How to Use a Beard Trimmer

Ben Affleck shows off a well-trimmed beard at the 2013 Academy Awards.
Ben Affleck shows off a well-trimmed beard at the 2013 Academy Awards. (Image: Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Few expressions of masculinity are as timeless and bold as the beard. From the days of cave paintings to the era of smartphones, beards have proudly represented the untamed, independent ruggedness of manhood. When the electric beard trimmer enters the picture, the ancient beard marries quite literally cutting-edge technology, allowing you to define exactly the type of image you want to convey. While each trimmer differs at least a bit per make and model, basic usage remains similar across brands.

Things You'll Need

  • Beard comb
  • Towel
  • Trimming guide attachment
  • Trimmer brush

Comb your entire beard in the direction of its growth, typically downward, using a beard comb. This helps to prep your beard for trimming by smoothing it and revealing long, stray hairs. If your beard isn't already dry, dry it thoroughly with a clean towel.

Attach the trimmer's guide or set the guide to the length you want. Trimmers commonly include a variety of guide attachments or a single, adjustable guide, sometimes built-in and sometimes attachable. Usually measured in millimeters, guides limit the cutting depth of the trimmer, helping you maintain a consistent length.

Set the guide to a position that allows for growth that's a bit longer than you'd like your beard to be. A guide set at about 1.5 to 2 millimeters cuts at stubble length; 7 or 8 millimeters makes for a medium-length beard; and 12 to 18 millimeters caters to long beards.

Point the trimmer's blade toward your face, with its flat side against the skin. Turn on the device and begin trimming at your sideburns, making smooth, controlled strokes downward toward your neck. Move outward with each stroke -- going toward your chin and making your way to the opposite sideburn -- and make each stroke overlap the next just a bit. Switch your guide to a shorter length and repeat the sideburns-to-neck strokes on the other side.

Continue to make passes at shorter lengths until you reach the desired beard length. For a tapered look, set your guide a little longer near the chin and a little shorter near the ears. Regularly brush or rinse the trimmer blades of hair as you shave.

Remove the trimming guide or set it to its lowest point. This setting enables the trimmer to remove the most hair and shape your beard. With the blades pointing toward you, carefully define the beard's perimeter. Start under your chin and move back toward your Adam's apple and jawline, repeating strokes as necessary to remove neck hair. Focus on creating an edge that accentuates your jawline.

Define the upper part of your beard by using the trimmer without its guide to edge the beard's cheek lines. Point the blades toward your face and make careful and short downward strokes starting just above the desired beard line, working down to the line with each stroke. In the mustache area, carefully define the border by creating a line around your mouth, making short, controlled strokes underneath your lower lip.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult your trimmer's manufacturer-provided user guide for model-specific usage instructions and warnings.
  • Maintain a long beard with a gentle, moisturizing beard conditioner. These products help soften bristly beards and make for smoother, easier trimming.
  • If your beard grows in such as way that it leaves two bare semicircles underneath the lower lip, define this border with the trimmer's lowest or uncovered setting.
  • For extra neatness, use your trimmer's lowest or uncovered setting to trim the hairs on the nape of your neck.

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