Ask a guy with a beard why he has one, and he may say that it's because he hates to shave. But as most fuzzy-faced fellows will tell you, maintaining a beard takes effort -- sometimes more than shaving, depending on how creative you get with your facial hair. Whether you go for five o'clock shadow, a neat goatee or full fur, choosing the right beard trimmer will ensure you stay handsomely hirsute.
Although some men's electric shavers have beard trimmer attachments, these are designed to trim sideburns or the hairline, not to keep a full beard in check. For that, you need a dedicated beard trimmer, which looks like the hair clippers you'd find at a barber shop and usually comes with a variety of guards and attachments for maintaining different lengths and styles. Some beard trimmers are rechargeable, while others have cords or run on batteries.
Wahl Lithium Ion Groomer a reviewer favorite
We found a couple of recent beard trimmer comparisons, as well as single-product reviews. The most comprehensive comparo was performed by T Magazine, a fashion and style imprint published by The New York Times. In that report, writer Jonathan S. Paul asked bearded coworkers for beard trimmer recommendations, then spent three weeks testing the six trimmers. Paul's favorite is the Wahl Lithium Ion Groomer (*Est. $40) , a rechargeable model that comes with seven length guards as well as three attachments for trimming hair. Paul praises the Wahl for it's "high-endurance" rechargeable battery, it's variety of attachments and it's price. About the worst he can say about the Wahl beard trimmer is that "it's not handsome -- with tacky chrome trim and matte black grip ribs."
The Wahl Lithium Ion Groomer is also one of three beard trimmers recommended by staff at Valet, a men's lifestyle website. They like the fact that the Wahl lasts a long time between charges, although they seem less keen by the interchangeable clipper guards. Users at Amazon.com also are generally upbeat about the Wahl, with 15 owners giving it an average score of 4.5 out of 5. (A similar model, the Wahl Lithium Ion All In One Trimmer, earns a slightly lower average score of 4 out of 5 from nearly 100 users.) Users have two main complaints. First, they say, the Wahl has too many components to keep track of. Second, some complain that the beard trimmer occasionally pulls hairs, which can be painful. Still the majority of owners say they are satisfied with the Wahl. Another Wahl model, the heavy-duty Designer (*Est. $31) gets a brief mention from Esquire magazine, where editors recommend it for men with full beards.
Two Philips Norelco beard trimmers also recommended
The Philps Norelco Stubble Trimmer (*Est. $35) also gets the nod from T Magazine and from the same review in Esquire magazine. Unlike the Wahl, the Philips Norelco trimmer has a built-in guard that is adjustable for length. Owners like that they don't have to juggle multiple trimming accessories, but we read several complaints from users who say it's a bit on the bulky side, making it hard to reach some spots. Interestingly, while the Stubble Trimmer can indeed buzz a beard down to 1 millimeter, it also adjusts for beards as long as 3/4 of an inch (which is almost as long as the Wahl can trim). More than 40 users at Amazon.com give the Philips Norelco Stubble Trimmer an average score of 4 out of 5. Most of their comments fairly positive, although we found a few gripes about the trimmer's weak battery life.
We also found a few recommendations for the Philips Norelco T980 Turbo Vacuum Beard Trimmer (*Est. $30). Like the Stubble Trimmer, this Philips beard trimmer has an adjustable clipper guard, rather than interchangeable guards like the Wahl. This model is the top choice at Bestcovery.com, where it edges out the Wahl, and a runner-up at T Magazine. What distinguishes the Turbo Vacuum Beard Trimmer from others is its vacuum function, which the manufacturer says will suck up 90 percent of trimmings so they won't fall in your sink or vanity. Bestcovery reviewer Josh Tuliano praises this Norelco trimmer, say it's quiet and tidy; T Magazine's Jonathan Paul agrees that the vacuum is a nice feature but complains that it's too loud.
More than 600 users at Amazon.com have reviewed the Philips Norelco Turbo Vacuum Beard Trimmer -- it's their top-selling trimmer -- giving it an average score of 4 out of 5. Although the majority of comments are positive, several owners complain that the adjustable guard shifted mid-trim, resulting in an unevenly trimmed beard (or worse, a "racing strip" of short hairs amid a full beard).
Beard trimmer useful links
We found several worthwhile websites that offer useful tips for proper beard care: