Everything you need to know before you buy your next trimmer
If you are like most guys, you have probably owned a number of trimmers, mostly terrible. A trimmer is one of those necessary pieces of equipment in your bathroom that no guy can live without. Even if you can’t grow much facial hair or you don’t shave regularly, there are many other trimming tasks that require ownership of an oscillating blade.
As young men, hair often shows up in life before our bank accounts have matured - so price is the factor that weighs in our buying decisions. I, myself have fallen victim to grooming with a less than acceptable tool. In fact, I have owned several crappy trimmers which helped inspire me to spend the last 5 years creating a trimmer that corrects all the shortcomings I have experienced with other trimmers.
Here’s some tips to keep from making a bad decision on your next trimmer
The Blade is one of the most important parts of your trimmer as it affects the cutting performance. A good blade trims better, doesn’t pull hairs, doesn’t get hot and is quieter. There are three common types of blades. Here’s what you need to know:
Stamped stainless blade
Ground stainless blade
Stamped stainless steel blades are the cheapest and least effective for trimming. These blades are stamped out of a single piece of steel and formed with one operation so they are never truly as sharp as they need to be, even right out of the factory. These blades are made from softer steel and get dull quickly. A dull blade means it will take more passes to cut your hair and could also lead to skin irritation or snagging and pulling of your hair. Unfortunately there are a number of more expensive trimmers available that still use a stamped stainless blade.
The next type, ground stainless steel are big step up from stamped stainless-steel. These are generally made from a piece of harder steel and the blade is ground into shape with a grinding wheel. This method makes the blades much sharper and more precise than their stamped counterparts. The steel used is often harder and thicker so they hold their edge better as well. Ground stainless is what you will generally find on professional clippers. Ground stainless blades can be made with very small teeth and can be made to cut very close to the skin.
Use caution as it can be very difficult to tell the difference in pictures if the blade is stamped or ground and very few product descriptions say which they are.
Ceramic blades are also ground into shape however the ceramic material is much harder and allows these blades to stay sharper, longer. They also won’t rust and operate with lower friction. Unlike stainless blades, ceramic blades are easy to identify as they are generally white with a stainless-steel rake (the stationary part of the blade). Due to the limitations of the material, ceramic blades are generally only made with larger teeth and excel at cutting thick and coarse hair.
Other trimmer blade elements
When considering any blade, you always need to consider teeth size as well as trimming range. Small teeth are better suited for cutting short hair lengths while bigger teeth are better at cutting thicker or longer hair. Blades with smaller teeth excel with the close cuts needed on your neck line and upper cheeks, and the back of your neck. Make sure you blades are able to trim as low as possible, look for a blade that cuts between ½ to 1 millimeter. If you need to get closer you may need to check out a specialized trimmer. Minimum cutting height is a detail that is hard to verify when looking at a product listing. You may have to do some research to find out the lowest blade setting when evaluating different trimmers.
battery and motor
With nearly every electronic device, the battery is usually the first part to fail. While we have all suffered through a dull, rusty blade, if that battery is toast, your trimmer is too. So it's important that both the battery and motor be powerful enough to do the job for a long time. An oversized battery not only holds a charge longer but will ultimately extend the life of your trimmer by being to hold a useful charge for longer.
Look for a trimmer with a lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery. This isn’t 1980, so choosing anything without a rechargeable Li-Ion battery is pointless. Most trimmers will not list the size of the battery but look for a trimmer that notes 1,200 or more milliamp hours (mAH). Remember, it may be a cheaper option but don’t bother buying a trimmer with Nickel Cadmium (ni-cad) or replaceable batteries. You will be disappointed, and you will have to replace it shortly. I have never had a trimmer with a ni-cad battery last much over a year with regular use.
Now that we know what to look for in a battery lets talk the motor because it is just as important as the battery. It can be very challenging to identify how powerful a motor is as listings won’t note motor specifications. However, once you identify your battery size you will have an approximation for motor size. In some cases, bigger isn’t always better but when it comes to motors in your trimmer, it is. Due to low information from manufacturers, battery size is the best proxy for motor power. Figure out the battery size and you have your answer.
Accessories to consider
The final part of choosing the best trimmer to meet your personal needs? Guards and attachments. The correct guards and attachments will add versatility to get the look you desire. Few trimmers are good at cutting very short and very long hair so knowing what you want in your model is critical to get the best results.
If you are only using a trimmer for beards, short hair or body hair, than guards up to 6 mm will suffice however if you are looking to maintain that long beard or do your own haircuts, it’s best to look for a trimmer with guards that range up to 15 to 20 mm, anything over 20 mm becomes less practical.
Be weary of any trimmer offering an excessive number
of attachments -are you really going to use the foil shaver or
“body groom” attachment?
There are two styles of guards, ones that clip on to your trimmer and adjustable guards that rise up and down. Adjustable guards can add complication to trimmer designs and often result in lack of length options. Some adjustable guards have the bad habit of slipping down when they are pressed against your skin. For this reason, our trimmers come with a number of clip-on guards for best results.
With your next trimmer, here’s some must have’s:
- Ground stainless blade or Ceramic blade
- Sizeable LI-Ion (1,200 mAh or larger)
- Ability to cut very short (1mm or less)
- Guards up to at least 6mm
Here are a few gimmicks to avoid when purchasing your next trimmer.
- Twenty attachments? Too many attachments may actually just be a way to hide poor attachment systems resulting in excessively loud trimming.
- Waterproof? You don’t want to cut your hair when it is wet, blades work better when they are dry.
- Surgical Steel?, while it sounds great, it’s actually not “a thing”, nor is “airplane grade steel” for that matter.
- Finally, Self-sharpening blades. If you see a trimmer offering self-sharpening blades, It's a lie - they don’t exist.
If you are looking for a great trimmer for longer beards, manscaping, and haircuts, Check out the Beardscape. If you keep shorter facial hair styles, check out the Axis.
- Ceramic blade
- 2200 mAh Li-Ion Battery
- Giant Motor
- Trimming lengths ranging from 1mm to 20mm
- 2 year warranty
Axis Trimmer - $59.95
- Ceramic Blade
- 1600 mAh Li-Ion Battery
- One button function with battery meter
- Trimming lenghts ranging from .5mm to 6mm
- 2 year warranty
We are always here (email@example.com) if you need us.
David Rudolph said:
I currently buzz the top of my head down and then use a razor to shave it down. Then I trim my beard down no shorter than 7mm. Would the Beardscape be able to accommodate for all of this?
You mentioned staying away from trimmers with replaceable batteries. Can you elaborate? I try to search for tools, tech, and other things with replaceable parts. The more modular the design the better—especially when we’re talking about a consumable like a battery.
JOHN D GARCIA said:
Hi, are there any components or accessories made in China?. With shops closed had to start trying self trimming and cut; realized need good equipment, but in general will go back to my nothing from china policy. Regards