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Can You Use A Beard Trimmer To Cut Your Hair?

August 2, 2023
Can You Use A Beard Trimmer To Cut Your Hair?

With increasing cost comes the temptation to take shortcuts. There are many different grooming devices you can potentially buy – sometimes you can double-up on what you use them for. The question is, can you use a beard trimmer to cut your hair? 

Beard trimmers should not be used to cut head hair. It will usually lead to a poor, uneven trim. Plus, it will take longer and will most likely be uncomfortable. Beard trimmers weren’t designed to remove large chunks of hair. 

To really understand why it’s a no-no, it’s important to get to grips with how a hair clipper is different to a beard trimmer. 

It’ll then become clear exactly why a beard trimmer just isn’t up to the task. 

I’ll go through the key differences first, before going on to give you 7 reasons why you really should use hair clippers instead of a beard trimmer to cut your hair. 

Let’s get to it. 

How Is A Beard Trimmer Different To Hair Clippers? 

illustration of the difference between hair clippers and beard trimmers

The key differences between these two devices can be split into “design” and “purpose”. 

1. Design

Right off the bat, you’ll notice that a hair clipper is larger and heavier than a regular beard trimmer. 

This may seem obvious, but it’s an easy way to tell the two apart from each other. 

You’ll then notice that the blade of a clipper is wider than that of a beard trimmer. 

A Hair Clipper


Next, take a look at the teeth of the comb. 

The teeth of a clipper blade are spaced wider apart and deeper. 

In contrast, the teeth of a beard trimmer blade are narrower and shallower. 

Here’s an example – my favorite beard trimmer the Brio Beardscape (Amazon Link)

Finally, the attachments the devices come with will usually be different as well. 

A clipper usually comes with graded attachments in pretty large increments. For example, a “number 1”, “number 2”, and so on. 

A trimmer will usually come with length attachments that increase in smaller increments. 

Plus, it may also come with additional attachments for detailing and edging work. It could have a T-blade or a square blade. 

2. Purpose

The ways in which these devices have different purposes are closely tied to their different designs. 

The wide blade and spaced apart, deep teeth of a clipper lends itself very well to quickly removing large and thick chunks of hair. 

That’s why they’re the number 1 tool used by barbers when getting a haircut. They’re efficient and they get the job done. 

They’re usually used to trim down (and even fade) the back and sides before scissor-cutting the top. 

Or, they can be used to trim a nice, even buzz cut all the way around. 

The narrow blade with narrow and shallow teeth of a beard trimmer is better suited to “fine-work”. 

It’s better at navigating the awkward and tight corners of a face. It’s better at edging and lining up as opposed to removing large amounts of hair. 

In other words, it’s intended for smaller, tighter areas such as those you’d find around a beard. 

Plus, it’s meant for shorter hair. Even men with long beards are more likely to use a pair of clippers to remove large amounts of beard hair and not a beard trimmer. 

A beard trimmer will usually give you more control over length because the length guards increase and decrease in smaller increments. 

It’s worth mentioning that the main similarities between both devices are that they can be either corded or wireless, they’re both electric, and they can both have rotary, pivot, or magnetic motors. 

But overall, the two devices are very, very different from one another. 

7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use A Beard Trimmer To Cut Hair

Bear this list in mind whenever temptation rears its head. Here’s why a hair clipper would be much more suitable than a beard trimmer when trimming scalp hair. 

illustration explaining why you shouldn't cut hair with a beard trimmer

1. Your Beard Trimmer Will Not Last Long

Let’s face it. Grooming tools aren’t cheap. 

Well, sometimes they are. But you get what you pay for. If you’ve taken the leap and invested in a decent beard trimmer, you’ll want to look after it. 

The quickest way to wear out a beard trimmer is by using it inappropriately or incorrectly. 

Using a beard trimmer to trim down scalp hair will cause thick clumps of hair to clog up the blade with its narrow and shallow teeth. 

This will ruin the integrity of the blade itself. But it’ll also lead to unnecessary friction, which means the trimmer will have to work harder to make its way through the hair. 

Over time, this will wear out the motor. 

When all is said and done, the lifespan of a beard trimmer will be significantly reduced if it’s used to tackle large areas of thick and dense hair. 

You’ll find that over time, it will become even less effective at trimming the hair, as well as the beard. 

This will probably mean you’ll find yourself buying another one much sooner than you may have expected to. 

Interestingly, this means that in an attempt to save money by not buying a separate hair clipper, you may actually end up spending more money due to waste. 

2. It’ll Probably Hurt

Using a beard trimmer to trim your hair definitely won’t be as comfortable as using a hair clipper. 

This is because of the friction I mentioned. 

As a tired beard trimmer tries to force its way through scalp hair, that tugging and pulling will lead to friction and discomfort. 

The scalp is more sensitive than you might think; irritation and soreness could become a problem. 

The wide blade and widely-spaced teeth of a hair clipper are able to glide through scalp hair much easier and much more efficiently. 

3. It Will Take A Long Time

Speed isn’t everything when it comes to grooming. But it would be foolish to suggest it wasn’t important. 

You don’t want a DIY haircut to take up your entire afternoon. 

Of course, the time you take will partly depend on the particular hairstyle you’re going for. 

But no matter what cut you’re looking to achieve, using a beard trimmer will get you there slower. 

As I mentioned earlier, beard trimmers are meant for small areas. The blade is narrow and isn’t meant for larger areas. 

In addition, the extra tugging and pulling will definitely slow you down as well. 

You may just be using it for a short back and sides look. But you’d be surprised – this is actually a pretty large area to cover. 

Using a hair clipper is a lot more efficient. 

It’s designed to remove large amounts of hair quickly. That’s what a wide blade with wide teeth can achieve. 

4. The Trim Won’t Be Even

Don’t get me wrong – it will probably be OK. But ultimately, using a beard trimmer to cut your head hair will give you average results at best. 

It probably won’t be unattractive. But it definitely won’t be anything to write home about.

It’ll be tough, it’ll take long, but it’ll probably eventually get the job done. 

This is unless your hair is long. In which case, you most likely wouldn’t be physically capable of using the blade of a beard trimmer to remove all that hair anyway. 

But let’s just assume we’re talking about short to medium length hair here. 

It’s just important to accept that the overall aesthetic result will be worse than if you were to use a pair of clippers. 

The trim will be less even and less neat. This is because that blade is being used for something it’s not meant for – trimming large chunks of hair off. 

The tugging and pulling will, as you’d expect, lead to subpar results. 

On the other hand, a clipper is a great tool for getting a tidy result in a ruthlessly efficient amount of time. 

5. The Lengths Can Be Awkward

Let me explain. 

Hair clippers are great because the way the length attachments are labeled will most likely be familiar to you. 

There’s a good chance you head to your barber and ask for a “number 4 buzz cut”, or a “2 on the sides and back”, for instance.

What the numbers refer to are the grades of the clipper guards. 

The attachments will probably be labeled “#1”, “#2”, and so on. This makes it easier because you most likely know what they’ll look like, especially if you regularly use the terms with your barber. 

If you don’t, you can easily find pictures of what they look like online. 

The length attachments of a beard trimmer, on the other hand, are usually labeled in millimeters. 

This may well be OK with you, but for many men, it can be difficult to predict what a 9mm trim will actually look like. 

Here’s another way in which length can be an awkward problem when it comes to using a beard trimmer for scalp hair. 

You’ll probably have less choice. 

Beard trimmers are great for trimming short/medium beards because you’ve got plenty of control. The lengths increase in small increments, so you can get pretty intricate with it. 

But they usually only trim down to short lengths. 

You won’t be able to use a beard trimmer to trim down to the equivalent of a “number 7” or “number 8”, for instance. 

Those lengths are just too long. 

A pair of clippers would be what you need. You won’t have as much control, but the range of lengths you can potentially trim down to is much wider. 

6. Your Style Choice Will Be Very Restricted

If you’re just going for the short back and sides look or a straightforward buzz cut, this tip isn’t very relevant to you. 

There’s no additional benefit a pair of clippers would give you.

But if you’re looking to do anything fancier, a hair clipper may well be a better option. 

In particular, clippers are much better at producing those glorious fades that are so popular these days. 

The higher-end clippers come with taper levers on the sides that allow you to create fades and blends ranging from simple to complex. 

For many of you, this is probably something you’d rather leave to your barber. 

But if you’re looking to get a little creative with your DIY cuts, a clipper may well be the way to go. 

7. Hair Clippers Are A Good Investment

So, we’ve intensely discussed why a beard trimmer is a no-no for trimming scalp hair. 

But I’ll finish by telling you why a pair of clippers is just a good grooming tool to have in your kit. 

For one, it really doesn’t have to be that expensive. 

Yes, you’ve got the high-end, borderline luxury clippers that should really just be reserved for the more discerning barber. 

But you’ve also got the “lower-end”, budget clippers that would do the trick. They may be cheap, but they’d definitely be better than using a beard trimmer. 

Getting yourself a mid-range pair would be best. It’ll last longer and produce good and consistent results. 

Plus, a pair of clippers is versatile. 

You could very reasonably use it to trim your body hair. Body hair isn’t that thick or dense, so doubling-up with your hair clippers isn’t that big a deal. 

Sure, getting yourself a solid body groomer would be ideal. But it isn’t the end of the world. 

So, to wrap this up, strongly consider getting yourself a pair of clippers. It’s one of those buys you’re very unlikely to regret. 

Can You Ever Use A Beard Trimmer To Cut Hair?

OK, so here are a couple of instances where you could technically consider doing this. 

If you’ve got very short and thinning hair, you could probably get away with just using your beard trimmer to trim it down even shorter. 

You most likely won’t do much damage and it may not be worth getting yourself a separate clipper. 

Another, very reasonable instance where you could consider it would be for what I referred to earlier as “fine-work”. 

When it comes to detailing and edging the borders of your haircut, the narrow blade of a beard trimmer may be better than your hair clipper. 

When lining up and defining the hairline around the sideburns and the ear, a beard trimmer will probably be better. This is particularly true if it comes with a T-blade. 

To sum that up, using a hair clipper to remove the bulk of your hair and then using a beard trimmer to add the finishing touches would be the ideal solution. 


There you have it. 

When it comes to questions like this, I usually do write an “it depends” answer. That’s usually what’s necessary. 

But when it comes to this question, I can comfortably say that you’d be much better off using hair clippers for your haircut and not your beard trimmer. 

Hope that clears things up.