The Best Beard Trimmer
After completing 40 hours of research, surveying over 550 Wirecutter readers, spending a week testing tools with a pair of professional barbers, and personally sacrificing a beard in the name of science, the $37 Wahl Lithium Ion All-In-One Trimmer is the beard trimmer we’d recommend for most people. It has the sharpest blades, most reliable beard guides, the longest runtime, and the strongest overall stubble-cutting power of any cordless tool we tested. It also has a high-quality design, from its blade materials to its ergonomics, and its battery lasts longer than the competition. Though we feel this is a better shaver than its peers overall, it’s especially well-suited for heavy-bearded users thanks to its battery life and cutting power.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $35.
However, cordless trimmers aren’t for everyone. For those who want a reliable tool that can cut a thick beard and moustache down to nothing but stubble, we recommend the Wahl Peanut. This inexpensive and powerful corded trimmer—which was our pick in a previous edition of this guide—beat everything we tested it against on overall cutting power and how close it was able to trim. You’ll see it in hair salons everywhere; professionals dig its powerful motor, easy-to-maintain blades, solid ergonomics, and rugged durability. But unlike some pro tools, the Peanut is easy to clean and maintain without needing to break out the screwdriver. It’s also lighter, smaller, and more maneuverable than other tank-like pro trimmers. Yet, because it’s so well-built, the Wahl Peanut is bound to last home users for years—a claim backed up by numerous online testimonials.
For men who prefer a trimmer with incremental length controls, we suggest the Braun Cruzer 6 Beard and Head Trimmer, which comes with two trimmer guards that can be adjusted to cut at lengths between 1 and 20 millimeters. This tool is hardly flawless, with mediocre cutting power and an almost useless built-in detail trimmer, but no other tool can match its fine stubble-length adjustment—a feature many readers wanted in our survey. This trimmer is more well-suited for people with more nuanced facial hair (not thicker beards) and want to have as much control as they can over the length.
While none of these trimmers are perfect, they proved to be the best options available out of the 50 pieces of hardware we looked at and 27 beard trimmers we considered calling in for testing. These picks proved themselves in a final group of ten devices, which we put in the hands of the experts at Victory Barber & Brand. They were scrutinized and tested, at home and in the barber shop, over the course of a week.
Table of contents
*At the time of publishing, the price was $35.
With its powerful motor, sharp near-professional level blades, long-lasting battery life, and excellent selection of sturdy beard guides, the Wahl Lithium-Ion All-In-One Trimmer is our pick for Best Beard Trimmer for most people.
While not as powerful as the Wahl Peanut (which we’ll get to in a minute), it proved more than capable of powering through coarse beard hair, no matter whether you’re trimming around your upper lip or taking your beard off. Of all of the battery-powered trimmers we tested, the Lithium-Ion-All-In-One had the most power over all. It cut more hair in a single pass—and cut it shorter—than any other rechargeable trimmer in the test. Working without a cord is convenient, and this tool’s battery has the best balance of charge times and runtimes among everything we saw: with a roughly two-hour runtime from a one hour charge or the option to use it for five minutes after plugging it in for one minute, it’s almost always ready to go.
After hours of testing with professional barbers and personal use at home, we felt that of all the battery-powered trimmers, the All-In-One trimmer provided the cleanest lines, consistently offering an even trim with or without a beard guard. During our tests, we did feel the trimmer tug at our hair a few times, but not as hard or as often as either the Cruzer 6 Beard and Head Trimmer or the Wahl 9867 Lithium Ion Beard and Stubble Trimmer did. Overall, it provided a comfortable trimming experience.
In our one-pass trimming test, it also provided the closest cut of my beard out of the battery powered hardware we tested (the Wahl 9867 Lithium Ion Beard and Stubble Trimmer and Braun Cruzer 6 Beard and Head Trimmer came in second and third respectively, with top honors going to the AC powered Wahl Peanut.) Much of this is due to the All-In-One’s excellent blade design, which our experts felt wasn’t as good as one that you’d see on a piece of professional grade hardware like the Wahl Peanut or a trimmer made by Andis, but still was of a far higher quality than anything else we looked at.
During the course of editing, our team had some disagreements about whether the Wahl should be the main pick versus the Braun (our pick for fine facial hair control). The Wahl is better for thicker stubble, longer usage between charges, and a more comfortable shaving experience. It might seem like this matters only if you’re going to work on a full beard, but having better battery life just makes for a more convenient, less annoying tool even if you just pick it up for small touchups every few days. The guides on the Wahl do not get as low—but it works fine without a guide at all.
Aside from its primary trimmer blade, the device comes with a number of other accessories including a detail blade (for futzing with ear, nose and eyebrow hair) a dual foil shaving attachment, and four guide combs to use with the trimmer blade (stubble, 1/8″, 3/16” and a six-position guide). There’s a wider T-blade and three guides for that (1/8”, 1/4″, 3/8”), an AC charger, beard comb, and a wee bottle of mineral oil for its blades and cleaning brush. That’s a lot of bits and pieces to keep track of. Fortunately, Wahl also packaged the trimmer with a zippered travel case.
With its primary trimmer head attached, the All-In-One weighs 4.3 ounces and is 2.5” x 5.5” x 10.1” in size. In use, it doesn’t feel heavy enough to be unruly as you move it around your head, yet still has enough heft to give it a solid feeling in your hand. The body of the trimmer is largely coated in grippy rubber, which is a nice touch since it’ll be used in the bathroom.
We also found that unlike most of the trimmers we looked at, the All-In-One’s beard guides were made of hard plastic that was difficult to bend or break. While not as tough as the metal guides that come with some professional grade trimmers, the quality of the All-In-One’s guides was better than everything else we tested, with the exception of the Wahl Peanut.
Maintaining the All-In-One isn’t difficult: after each use, pop the blade off of the trimmer, clean the trimmer body and blade of any hair and debris, replace the blade, turn it on, and run some oil over the blade’s cutting surface. If the blades get clogged up with hair that you’re unable to remove with a brush, it’s also okay to run them under the tap (after detaching it from the trimmer) so long as you dry it off thoroughly and oil it well.
The All-In-One’s Lithium Ion battery can run for close to two hours after receiving a one hour charge. If you forgot to recharge it, it can be juiced for a minute and then used for five minutes. That’s more than enough time to touch up even the most stubborn beard or moustache before leaving the house. It’s also possible to charge the Wahl while it’s being used—a feature that wasn’t offered by some of the other trimmers I looked at or on most older NiMH-powered cordless units still being sold.
There aren’t a lot of in-depth reviews for beard trimmers from trusted editorial sources out there. However, I did find a couple of decent write-ups on the Wahl All-In-One. David Alexander at About.com, felt the All-In-One was “…one of the better home trimmers I’ve had my hands on and I can certainly recommend it on the basis of solid performance, value, and versatility.” And back in 2009, TechCrunch’s Doug Aamoth said that The All-In-One’s “…blades are solid, almost heavy, and feel very high-quality. The guide combs are made of relatively durable plastic and all the attachments can be swapped out quickly without fussing with any levers or clips, which is nice.” He did however, go on to say that he felt the trimmer came with far too many accessories. The Wahl Lithium Ion All-In-One is well-liked on Amazon, where it earned a respectable 3.8-star average from a total of 1,331 reviews, with 626 users giving it a five-star rating. Other users gave it similar love on sites like NewEgg, DrugStore.com, Walmart and BestBuy.
Long-term test notes
I’ve been pulling our main Wahl rechargeable pick out to use at least a couple of times a month since we made the pick six months ago. I’ve got no complaints; everything is working as well as it did when we first tested it.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
For the best experience with the All-In-One trimmer, ignore all of the accessories that come with it except for its main trimmer blade, T-Blade and beard guides. Both Paul and I had bad experiences with the All-In-One’s electric shaver and detailing blade attachments–the latter of which is designed for trimming nose and ear hair or trimming out areas of your face that the hardware’s full-sized blade is too big to practically tackle. If I had to use one word to describe the shaver head it would be ‘awful.’ After using the shaver, I ended up with a number of ingrown hairs and razor burn on my neck. Paul reported similar issues.
As for the nose hair/ear trimmer, I gotta say that it’s not something you want to put in your nose without having a safe word in place first. Either because it was underpowered or poorly designed, I found that the attachment ripped and pulled at my nose hair. This makes me less than wild about the idea of using it on any visible part of my face like my brow, ears or around my lower lip. In fact, I think that most people would do well to.
Oh and one more thing: Paul noted that during his testing, if you’re not careful when you remove the blade guides from the trimmer, it’s very likely that you’ll wind up removing the blade as well. This is likely a feature, as the All-In-One was designed to work with a number of different blades and accessories, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying.
But try not to worry about these minor quibbles. Honestly, as a trimmer, it does its job very well, if you prefer using a cordless beard trimmer over one that needs to be plugged into a wall. This is the best one I could find for under $60, a cost that our survey showed our readers felt to be a suitable price ceiling for the category. Now, if you don’t care about whether or not your trimmer runs off a battery or not, perhaps I can interest you in…
A more powerful, corded pick
If you have a thick, coarse beard and find that battery-powered trimmers take several passes to clear the thicket on your face—all the while pulling your hair instead of cutting it—you’ll want to the Wahl Professional 8685 Peanut Classic Clipper/Trimmer. Of the four trimmers our barbers tested, the Peanut did the best job of removing the largest amount of beard hair in one pass, leaving an immeasurably small amount of stubble in its wake. It also managed to remove the stubble left behind by all three of our battery-powered finalists during my de-bearding at Victory Barber & Brand. The Peanut clearly cut closer than any other tool we tested.
Our barber experts, who’ve used the tool professionally, say it’s tough enough to survive a few years at a time in a high-volume shop. Home users will be able to get many years of service out of it, making it a great investment. The Peanut was our winner of last year’s guide thanks to its powerful AC-powered rotary motor, which is capable of producing a crazy amount torque it uses to cut through dense facial hair like it was made of butter. The only reason it didn’t get our top recommendation this year is that according to our survey, most folks prefer a cordless device. But given how well it performed in our expert’s tests, it’s a compelling alternative to our main pick.
Weighing in at four ounces and only four inches in length, the Peanut is easy to hold and maneuver around your face, even with a seven-foot-long cord attached to it. Hold a rechargeable trimmer in one hand and the Peanut in the other, turn them both on and you’ll feel the difference in power almost immediately. Compact, solid and heavy for its diminutive size, this one feels like it means business. The amount of vibration put out by the Peanut, when compared to the battery-powered trimmers we tested, made them all feel like toys by comparison. It only has one switch, one that turns the device on or off, and the switch felt as sturdy and high-quality as the rest of the machine. Underneath the Peanut’s shell (sorry) is a powerful single-speed rotary motor that, when paired with the trimmer’s stainless steel blades, will cut through any hair you can throw at it.
When it comes to power, our experts said the corded vs. cordless comparison is no contest. “A battery is never going to be quite as powerful as you want it to be,” said Paul. “Any time I’ve used any home models, the battery powered ones haven’t been as strong as one with a cord.”
Most professional-grade trimmers or clippers require a screwdriver for basic cleaning or adjustment, but maintaining the Wahl Peanut is easy and tool-free. After you use the trimmer, just pop the blade off with your thumb, brush any hair out of the base where the motor mates with the blade, run the blade under water, dry it off and then apply blade oil to the whole works. By doing so, your trimmer will last you for years to come.
The Peanut is covered by a one-year warranty. According to our barbers, Paul and Ian, chances are that you won’t need it. If properly maintained, the hardware can last for two or three years of heavy, daily use. For someone who buys one to use on themselves perhaps a few times a week for a few minutes at a time, the life expectancy should be greatly extended. That said, if you happen to break any of the Peanut’s accessories or require a new blade outside of Wahl’s warranty period, there’s no end of replacement parts to be found for it online from Amazon or a number of barber and salon-specific sites.
When you buy the Peanut, you get a trimmer, a blade guard, a cleaning brush, a bottle of blade oil and four plastic cutting guides that range from ⅛” to ½” in length: nothing fancy, but everything you need to get the job done. And if you need to trim your nose hair, the Peanut’s blade is small enough that you can ease a corner of it into your nostril to get the job done.
A while there may be more popular trimmers out there, most people that have bought a Wahl Peanut seem to be very satisfied with it. Over at Amazon, the black version of the Peanut garnered a 4.5-star average rating from the 475 people that purchased it, with 329 of those who bought it giving the the trimmer awarding it five stars. A slightly older, white iteration was reviewed by 672 people and received a 4.5-star overall rating as well, with 485 five-star reviews.
I can tell you, having used a Peanut over the last year in the name of long-term testing, that it works just as well today as it did the first time I turned it on. But my year with the hardware is nothing compared to the time that an Amazon customer who calls himself RibsBrisket4Me can attest to. He bought his Peanut in 2007 and then proceeded to use it for seven years until finally buying a new blade for it this past August. In addition to this, another commenter in his thread stated that he’d had his Peanut for 15 years! It’s hard to argue with that kind of dependability in a piece of hardware that can be had for under $40.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The very thing that makes the Peanut so powerful is also its Achilles heel: You’ve got to plug it in. This could be a deal breaker for some people who don’t want the hassle of a power cord. It’s an issue because the cord can get wound up around you if you’re using two mirrors to shave the back of your head or neck, not because you’re lacking a place to plug it in. I did a touch up with the Peanut in a San Francisco International Airport bathroom in between flights and didn’t have any trouble finding a spare outlet. And just for fun, I tried the trimmer out by plugging it into a Goal Zero Sherpa 50 battery pack and power inverter. It worked just fine.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Peanut only comes with four different beard guides (3.0 mm, 3.8 mm, 6 mm and 13 mm). This is not exactly what you’d call a cornucopia of options, and it’s definitely a lot less length control than our survey indicated that most users want. Additionally, while Ian and Paul felt that the Peanut’s beard guards were made of far sturdier plastic than the ones that came with most of the trimmers they looked at and tested, both barbers had some concerns with how the guides attach to the trimmer’s body. They’re held in place by a single clip which mates to the back of the trimmer. If the guide isn’t correctly locked in place, you run the risk of it popping off midway through a trim. That’s a grooming nightmare.
But if you can live with these shortcomings, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more powerful, longer lasting trimmer for the price.
A pick for fine length control
One of the things that we learned from our reader survey is that guys want a lot of control over the length of their facial hair. They also don’t want to deal with a ton of interchangeable beard guides to get that control. Unfortunately, most adjustable beard guides are made of plastic flexible enough to bend in use, leaving you with varying beard lengths. That’s not cool.
But one of the trimmers we tested proved to have an adjustable beard guide that wasn’t as terrible as all of the others: Braun Cruzer 6 Beard and Head Trimmer. It’s a $35 trimmer (also available for a few bucks less as an Old Spice-branded device that’s identical in function) that I recommend with a number of caveats. Normally, anything this iffy wouldn’t warrant more than a dismissal in a guide’s competition section.
But 59% of the people who participated in our survey stated that they’d prefer a trimmer with an incrementally adjustable guide instead of a handful of interchangeable attachments, so we’ve included it here.
Let’s talk about the good things first.
The Braun Cruzer 6 Beard and Head Trimmer stands apart because its beard guides don’t feel like they’ll bend or break at the lightest touch. The plastic isn’t as strong as that used in our Wahl picks, but it’s certainly a step up from the rest of the adjustable guide-equipped hardware we looked at. Braun designed the Cruzer 6 Beard and Head’s guide to be moved only when a button is pushed to unlock it. This provides an assurance that when you put this thing to your face, you won’t have to worry about the guide slipping out of position halfway through your grooming session. Oh, and in order to remove the guide, you need to unlock it with a separate button as well—a nice touch.
The Braun is better for nuanced facial hair styles, but it is less powerful and the battery life is weaker than our main pick, so it’s not as good for managing thick beards. The fine adjustments on the guide settings are unmatched by the Wahl.
The Cruzer 6 Beard and Head’s beard guide can be adjusted at 3-mm increments from 1 mm to 11 mm in length. The hardware also comes with a second guide that’ll can be adjusted to lengths between 10 mm and 20 mm. Between the two guides, the Braun Cruzer 6 Beard and Head Trimmer provides 12 different cutting lengths. That’s a lot of options to play with. That’s not the largest amount of length options we ran into, but overall, I feel it’s still the best option. In context, a number of the Philips Norelco trimmers were able to make more fine adjustments than the Cruzer 6 Beard and Head could. Their BT9285/41 9100 Beard Trimmer, for example, provides 17 different lengths to play with. But as their beard guides are largely garbage, we had to take a pass on them.
It’s also worth noting that both my experts and I were also pleased by the Cruzer 6 Beard and Head Trimmer’s chunky design and rubberized plastic case, as the heft and grip of the hardware made it feel like we always had the trimmer under control when using it.
After charging the trimmer for an hour, you get a 40 minute runtime. That’ll allow for a good number of uses before you need to recharge, but it’s about 70 minutes shy of what our main pick can manage. It’s also possible to use it while it’s plugged into its charger, so that’s nice too.
I was able to find a decent review of the Braun Cruzer 6 Beard and Head Trimmer at Beard Guide. Overall, they were OK with it, praising the hardware’s design and simplicity. The reviewer noted: “There are better trimmers out there, but this is a fairly comprehensive unit with a good range of lengths and is of a respectable quality.” At Beards.net, some users reported that they needed to replace the trimmer after only a year’s worth of service. As for an Amazon rating, 513 people gave it a 3.7-star average, with 206 people awarding the trimmer five stars.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The Braun Cruzer 6 Beard and Head Trimmer felt like an inferior tool in comparison to the Wahl products we tested. When Paul tested it on Ian and me, we both felt it pulling at our hair instead of cutting it—a lot. This tugging, aside from feeling uncomfortable, can translate into a jagged, inconsistent trim that’ll leave your face looking like a dog’s breakfast. What’s more, Paul found that the slide out detailing blade built into the back of the trimmer was practically useless.
“I used the slide out [detailing blade] and it was just terrible,” explained Paul. “It had nothing to it. It’d probably be OK the first time you use it, but that’s about it before it’d get gummed up with hair and skin. And its blade is too big to use to clean up your ears or nose hair.” Using the hardware at home confirmed this. Not only was the detailing blade a pain to clean, but soon, the track that the blade slides on got gummed up with hair, making it difficult to use.
So if you’re dead set on having a trimmer with as many cutting levels as possible, this is the one to get. But honestly, this thing costs $33. For four dollars more, you can get your hands on our main pick, which is more powerful and will likely make you happier in the long run.
The Andis T-Outliner is a corded, professional-grade trimmer that costs around $47 and is built like a tank. It has a 4.5 star Amazon rating from over 1,000 customers. Pro barbers like the guys at Victory Barber & Brand rely on it for its unparalleled cutting power and bulletproof durability. But in order to clean and oil it, which you should do frequently, it requires a screwdriver to take it apart. In addition to this, its blades, which are thick, sharp and strong, sometimes need to be adjusted—and that also requires opening the toolbox. The whole point of having a trimmer at home is that it’s supposed to more convenient than nipping out to the barber’s to have your beard tinkered with. ‘Convenient’ isn’t a word that comes to mind with the Andis.
The Wahl Lithium Ion Beard and Stubble Trimmer only costs $25 and has a built-in adjustable guard that is locked into place by a button on the back of the body of the trimmer. Paul thought it felt good in the hand, and its strong motor and high quality blade allowed it to take third place in our single pass beard trimming test behind our main pick and the AC-powered Wahl Peanut. Unfortunately, its built in beard guide, while made of tougher plastic than those seen on trimmers from Philips-Norelco and Remington, seemed structurally weak, leading us to fear that it could easily be broken if dropped or bent while trimming.
We looked at a number of trimmers made by Philips Norelco, as the brand’s hardware offers a number of the features, such as a long-lasting battery, built-in adjustable beard guide, and low maintenance blades, as features. After considering a number of the models the company currently offers, we called in their $45 model QT4070/41 which comes with a built-in vacuum, the $15 QT3380 MultiGroom, the $30 QT4014/42 Beard Trimmer 3500, and the $30 QG3364/42. Unfortunately, despite the company’s good reputation for men’s grooming hardware and the positive online reviews, our barbers were unimpressed by any of it. All of the Philips-Norelco products we tried came with beard guides, which, while offering a respectable number of length adjustment options, felt too cheap to be trusted.
We also took issue with the click wheel used used to adjust the guide length on all of the above mentioned hardware with the exception of the QT3380 Multi Groom and the QG3364/42. In theory, the click wheel is a great idea, as adjustments to the guide height can be made with a flick of your thumb. But in practice, it wasn’t so great. After two weeks of use, the mechanism was still stiff, and easy to jam up with beard clippings. The latter wouldn’t be so bad if there was any way to remove and clean it all, but there isn’t. Also, the wheel became slightly harder to turn with wet hands—a problem when using it in the bathroom.
Oh, and then there was the BT9285/41 9100 Beard Trimmer. It’s Philips Norelco’s latest hotness. It costs $65, is fully washable, comes with a built in detailing blade, and a laser. (Yes, a laser-guided beard trimmer.) It draws a line of light on your face to, in theory, ensure that you’re cutting straight when edging out your beard, moustache or goatee. Sounds great, right? Well, it isn’t. The awkwardly named BT9285/41 9100 uses the same style of cheap plastic beard guides as the rest of the Philips Norelco’s hardware seems to, and makes use of that same uncleanable thumb wheel that we talked about earlier. In addition to this, it has a one-to-one charging ratio. You charge it for an hour and you get an hour’s worth of use out of it. No doubt this hit in battery performance is due to the inclusion of a laser as a hardware feature.
Let’s talk about that: a laser. On your face. Near your eyes. The first time I attempted to use the T9285/41 9100, I inadvertently flashed the trimmer’s spring loaded, retractable laser in my eye. This resulted in me enjoying a squiggly image burn of the light in my vision for the next few hours. Beyond this, I didn’t find that the laser was actually helpful in keeping my cuts clean or even. It only gives a rough estimate of where you’re about to trim, so it’s not really useful. Paul pointed out that the laser can only be oriented in one direction, and it’s the wrong direction, if you’re going for as close a trim as possible. “The laser thing seems ridiculous. It’s a gimmick,” said Paul. “I would never suggest this to anyone.”
Then there was the Remington MB4040 Lithium Ion Powered Men’s Rechargeable Moustache, Beard and Stubble Trimmer. It costs about $23 on Amazon, where it got a four star average from 952 customers. Paul and Ian liked the Remington’s blades, as they proved strong, sharp, and easy to clean and oil. But once again, what could have been a great trimmer was brought down by the quality of the guards the hardware comes with. Like those that came with the Philips Norelco trimmers and the Wahl Lithium Ion Beard and Stubble Trimmer, the Remington’s guard was simply too flimsy and poorly designed to trust. But if you don’t plan on using the trimmer with a guard, you might, according to Paul, want to give it a go.
Finally, we took the Conair for Men i-Stubble for a spin. It costs $38, won a Men’s Health Grooming Award back in 2011, and has a four star rating resulting from 644 reviews on Amazon. The i-Stubble features a floating trimmer head that’s designed to juke and jive as you run it over the contours of your face and head. I found that it was able to trim almost as close as the Peanut could (although it did pull at the hair it was cutting a few times.but in the end, we let it go due to fears over the hardware’s longevity. The iStubble’s length controls are managed with a pair of digital buttons. Push one and it moves the trimmer head up or down. A cool feature, but, in Paul’s opinion, using a motor to move the trimmer head and beard guide instead of just doing it yourself is one more thing that can go wrong. What’s more—you guessed it—the iStubble’s beard guide was found to be too flimsy for our liking.
How we picked & tested
Before researching hardware to test or hunting down experts, we put together an online poll asking our readers what they want from a beard trimmer. Everybody’s face is different, and everyone has an opinion on what kind of tools keep it looking its best.
The survey included questions on the following points:
- If you prefer a battery powered or corded trimmer
- How much you’d spend on a beard trimmer
- If you’d buy a trimmer powered by non-rechargeable batteries
- If brand recognition matters
- Whether a charge level indicator is important
- If you’d pay more for a battery powered trimmer with a longer runtime
- What you use a beard trimmer for (facial hair, body hair, your head, etc.)
- Whether you want variable speeds
- If you want interchangeable beard guards/guides or a single, adjustable guard/guide
- What guide length settings you want in a trimmer
- If you want accessories, like a nose/ear hair trimmer, shaving attachment, body hair trimming head, or storage pouch
- A preference for blade type
- Whether you’d pay more for replaceable blades
- If you’d do basic blade maintenance to prolong the life of the trimmer
- How much runtime a battery powered trimmer should it get from a full charge
- How long a beard trimmer should last before you need a new one
Over eight days while we ran the survey, over 550 people submitted responses to our questions. This isn’t a large enough sample group to provide scientific-level data, but the survey results did give us a sense of what to look for while researching this year’s batch of hardware.
If a trimmer was still for sale but no longer featured on its manufacturer’s website, we eliminated it. We also cut any trimmer with an average rating under 3.5 stars, any cordless tool without a lithium-ion battery, and anything with an abnormal number of user complaints (especially about build quality or blades that pulled hair or jammed). By the end of this elimination process, we were left with 27 different devices. Sweethome editor Harry Sawyers and I then bickered another 17 pieces of hardware off of the list. Some of it was a rebranded version of other gear in our pool, some was stuff from a single manufacturer with redundant features, others seemed gimmicky, looked cheap, or were made by an unknown brand or mystery company. But this kind of research was valuable, at least, to get a feel for what was popular and which brands performed well.
Armed with this information and the knowledge from our poll, we searched Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Costco, and Lowe’s to hunt down trimmers made by Andis, Remington, Conair, Braun, Philips Norelco, TRYM, Panasonic, and Oster and Wahl. Through this, we came up with a list of around 50 trimmers—and whittled that number down some more. Next, we trawled the Internet and men’s magazines for beard trimmer roundups and reviews. A lot of sites and publications write about trimmers, but not much of it was terribly useful. Men’s Journal, for example, talked about six different trimmers made by Braun, Remington, Norelco, Conair, Wahl and Panasonic. But the roundup focused heavily on features while ignoring the hardware’s performance. The same can be said of AskMen, who talked about six different pieces of hardware in general terms, but didn’t test any of it. MensGroomings declared one trimmer to be at the top of the pile, but again, they failed to talk about any hands-on testing. Best Beard Ever talked about the performance and the features of their hardware, but they only picked out two trimmers to profile. That didn’t really leave us with a feel for what they thought of other hardware. We also dropped in on the beard trimmer thread at Badger and Blade, but there were so many opinions on what was great (and no depth of discussion about why it was great) that the information there wasn’t of much use.
Once the dust had settled, we had a list of 10 beard trimmers:
- Braun Cruzer 6 Beard & Head Trimmer
- Andis T-Outliner Trimmer with T-Blade (04710)
- Philips Norelco QT4070/41
- Philips Norelco QT4014/42 BeardTrimmer 3500
- Philips Norelco QG3364/42
- Wahl Peanut Palm Size Clipper/Trimmer 8652 (The winner of last year’s version of this guide)
- Wahl 9867 Lithium Ion Beard and Stubble Trimmer
- Wahl 9854-600 Lithium Ion All In One Trimmer (Our battery powered runner up from last year)
- Remington MB4040 Lithium Ion Powered Men’s Rechargeable Moustache, Beard and Stubble Trimmer
- Conair for Men i-Stubble
And because we couldn’t resist its new fangled gimmicky nature, we also called in the Philips Norelco BT9285/41 9100 Beard Trimmer. It’s got a frickin’ laser beam built into its head! So that made for a list of 11 pieces of gear to test.
To get an informed opinion on which of our the ten pieces of hardware were the best, we turned to the experts at Victory Barber & Brand, an old-school barbershop located in Victoria, British Columbia.
Paul Huxtable has been cutting men’s hair, grooming men’s beards and dishing out straight razor shaves for over a decade. His apprentice, Ian ‘Sugar’ Smith, has only been barbering for a few years, but is just as passionate about his trade as Huxtable is. Both barbers have beards and they were both willing to spend a few weeks getting to know our test trimmers. During that time, they’d use the trimmers on themselves at home, on each other while at work, and sometimes on their customers. The goal of their tests was not to find a piece of hardware that could be used in a high-volume, professional environment, but rather, identify a great piece of hardware that would be great for most guys to use at home.
We agreed that the best way to get the ball rolling would be to have a sit down with Huxtable to suss out whether any more of the remaining ten trimmers should be removed from the running—and it was a massacre.
For an hour before the barber shop opened one morning, Huxtable knocked holes in the ergonomics, build quality and blade orientation of most of the trimmers I brought him. He tentatively tried trimmers on his arm hair, neck and my moustache line. We dismissed anything that pulled hair instead of cutting it, or proved unable to shear down the hair on a forearm within a millimeter of being flush to the skin in one pass.
We also discovered that multi-step all-in-one locking beard guides are largely crap. With the exception of the Braun Cruzer 6 Beard and Head Trimmer, all of the adjustable beard guards we looked at and tested were made of flimsy, bendable plastic. Huxtable explained that while it was likely necessary to use flexible plastics in the adjustable beard guards to make them less prone to breaking, it left the hardware too malleable for even cutting. The point of a beard guard, he explains, is to pull each hair the trimmer passes over taut, so that it can be cut to a uniform length. If it’s too flexible, your beard will be trimmed unevenly or be ruined if the guard breaks or bends too far.
It’s also worth mentioning that Paul felt that most of the trimmers allowed for too much length. “Any time you try to use a guard beyond half an inch,” Paul explained, “you’re just ripping hair. There’s just not enough tension on the hair, so it looks like rats chewed your face instead of getting an even cut.” His suggestion for guys who keep their beards trimmed to a longer than a half an inch? Book an appointment with a barber who can use his fingers, a comb, and scissors to do the job properly.
By the end of our meeting, Paul had cut the size of our hardware pool down to four tools he felt were worth playing with for a few weeks: the Wahl Peanut (last year’s winner of this guide,) the Braun Cruzer 6 Beard and Head Trimmer, the Wahl Lithium Ion All-In-One Trimmer and the Wahl 9867 Lithium Ion Beard and Stubble Trimmer. We also decided to include the Andis T-Outliner Professional Trimmer in the group of finalists to be considered, but as both Paul and Ian use this hardware for hours at a time on a daily basis, there seemed no need for them to do any specific tests with it. During their time with the trimmers, they considered the following criteria:
- How much hair could each trimmer remove in a single pass? How many passes did it take to remove all of the hair in the test area?
- How close would each trimmer trim?
- Is it easy to use in hard to reach areas, like under one’s nose?
- How clean were the lines the trimmer made?
- Did the trimmer’s blades catch more hairs than they cut?
- Could you use the trimmer to approximate a shave in a pinch?
- How many attachments/beard guides does the trimmer come with, and are the attachments useful?
- Are any interchangeable heads easy to swap out?
- Can the blade produce a long, well-defined trimmed edge to a beard?
- Is the blade width short enough to detail a moustache and under my lip?
- Can you easily get a single stray hair with it?
- Is it comfortable to use and hold?
- Does it require oil? Do you need tools to open it up for regular cleaning and maintenance?
I left the barbers to tinker with the hardware for two weeks. During that time, I also used each of the trimmers at home, with the same test criteria in mind. After the two weeks had passed, I returned to the shop to collect their impressions of each piece of gear and to lend a hand in the final round of testing. In order to get a feel for how each piece of hardware would deal with thick, coarse facial hair, I let Paul cut off my beard. (I’m still feeling kind of emotional about it.) He took a single pass with each trimmer on the sides of my face to see which was capable of cutting the closest without tearing or pulling the hair.
Wrapping it up
After hours of research and testing, we didn’t find a single piece of hardware that would meet everything on a reader’s wish lists for a great beard trimmer—but we feel that at least one of three pieces of hardware will make most people happy.
Overall, the Wahl Lithium Ion All-In-One Trimmer proved to be the best tool for most people thanks to its high quality blades, convenient cordless operation, a long lasting battery with quick recharge times, its good selection of beard guides, and respectable cutting power.
For those looking for a more powerful trimmer that’ll provide years of service, there’s the Wahl Peanut: a corded, powerful trimmer cut through thick beard hair like butter, leaving as close a shave as any professional tool, with the ease of use and maintenance you’d expect in a consumer product.
Finally, for those that want a lot of beard length control, we recommend the Braun Cruzer 6 Beard and Head Trimmer. It wasn’t as powerful as either Wahl tool, but its granular length control and strong, adjustable beard guide will still serve you well…as long as you can live with its slightly inferior cutting power.
A Cheap and Convenient Illusion of Youth, Epinions, May 26, 2011,"The longer cord plus the smaller size makes it easier to maneuver the Peanut all around the head. The increasing heat from the plastic may cause some alarm, but the instructions reassure users that this is perfectly normal."
The Peanut Gets it Done!---Update, Amazon.com, October 14, 2007 - February 2013,"the Peanut continues to amaze. It cuts just as good as the day I bought it in 2007. No pulled hairs, the white blade guards still snap on firmly and I am still on the original blade! A drop of mineral oil every now and then is the only maintenance I've done. Finally a quality product that works and lasts. Bravo Wahl Bravo!!!!"
Wahl: Peanut Trimmers, The Men's Room,"The WAHL Peanut may not look like much, but it packs a whole lot of power in it’s tiny frame. Picture the strength of professional barber trimmers at half the size. It comes with 4 comb guards for easy trimming, oil and a small brush. The blade design allows for a variety of choices ranging from a close shave to hard line detailing. And the best part, it takes up very little room when traveling or storing at home. The WAHL Peanut w/ cord performed the best for me, and it will last you forever!"
Love My Peanuts, Amazon.com, January 22, 2008,"I am a professional hairstylist and I have been using the Peanut clippers for quite a few years now and love them! I used to use a standard size clipper for the hair and these little guys for edging and trimming, beards & mustaches.....but when my reg clippers gave out I had no choice but to use these little guys for a whole haircut...the rest is history. Because of the fact that they are so small, they take up little to no room at my station which is small and tight for space, also....they get a close precise cut...as long as your blade is sharp. While I agree that the cost of the raplacement blades is a little expensive, I will say that I can use the same blade for 6 months to a year depending on how many cuts I do, without having to replace one.....thats what the oil is for. All in all I LOVE these little guys and this is one of the best prices I have found....that incldes my beauty supply places!"
Review: Wahl Lithium Ion All In One Trimmer, TechCrunch, July 2, 2009,
Braun Cruzer 6 Beard & Head Review Trimmer Review, Beard Guide,
Braun Cruzer 6 Beard and Head Trimmer Review, Beard.net, May 3, 2013,
Six Trimmers That Give Good Buzz, Men's Journal, June 9, 2012,
Choosing The Best Beard Trimmer 2014 and More!, Mens Groomings
What's the Best Electric Beard Trimmer?, Badger and Blade, November 24, 2012,
Originally published: December 17, 2014