7 best beard trimmers 2017: hirsutes you, sir

Maintain a well tended beard or on-trend perma-stubble with the best beard clippers, trimmers and shapers

TODO alt text

Beard trimmers and shapers are a modern essential, as the modern man increasingly tends to move away from the clean-shaven look. 

The traditional form for these has long been like a pair of barber's hair clippers – and, indeed, most of these can be used to trim your head hair to a Statham-esque stubble, or tame unruly body fuzz. However, there are now a few outliers that take a more innovative approach to beard management.

What is the best beard trimmer?

If you're looking for regular beard management or the occasional trim, what beard trimmer/shaper is the best option?

The Philips 9000 Series is fully waterproof; cuts, shapes and edges superbly; lasts for five years or more without ever needing oiling. It's the top choice, despite having an entirely superfluous laser built in for 'precise edging'.

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. 

Most trimmers can be used for body hair and the hair on the top of your head too, but if you want anything other than a skinhead, you'll again want a trimmer that's capable of longer length settings. 

Charge time may matter if you’re constantly on the move, and often these things take 8 hours or more to fully juice up. Realistically, that shouldn't be a problem if you only trim once per day, but if you suffer from beard maintenance anxiety, you might favour a trimmer with an emergency 'quick charge' feature, giving a full trim after just a few minutes charging.

Watch out for consumables - while many trimmers have self-sharpening blades that last forever, some need oiling, and some even require regular replacement. 

As with electric toothbrushes, our biggest tip is : never pay the RRP on higher-end beard trimmers: grooming gadgets are regularly discounted, as reflected in our handy pricing widgets.

The best beard trimmers in order

1. Philips 9000 Series BT9280/33

The best beard trimmer a man can get

Specifications
Max length: 7mm
Battery life: 60 mins
Charge time: 1 hour
Emergency charge?: Not as such but charges quickly
Washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Reliable, comfortable trimming+Easy to do detail and edging+Never needs oiling+100% waterproof
Reasons to avoid
-Only for the shorter beard-What is that laser for?
Today's best deals

I have had one of these for 5 years and used it – usually in the shower – multiple times per week. And yes, admittedly the battery did eventually die (it now only works when the power cable is plugged in, although that in itself is a feature that sum trimmers lack),  but I can't really fault it for the price.

The headline feature here is an actual laser, which projects onto your face so you can cut extra straight lines in your beard. Needless to say, this is utterly useless, so let's ignore that and press on to the non-headline features.

For shorter beards (up to 7mm), there's nothing to beat the 9000 Series. It goes through even wiry neck hair with ease, edges neatly, yet there's never any danger of being cut or suffering irritation.

That's despite the fact that you never ever need to oil it or replace the self-sharpening blades. Because it's 100% waterproof you can use it in the shower and it's very easy to clean. 

Bottom line: because Philips wanted this to have a premium feel, they put a laser in it. But the good news for beardies is that they also made it as good as a beard trimmer could be. The only bum note is that if you have a beard longer than 7mm, you can't use this, unless you 3D print a longer comb attachment or something.

2. Braun Beard Trimmer BT3040

Best budget beard trimmer

Specifications
Max length: 20mm
Battery life: 60 mins
Charge time: 8 hours
Emergency charge?: No
Washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable trimming+39 lengths, up to 21mm+Not bad for head and body hair
Reasons to avoid
-Slow charging
Today's best deals

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

Specifications
RRP: £55
Max length: 5mm
Battery life: 90 mins
Charge time: 16 hours
Emergency charge?: Yes (90mins)
Washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Very accurate+Emergency quick charge
Reasons to avoid
-Not suitable for bushy beards-Full charge takes time
Today's best deals

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

Specifications
RRP: £79.99
Max length: 10mm
Battery life: 90 mins
Charge time: 1 hour
Emergency charge?: No
Washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Accurate edging+Cutting comb included
Reasons to avoid
-Blade needs replacing regularly-Expensive
Today's best deals

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

Specifications
RRP: £42.99
Max length: 12mm
Battery life: 180 mins
Charge time: 1 hour
Emergency charge?: Yes (1 minute)
Washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Super-fast emergency charge+Lots of accessories
Reasons to avoid
-Fairly basic-You'll lose the accessories
Today's best deals

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

Specifications
RRP: £80
Max length: 10mm
Battery life: 60 mins
Charge time: 1 hour
Emergency charge?: No
Washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Catches cut hairs+Looks like a gun
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn’t catch all hair-Feels a bit flimsy
Today's best deals

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.