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Choosing The Right Beard Trimmer
If you’ve decided to start rocking a longer bearded look, you’ll need to think about maintenance sooner rather than later. Unless you’re planning on going full-on caveman, you’ll need some way to keep your facial hair in shape, whether you’re taking your style cues from Sean Connery or the Vikings.
But who has time to stick to barber’s scissors? Luckily, there are all sorts of electric beard trimmers on the market to make keeping your facial hair in shape as easy as pressing a button. A good beard trimmer is one of the handiest pieces of hardware to have your grooming toolkit.
Every beard is unique, and it’s important to find the right beard trimmer to suit your needs -- you don’t want to end up with with a precision trimmer choking on your thick hair, or a model without the attachments needed to maintain your rugged, mountain man image. And with so much choice on the market, it can be hard to know where to start! Not to worry -- we’ve put together a guide to help you choose the right trimmer in under five minutes flat.
Why use a beard trimmer?
Or why trim your beard at all? If you want to look like a badass wizard, surely it’s best to let it grow it’s own way, right?
Wrong. Even the longest beards need a little trim around the edges to keep them under control. And for shorter beards, a regular trim doesn’t just keep you looking sharp, it reduces the likelihood of dry, flaky skin.
Plus, beard trimmers are a great option for guys who feel like they might want to experiment. Facial hair is almost endlessly customisable, so if you’d like to switch it up from stubble to a spectacular stash, a beard trimmer with multiple guards and attachments will help you change your look in minutes.
Beard trimmers are particularly great for tailored, Victorian-gentleman style beards, moustaches and goatees -- you won’t necessarily need to make a choice between trimming and shaping, as many models won’t ask you to sacrifice precision for power.
What to look out for:
Convinced? Read on to discover some beard trimmer basics to keep in mind.
STUBBLE TRIMMERS VS BEARD TRIMMERS: If you’re after a laid-back five-o’clock-shadow look, consider a stubble trimmer. Stubble trimmers work similar to beard trimmers, with one important difference -- stubble trimmers have manually adjustable blades that can trim your hair down to a microscopic 0.4 mm, while a standard beard trimmer will struggle after 5mm. Most stubble trimmers can’t go above 5mm or so, so consider a beard trimmer instead if you’re after versatility.
T-OUTLINER BLADE: From Tom Selleck ‘staches to devilish goatees, T-outliner blades are a must for guys who need precision detail. Also known as precision blades, T-outliners are mostly adjustable, but usually can’t be used with any attachments or guard settings.
HEAD WIDTH: A narrower head width makes for more accurate shaping, but can be frustrating if you’re short on time. Smaller heads are also useful for grooming other body hair.
MANUALLY ADJUSTABLE BLADES, COMBS, OR BUILT IN SETTINGS: Manually adjustable blades don’t require guards -- you can simply adjust the blades with a selection wheel or lever, enabling you to get exactly the length you want. However, beginners might find them a bit tricky.
Combs or guards are generally detachable and are included with the trimmer. Swapping them in and out can be a bit inconvenient, but having a preset length can be useful when you’re just starting out. Multiple attachments are a great idea if you feel like you might want to mix up your beard style at some point.
Built-in settings are exactly what they sound like -- press a button and the trimmer adjusts the blade length for you, ideal for men who’d like a preset length without fiddling about with combs.
Got an idea of what’s right for you? Let’s move on to the finer details.
Stainless steel is the gold standard for beard clipper blades. Carbon steel is also available, and slides through thick hair while staying sharp for longer. However, it is more likely to rust. If you’re set on carbon steel, consider going for a model with a chrome or titanium coating.
Ceramic blades are becoming more and more popular in men’s grooming tools as a whole, and with good reason -- it gives about the sharpest cut you can get. However, ceramic blades are almost guaranteed to shatter if you drop your trimmer, they’re more expensive, and they require a diamond stone to sharpen.
Most trimmers come with blades set at a 45 degree angle, which is considered ideal by most men. However, this might not work well for guys with more angular faces. Some trimmers come with a pivoting head, which gives you a little more control over the angle.
Some higher end trimmers come with blades that sharpen as you trim your beard. Otherwise, you’ll need to sharpen your blades every couple of months, using an oil stone for steel and a diamond stone for ceramic.
Simply put, the more powerful your blade motor, the better, particularly if you have thick facial hair. Weaker motors don’t just take longer to trim, they can pull at your hair and cause irritation. Universal motors run on AC/DC current and are the most powerful, but they’re corded rather than portable and notoriously loud.
Magnetic motors purr quietly, but as a relatively new technology, often lack the true oomph needed to push through coarser hair.
Rotary motors are pretty powerful and extremely versatile, but tend to overheat with regular use.
You’ll also need to consider whether to purchase a corded, rechargeable or lithium ion option. If you’re going for cordless, make sure your trimmer has a decent battery life -- it wouldn’t do for it to cut out half-way through.
Ready to take your grooming to the next level? Keeping your beard healthy:
Beard trimming is a great start, but it’s not the be all and end all of keeping your facial hair looking sharp. Dry, unkept and tangled hair is going to look unkempt whatever the length!
Once your beard reaches a certain length, washing it with a good shampoo is essential. Your facial hair is an excellent trap for pollen, pollution and dust particles. Plus, have you ever heard of ‘beardruff’? If you’re prone to dandruff on your head, expect it on your face. Proper shampoo can help wash that unsightly dead skin away.
Beard oil is a favourite of many men’s significant others, leaving your hair soft and smooth (and taking care of any lingering beardruff issues). Beard balm will also condition your beard, and make it easier to style besides.
A balanced diet is also important -- if you struggle to get your five-a-day, consider taking a multi-vitamin.