The Best Beard Trimmer of 2020
This trimmer lasted the longest in our battery test, has a full set of trimming accouterments (multiple guards, wide and mid-width heads, razor, nose/ear hair attachment), and is heavy and rounded in hand. We love this trimmer, and it is handily the best in our review. On our scoring rubric, it's 10% ahead of the next closest competitor, which doesn't always happen. Often, top-scoring products are tied, or nearly so.
Some wish the 7750 were waterproof for use in the shower. Also, the cheap bag that Phillips Norelco includes isn't consistent with the quality of the rest of the trimmer. The bag is just the right size to hold all the attachments/accessories plus the charging cable and trimmer itself, but we wish it were made of more robust fabric.
This is a full-function male grooming machine. It performs nearly as well, but is just a little simpler. The Wahl 9854 is a little more than half the price of the Philips Norelco 7750, and performs nearly as well. With a better product, you get better battery life and a rotary nose/ear hair trimmer. If these compromises are fine with you, you will appreciate the greater value of the Wahl.
The bag of the Wahl is sturdy and just the right size to hold all the parts, including charging cable and trimmer itself. Frequent users with enough bathroom or cabinet space would appreciate a dedicated charging and accessory stand.
This is truly, and only, a "beard trimmer". Both the products above could be considered all-purpose grooming and hair cutting tools. The All Purpose Gillette Styler, despite its broad name, is mainly limited to facial hair management. It includes a narrow trimming head, a couple of length guards, and a manual razor attachment. For all but the most sophisticated and finely-detailed facial hair sculpting, the Gillette has what you need.
For trimming head and body hair, the Gillette is small, and the limited selection of guards will come up short. We like that you can use the Gillette in the shower. The battery life isn't great, but it uses a readily replaced standard AA battery.
The Wahl Peanut Corded is built for professional barbers as a smaller option for tighter trimming tasks. At home, it is exactly the sort of "overkill" a handy, practical user might be looking for. Battery-powered products are nice, but require more attention and fiddling than some men have the patience for. Batteries require charging, short-term replacing, and/or will wear out over long use. Many hair trimmers have hardware that will last decades but batteries that will give out in years.
The Wahl Peanut has primary mechanisms that are proven, in barbershop use, to cut more hair than a single man could do in many lifetimes. Some basic cleaning and maintenance, the occasional readily available replacement parts, and plugging it in when you need is all that is required for what will probably be a lifetime of beard trimming function.
The Braun 5544 is the trimmer we recommend for those that do their grooming in the shower (and those that have plumbing systems that support this). It is waterproof and otherwise nearly comprehensive in its feature set. There is a wide head with guards, a narrow close trimming head, an electric razor, and a rotary nose/ear hair trimmer.
Not everyone needs or wants to groom in the shower. If you don't, the Braun is still an okay choice but the other award winners might serve your needs better. Most of the Braun's guards are the adjustable variety. If you are performing sophisticated home haircuts or beard grooming, you might want the option to switch frequently and easily between millimeter increments. However, most know what length they want and will use that length. Dedicated guards, as included with the Philips Norelco and the Wahl (among others) are less fiddly and more reliable for what we've found to be typical male grooming.
The Hatteker Beard Trimmer is a full-function, comprehensive male grooming tool. It includes trimming heads of a couple different sizes, fixed and adjustable guards, an electric razor, and a rotary nose/ear hair trimmer attachment. We especially like that most of the attachments and accessories can be stored in the included charging stand. If you have the space and use your grooming tools regularly, the Hatteker stand will make that even easier.
The battery life of the Hatteker is the least of any of the tested products, and it was the first to die in our comparative battery life test. If you can store it on the charging stand, this shouldn't be a problem. There is plenty of battery life to get through the most involved single grooming session.
The Remington MB4700 is large and simple in primary form. Further, it charges with a standard micro USB cord. When properly configured and charged, it will automatically turn itself on and set the guard to your preferred length as soon as you touch it. The electric-driven guard adjusts in 0.1mm increments. No other groomer in our test has such high resolution of guard length.
Other products in our test roster are more versatile than the Remington. Others include fixed guards, cutting heads of different widths, razors, and/or nose hair trimmers. This is just a simple hair trimmer with sophisticated electronic configuration.
The Andis 32400 is a simple beard trimmer. It cuts well and can be equipped with one of a few different length guards. It comes with a stand-up charger for ready placement on a shelf or in a powered cabinet.
There is no option for different attachment heads and the battery life is lower than average. You can't remove the head for cleaning. The construction isn't waterproof, but our top award winners aren't either.
The Philips Norelco BT3210 is simple. In many ways these last three tested trimmers are quite similar. Each is just a single cutting head and guard or guards. This Philips Norelco has a slide-on and slide-off guard that adjusts with a wheel on the handle of the machine. It charges with an included and compact cord. For most grooming tasks this trimmer has what you need and nothing more.
We wish it had a little more. The best performers were more versatile than this Philips Norelco. The razor, nose/ear hair attachments, and many guards of the top performers are truly better than the simple built-in and adjustable guard of this Philips Norelco. Further, the battery life is less with this one than most of the others. Finally, the bag included with this one is little more than a glorified sandwich bag. The "zipper" pull broke off within a week of testing. It still fits the parts, but doesn't close securely.
Why You Should Trust Us
We've got beards and have been trimming them for decades. Our lead test editor
Jed Porter, when unkempt, is as hairy as they get. Jed has a multitude of experience when it comes to trimming his beard, and he has a knack for paying attention to details. He then consulted with a team of detail-oriented testers to compile a suite of examinations and then they summarize their findings here.
We tested and rank and compare for cutting effectiveness, power system, ergonomics, ease of cleaning, and versatility. Our testing involved a combination of "real world" use and objective test. Real world use meant trying the devices for a variety of grooming tasks, regrowing the beards, and then testing again. Formalized tests included side-by-side comparisons of basic cutting tasks and a head-to-head battery life run-down for all those that run on batteries.
Analysis and Test Results
Most of our testing took place in "real world" scenarios. We cut, let it grow, and cut it again. We complemented our anecdotal findings with thorough and objective examinations. What we found will help you make your purchase decision.
Determining how well a product cuts is as simple as using it. We know from years of using trimmers like these that all will wear at some rate. Cutting effectiveness lasts best if the parts are user-serviceable and replaceable. A product with multiple cutting heads included (usually of different sizes) will keep its cutting performance longer as you rotate through the different options.
The pro-level construction of the Wahl Peanut Corded definitely cuts the best. Its blades sit tightly against one another and cut cleanly with no tug. Interestingly, and randomly, our tested Peanut was assembled incorrectly at the time of purchase. Initially, it wouldn't cut at all. We quickly discovered that the blades had been assembled backwards. It was a simple fix requiring pliers and a few minutes to fix the orientation. No other online reviews mention this (and not with any products) so we dismiss this one issue as totally random.
At the other end of the spectrum is the budget and borderline disposable construction of the Gillette All Purpose Styler. This is more like a glorified disposable cartridge razor than it is a dedicated hair trimmer. The blades cut, but their teeth are shallow and not replaceable. Everything else we tested cuts pretty similarly.
First, we have to distinguish between corded and battery-powered trimmers. We tested one corded version and eight battery-powered cutters. The corded one is clearly the most powerful and is actually intended for professional barbershop/salon use. The Wahl Peanut performed very well. The market speaks and most available are battery-powered.
However, we have to give a nod to corded options. When new and novel, a battery-powered trimmer will stay fresh and charged. When you stop thinking about it and maybe the battery degrades or the charging cord frays or you lose the cord/charging stand, you might find yourself wishing for a corded version. Our lead test editor's personal grooming tool is now almost 20 years old, is powered by a cord, and shows no signs of slowing down. Don't dismiss the corded models if you wish for simple, reliable, and long-term function.
Among the battery-powered options we found a range of performance. To test, we simply charged them all and then let them run out altogether. The buzzing drove us nuts, but we gathered valuable data. The Philips Norelco 7750 motored on for a remarkable six hours and 15 minutes. The big middle of the pack was between two and four hours. Two lasted less than two hours.
The Remington MB4700 died at 1:45. The Hatteker Beard Trimmer faded out at 1:15, but includes the test's only charging/organizational stand. If your bathroom has shelf space for it, you can set up the Hatteker to live, handy, and always charged up, organized amongst its attachments and guards. This mitigates, at least somewhat, the lesser battery life.
Precise and comfortable use of your beard trimmer requires ease of manipulating. Size is the primary factor. Shape and texture also matter. There is a sweet spot of control and maneuverability. The Wahl 9854 is about ideal in size. Further, it has textured and rubberized sides for a better grip. Its length is just a little longer than a typical smartphone and its diameter is a little smaller than a banana. Bigger or smaller than this seems to be equally trickier to manipulate.
The Wahl Peanut is small, but the cord serves to help you stabilize it in hand. The Gillette is also quite small. The Remington and Hatteker trimmers are a little bigger than ideal, while the Andis is similar in size to the Wahl All-in-One but is smoother and more slippery. The waterproof Braun is a good size, but smooth and slippery on the outside.
Ease of Cleaning
There are two primary determinants of ease of cleaning. Most obvious is the ability to rinse the entire device. This is appealing and seems like it should make a big difference. We don't find rinsing to really address clogging though. It is the hairs inside the blade mechanism that really gum things up. Real cleaning requires removing the head from the tool to dislodge clumps of cut hair.
We mainly scored the "cleanability" of beard trimmers by how easy it was to get the cutting head on and off. If it goes on and off easier, your job of cleaning will go more smoothly. The Hatteker head goes on and off very easily. The Braun 5544 head comes on and off easily and the whole thing is waterproof. Most trimmers have heads that place and remove with some fiddling. This is what we might call average ease of cleaning. The Phillips Norelco, Wahl All-in-One, and Wahl Peanut fall into this average category, among others. The head of the Gillette only comes partway off but it can be blown or rinsed off from this dislodged position. The head of the Andis 32400 does not come off at all.
Does it cut your beard off entirely, and that's it? Or can the blade be "guarded" to leave some hair length? Are there other attachments like an electric razor or nose hair trimmer? Some even have different widths of standard trimmer heads.
The most versatile "beard trimmers" are really comprehensive all-body "manscaping" tools. You can do full hair cuts and grooming with the Philips Norelco 7750, Wahl, Braun 5544, and Hatteker Beard Trimmer. All four of these include many different guard options, multiple head widths, electric razors, and rotary nose/ear hair trimmers. Their versatility greatly exceeds that of the remaining options.
With a few minor exceptions, the remaining products are essentially cutting heads with a few guards (or a range of adjustment in one or two guards). In addition to guards, the Gillette All Purpose Styler includes a click-on razor head.
There is a wide spectrum of products available as beard trimmers. Some are just that, and nothing more while others are comprehensive grooming toolsets. Across that spectrum, there is variety in quality and function. Our review and award selection should help get you pointed in the right direction for your needs and budget.
— Jediah Porter