Best Beard Trimmer of 2020
We love the Philips Norelco MG7750 trimmer, and it's easily the best in our review, running away with the top spot. 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), is a nice weight, and conforms nicely when holding it in hand.
Some of our testers wished that the 7750 was waterproof for use in the shower. Also, the cheap bag included bag isn't consistent with the quality of the rest of the trimmer. The bag is the right size to hold all the attachments and 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 as the 7750 at about two-thirds the price but, not surprisingly, it is more basic. The Wahl 9854 has less battery life and does not have a rotary nose/ear hair trimmer, but if these compromises are fine with you, the greater value of the Wahl stands out.
Frequent users with enough bathroom or cabinet space might wish it came with a dedicated charging and accessory stand. The bag of the Wahl is sturdy and just the right size to hold all the parts, including the charging cable and trimmer itself.
This is truly, and only, a "beard trimmer"; that's in contrast to both the products listed above, which can be seen as all-purpose grooming and hair-cutting tools. In contrast, the All Purpose Gillette Styler 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 will get the job done.
The Gillette is small and has a limited selection of guards. And while battery life isn't great, it uses a readily replaceable standard AA battery. You can, however, use the Gillette in the shower.
The Wahl Peanut Corded is built for professional barbers as a smaller option for tighter trimming tasks. At home, it is exactly the sort a handy, practical user might be looking 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 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 fairly 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. If you are performing sophisticated home haircuts or beard grooming, you might want the option to switch frequently and easily between millimeter increments. Most of the Braun's guards are the adjustable variety. However, most know what length they want and will use that length. Dedicated guards are less fiddly and more reliable for what we've found to be typical male grooming.
The Hatteker Beard Trimmer is a full-featured, comprehensive male grooming tool. 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. It includes trimming heads of a couple of different sizes, fixed and adjustable guards, an electric razor, and a rotary nose/ear hair trimmer attachment.
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. 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 a 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 a 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. This model 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.
On the downside, we just wish this model had a little more. It lacks versatility; 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 lot of experience in trimming his beard, and he has a knack for paying attention to details. For this review, we also consulted with a team of detail-oriented testers to compile a suite of examinations, and then they summarize their findings here.
Our testing involved a combination of "real world" use and objective test. Real-world use meant trying the devices for various grooming tasks, regrowing the beards, and then testing again. We tested rank and compared cutting effectiveness, power system, ergonomics, ease of cleaning, and versatility. 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.
Determining how well a product cuts is as simple as using it. Cutting effectiveness lasts best if the parts are user-serviceable and replaceable. We know from years of using trimmers like these that all will wear at some rate. 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 blades of the Walh Peanut Corded sit tightly against one another and cut cleanly with no tug. We found that its pro-level construction cuts the best out of any product in this review. 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 backward. 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 the most powerful and is intended for professional barbershop/salon use. The market speaks, and most available are battery-powered. The Wahl Peanut performed very well.
However, we have to give a nod to corded options as well. 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. 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 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 easy manipulation. Size is the primary factor. There is a sweet spot of control and maneuverability. Shape and texture also matter. The Wahl 9854 is just about ideal. It also 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 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 Gillette is also quite small. 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 address clogging, though. It is the hairs inside the blade mechanism that 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 comprehensive all-body "manscaping" tools. You can do full hair cuts and grooming with the Hatteker Beard Trimmer, Philips Norelco 7750, Wahl, and Braun 5544. All four of these include many different guard options, multiple head widths, electric razors, and rotary nose/ear hair trimmers. Their versatility dramatically 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. Across that spectrum, there is variation in quality and function. Some are just trimmers and nothing more, while others are comprehensive grooming toolsets. Our review and award selection should help get you pointed in the right direction for your needs and budget. Happy trimming!
— Jediah Porter