The quest for the perfect beard isn’t easy. There are days in which your beard seems in control of you and not the other way around.
As men, however, we have one major advantage:
We have tools.
Tools like a beard trimmer for instance. A beard trimmer is versatile and makes it easier to get exactly the beard you want. And the best ones – like the Philips Norelco Beard & Head Trimmer Series 5100 – will advance your quest even closer to perfection.
In this post will look at what is the best beard trimmer available, as well as others that rate pretty damn close. We’ll also discuss things to look for when buying a beard trimmer, how to use a trimmer and the difference between a beard trimmer and other grooming tools.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and dig in.
- Before you buy: 7 things to consider when purchasing a beard trimmer
- The 5 best beard trimmers of 2017
- How it’s done: Getting the best results from your beard trimmer (A simple, 7 step illustrated guide)
- So, how is a beard trimmer different from all the rest?
- The final bottom line: Why we chose these trimmers
Before You Buy: 7 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Beard Trimmer
Rest assured, you’ll have plenty of options while looking for a beard trimmer. There are many types of trimmers on the market with lots of different features – from corded to cordless, the number and kind of attachments, and different settings.
How do you choose?
Let’s take a look:
Before you go to the store to check out beard trimmers, ask yourself how you intend to use the trimmer? Is it just for your beard, or will you also use it for your hair and other parts of your body?
Multi-use beard trimmers have a wider range of length settings that enable you to trim your beard, head, and body. The Panasonic ER-GB40-S, for example, has 19 length settings and is effective for trimming your chest and other parts of your body (you’ll find it listed in our beard trimmer reviews).
2. Corded or Cordless
There are advantages to both corded and cordless beard trimmers:
- Cordless trimmers have more flexibility than corded trimmers because you can use them practically anywhere. Most cordless trimmers provide up to an hour of cutting time on a single charge, with the length of the charge needed to get to full power varying from trimmer to trimmer.
- Corded trimmers, generally speaking, provide a little more power. They also offer the peace of mind from knowing that your trimmer’s battery won’t run out in the middle of a trim.
If you choose a cordless trimmer, it’s important to know the length of the battery’s life before it needs to recharge. With a corded trimmer, the length of the cord may be important if you’re seeking maximum maneuverability in your bathroom or another area where you do your trimming.
Cordless trimmers usually come with charging stations, or stands, and you can leave your charger in the stand until its next use to ensure a full charge.
Many trimmers come with attachments that are added to the unit to achieve different lengths and different styles – such as a goatee – or include a stubble guide attachment that helps you achieve the stubble look that is popular among many men.
4. Your Beard Length
The length of your beard – medium, short, stubble – is an important factor when choosing a trimmer. Make sure that the one you choose as multiple length settings. Also, some trimmers are best for short hair, others with longer hair – and so on. The bottom line is that the trimmer you choose supports the length of beard you have.
5. Wet & Dry Use
Many of the best trimmers are good for wet and dry use, i.e., you can both use it in the shower and/or with shave gels, lotions, and foams. Waterproof trimmers are usually easier to clean, as well. In most cases, you simply wash them with water from your faucet to remove excess hair trimmings. That kind of convenience is hard to beat.
6. The Blades
Stainless steel, chromium, and titanium blades are longer lasting and more comfortable than other types blades. Many beard trimmers, including more expensive ones, have dual-edged blades that provide extra cutting precision (and enable you to fine-tune your beard more efficiently).
The travel-friendliness of your trimmer is something to consider if you’re on the road a lot. Is the trimmer lightweight, compact and easily placed into a carry-on bag or another type of luggage? Portability is an important consideration in any case.
Travel-friendly trimmers should also have a longer battery life while being easily chargeable. In most cases, a cordless trimmer is easier to take with you when you travel, but it needs to have an easy-to-access charging source.
While the information above should help you in choosing a trimmer, here are five products that rise to the top of the list when considering the best beard trimmer 2017.
The 5 Best Beard Trimmers of 2017
Philips Norelco is a behemoth in the men’s grooming industry and has been for a long time. And it’s true; big doesn’t always mean better.
But Norelco has had more than its share of premium products, including its Series 5100 beard and head trimmer.
The 5100 is the best beard trimmer for men for many reasons, not the least of which it has enough bells and whistles to make an airplane cockpit envious. They’re not just for show, however.
No matter what kind of beard you desire, the 5100 series has you covered.
It even has, on a razor loaded with cool gadgets and attributes, a “gadget” that stand out from the rest, namely its Dynamic Beard Guide System.
Here’s how it works:
- The DBGS (our acronym, not Norelco’s) utilizes innovative lift and trim technology that raises and guides hair for a more efficient trim. It also includes “contour comb” technology that helps deliver a more even and skin-friendly trim.
- Additionally, the DBGS comes with three comb lengths: 3-day stubble, short beard, and long beard. The DBGS is designed for true one-pass trimming so you don’t need to worry about taking extra strokes to make your beard look the way you want.
That’s not all the 5100 offers, however.
The 5100’s self-sharpening steel blades are also designed to provide as clean of a cut as you’ll find on any trimmer. Norelco double sharpens them to cut more hair with each pass to speed up the process, which is always handy while you’re trying to get out the door in the morning.
Better yet, the blades have rounded tips to prevent skin irritation.
For one, it comes with a zoom wheel that allows you to lock-in on one of 17 built-in precision length settings, all the way from 1/64th of an inch to a half-inch. You’d be hard-pressed not to find the right length for your beard and the look that you’re trying to achieve.
And, not to forget, you’ll have no trouble with finding the right length for your head, whether it’s a more stubbled look or the always beautiful bald look. It’s no wonder that it’s also the best professional beard trimmer.
The Norelco 5100 is good for both corded and cordless use and comes with an advanced lithium-ion battery that lasts up to 70 minutes without a cord when fully-charged. It takes an hour charge to bring your trimmer back to full power once the battery has run down.
It’s also fully waterproof, and you can clean it by simply running the beard trimmer head under the faucet.
Here’s a cool unboxing video of the Philips Norelco 5100:
Best for: Beards of all lengths
- Innovative Dynamic Beard Guide System
- 17 built-in length settings
- Waterproof and fully washable
- Advanced lithium-ion battery
- Some users say it’s noisy with prolonged use
No matter what kind of beard trim you’re hoping to achieve, the 5100 has you covered. Norelco has put ease and convenience into their products, all to the benefit of the consumer. This trimmer has pretty much everything you need.
Sometimes you need finesses, sometimes you need power.
With the Panasonic ER-GB40-S, you get both.
You’ll also fortify your grooming kit with a beard and hair trimmer you can use anywhere and fits easily into travel bags and other luggage.
Then again, there’s a lot to like about the Panasonic ER-GB40-S, including:
- The trimmer’s sharp stainless steel blades are angled at 45 degrees to create the optimal cutting edge. It’s fast and powerful, and you’ll get quick, efficient facial hair trimming (and head hair). The trimmer comes with 3-blades and cuts cleanly through even the thickest and most dense hair.
- The blades also work quickly and get more hairs in a single pass than with many other trimmers. You’ll spend less time in front of the mirror while still getting a close, clean shave.
- Another key feature of the ER-GB40-S is its Quick-adjust dial that provides 19 precision settings, which is handy whether you’re trimming your beard or hair, or sculpting, cutting, and detailing areas such as your sideburns and mustache. The settings are from 1 mm to 10mm which makes it easy to find the length you need for each job.
- The ER-GB40-S is good for wet and dry use and fully waterproof. You can use it in the shower or over the sink, with shaving gels, lotions, and foams, and its cordless option means you can use it almost anywhere. We think it’s the best cordless beard trimmer on the market.
- Grooming with ER-GB40-S isn’t just confined to your face either, as it will also get the job done on your chest, arms, and more. All you have to is snap off the included comb attachment. Versatility like that is hard to beat.
- It’s easy to clean as all you need to do is place it under running water. The trimmer unit includes water shutters and an open water drainer. You simply shake out the excess water and pat it dry with a towel. Your trimmer comes with a handy cleaning brush, as well.
- The ER-GB40-S is fully rechargeable and comes with an AC charging stand. You’ll get 50 minutes of use with an hour charge – but you can leave it on the charging stand and know that it’s always ready for use.
- The AC charging stand includes a visual indicator light that turns red when it’s time to charge your trimmer.
- You’ll like how the ER-GB40-S fits into your hand. It’s very lightweight and compact and has an ergonomic rubberized grip.
- Last, but not least, the Panasonic ER-GB40-S is very affordable. You’ll get a top-notch trimmer at a budget-friendly price.
The ER-GB40-S works well for beards of all lengths but is especially effective for trimming longer, more unruly whiskers.
- Multiple precision settings
- Fast and close-cutting blades
- Good for wet and dry use
- Easy to clean
- Not as easy to grip for men with larger hands
The Panasonic ER-GB40-S is versatile – you can use it on your arms, chest, and other areas – and easy to use thanks to blades that are angled in a way to facilitate clean cutting. It’s also easy to clean and transportable. Finally, it’s affordable.
No mess, no stress. With the Philips Norelco Beard Trimmer 7200, you’ll get both because its unique design comes with an internal vacuum that makes for a clean shaving experience. And who wouldn’t pick a clean sink over the alternative?
The 7200’s integrated vacuum system promises to catch up to 90% of your stray hairs thanks to a high-velocity motor and fan system that provide powerful suction to lift and capture maximum hairs. But the vacuum system isn’t the only reason this trimmer is a go-to choice.
With its lift and trim technology and self-sharpening blades, the Philips Norelco 7200 raises and guides hair for a more efficient cut. The blades are double-sharpened to cut more hairs with every pass, which makes for faster trimming.
The lift and trim technology also make for a more uniform trim. Because it can guide more hair, it’s perfect for those who have very thick or bushy hair. Moreover, the comb attachment has rounded tips to capture and trim hair without irritating your skin evenly.
Dialing in your perfect length is made easy thanks to 20 built-in length settings, allowing you to select your preferred length setting by turning the zoom wheel. Lengths are displayed from 0.5 mm to 10 mm.
Further convenience comes from the trimmer’s self-sharpening blades that eliminate the necessity of blade changes that can be a hassle and expensive.
You’ll never have to change blades again, and the 7200’s blades sharpen on each side to further ensure a clean, precise trim.
A lithium-ion battery – which comes with your trimmer – delivers maximum power for high-performance trimming. The battery is designed to provide 80 minutes of cordless use before you’ll need to charge it, which makes it the best cordless beard trimmer on the market.
Better yet, you’ll only need to charge it for one hour to get back the full 80 minutes. You can also use the Philips Norelco 7200 while it’s charging and it includes a battery indicator to let you know when it’s charged, charging, or needs to be plugged in.
When you need to get those harder-to-reach areas after your trim, you can add defining details (or trim your mustache) by clicking on one of the 3 mm or 5 mm precision combs on the trimmer.
Cleaning up after you finished is already easier thanks to the integrated vacuum system – you’ll love how your sink looks after your shave – and cleaning the trimmer itself involves simply rinsing the blades under water and emptying the chamber.
The 7200 comes with a cleaning brush that enables you to whisk away any loose hairs while helping to extend the life of your trimmer.
Who’s It For:
While it’s a fine all-around trimmer, we think the 7200 works best for beards of fine to medium hair and perhaps not as good for coarser hair.
- Self-sharpening blades
- Integrated vacuum system
- Easily washable (attachments only)
- 20 built-in length settings, including a 0.5 mm stubble setting
- Vacuum reduces the exposed blade area, making detail trimming more difficult than with some models
- Some users claim it’s not as good as its predecessor, the Philips Norelco 7300
Whether you’re maintaining a touch of stubble of a great beard, the Philips Norelco Trimmer 7200 delivers. You’ll have less mess when you’ve finished thanks to its integrated vacuum system, while it has long-lasting cordless power.
Make no mistake; the Braun BT5070 gives you flexibility. It has two detachable trimming combs and 25 different length settings; so, whether you’re looking to trim your full beard or go for a designer stubble look, this trimmer has you covered.
Let’s take a closer look:
- The Blades
The Braun BT5070’s blades are engineered to last the lifetime of your trimmer while providing you with the precise trimming that’s essential for maintaining a good look. The blades are made of stainless steel and are ultra-sharp.
They’ll cut through long or thick hair without tugging or pulling. But they’re also good for all types of facial hair – full beards, goatees, stubble, etc.
- The Combs
The two detachable trimming combs, as mentioned, provide the flexibility you need. The precision comb (1-10 mm) allows you to put the finishing touches on your trim, while the long-beard comb (10-20 mm) gives you more range to maintain a longer beard if that’s your objective. This range makes the Braun BT5070 the best trimmer for long beards.
The Braun BT5070 also comes with a small 1 cm trimmer that slides out of the top of the unit and is ideal for trimming hard-to-reach places such as around your nose and mouth. Its battery provides 50-minutes of trimming before needing to be re-charged (it also comes with a power cord if that’s your preferred method of trimming.
You’ll also get a cleaning brush, blade oil, and pouch.
Who’s it for?
It’s ideal for men with long beards because customers say that it trims long hairs without creating rough edges and split ends. We think it’s the best beard trimmer for long beards available today.
- Multiple settings allow users to retain their ideal beard link without problems
- The battery lasts a long time when used in the cordless mode
- Quiet motor
- Some reviewers say that the motor isn’t powerful enough
You have to love a trimmer that provides so many length settings. It makes maintaining your desired length – the one that allows you to rock your beard – a whole lot easier.
There’s nothing particularly fancy about Norelco’s Beard Trimmer Series 3500. It’s not overly expensive, either.
Make no mistake, however, the Series 3500 is an excellent trimmer.
Whether you’re looking to trim your beard, mustache, or even your body, the 3500 delivers with a simple, compact size that exceeds the performance of much pricier trimmers.
Here’s why we like it:
- You don’t have to worry about finding the right length setting for your beard (or mustache). The Series 3500 has 20 precision settings – all the way from 1/32nd of an inch up to 13/32. It’s also easily adjustable and simple to lock thanks to the trimmer’s zoom wheel.
- There’s simply a ton of convenience wrapped into this unit without having to insert and replace a lot of attachments. The settings make it easy to create stubble and help the Series 3500 rank as a top beard trimmer for short beards.
- The 3500’s self-sharpening titanium blades are second to none. They cut hair cleanly, efficiently, and without skin irritation. They provide lasting sharpness and are ready to provide a clean shave whenever you need it.
- More on the blades: they have rounded blade tips, which further helps prevent skin irritation.
- The Series 3500 comes with a high-performance battery that some reviewers say provides up to 90 minutes of cordless use on a full charge (a full charge takes one hour). But the trimmer is good for both cordless and corded use. A battery light indicates when the trimmer is charging.
- It’s easy to clean this trimmer because of its fully washable heads. A cleaning brush also comes with your trimmer; all you have to do is whisk away the excess hairs and then rinse the heads under your sink.
- The Series 3500 is relatively lightweight and has an easy-to-hold ergonomic design. You’re able to maintain a solid grip even as you’re maneuvering the trimmer around those hard to reach areas of your beard and face.
- Another thing we like about this trimmer is that it comes with a 45-day risk-free trial. If you don’t like it at any point in the first month and a half, just send it back for a full refund. It also comes with a full two-year warranty.
Who is it best for:
You’ll particularly love it if you have a short beard and/or are trying to maintain the stubble look.
- Self-sharpening blades
- 20 length settings
- Easy to maintain
- Not as good for multi-use trimming as some other trimmers
You’d be hard-pressed to find another trimmer in this price range that works as well at the Philips Norelco Series 3500. It’s simply the best budget beard trimmer available.
How it’s Done: Getting the Best Results From Your Beard Trimmer (in 7 Steps)
Perhaps you’ve never use a trimmer before and are somewhat anxious about trying it out for the first time. Or, maybe you’ve used one but haven’t been completely satisfied with the results.
Not to worry.
While properly using a beard trimmer requires a bit of time and practice, you’ll soon get the hang of it. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your trimmer (and the look you hope to achieve):
1. Wash and Dry Your Beard
The best place to start is making sure that your beard is, A) clean, and B) dry.
When it comes to cleaning your beard, we highly recommend using a quality beard shampoo or wash that thoroughly cleanses your facial hair. Note: That means not using the same shampoo that you use on your head.
Once you’ve washed your beard, you can pat-dry it with a towel to get the excess water out while the remaining moisture will dry in a matter of minutes. You should also comb your beard – using a good beard comb that’s designed for the job – to ensure that all of your beard’s hairs are lying flat.
2. Choosing the Right Length Setting
If you’re new to beard trimming, experts suggest that you use the longest length setting to start. That will help prevent you from cutting your beard too short as you’re getting the hang of your new trimmer.
3. On to the Neck!
Now that you’re beard is clean, dry, and looking spectacular, it’s time to begin the trimming process. And it all starts with the neck. A tidy, well-kept neckline is a key component of a well-styled beard.
Begin by removing the length adjustment attachment of your trimmer. Then shave a clean, tight neck line where you want your beard to begin.
The key to this step is taking your time (and practicing moderation). Shave a little bit of your neck at a time, then stop and take a close look. It’s often easy to take too much hair off your neck and beard, and there’s no going back.
The good news? The hair on your neck grows back quickly.
4. Define Your Cheek Line
Now that you’ve finished trimming your neck and produced a clean, tidy neckline, you’re ready to move on to the sides of your face. But don’t rush into it, because your cheek line is a very important part of your beard and helps frame your face.
Before you even begin trimming your cheeks, determine how you want to define your cheek line. You can keep a full beard that extends right to the top of your cheeks, or you may want a cheek line that’s a bit lower.
5. Trimming Your Cheeks
Once you’ve defined your cheek line, trim downwards, starting at the top of your cheek. Take your time. The hair on your cheeks doesn’t grow back as quickly as it does on your neck, so moderation – once again – is important.
For many men, the best-looking beard is one in which the hair on the sides of your face is slightly shorter than the hair on your chin. That said, trim your cheeks down to your jawline, then go back to your cheeks for a final pass with a length setting that’s 2mm shorter. You’ll like how your beard looks.
6. On to the chin!
Once you’ve defined your cheek line and created a nice symmetry between the sides of your face and the jawline, it’s time to trim your chin. Use the trimmer vertically and trim towards the jawline.
Some men prefer trimming their chin hair at a slightly longer length than their jaw, but that’s a matter of personal preference. By doing so, however, you’ll create added definition.
Once you’ve finished trimming your chin, comb your beard again to identify any stray hairs that you’ve missed. Use your trimmer to remove those hairs and also shave your cheeks, if needed, to get rid of any excess hair.
It’s also a good idea to use a quality beard brush when you’ve finished trimming to get rid of any other loose hairs.
7. A Few Thoughts About Trimming Your Mustache
We get it – many of you also plan to use your trimmer to keep your mustache looking neat and tidy. Here are a few tips before you touch up your ‘stache.
- Be extra careful. It’s harder to hide your mistakes on your mustache than it is on your beard.
- Use a higher length setting on your mustache. If you cut your mustache hairs too short, they’ll stand out vertically (and give your friends plenty to chuckle about).
- Comb your mustache hair downwards and use your trimmer to remove any hairs that dangle below your mouth. Then carefully trim the rest of your mustache while, again, using a higher length setting.
So, How is a Beard Trimmer Different From All the Rest?
But what’s the difference? Can’t we use just one tool to take care of at least most of our hair trimming needs?
The answer is no – because they serve different needs:
Trimmer vs. Shaver
A beard trimmer is what its name suggests – its job is to trim your beard and maintain it at the length you desire. Trimmers aren’t used to shave your hair clean and down to your skin, like an electric razor. In fact, a trimmer’s blades should rarely, if ever, touch your skin.
So, if you’re looking to keep your beard trimmed for a certain look, your trimmer is the tool you need. If you’re looking for a clean and smooth look, reach for your shaver. You won’t get that look with your trimmer.
However, many shavers and trimmers today are good for both wet and dry use. Furthermore, you can use water to clean them more thoroughly than you would with a dry cleaning.
Beard Trimmer vs. Stubble Trimmer
Here’s where things get a bit foggy. After all, if you’re using a beard trimmer to maintain a certain length of hair, doesn’t it stand to reason that it could be used to maintain and trim stubble, as well?
The answer is no – at least if you’re looking for the perfect stubble look.
Many beard trimmers can’t give you ideal stubble, and your best bet is to buy a stubble trimmer meant for the job. The biggest difference between the two is in the settings. A stubble trimmer can trim facial hair extremely short – short enough to give you the 5 o’clock shadow look if you so desire.
But, it’s important to note, that some beard trimmers can give you a very good stubble look. Not all of them, however.
Beard Trimmer vs. Hair Clipper
There are some similarities between a beard trimmer and hair clippers but also plenty of differences.
Hair clippers are designed to cut longer hair and typically come with several attachments to help you do the job. They’re also made to cut larger chunks of hair more quickly and usually don’t cut very close to the skin.
A beard trimmer, as we’ve seen, are not designed simply to cut long hair. And, again, a beard trimmer can cut the hair close, if needed.
Here’s a video breaking down the differences in detail:
The Final Bottom Line: Why We Chose These Trimmers
There are plenty of reasons why the five beard trimmers reviewed above are on our ‘best of’ list for 2017. We took into account a lot of factors: each trimmer’s versatility, ease of use, the number of (useful) attachments, whether it was good for both wet and dry shaving, and durability.
We also carefully consider the reviews of others, particularly those of customers, as well as personal experience.
The most important factor, of course, is how it did what it’s intended to do, i.e., trim your beard and perhaps touch up other areas of your face. We also look at how much each product costs, and, as with all of our reviews, we want to cover a wide price range. Hopefully, it will help you to pick a trimmer that will serve you well for many years.
With that, we’ll wrap up another review. We always welcome your feedback, whether it’s about the products listed here, a favorite product of yours, or anything related to men’s grooming and beards. We’d love to hear from you.