Beards are in. For many guys, this is great news. If you’re bald, facial hair can help give the appearance of a stronger jawline and frame your face. Even if you aren’t, many women are attracted to the rugged look facial hair, a beard in particular, offers. Not only is a beard a good look for many men, it’s often less maintenance than shaving on the regular. Personally, I’ve maintained a short beard for the past several years and I don’t see myself ever going back–for me personally, growing out some facial hair has gotten me more compliments on my appearance than any physical change I’ve made since lifting weights in my teens.
With that said, beards still require maintenance. For example, if your beard is on the longer end, you almost certainly want to invest in some beard oil, but in almost all instances, you’ll want a way to trim your beard. Beard trimmers are pretty much essential if you plan on maintaining a beard–however, they aren’t all created equal. I’ve been through probably a dozen different trimmers before settling on my favorites. Here they are.
The Wahl Model 9818 is my go-to when I’m home and when I’m on the go. It’s a no-frills beard trimmer that rarely needs multiple passes for guys like me with very thick facial hair and the attachments don’t try to get too creative in their contours–too many trimmers I’ve used try to shape their attachments and blade for ease of use around the chin area, few with any actual success. This razor simply works, and works well. It’s also great if you want to completely shave off your beard, just wack at it with no guard!
Additionally, the battery life and charging speed of the Wahl Beard Trimmer Model 9818 is better than any other model I have ever used. If you already use a beard trimmer then you know annoying it is start shaving, only to realize you forgot to charge it. Now you’re left with a blade that’s barely vibrating and a splotchy mess on one side of your face. With the Wahl 9818 it’s a matter of a couple minutes to charge up to finish the job vs many of the other models I’ve had in the past.
The no-frills powerful motor and lack of ineffective contouring plus best charging capabilities on the market make this trimmer worth the slightly higher cost vs the budget options out there.
As a bald guy with a beard going on five years now, I’ve come to know a lot about clippers, beard trimmers, razors, and other grooming products. Wahl has typically been my go-to brand for most of my needs but for beards, Philips Norelco products are a close second. While the Wahl Beard Trimmer is my go-to, The Norelco Vacuum Beard Trimmer is a close second–I still use it at various times and in various situations.
Like the Wahl, The Norelco Vacuum Beard Trimmer has great charging, long battery life, and overall solid operation. The vacuum feature is also very neat–it really does suck up the vast majority of the hair so it doesn’t make nearly as much of a mess as other options. Simply shave and then pop the top off and empty the hair.
So, why not our first pick? If it’s pretty much as good as the Wahl but also much less messy? The main reason is the contour–like so many blades, the contour of the adjustable guard, at least for me personally, doesn’t get as even a shave as I would like around the chin area–though it is more comfortable than many other trimmers I’ve tried. However, if you like the contour shape, which many men do, I would say the Norelco Vacuum Beard Trimmer should be your go-to choice given the vacuum feature really is nice.
BEST BUDGET OPTION: Wahl Model 5622 Groomsman Rechargeable Beard, Mustache, Hair, & Nose Hair Trimmer
It’s hard to go wrong with one of the our top two picks; however, if you’re on a tight budget and need a versatile option, Wahl has a set of both a beard and nose hair trimmer, with plenty of attachments, for a bargain bin price.
Like it’s high end cousin, the 8918, the Wahl Model 5622 Groomsman is a no-frills trimmer with attachments that “just work”. It doesn’t have the same quality as the 8918–for instance, I find the power selector a little bit janky and when I use this model I have to go over some trouble spots a couple times. However, it still features stainless steel blades, and overall, it’s more than sufficient for most trimming needs and it’s available at a price that’s really hard to beat.
If I’m not checking a bag on a flight, sometimes I will bring along this model as opposed to my go-to option in case I get flak for having a beard trimmer in my carry on. It’s never happened, but for some short trips, I’d rather not have to dispose of a more expensive trimmer (or spend time checking my bag). It’s also a go-to option if for some reason I forgot to pack one of my other trimmers on a trip–I’ll Amazon Prime this baby and for the price even if I only use it once or twice I don’t feel too bad.
All in all, a sufficient option if you’re looking for a beard trimmer that gets the job done for a very low price.
Not sure how to make a decision? Here’s some advice I’ve learned along the way.
Choosing A Beard Trimmer
Choosing a beard trimmer, in my opinion, comes down to a few key criteria that might different from other trimmers.
Since most beards are not extremely thick or long, extra power or ‘RPMS’ are not as important for a beard trimmer as opposed to say, hair clippers. For this reason, you should pretty much always go with a cordless trimmer. Corded adds some power, but it’s hardly necessary as the top options reviewed here have plenty of power to not have to go over the same spot on your face multiple times. There are also options, such as the Philips Norelco Vacuum Beard Trimmer that can be used while charging, so you don’t have to worry about the ‘run out mid-charge’ issue.
Instead you should focus on the following features:
Getting an efficient, even shave comes down to precision, both of the blade, and of the attachments. Personally, I’ve had the most success with the Wahl 8918 when it comes to both a ‘5-o’clock shadow’ look using the trimmer without a guard, and for my normal short beard look with a guard.
Navigating the chin is one of the more tedious parts of trimming a beard, where precision really comes into play, and where there are differences in opinion. Many prefer the rounded guard option, found in the Norelco Vacuum Beard Trimmer reviewed above. I prefer the “regular” style attachments. However, rounded guards, such as the one found on the Norelco Vacuum do make it easier to “round the chin”. However, I find the beard length ends up being just a little but longer on the chin, making it less suited for short beard trims.
Since most trimmers operate in similar fashion, there isn’t much to lose by not having a versatile trimmer that might come in handy for more than just your beard. Consider what attachments your potential purchase comes with and check out the blade angle–different angles, in conjunction with the shape of the unit itself can be used for grooming more than just the face. For example, I find the Philips Norelco Vacuum Beard Trimmer, with one of it’s standard attachments, a pretty useful back trimmer given the angle of the particular attachment.
Charging + Battery Life
I mentioned above that cordless is the way to go. With that decision pretty much out of the way, the power unit comes down to charge time. Often, a beard trimmer will take almost as long to charge as it has charge life. This is part of why the Wahl 8918 stands out–it can charge 3 minutes of usage time in around 1 minute, and a full 4 hour charge takes only an hour. Pretty much any trimmers’ battery can last long enough to trim a beard; however, if you opt to use your trimmer for a more comprehensive grooming, you might want to consider total battery life. Anything over an hour is sufficient, with 80minutes+ ideal.
Last but not least, the right choice for you might depend on price. A high end beard trimmer should run between $50-$100, while a budget option will usually be in the $20 range. Higher end trimmers last a while–I haven’t had one of the higher end ones die on me in years. I have had some issues in the past with options around $20, but not with any reviewed here. At the end of the day, a beard trimmer is not a particularly expensive product, especially when you factor in the savings versus razor blades and shaving cream.
Using A Beard Trimmer
Using a beard trimmer is quite straightforward as you might expect. My preference is to use them on “dry”, before showering. A Wet beard hairs will not stand up straight enough to get a good even shave in my opinion. However, if you have sensitive skin, you may want to shave after the shower; however, I still recommend your beard be mostly dry for the best results.
In terms of the actual mechanics of shaving with a beard trimmer, for thick beards like mine, start near the ear, where my side burns would be, and gradually work my way down and towards the center of my face, but working the beard trimmer from bottom to top, in increments of about one to one and a half inches at most. I will typically use my free hand to pull down my skin along the jawline to get a more even shave.
When I get to the chin area, I decrease the size of my motions to half an inch at a time at most, and for the mustache area right underneath the nose I will remove any guard I was using to trim near the nose area.
If your beard is not extremely thick and you have sensitive skin, you may want to start near your jawline and move the trimmer up across your cheek in one vertical motion per swipe. Limiting the number of times you go over a particular part of your beard (which is hard to get perfectly when you use small incremental motions) should keep any irritation to a minimum.
Post shave I typically just jump in the shower–that makes it easy to clear out all the stubble if you aren’t using the Norelco Vacuum Beard Trimmer and reduce potential irritation. Follow it up with a skin care routine if you have one. (If not, you should, read up about Men’s Skincare Here.)