What’s the Best Beard Trimmer?

Best Electric Beard Trimmers from Philips Norelco, Braun and BeardScape
For perfecting the office-appropriate five o’clock shadow.

Like many city guys with office jobs, I have the kind of stubble that’s not quite a beard — but always verging on it. In our post–Mumford & Sons era, mine is a common facial-hair choice, probably because it takes almost no effort. All it requires is an electric beard trimmer, decent eyesight, and a willingness to never actually shave your face (unless you want to clean up your neck with a proper razor occasionally, which is considered respectable before meetings and big events).

That said, finding the right trimmer to execute this not-really-shaving look is a challenge. You want one that will last for years while still holding its charge, preferably with a lithium-ion battery. The blades should be sharp — for morning efficiency, mostly — and the tool should feel good in your hands without seeming cheap, or getting too easily clogged with hairs. My last trimmer recently went kaput, so I decided to check out all of the options on the market to find the best replacement. After researching more than 30 trimmers, and testing a dozen from major electronics brands and digital upstarts alike, these five stood out. And not just for simple things like having the most power, or the strongest blades, or ample battery life, but for otherwise being a cut above the rest. (Sorry.)

Best Electric Beard Trimmer

Philips Norelco Beard Trimmer Series 7200, Vacuum-Trimmer

I’ve been shaving with an older, more basic iteration of this beard trimmer for three years; that one’s inability to hold a charge these days is what prompted this search. But the new one has two updates that made it the greatest one I tried: (1) a convenient radial dial that lets you easily choose lengths as short a 0.5 mm (and in 0.5 mm increments up from there), which makes it plenty versatile; and (2) a vacuum-suction feature that collects the majority of your shaven hairs — up to 90 percent of them, according to the company, but who really knows? All I can say is that this is a godsend. No man likes wiping his (or his boyfriend’s) stubble from the sink, and I’m willing to deal with this shaver’s slightly clunky hand-feel to reap that reward.

Professional-Grade Electric Beard Trimmer

Wahl Lithium Ion Stainless Steel Groomer

You might think that the purpose of any beard trimmer is for it to work perfectly, expertly crafting each piece of micro-hair into the same length, but that’s hardly the point when it comes to five o’clock shadow. Messy is in! Still, I appreciated the incredibly sharp, pro-level blade; heavy stainless-steel body; and long-lasting battery (a four-hour charge) that this one offered. If you ignore any of its bonus features and beard guides — those plastic combs that come with most of these, and usually feel flimsy and useless — this tool is right for men who want an incredibly close shave without pulling out an electric foil razor or regular razor blade. I’ll keep this one in my medicine cabinet for achieving what’s essentially a clean shave — no shaving cream necessary — especially since it’s shaped in a way that nicely weaves around lip corners and nose crevices.

Electric Trimmer for Beards and Manscaping

Brio BeardScape Beard and Hair Trimmer

The Brio Beardscape looks to be the most impressive on the market, in that Warby Parker–ish “I buy everything from start-ups” kind of way. The box is sleek and the razor itself looks expensive, with a handsome sliding scale that cuts any hair between 1 mm to 1.9 mm, and a charging stand that I wish every other beard trimmer came with. Its true innovations are a ceramic blade, which is supposedly four times harder than stainless steel (yet more breakable, too), and the ability to adjust the speed at which the blade oscillates. I found it all a bit overly complicated — and the blade snagged on my cheek once or twice — but I can see it being nicely customizable for guys who, as the box suggests, want something “for the beard and beyond.” Even if the beyond just means displaying it on your bathroom shelf.

Lightest Electric Beard Trimmer

Braun BT304 Beard Trimmer

Of all the products I tried, this one was by far the least heavy, the easiest to use, and the most versatile — with an integrated blade guide that felt sturdy, and allows the user to achieve dozens of different lengths by simply twisting a dial. It’s not the best shaver I used by any means — it doesn’t catch stubble, or have a cool stand, or do the most precise trimming — but I imagine it’d be handy for guys who are pulling out a trimmer every few days to tweak, trim, and otherwise perfect a beard that has some length on it. Unlike many of the others, you can run the whole thing underwater, which will keep the blades cleaner, sharper, and better suited to any obsessive facial-hair strategy.

Travel Electric Beard Trimmer

Phillips Norelco OneBlade

This one is sort of a wild card: somewhere between a traditional beard trimmer and a regular razor, requiring a special OneBlade — which isn’t sharp to the touch — that you’re supposed to replace every four months or so. Once you charge the handle and turn on the power, the blade’s rapid movements cut nearly as close as a regular disposable blade, but without any fear of bleeding or ingrown hairs. You can basically drag it all over your face haphazardly to eliminate all your facial hair, or use it to “edge” and “shape” for styles like goatees. Using it does feel slightly strange, like you’re sweeping over your floor with a broom that doesn’t work as well as a vacuum. And the results weren’t the most pristine, so it’s something I’m saving for vacations, when it matters less. The small size, decent battery life, and punchy color make it just right for my Dopp kit.

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What’s the Best Beard Trimmer?