This is the most recommended type of beard trimmer by experts, but they don't get as high of ratings from users as corded beard trimmers do. Digging into the reviews, you definitely see more complaints of painful hair pulling (because they're not as powerful as corded trimmers), as well as many more durability complaints. Still, if you get a good one and you don't have a super-thick beard or a super low pain threshold, cordless beard trimmers are extremely convenient to use. They usually come with a good array of extra accessories as well.
These are more powerful than cordless beard trimmers, so may be a better choice if you want a more pain-free experience or have a thicker, heavier beard to cut. Corded beard trimmers tend to be pricier than cordless, but they are also extremely durable -- this is the type you'll find in professional settings.
Dedicated beard trimmers are probably the best choice for dealing specifically with facial hair because they usually offer finer gradations of cutting length. They're also designed to create the clean, straight lines you need to properly style your facial hair and sideburns. However, if you want even more versatility, many hair clippers, which we cover in a separate report, often include blades for detailing or trimming sideburns and beards, and, of course, you'll need an electric shaver or a razor if you decide to ditch the beard.
We found a couple of expert reviews for beard trimmers, most notably at TheSweethome.com where extensive, long term testing is performed. Groom+Style.com also offers their take on beard trimmers; though we're not sure if they personally tested every model reviewed, they indicate that they did at least examine each one. After evaluating those roundups, we then combed through thousands upon thousands of user reviews posted to retail websites like Amazon.com, Walmart.com and BestBuy.com to find the best grooming tools for any style of beard.
For the best combination of versatility and value, experts say to look no further than the Wahl Lithium Ion All In One Grooming Kit (Est. $40). It's the top pick at TheSweethome.com, after undergoing extensive testing against four other clippers in a professional setting. There, Séamus Bellamy (who, sadly, had to sacrifice his beard for the cause) praises the Wahl's "powerful motor, sharp and near-professional-level blades, long-lasting battery life, and excellent selection of sturdy beard guides."
The review team at Groom+Style agree, making the Wahl Lithium Ion All In One Grooming Kit their number two pick. While they say it was the most powerful of the beard trimmers they evaluated, they also note that its detail trimming wasn't quite as good as their top pick, which we cover below. They also ding the All In One Grooming kit for ease of use, saying "there are a huge number of blades and combs to juggle depending on what you want to do."
Still, the selection of accessories that Groom+Style prefers not to juggle also makes this a versatile tool. It includes a trimmer blade, a detail blade, three combs, a T-blade and a dual shaver blade. As we mentioned, battery life is great -- the manufacturer says it will run for "up to four hours" after a one hour charge (but professional testing says three is more realistic -- although that's still pretty good), or for five minutes after a one-minute charge. The latter is a terrific feature if you need a touch up and realize you forgot to plug it in. No cradle or stand is included (the charger is just a plug-in transformer), but a storage pouch for the trimmer, blades and accessories is provided.
While the Wahl Lithium Ion All In One Grooming Kit is definitely the top choice of the experts, we did see more durability complaints from users than we usually like to see. However, we also spotted plenty of comments that, for the price, it's worth it to just toss it when it breaks after a year or so and buy a new one. Most users are very pleased, saying it works well and doesn't pull or tug their hair when it's cutting. And even those who pan it for other reasons are amazed at its long battery life. This grooming kit is covered by a 5-year warranty, and Wahl's customer service gets mostly good reviews for responsiveness.
Another top pick of reviewers, and a cordless choice to boot, the Panasonic ER-GB40-S Moustache & Beard Trimmer (Est. $45) gets kudos for its lightweight, easy to maneuver design. The ER-GB40-S has no attachments, but it features an adjustable dial with 19 settings -- from 1-10 millimeters in 0.5 millimeter increments -- which should give anyone enough flexibility to trim your hair or beard to any length you desire.
The Panasonic can be used as a wet or dry shaver, as well as corded (for dry shaving) or cordless, and users say that versatility offers them a lot of grooming options -- it's particularly popular for those who travel. Most say it holds a charge for about a week with regular, daily use. It's extremely easy to adjust and clean, users say, just run it under a stream of cold water. The ER-GB40-S includes a charging cradle that's popular because a lot of people don't like a razor just lying on their counter attached to a cord.
It's more expensive, but the laser-guide feature on the Philips Norelco Beardtrimmer 9100 (Est. $90) makes it the top pick at Groom+Style. While they lament that it doesn't futuristically burn hair off with a laser, they do praise the laser guide system to mark where you should trim. The result, they say, "is a perfectly symmetrical beard that your wife or girlfriend can't possibly criticize." It's got plenty of settings for that perfect cut, too, 17 to be exact, from 0.4 mm to 7 mm. It will run for an hour on a one-hour charge.
The Philips Norelco 9100 is well-liked by users. Most say it works very well and they love the laser, although a few call it more of a gimmick than a help. Some say the many adjustments make it a bit hard to figure out at first, but others like that they have so many options. While, as with all beard trimmers, we saw some durability complaints, there seems to be fewer with this cordless beard trimmer than with others. It's also reported as easy to clean, just run it under water. This trimmer also has just a plug-in transformer, no cradle.
Corded beard trimmers are the most powerful type, and are what professional barbers use. One top choice of experts and users, regardless of their specific needs, is the Andis T-Outliner Trimmer (Est. $60). It gets raves for its close-cutting blade that offers precise outlining and fading. Military personnel particularly love it, saying it consistently gives a close, but stubbly, shave that is acceptable even to the armed services' tougher beard length standards. Those who wear their beard longer praise it as well, though, saying that regardless of what you need, the Andis will deliver.
The T-shaped blade design of the T-Outliner also makes it a great choice for trimming around your ears. Those with sensitive skin are particularly pleased, saying this beard trimmer is one of the few that doesn't cause any irritation. The T-Outliner also draws a lot of praise from African-American men, who often face challenges from ingrown hairs or from tough, curly beards. The one drawback to the Andis T-Outliner is that it doesn't offer an adjustable cutting length at all, but it does accept attachments; many buy the Andis 4 Snap On Combs Set (Est. $10) to round out their trimming options.
The Andis T-Outliner is part of the roundup at TheSweethome.com, although, ultimately it's not one of their top picks. They don't bother to test it, noting that their testers (professional barbers) already use it for hours a day. While they do note that it's "built like a tank," they also say it's fiddly to clean. At Groom+Style, the Andis is the number five pick in the five-product roundup, but it is also the only corded model included. They conclude, "If you need easy trimming (without training as a barber) of multiple set lengths on the head (and body) this not for you. However, if you want an ultra reliable trimmer and only need a few set lengths this is a quality option."
Another great corded clipper to consider is our Best Reviewed portable hair clipper, the Wahl Professional Peanut Clipper/Trimmer (Est. $40). It's the runner up corded beard trimmer at TheSweethome.com, where it was the most powerful of the trimmers they tested, although they ultimately prefer the convenience of the cordless models. In spite of it falling to runner up status this year (it was the top pick in the last update, they still say, "You see it in hair salons everywhere; professionals dig its powerful motor, easy-to-maintain blades, solid ergonomics, and rugged durability." They also praise its ease of cleaning.
Although the Peanut is technically a hair clipper, plenty of users say that it works better for trimming thick beards than some dedicated beard trimmers. It's also super nimble, at just 4 inches long and 4 ounces. It includes four guide combs, too, making it versatile enough to use on more than just your beard.
If you just need a basic, cheap beard trimmer and don't want to invest too much in it -- especially if you're not sure if grooming your own beard is something you want to do regularly, take a look at the Conair Corded Beard and Mustache Trimmer (Est. $13). In spite of its bargain basement price, it includes three combs, one has a five-position adjustment, making it even more versatile.
No experts review the Conair, but owners love it, saying it feels sturdy and durable and that it does a great job on any trimming job they need. Plenty of reviewers who were unhappy with their cordless beard trimmers are very pleased with this replacement, noting that even a cheap corded trimmer is more powerful than any cordless one.