Beards aren’t easy. It doesn’t matter whether you’re rocking a George Michael goatee - hairless whisper, anyone? - the full Victorian Gentleman, a Grateful Dead roadie or a sharp-edged work of art: if you don’t like being clean shaven then you’ll need something to keep your beard looking its bushy best.
As you might expect, male grooming companies haven’t been slow to introduce beard trimmers to fit every kind of facial hair, and there are all kinds of products ranging from simple trimmers to triumphs of technology.
There are several things to consider. The first one is length: some trimmers are only suitable for short beards, while others come with a range of heads or guards that can be used for bushy beards, body hair and the hair on the top of your head too. Charge time matters if you’re constantly on the move, and if you’re like us and keep forgetting to charge then an emergency fast charge will keep you trim and on time.
Watch out for consumables - while most trimmers have self-sharpening blades that last forever, some require regular replacement - and whatever you do, don’t pay the RRP on high end models: grooming gadgets are constantly being discounted, so it really pays to shop around.
1. Braun Beard Trimmer BT3040
An excellent all-rounde beard trimmer that won’t cut into your bank balance
RRP: £32.99 | Max length: 20mm | Battery life: 60 mins | Charge time: 8 hours | Emergency charge?: No | Washable: Yes
We’re big fans of Braun shavers, clippers and trimmers: they’re rock solid, last forever and do the job without any fuss, and they tend to be pretty cheap too. If you’re looking for a good all-rounder to keep your beard looking its best, the BT3040 is well worth a look: with two combs and precision length settings you get 39 different lengths to play with, from five o’clock shadow to a luxuriantly long 21mm. That means it can double as a hair clipper too, and Braun also bundles a Gillette Fusion ProGlide for precision edging. It’s not the fastest to charge - it takes about eight hours to charge from flat, and needs charging again after an hour - but it’s an excellent all-rounder.
2. Babyliss iStubble Beard Trimmer
Ideal for beards that need to be short and perfectly styled
RRP: £55 | Max length: 5mm | Battery life: 90 mins | Charge time: 16 hours | Emergency charge?: Yes (90mins) | Washable: Yes
As much as we hate the fashion for adding an “i” prefix to make things sound modern, the iStubble is a smart shaver indeed: its trimmer guard is motorised, enabling you to set the length perfectly. You can expect around 45 minutes use from 90 minutes of charging, and if you forget to charge it completely there’s enough power for a single shave after just five minutes - although a full charge does take 16 hours. It’s not suitable for Santa or hipsters - the maximum cutting length is 5mm - but if you prefer your beard to be short then the iStubble is one of the best shavers to keep it that way.
3. Philips OneBlade Pro QP6520/30
It’s like no other trimmer, and it promises to banish razor burn too
RRP: £79.99 | Max length: 10mm | Battery life: 90 mins | Charge time: 1 hour | Emergency charge?: No | Washable: Yes
The Philips OneBlade is an odd-looking thing, with what appears to be a large Mach 3-style blade instead of the familiar cutting comb (although with the Pro models you get a cutting comb too). The dual-sided blade is designed to cut more precisely than a comb and Philips says it’ll last for up to four months before needing replaced. In addition to the blade, the adjustable comb enables you to trim your beard down to five o’clock shadow or leave it up to 10mm long. The main selling point here is the absence of razor burn: if you’ve found other trimmers leave your face a fiery red, you may find the OneBlade considerably more gentle. The battery runs for 90 minutes on a one-hour charge.
4. Wahl 9854-802 Lithium Ion Grooming Station
Emergency charging for disorganised people in a hurry
RRP: £42.99 | Max length: 12mm | Battery life: 180 mins | Charge time: 1 hour | Emergency charge?: Yes (1 minute) | Washable: Yes
Rechargeable batteries are all well and good, but most of us have been caught out by the battery trap: you’re halfway through a trim or a tidy-up and the battery’s flat, often catching hairs in the blades as the trimmer dies - and sod’s law means it happens when you’re in a hurry to meet someone or get to work and don’t have time to wait for your cutter to recharge. Wahl feels your pain, and it’s come up with a charging system that delivers enough power for a trim in just one minute. The Grooming Station comes with four heads and seven combs enabling you to trim to up to 12mm and to trim close-cropped hair on your scalp too.
5. Philips BT7202/13 Series 7000
The clever cutter that cleans up after itself
RRP: £80 | Max length: 10mm | Battery life: 60 mins | Charge time: 1 hour | Emergency charge?: No | Washable: Yes
We used to carpool for work, and one of our colleagues would jump in the passenger seat of our car and immediately fire up his electric shaver - something we weren’t happy about until we realised he was leaving his DNA everywhere and framed him for a series of murders. If only he’d bought the Philips, which has an integrated vacuum system to catch most of the facial fallout. It promises to catch 90% of your cuttings (albeit in lab conditions), so that means less cleaning up after each cut. The lockable cutter has 20 settings from 0.5mm to 10mm and you’ll get around an hour of shaving from a single charge. Don’t pay the £80 RRP: it’s widely available for nearly half that.