Using the same grooming tool for multiple purposes can be tempting. But is it wise? Here’s a common one people ask – can you use hair clippers to trim your beard?
Hair clippers work best on beards between ¾ inch and 1-inch as they’re often too long to trim with a regular beard trimmer. Beards shorter than ¾ inch would benefit from the fine detailing of a beard trimmer, while beards longer than 1 inch should be trimmed with scissors.
That’s the short answer. But there’s more to it.
If you want to dig deeper, read on.
Let’s get to it.
Hair Clipper Vs Beard Trimmer: Key Differences
Before we discuss the main pros and cons of using a pair of hair clippers on your beard, it’s important to understand the main differences between clippers and beard trimmers.
1. Size And Weight
The first thing you’ll notice about these two devices is how clippers are usually larger and heavier than beard trimmers.
It’s the easiest way to tell them apart.
If the device just looks chunkier, it’s probably a pair of clippers as opposed to a beard trimmer.
Beard trimmers are generally smaller and thinner. As a result, they’re usually more comfortable to hold for prolonged periods of time.
2. Blade Width
The blade of a hair clipper will be wider than the blade of a beard trimmer.
This helps a great deal when it comes to each of their intended purposes.
Hair clippers were designed to remove head hair efficiently. As head hair is thicker and covers a larger area than a beard, the wide blade helps to glide through it faster and more effectively.
The narrow blade of a beard trimmer is better suited to the tighter and smaller areas the beard covers.
3. Teeth Spacing
The teeth of a clipper blade are spaced wider apart than the teeth of a beard trimmer blade.
Once again, this helps when it comes to function.
Widely-spaced blade teeth are able to cut through large chunks of hair quickly. That’s ideal when trimming head hair.
The teeth of a beard trimmer blade are spaced closer together. This won’t be as good at trimming through thick head hair, but it’s ideal for trimming beard hair which isn’t as thick.
For a more detailed article on why beard trimmers shouldn’t be used on your hair, read this.
Finally, the attachments you’ll get with clippers and beard trimmers are also different.
Hair clippers will usually come with a series of length guards. The most common ones range from a #1 (3mm) to a #8 (1 inch).
For a more detailed overview of how clipper guards work, read this article.
Beard trimmers will either come with an adjustable blade or length guards that increase in smaller increments.
In addition, beard trimmers often come with additional attachments for detailing and edging such as T-blades or square blades.
Pros Of Using Hair Clippers On Your Beard
Using hair clippers to trim the beard won’t be a good option for everyone. However, here’s a rundown of who it’s best for and why it can work well for them.
1. It Works Well For Men With ¾ Inch To 1-Inch Beards
When your beard gets to a certain length, you’ll find that a normal beard trimmer just won’t do the job anymore.
Hair clippers are often a better option for these men – more specifically, those with a beard length within a specific length range.
While this isn’t a “rule” by any means, in general, it’s a principle that works quite well.
When the beard length is between ¾ inch (19mm) and 1-inch (25mm), people often find that a pair of clippers does a better job than a beard trimmer does.
The reason for this is that it’s a sort of awkward grey area where the hair is often too long and thick for a regular beard trimmer to get through.
In addition, a lot of beard trimmers don’t come with length attachments as long as this is in any case.
However, hair within this length range is also too short to benefit from simply using a pair of scissors.
Once the beard is longer than an inch, most hair clippers wouldn’t work well because you’ll end up trimming too much off, even with a #8 guard. Yes, there are longer clipper guards – but these won’t produce as natural of a finish as using a pair of scissors would.
- Beards longer than 1 inch should really be trimmed using a pair of scissors.
- Beards shorter than ¾ inch would benefit more from a beard trimmer than they would from a pair of clippers.
But beards between those two lengths often benefit from the speed and efficiency that a pair of hair clippers brings.
2. It’s Quicker Than A Beard Trimmer
If you’re happy to use the specific length options a hair clipper gives you, it’ll always be quicker than using a beard trimmer.
The wide blade and widely-spaced teeth of a hair clipper will glide through beard hair quicker than the narrow blade and narrow teeth of a beard trimmer.
It won’t be as good as a beard trimmer would be for smaller areas of the beard, but if you don’t need as tidy or neat of a finish in any case, a pair of hair clippers may be OK for you to use.
3. You Only Need One Device
The beauty of having one device for multiple purposes is convenience. This is especially the case when you want them to travel with them.
Having one device is just simpler. It’s easier to look after, store, and maintain.
Plus, you’ll really get to know the fine details of how to use the device in the best of most effective way possible.
This principle does ring true when it comes to using the same pair of hair clippers for both your beard and your hair.
There’s another, more negative way of looking at this though – I’ll go through that shortly.
But it’s hard to deny the benefit of only having to look after one device for two different grooming purposes.
Cons Of Using Hair Clippers On Your Beard
Here’s the other side of it.
For many men, using a pair of clippers just won’t be as good for trimming their beard as a regular beard trimmer would be.
1. It Doesn’t Give You Much Control Over Length
Most hair clippers will come with length attachments ranging from a #1 (3mm) to #8 (25 mm or 1-inch). The attachments increase in approximately 3mm increments.
While this may seem like a small amount, it really isn’t.
The difference between a #1 (3mm) and a #2 (6mm), for instance, is pretty big and easily noticeable.
If you’re happy to trim your beard down to these very specific lengths, that’s fine.
But if you’re looking for more control over the length, beard trimmers usually give you a wider range of options.
They won’t be able to trim as long as a pair of clippers would, but they give you more control. The length options they give you increase in smaller increments.
When it comes to trimming a shorter beard, this is more important than you might think at first.
In order to get as “even” of a finish as possible with your beard, it’s often a good idea to trim the thicker areas 1-2mm shorter than the thinner areas.
This really wouldn’t be possible with a pair of clippers, as the length guards increase in 3mm increments.
But beard trimmers often do give you this sort of control. Stubble trimmers take it a step further.
They give you huge amounts of control, with the length options increasing in 0.5 – 1mm increments, although they can only usually trim down to 5-10mm as a maximum.
If you want more control when it comes to your beard length, a beard trimmer or stubble trimmer would be a better option than a pair of hair clippers.
2. It’s Not As Good For Detailing And Tight Areas
If you’re looking for sharp beard line-ups with tidy edges and corners, a beard trimmer would be a better option than a pair of hair clippers.
The wide blade of a pair of clippers just isn’t as good for detailing and edging as the narrow blade of a beard trimmer.
In addition, beard trimmers often come with additional attachments such as T-blades to help you for this specific purpose even further.
If you’re looking for a more natural finish and don’t need sharp and neat edges, a pair of hair clippers may be enough.
However, it’s always worth remembering that even if this is the case, the clippers just won’t be as comfortable or effective at maneuvering through the smaller and tighter areas of the beard that are trickier to get to.
3. The Finish Won’t Be As Neat
The widely-spaced teeth of the hair clipper blade produce a more rough-and-ready sort of finish.
It isn’t going to give you as neat of a finish as a beard trimmer or stubble trimmer would.
It’s another reason why hair clippers usually work better on medium-length beards in the ¾ inch to 1-inch range.
Within this range, a less even finish isn’t as noticeable as it would be with shorter beards and stubble.
If you’re looking for a neater and more evenly-cut finish, a beard trimmer would be a better option than a pair of hair clippers.
4. The Device Won’t Last As Long
Sure, using a pair of hair clippers for two different grooming functions is convenient – that can’t be denied.
But there’s no way of getting around the fact that overusing any device will lead to it wearing out quicker.
No matter how well you look after it – oiling, cleaning, and more – if you use the hair clippers for DIY trims and your beard, you’ll be using it more often than if you were just using it on your beard.
That puts forward another way of looking at it.
While it may seem as though you’re saving on cost by using the hair clippers for two different functions, the device probably won’t last as long.
You may find yourself replacing it quicker than you would have done if you were just using it on your head hair.
So, in a way, having separate devices for both functions (i.e hair clippers for your hair and a beard trimmer for your beard) will most likely save on cost in the long run.
There you have it.
Hopefully, everything you could ever want to know about using hair clippers on your beard. The pros, the cons, and more.