Best Beard Trimmers 2020: 5 best to buy (and 7 to avoid)
In this head to head test, we called in 12 of the best selling beard trimmers around, and compared them directly to help you find your perfect model, revealing the five best (and seven worst) options.
The approach below is a little different to what we usually do on Trusted Reviews. Rather than summarising a bunch of standalone reviews to list the best products in order, we’ve had all of the beard trimmers at the same time, and used them all together.
While they’ve all been put through the same rigorous tests as usual, the difference is that we’ve compared and contrasted each model, listing the ones you should buy and the ones you shouldn’t.
To make things easier, we’ve got winners for different price ranges and uses, so you can narrow down your choice further.
Meet our expert testers
- Tom Wiggins is a journalist with 12 years’ experience of writing about consumer technology. He also has around 10 years’ experience of beard ownership and upkeep, so is well placed to give a verdict on what the tech needs to do.
- We also involved Parsa Rad, creative director at male grooming specialist The Refinery in Mayfair and previous winner of the British Barbers’ Association’s Best Shave Master title. Who better to tell us about the beard trimmers barbers use?
What are the best beard trimmers on the market?
The good news is there are a lot of good beard trimmers out there. Around half of the 12 products we tested do a very decent job of keeping your face neat and tidy with minimal fuss but there are some, in particular, that stand out.
We’ve summarised our winners in simple order below, but keep reading to find out how we tested and selected these models, or jump to the longer descriptions for our full winners list. Or scroll down to the bottom of the page to get our view of the ones to avoid.
- Best overall bead trimmer – Babyliss 7897U Super Beard
- Best on a budget – Remington MB4045 Beard Kit
- Best for bigger beards – Panasonic ER-GB96
- Most portable – Remington Endurance Groomer
- Most versatile – Wahl 4-in-1 Multigroomer
What we looked for
Cultivating a beard is a bit like looking after your garden; neglect it and things will soon start to get out of hand. But tending to it isn’t just about attention, it also requires the right tools.
Beard trimmers differ from electric shavers in one main way: rather than a foil that you press right up against your skin to cut the hair at the very base, a beard trimmer has a row of exposed cutting teeth. This can be covered with a protective guard attachment and adjusted to increase the distance between the blades and your skin, allowing you to trim your beard to the desired length.
All of this takes time and effort, so the last thing you want is for it all to go to waste when a sub-standard trimmer inadvertently carves off half of your hard work, but there are a few things to look out for when selecting a beard trimmer.
What we looked for in our testing
- We picked out 12 different models from a range of manufacturers, including dedicated grooming brands such as Remington and Babyliss, but also larger consumer electronics brands such as Philips and Panasonic.
- Aside from all being beard trimmers, they all had one thing in common: they could cut to at least 5mm, but many can cope with far bushier beards than that.
- If you want to maintain anything longer than a bit of overgrown stubble, pay attention to the cutting lengths offered by each trimmer.
Comb style attachments vs squarer guards
Most beard trimmers come with multiple attachments but they tend to fall into one of two categories.
- For longer beards, trimmers with comb-style attachments that have discrete pointed teeth (such as the Panasonic ER-GB96 or Remington MB4045) tend to be better suited to drawing out the longer hair as they cut
- While the squarer guards (such as those found on the Babyliss 7897U Super Beard or Philips Series 5000) tend to be better suited to maintaining shorter, less rugged looks.
Battery life isn’t a huge consideration when it comes to beard trimmers because you tend to only use them for about five minutes at a time, but most tend to last for around an hour between charges. Unless you’re going away for an extended period and plan to leave the charger at home, that’s more than long enough.
A quick charge function, however, can be very useful for when you wake up with an important meeting to attend and find that your trimmer has chosen that day to run out of battery. These will give you just enough battery power to give yourself a quick going over before you dash out the door.
Consistency of cut
Finding your perfect beard trimmer depends very much on the look you’re trying to maintain but the number one requirement, no matter what style you’re going for, is that it can cut consistently to the same length without thinning the hair out or pulling at it. The last thing you want is to come away with a patchy beard.
Length of beard
Finding the right length for you is basically a case of trial and error. “You can’t put hair back, so start with a high grade and work your way down to a lower one,” says Parsa Rad.
This is easier for some trimmers than others, because they don’t all allow for fine adjustments. Wahl’s Beard Trim, for example, has an integrated comb that goes right up to 24mm, with 2mm at its shortest, but there are only actually seven settings within that range.
Similarly, Braun’s MGK3060 comes with six different attachments but the two longer adjustable ones only have five different settings each. “Some trimmers have completely different length settings to others, so it’s all about experience,” says Rad, but for perfectionists the more specific you can be with the adjustments the better.
At the other end of the scale is Panasonic’s ER-GB96, which not only comes with three separate adjustable comb attachments (plus one for more intricate detailing) but each one can be adjusted in half-millimetre increments using its heavy duty barrel-style control. If you can’t find your ideal length with that level of adjustment there’s no helping you.
“When someone tells me they’re looking for a trimmer, I always ask them what the purpose of it is,” says Rad. “If you want it to do more than just shave their beard – your chest, back or head, for example – I’d recommend a more solid product. Wahl and Babyliss make some incredible products that we use professionally on a daily basis.”
But it’s not just about the range of adjustments, we also considered how easy they were to alter and how secure they felt when in position. You tend to find one of two types of adjustment mechanism on a beard trimmer.
- The first is a simple sliding system that usually requires you to push a button in order to release the mechanism and increase or decrease the gap between the blades and the teeth of the guard.
- The second uses a wheel that does the same job when turned. These can either be positioned along the length of the trimmer, like on Remington’s MB4045, or built into the body in a barrel-like arrangement, as you’ll find on the three Philips trimmers we tested, or the Babyliss 7897U Super Beard.
The latter tend to be easier to adjust, as it can be easy to select the wrong setting with the former, particularly if the trimmer in question offers fine increments of a millimetre or less. The Super Beard even comes with a locking button that holds the guard in place when it’s activated, so there’s absolutely no chance of it slipping during use.
We settled on 7mm (or the closest each trimmer could get to it) and tested each one for effectiveness and efficiency. Does it consistently cut to the correct length? And how many times do you need to run it over your beard before it’s done a satisfactory job?
Sturdiness of attachment
Part of this test involved assessing the sturdiness of the attachments themselves. In order to feel confident in a trimmer’s cutting ability you want the teeth of the attachment to be solid enough that they won’t move around too much when it’s in use, but not so thick that they form too large a barrier between the blades and the hair they’re supposed to be cutting.
“The attachment you should use depends on the length you’re going for but trying to maintain a very long beard at home is tough – you need to go and see a barber,” says Rad. “If you’re going for something of just a few millimetres, use all the tools that the trimmer comes with to gradually fade it up. That way it looks more natural than everything being one length.”
Versatility of trimmer
Beard maintenance isn’t just about your neck, chin and cheeks. You’ll need to keep your top lip in check too, so with each trimmer we took into account how versatile its attachments were.
Could they adequately accommodate moustaches and sideburns? Or would you end up having to buy something else to deal with the details? And when you take the attachment off, could the unguarded blades cope with tidying up the edges?
Cleaning the trimmer – to vacuum or not?
Once we’d finished trimming there was one more important task to take care of: cleaning. All the tiny bits of hair that don’t end up in the sink get stuck in the blades, inside the attachments and in almost any nook and cranny they can find, so cleaning your trimmer can be a real pain. Some are totally waterproof, which means you can just rinse them off after each use and leave them to dry, but others require more maintenance, which can be a real pain.
A couple of the trimmers we had on test, the Philips BT7202 and Remington MB6850, included built-in vacuums. These are designed to minimise mess by sucking up the flak that flies off as you shave.
They’ll never catch 100% of the detritus, and they work better when set to cut at shorter lengths, but as you might imagine they also get messy very quickly. That might save you cleaning the sink quite so much, but it’s only really shifting the job elsewhere.
Finally, we considered what accessories come with the trimmers. Some are very basic. The Remington Endurance Groomer, for example, doesn’t even come with a proper charger, just a USB adaptor that allows you to plug it into a compatible plug or port. It does, however, come with a carry case, which a lot of the others don’t.
Charging stands and cases are nice to have rather than a necessity, but they help to keep things tidy in the bathroom, which shouldn’t be taken for granted.
The Winners – Top beard trimmers
1. The best beard trimmer: Babyliss 7897U Super Beard
Babyliss’s 7897U Super Beard might be among the cheapest trimmers in our test but it’s also the one that consistently provided the best overall results. It only comes with one guard attachment that maxes out at 15mm, so it might not be right for everybody, but it’s easy to adjust using the wheel, has 15 discrete length settings and does a great job of trimming efficiently and to a consistent length, even if it might not be the most comfortable to use.
With the guard removed, the Super Beard’s blade head is good for finishing off edges but is a bit too wide for doing anything too intricate. Its electronic locking system allows you to secure the guard in place, so there’s no chance of it slipping during use, plus it also has a travel lock feature to prevent accidental activation.
The Super Beard isn’t totally waterproof but you can rinse the blades under the tap, so it’s pretty simple to keep clean, although you will have to remember to oil them regularly as a result, which could become a bit of a pain.
Compared to the other trimmers at this price, the Babyliss Super Beard does a very impressive job, and it even comes with a charging stand – something you don’t get with many trimmers that cost twice as much.
2. Best on a budget: Remington MB4045 Beard Kit
Remington’s MB4045 Beard Kit is designed for maintaining a beard your most tattooed local barista would be proud of.
It feels fairly sturdy in the hand, but the dials and switches are a bit on the plasticky side. The combs are also a bit of a pain to attach, and the teeth have quite a lot of flex in them, which could lead to an uneven cut if you press it against your face too hard.
The MB4045 comes with three attachments: two combs that can be adjusted for length using the wheel on the trimmer itself, and a smaller one with adjustable plastic teeth for keeping your ‘tache in check. It’s also got one of those pop-out mini-blades for precision trimming.
Using one of the longer attachments (the smaller one goes from 1mm to 5mm, the mid-length come goes from 1.5 to 18mm, while the larger can deal with anything between 20 and 35mm) the Remington MB4045 Beard Kit offers a pretty even cut, with only a few stragglers left behind. If you’re after ultimate neatness there’s a small pair of scissors in the box that you can use to tidy up afterwards.
3. Best for bigger beards: Panasonic ER-GB96
With its collection of large comb attachments Panasonic’s ER-GB96 caters for even the bushiest of beards, offering a sturdy guard that allows you to keep things tidy without losing too much length. A set of solid plastic teeth on each one offers real confidence when trimming, while textured areas on the main body offer decent grip so you don’t slip mid-trim. It’s also waterproof, which means you can easily wash it after use. The whole thing feels solidly built, with a barrel-style adjustment dial that moves in half-millimetre increments (a whopping 58 in total) and has an authoritative click with each turn.
It also comes with an attachment that covers all but a 5mm length at either end of the blade (you can choose which) which is great for tidying up your ‘tache. The big sticking point with the Panasonic ER-GB96 is its price. It’s hard to see what it does to justify the extra expense over the Babyliss, and while there is a GB-86 that’s £20 cheaper, that one doesn’t come with the detail trimmer, which is a pretty handy addition.
4. Most portable: Remington Endurance Groomer
About half the size of many of the trimmers we tested, Remington’s Endurance Groomer packs a lot into its diminutive chassis and feels reassuringly weighty. Adjusting the length of the attachment can be a bit fiddly but it works in millimetre increments and cuts evenly and effectively, even if it does feel rather on the plasticky side. The head of the trimmer is also smaller than most, but it’s still slightly too big to completely take care of your top lip.
The Endurance Groomer is also easy to clean as it’s completely waterproof, so can just be rinsed under the tap when you’re done.
Some might be put off by the lack of a proper charger but the USB adaptor that comes with it can be used with any standard USB plug (you probably got one with your phone) or sufficiently powered USB port, making it ideal for people who travel a lot. It also comes with a carry case, which few of the others do, and there’s a lock on it to stop it being accidentally turned on in transit. If you assumed the Endurance Groomer would sacrifice functionality for size, you’re very much mistaken.
5. Most versatile: Wahl 4-in-1 Multigroomer
The first time you open the box of the Wahl 4-in-1 Multigroomer can be a bit daunting. Not only does it come with 12 comb attachments, there are also four different blade heads, so just working out what you need to fit to it before you can start trimming your beard takes a while.
The attachments aren’t adjustable so you’ll probably need more than one during each shave and that could mean also changing heads, which is a bit fiddly and not the most convenient, but the Multigroomer is much more powerful than a lot of the trimmers we tested, breezing through hair with ease. We’re not sold on all of the functions – the close shaver is largely ineffectual and the ear/nostril trimmer doubles as a tickling stick – but the main criticism is that the attachments don’t feel as sturdy as the trimmer itself. Some of the shorter ones don’t seem to fit that well, but if you’re trying to maintain something longer than stubble it performs well.
Oh, and it buzzes like a swarm of angry hornets, so you might want to buy your family some earplugs.
The ones to avoid
None of the trimmers we tried were total failures but there were some that either didn’t live up to their price tag, disappointed us when it came to build quality, or just didn’t cut as well as others.
Wahl’s Beard Trim and Braun’s MGK3060 (both £45) are just a little bit too basic, lacking in the accuracy of adjustment a serious beard cultivator would demand, and while neither the Babyliss Dual Blade Lithium (£60) or Super Groomer (£45) do a bad job of cutting, both feel very plasticky and can be a real pain to adjust. However, both do come with a lot of attachments, which makes them more versatile than many of the beard-only trimmers.
Despite having by far the most eye-catching gimmick of all the products on test, it’s very hard to recommend the laser-guided Philips BT9280. At £120 it’s the most expensive of the lot but the laser doesn’t really add enough to justify the price. It’s supposed to make trimming in a straight line easier, but if anything it’s a hindrance, reflecting off the blade and making it harder to see what you’re doing.
If it was one of the most effective all-round trimmers that wouldn’t be such an issue but it’s not as efficient as the best and maxes out at 7mm. It feels well built and the rotating cutting head is handy, allowing you to easily switch to a smaller one for doing details, but you can get much better for much less.
Of the two with built-in vacuums, we’d go for the Philips BT7202 (£80) over the Remington MB6850 (£70) despite the fact that the former’s collection chamber isn’t removable. That makes it more of a pain to clean effectively because only the blades can be run under the tap, but it does a better job of trimming the hair.
At the end of the day, neither leave you with zero mess to clean up, so unless you’re particularly persnickety about cleanliness, you’re probably better off going with one of the more effective trimmers and making peace with the clean-up job required afterwards.
Related: Best electric shavers