These are interesting times for men with facial hair. As more industries embrace a casual dress code, scruff has never been more acceptable in the workplace. But there’s a fine line between looking artistically coiffed and straight-up disheveled, especially when it comes to beards. To help you look more James Harden and less Leo in The Revenant, we asked 13 experts — including stylists, barbers, and guys with good beards — about the beard trimmers they use to keep their scruff just so.
Before we dig into their nine preferred beard trimmers below, some pearls of wisdom from our pros for how best to use them. First, only trim when your beard hair is dry. “If you’re cutting it wet, you can’t really tell how long it is going to be when dry,” explains Mark Miguez, co-owner and barber at New York City’s Friend of a Barber. If you’re new to the tools, the experts also say to start with a longer guard or dial setting when trimming as another way to ensure you don’t cut your facial hair too short. And last, in addition to cleaning your trimmer’s blade after each use (more on that below), you should also wash your face when you finish, too. As Rob Mac of Mildred New York told us, “Beard trimming is still shaving,” and you’ll likely have some stray hairs and stretched skin afterward that would benefit from a good rinse.
Best overall beard trimmer
All five of the grooming professionals we spoke to said Wahl’s Cordless Magic Clip is the most powerful, sharp, and capable beard trimmer on the market. “It gets the job done whether your beard is long or short,” says Fellow Barber founder Sam Buffa, citing the fact it comes with multiple (but not too many) guards to get the length just right. He also told us the quality of a Wahl blade makes this trimmer “the most bang for your buck” when compared to other models at similar prices, as Wahl’s blades stay sharper for longer, according to Buffa. Miles Wood Smith, the head barber at Murdock London, is another Magic Clip devotee, praising it for its combination of lightness and power. “It’s important to use a clipper with enough power to cut your facial hair consistently, but also one that’s light enough to be able to maneuver around your beard easily by hand,” he told us, adding that he loves to use this on both himself at home and his clients at work. “It’s the top product to own if you want to re-create a barbershop experience in the comfort of your home,” he says, a statement that was echoed by fashion stylist Neil Cohen.
Note that, like with electric razors, we found that professionals sometimes use different-looking beard trimmers than those you might see in a commercial or on a drugstore shelf. The experts that recommended this one promise there’s no reason it wouldn’t work for anyone, regardless of their trimming experience (to wit, podcast host Ronnie Parisella told us he also uses the Magic Clip on his beard). But there are more options on this list that non-grooming professionals swear by, too.
Best less-expensive beard trimmer
When we asked Miguez how he keeps the famous beard of his client, style writer David Coggins, so fresh, he told us his go-to tool is Wahl’s corded Peanut Clipper. It’s cheaper than the Magic Clip, but that isn’t why he likes it — Miguez says, in his opinion, wireless cordless trimmers are overrated. “I find that trimmers which you can plug into the wall have the power to last years, compared to wireless ones where the battery slowly gets worse.” Aside from having a cord, two other things he likes about the Peanut are that it has the quality of any Wahl product and comes with four attachments that he says are “perfect lengths” for trimming a beard down from a bush in the winter to Astroturf in the summer. The Peanut is also the favored beard trimmer of columnist Chris Black, who praised it because it’s “cheap, dependable, and fits in your designer Dopp kit perfectly.” If you’re not like Miguez and prefer cordless tools, the Peanut also comes in a cordless version (and Wahl also makes a corded version of the above Magic Clip for anyone who might prefer that, too).
Best even-less-expensive beard trimmer
Chef Jeremy Blutstein told us he uses Wahl’s even more affordable Lithium Iron Total Beard as both a beard and a body trimmer (he says he has two of them to keep things sanitary). For the price, the trimmer comes with a handful of guards for different beard lengths, with sizes ranging from 1.5 mm to 1 inch.
Best beard trimmer for most people
While the grooming professionals we spoke to named the Wahl Magic Clip as their favorite beard trimmer, this Phillips Norelco model received the most praise from bearded guys we talked to about their preferred tool. Fashion stylist Cohen is a fan, as are stunt performer Adam Rinn and DJ–slash–digital strategist Mac Joseph, who told us he he likes how this trimmer has a vacuum feature that sucks up most of your hair as you go, meaning there is less to clean up and therefore less of a chance of squabbling with roommates or partners over the state of your sink. “I’m black, so my hairs are super curly and get everywhere,” Joseph says. “The vacuum is very important to me, because I share a bathroom.”
Conrad Quilty-Harper, an editor at New Scientist, also uses this at home because “the vacuum means less mess while I’m trimming.” Joseph, who told us he just bought one of these for his dad, adds that he loves how the trimmer’s radial dial has clear, easy-to-read settings to set the length of its blade. “I’m blind as a bat, so if I’m not wearing my glasses, I can mess up the shaving settings,” he says. “The display on this is really good and bold.” When Strategist contributor Kurt Soller tested beard trimmers, this was his favorite of the bunch, too, for many of the same reasons that the others like it, including its radial dial with 0.5 mm increments, and the “godsend” vacuum sucking feature that collects “up to 90 percent of the hairs, according to the company.”
Best beard trimmer for styling
“Between barbershop appointments, the best thing you can do at home to maintain your beard is to keep your cheek lines and neckline neat,” Wood Smith told us. “And the Andis Slimline Pro is easily maneuverable to trim even hard-to-reach hairs on the neck.” In fact, all the barbers who praised the Magic Clip told us they will use this trimmer to make beards look as neat as possible. “It’s going to get incredibly close, so professionals use it to create neat lines, and then put the attachments on to trim the beard itself,” explains Karac Ruleau of Mott NYC. Miguez agrees, saying that while he wouldn’t use it as his main beard trimmer, it’s the first thing he picks up to keep the area around his clients ears and the back of their neck clean. And Mac, another Andis fan, told us he knows from experience that this product works on facial hair of all types and textures, and holds its charge for a long time.
Best beard trimmer with metal guards
Ruleau says that when it comes to beard trimming, men should consider the fact that plastic guards are less effective than metal ones. “I like how lightweight the Magic Clip is,” he explains, “but the problem with that device, for me, is that the attachments it comes with are plastic.” That’s why he also uses the Oyster 76, which Ruleau says will give your beard a “cleaner look,” because plastic guards can “split hairs that will show when it grows out.” A downside of metal guards, he notes, is that the machine is “heavier and clunkier,” but Ruleau says that’s a minor inconvenience he’s willing to deal with.
Best beard trimmer for travel
While Black says the cordless version of the Wahl Peanut will fit in a Dopp kit, if you’re looking for an even more affordable beard trimmer for travel, consider the OneBlade. Quilty-Harper uses it, and it made the cut on Soller’s list, too. “The small size, decent battery life, and punchy color make it just right for my Dopp kit,” Soller wrote. Quilty-Harper adds that it can “get as close as a wet shave” (to wit, the OneBlade also made our list of expert-recommended electric razors), with Soller writing that the gadget falls somewhere “between a traditional beard trimmer and a regular razor.” He adds: “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.”
Best beard trimmer that doubles as a manscaping tool
Medium strategist Shaquille Cheris told us he loves this trimming kit from newer grooming brand Hatteker. “It came with what felt like 15 components,” he says, “and it has a great motor compared to the Panasonic I was using before.” Technically meant to be used all over, Cheris says he mostly uses the trimmer to keep the edges of his beard in good shape between barbershop visits. Hatteker claims the product is fully waterproof and, in addition to cleaning its blades, encourages users to soak the beard trimmer itself under a faucet between uses (Cheris, for what it’s worth, tells us he hasn’t tried this yet).
Best beard trimmer for shorter beards or stubble
Strategist senior editor Peter Martin (a former Esquire grooming editor) was recommended this Gillette trimmer by a bearded friend nearly a decade ago, and says he’s used it ever since. “It’s small and lightweight, and surprisingly powerful for something that runs on a single AA battery,” he says. Martin adds that “most performance issues can be fixed just by replacing the battery, every few years,” and when that doesn’t work, he will just replace the trimmer itself with a new one because it’s so affordable. Though Martin did share one caveat: The trimmer’s longest setting is around half an inch, making it best for those with shorter facial hair or guys who seek perpetual stubble.
And an expert-recommended beard-trimmer cleaner
Perhaps the most enlightening discovery we made while reporting this story is just how important it is to keep your blades clean. “When you’re shaving, your skin is oily, and that oil from your skin will get onto the blades and clog them over time,” Miguez told us. “And if you have dry skin, it’s the flakes that come off and sit on the blades.” He adds that when clients come to him complaining that they’re breaking out, he “tells them to clean their blades, and a couple weeks later they come back and say, ‘You were right.’” Ruleau agrees, equating beard trimmer maintenance to that of taking your car in for a tune up. “The blade is like an engine,” he explains.
Andis’s Cool Care Plus was cited by every barber we spoke to as the product they spray on their beard trimmers before and after using them, to keep them fresh. That said, almost all of them noted that many beard trimmers come with cleaning oil that would work just as well — if people didn’t forgetfully throw it out. “Most guys toss the oil,” Ruleau told us. “Instead, put a single drop on the blade after you’re finished, turn the blade on for a couple seconds, and you’re good to go.” Of the models on this list, the Andis Slimline Pro, Wahl Magic Clip, Wahl Peanut, and Oster 76 all come with oil; Philips-Norelco claims that oil isn’t needed on its vacuum trimmer, but includes a brush that the brand says will clean it with just a little tap water.
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