Although some all-in-one clipper sets like the Wahl All-in-One can trim nose hair, dedicated nose and ear hair trimmers are much more popular. These small, lightweight devices use rotating cutting blades, set inside guards that keep you from nicking the inside of your nose or ears. We focus primarily on their nose hair trimming performance because that's what most people buy them for -- but they have similar operating characteristics when trimming ear hair.
Nose hair trimmers are uniformly small, light and portable. They're also very inexpensive so, even in the rare cases where replacement parts are available, it's usually less expensive to just buy a new trimmer if the first one wears out or stops working. Every nose and ear hair trimmer in this report runs for a long time on a single AA battery and can be used either wet or dry.
Of the three models we evaluated, the undisputed top performer is the Panasonic Nose & Ear Hair Trimmer ER-GN30-K (Est. $15) . Owners say it's powerful and comfortable to use. It even works well from multiple angles, which makes it much easier to maneuver in the confined space that is your nose (or ear). You may have to make a couple of passes to get every hair, but this trimmer seems to work faster than the competition. The ER-GN30-K is also quiet -- just a low hum in your nose or ear. By comparison, users say the Panasonic Wet/Dry Vacuum Nose & Ear Hair Trimmer ER-430-K (Est. $21) starts out reasonably quiet but gets noisy after you remove the cutting unit for cleaning.
The Mangroomer Essential Nose and Ear Hair Trimmer (Est. $12) is just noisy, period -- about as loud as an electric shaver. Owners also warn that both the tip and motor heat up in your hand, although they don't mind it terribly.
Both the Panasonic ER-430-K and the Mangroomer Essential give most users a clean, comfortable cut, but they're not as versatile in terms of cutting angles. The Panasonic ER-430-K works at a 60-degree cutting angle, as opposed to its predecessors' more typical 90-degree cutting angle.
All three models also have some quality-control problems, but you can expect to get a couple years of use out of either Panasonic model. Users warn that the blades on the Mangroomer trimmer can get dull after about six months, but given the low replacement cost most of them don't mind just buying a new Mangroomer once the blades begin to deteriorate.
Although the Panasonic ER-GN30-K is the best performer overall and has a nifty flow-through water cleaning system that works very well, if you struggle with sneezing and tickling (or mess) from cut hairs, you might want to consider the Panasonic ER-430-K. It literally vacuums up the cut hairs as you trim. Users say the suction works well, even though you don't actually feel it in action. The ER-GN30-K also has a mirrored cap that can make it easier to see what you're doing on the go.