Beard Trimmer Buying Guide
Shopping for a beard trimmer online can feel a bit "hit or miss". Even the best-rated beard trimmers have negative reviews, so how can you know which ones really deliver on their promise?
Below, we have a simple step-by-step guide to help you as you shop for a beard trimmer:
Step 1: Know thy trimmer. Travel trimmers are smaller and more compact, while multi-functional trimmers come with both shavers, clippers, and a moustache or nose trimmer. Some beard trimmers come with multiple attachments that allow for more versatile shaving action. Each type of trimmer has its own intended use, as you'll see by our list above. Think about what you will use the trimmer for, and shop accordingly.
Step 2: Consider the features. Are you interested in battery-powered trimmers over corded? If so, you need a trimmer with a long battery life. Travel trimmers need to be portable and compact enough to fit into your shaving kit or toiletry case. Multiple attachments (like a pop-out nose/ear hair detailer) give you better shaving options, while an adjustable guard offers more versatility and reduced risk of cuts and nicks when you trim your beard. Charge indicator lights help you know when your trimmer needs to be recharged, while a built-in vacuum will reduce the mess of your trimming and make it easier to keep the trimmer clean.
Step 3: Analyze the variables. How much hair is removed in a single pass, and how close can the trimmer trim? How does the trimmer handle the hard-to-reach areas (under your nose, behind the jaw, etc.)? Did the trimmer pinch or pull thick patches of hair? Is the trimmer comfortable to hold and use? These variables are almost as important as the features, as they will determine how easy it is to trim your beard. Read product reviews to have these questions answered.
Step 4: Think about maintenance. All trimmers require maintenance and cleaning, but some are more complicated than others. Consider buying a trimmer with a detachable head, or a wet/dry trimmer that you can wash easily. Look for self-sharpening, durable stainless steel blades that require less oiling and maintenance for more efficient trims.
Step 5: Check the price tag. A good beard trimmer is worth a high price tag, but budget buys can also be a good way to save money on a decent trimmer. It's probably not worth your while to spend hundreds of dollars on a high-end beard trimmer if you only trim once a month. Conversely, guys who trim regularly shouldn't go for the cheap trimmers prone to breaking.
Following this process should lead you to the best option for your beard trimming.
Try a Stubble Trimmer
For guys who want that perfect stubble, a beard trimmer just isn't going to cut it. Beard trimmers are designed to keep your beard neat and groomed, but the hair will end up longer than proper stubble.
Enter stubble trimmers, the latest of the "beard trimmer" products. While beard trimmers cut your facial hair to 1 millimeter in length, stubble trimmers offer a closer cut: as low as 0.5 millimeters. You'll have to read product reviews thoroughly to find stubble trimmers (most products are labeled as beard trimmers),but it's worth it for a neater, cleaner stubbled look.
Note: One expert has two recommendations for getting the perfect stubble:
- Shave completely 2-3 days before you need the stubble look, and give your facial hair time to naturally grow in.
- Use the stubble trimmer with the guard on the lowest setting, and use a proper razor to shave your neck. This prevents the stubble from looking messy.
How to Trim Your Beard Like a Boss
Beard trimming is an art that requires precision and delicacy—not something we men are too well-known for, are they? The good news is that a bit of practice will help you get this beard trimming routine down perfectly.
Start with a wash. For the best results, wash your beard thoroughly before trimming. A clean beard is easier to trim (the hot water and oils soften the hairs, making them easier to cut) and ends up looking much better. Just make sure your beard is dry before you apply the electric trimmer.
Use a comb. Before you get to trimming, break out your beard comb. Comb the hairs all in one direction, as that will help to lift up flattened hairs and make them easier for the trimmer to cut. Comb out the hairs of your moustache, your jawline, and even under your neck.
Oil the trimmer. Before you start trimming, make sure the clippers are fully oiled. Properly oiled clippers are far more efficient at cutting through thick patches of hair. To oil the trimmer, use the brush to eliminate any hairs caught between the teeth or excess oil from previous uses. Turn on the trimmer and drip oil onto the moving blades. Let the blades keep running for 20-30 seconds to ensure the oil is fully absorbed into the mechanisms. Finish it off by wiping the blades down to remove any excess oil that would cause hairs to stick.
Trim your neck. Starting with your neck allows you to trim large swaths in long, straight strokes. Start directly beneath your chin, trim in lines out to one side, then complete the other. Pay special attention to the hard-to-reach hair behind your jaw.
Move to your chin and mouth. Once your neck is done, move to the thick hair on your chin, the hair around your mouth, and your moustache. The upper lip hair will require a bit more precision, so make sure to give it a thorough trimming. The last thing you want is a clean beard and too-long hairs sprouting beneath your nose.
Finish with your cheeks and sideburns. After trimming your moustache, move up your cheeks (trimming against the grain) toward your sideburns. Unless your hair is very short, stop trimming at the upper part of your ear.
Comb it out. After you've finished with the trimming, comb those hairs out once more. This will help to raise any flattened hair and pinpoint any spots or long hairs you may have missed.
Clean it up. Go over your face one last time to hit all the missed spots or flattened hairs. Check out the "trouble zones" behind your jaw and around your mouth and chin.
Wash your face. Finish off the trim with a gentle face wash. Use warm water to rinse away any hairs still clinging to your face, and consider applying a gentle aftershave lotion to soothe any irritation. Avoid using strong face soap right after trimming. If necessary, apply beard oil or a moisturizing cream to protect your skin.
Follow these steps, and you'll end up with a clean, neat beard every time!
Beard Trimming Tips
- Shave against the grain of your hair. This will ensure the closest possible shave. Under your neck, the hair grows down and out, so you'll want to shave upward. On your cheeks, the hair will usually grow down and inward (toward your chin), so shave upward and follow your jawline.
- Start with a higher guard for the first trim. Doing multiple passes will help you get a more thorough, precise shave. If you want to trim your beard to 1 mm, for example, start with the first pass at 3 mm, then repeat it at the proper length.
- Always trim a dry beard. While it's a good idea to wash your beard before trimming, make sure it's thoroughly dry. Wet beards are harder to trim, and you run the risk of the water rusting the blades. You can use a towel to rub your beard dry, or consider using a hair dryer. It's worth a few minutes of effort to get your beard thoroughly dry for an easier shave.
- Stretch out the skin under your neck. The skin of your neck may bunch together (especially right beneath your jaw), so you need to stretch it out to give the trimmer blade a flat, smooth surface to trim.
- Test your guards before trimming. Don't assume that all guards are the same length—you could end up trimming your beard far too short because of this assumption. Test a new trimmer on a higher setting before changing it to the desired length. Just like every brand of clothes has their unique fit, every brand of beard trimmer has a unique design that alters the length of the trim.
- Don't go for budget buys. While a budget trimmer can save money in the short run, ultimately you'll end up forking over MORE to get a quality beard trimmer when the cheap one dies. Invest in a trimmer designed to last for 5-10 years. Not only will it cost you less in the long run, but you'll have an easier time getting a close trim once you master the appliance's ins and outs.
- Trim the neck hair shorter than your facial hair. For many men, neck hair grows faster than the hair on their cheeks or around their mouths. Trimming the neck hair slightly shorter than the facial hair gives your beard an even look.
- Use the groomer around your mouth. For precision trimming of the hair around your mouth (including your moustache), use the pop-out groomer. A messy moustache will make even a neatly trimmed beard look scruffy.
Beard Trimmer Care and Maintenance
Caring for your beard trimmer ensures a longer lifespan, which means more years of regular use. Here's what you can do to take care of it:
Use a wastebasket. While vacuum trimmers offer a less messy trimming option, they end up wasting trimming power on the vacuum function. Instead, look for a simple trimmer that focuses all the power and design efficiency on the trimming. Use a wastebasket to catch falling hairs and prevent clogs in your sink.
Oil the blades after every use. Oiling your trimmer before trimming will help to prevent rust, and you should repeat the process after you finish trimming. Use the brush to eliminate any hairs caught in the blade. Turn on the trimmer and drip oil onto the blades, then let it run for up to 30 seconds. Doing this will prevent rusting and keep the blades working well.
Clean the guards. Remove the plastic guards and rinse them with soap and water. This will help to get rid of any dead skin cells, beardruff, or beard hairs clinging to the plastic.
Clean the trimmer head. Use your thumb to push upward on the head of the trimmer, and you'll hear a pop when it disconnects. Use a Q-tip to clean between the grooves of the blade, and brush out any hairs that have gotten trapped in the trimmer's mechanism. Once you replace the head, run the trimmer for a few seconds to make sure everything is properly in place.
NEVER wash your trimmer—unless it's a waterproof one intended to be used in the shower. For most beard trimmers, a thorough brushing will do the job.
Check regularly for signs of damage. How can you tell your trimmer is damaged? You may hear a buzzing or rattling when you turn it on, or the motor may sound slower or like it's straining. Look for rust spots or discoloration on the metal blades. If the buzzer pulls, jams, or cuts your skin, the blades may not be properly sharp.
Do it with every use. It may make the shaving/trimming process take a bit longer, but it's important that you clean your trimmer after every use to keep it in good shape.