steps in 0.5-mm increments (from 1mm to 10mm). Most owners rate its cutting efficiency as good, though a few say they need to do a couple of passes to get their trim as close as they like.
Facial hair should be washed, dried, and combed before it is trimmed. This will make the process more hygienic, and it will help draw your attention to any areas (thick patches, stray hairs, etc.) that require additional attention.
Longer beards should be trimmed downward with the grain. Shorter beard styles and stubble can usually be trimmed in either direction.
The shape of the face can help determine a flattering beard style. There are style charts available which suggest the beard types for different facial shapes.
Start with a longer blade guard or beard guide, then go shorter. Many beard styles call for a blend or fade, starting with thicker growth on top and tapering to a thinner length on the chin and neck area.
Try growing out facial hair before deciding on a style. Facial hair growth varies from man to man, so allowing facial hair to grow out naturally is a good way to determine the best beard style.
Q. Can I get a clean-shaven look by using a beard trimmer?
A. No, a beard trimmer is not a razor or electric shaver. Even without a blade guard, a beard trimmer is designed to leave some stubble. A number of owners do use their beard trimmer to reduce the overall thickness of an unwanted beard, but they finish the job with a razor blade or foil shaver.
Q. Can I share a beard trimmer with my roommate?
A. For a number of hygienic reasons, it is best to consider your beard trimmer a personal grooming item, not a communal one. Sharing is not recommended.
Q. Will a beard trimmer work on other parts of the body?
A. For the most part, yes. Some models are actually promoted as body hair trimmers, which means they are safe for use on chests, stomachs, armpits, and other areas. However, individual results may vary depending on the trimmer’s overall power and cutting blade design. Maneuverability is also a consideration, and a beard trimmer simply cannot replace a razor if complete hairlessness is the ultimate goal.
Q. Can I use a beard trimmer on my short-haired pets?
A. It’s not exactly a conventional use for a beard trimmer, but certain models can indeed be used for pet grooming. Some pet owners may want to maintain a small dog’s coat length between professional grooming sessions, remove matted fur, or give a pet a a cooling “summer cut.” Not all human beard trimmers are suited for this task, however, and if you buy a beard trimmer for pet use, the trimmer should never be used for any other purpose.
Q. Can I use a beard trimmer while showering?
A. It depends on the model. There are waterproof beard trimmers which are safe to use in the shower, but not all models have this capacity. If you simply want to trim down a beard’s length uniformly with a beard guard, using a waterproof beard trimmer in the shower makes sense. If you want to perform more precise cuts, fades, and edging, then you may get better results with a “dry” beard trimmer and a mirror.
Q. How often should I use a beard trimmer?
A. Some beard styles require more frequent maintenance than others. One person may find that daily touch-ups, especially around the lip line and edges, are necessary. Another person may find that using a blade guard once a week to maintain a consistent beard length and remove any stray hairs is all that is required.
Proper cleaning and maintenance of your beard trimmer between uses is essential, since hairs and oils can become trapped in the blades and dull them.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.