Hair clipper vs beard trimmer: what's the difference?

We explain which hair-cutting appliance you need and when

Hair clipper vs beard trimmer
(Image credit: Getty)

If there’s one thing that lockdown has taught us, it’s that we’ll never take the hairdressers for granted ever again.

Keeping your hair under control when the barber’s shop is out of bounds can prove difficult to say the least. As a result, we’ve all definitely seen - or even fashioned - a remarkably bad self-cut hairstyle over the past year or so, probably lopped off and styled with some kitchen scissors and an old comb.

This has led to the investment of hair-cutting appliances on a national scale. Knowing how to use these devices or not, many of us have convinced ourselves that such a purchase will automatically turn us into qualified hairdressers.

A common oversight, however, is ordering the best beard trimmers instead of the best hair clippers. It’s an easy mistake to make. Both appliances look very similar, so you’ve got to be careful not to put the wrong item in your online shopping basket and land yourself with a dodgy hairdo. 

If you’re looking to purchase a tool to get your locks back on top form and need some tips to facilitate the buying process, then read on.

Hair Clippers Vs Beard Trimmer: Similarities In Appearance

Hair clippers and beard trimmers are similar in many ways. Both have a similar design, size and even branding and so one can often be mistaken for the other. 

The primary difference between the two, though, is the length and the size of the blade. This is the main design feature to look out for. Hair clippers are used to cut hair that is much longer so usually have bigger attachments that help them to adjust the length of the hair.

Beard trimmers, on the other hand, don’t always have adjustments and if they do they usually come in smaller measurements, often in sizes between 1mm and 5mm. The blades that are used in beard trimmers are also much thinner and are designed that way to allow them to work with greater detail on short hair and stubble in areas around the neck and chin.

Remington T-series Hair and Beard Kit

(Image credit: Remington)

Hair Clippers Vs Beard Trimmer: Differences In Usage

While trimmers and clippers can appear almost identical in appearance, they are intended to be used in completely different scenarios. 

A clipper is intended for bulk hair cutting on larger areas, but does not cut extremely close to the skin. On the other hand, a trimmer is designed for edging, outlining, dry shaving and light shaping on smaller areas such as the back of the neck, around the ears and sideburns, for instance.

We spoke to hair expert, consultant and stylist, Lisa Brown, who not only cleared things up, but warned we should never use the device interchangeably.

“Hair clippers are not only more robust and powerful - making it easier to control when cutting the hair - but they have a wider head to cover a larger area,” she explains. “Beard trimmers are much smaller and ideal for covering the face area, making it easier for trimming around the nose and mouth. It would literally take twice as long to do a hair cut with a beard trimmer.”

Dropping some useful pearls of wisdom, she adds: “When using hair clippers, always start on the longer grade and be careful; it’s very easy to make mistakes and exceptionally difficult to rectify them, especially when you’re tackling it by yourself.”

Hair Clippers Vs Beard Trimmer: Best Of Both Worlds?

While beard trimmers and hair clippers have their own distinctive use cases, some manufacturers have looked at bringing the benefits of both to one device, so you can have the best of both worlds. 

Take Remington, for example. This personal care brand has done a tremendous job at delivering dual hair and beard-cutting features in its latest T-series Hair and Beard Kit (pictured above). This is a super premium trimming and clipping appliance that comes with an adjustable precision stubble comb cutting beards and stubble at lengths between 1.5 and 5mm, a full foil shaver attachment for closer shaves around the neck, and nine clipper attachment combs that range from 1.5mm all the way up to 25mm. We’ve used it religiously during lockdown and cannot recommend it enough.

Now, armed with all this extra knowledge, why not take a look at our list of the best beard trimmers and best hair clippers.

Lee Bell

Lee Bell is a freelance journalist & copywriter specialising in technology, health, grooming and how the latest innovations are shaking up the lifestyle space. From national newspapers to specialist-interest magazines and digital titles, Lee has written for some of the world’s most respected publications during his 11 years as a journalist.