The Quarantine Beard is officially a thing. Some men are skipping their morning shave and cultivating facial hair while working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Beard trimmer.
“I was allowed to grow one due to work changing the rules,” Glenn Foldy said in response to our query on Facebook, “Love my beard.”
But those new beards are going to require a little maintenance, which could mean a lot of new customers for electric beard trimmers.
To find out more about the world of beard trimmers and how people use them in their daily lives, CR’s Consumer Experience & Usability Research team worked with 24 volunteers—sporting a variety of facial hair lengths, styles, and types—to evaluate five popular beard trimmers on the market today.
Before we get into the results of our evaluation, here’s what to expect when shopping for a beard trimmer and using one for the first time.
Using a Beard Trimmer
A beard is a work of craftsmanship—you don’t get a great chin coif by just letting it grow.
“A typical set of beard care and grooming products should be used along with a beard trimmer,” Wilson says. “These may include a good comb or brush, beard shampoo, conditioner, and beard oil.”
These materials will help keep your beard clean, soft, and tangle-free.
Wilson suggests that first-time beard trimmers proceed with caution. Start slowly and trim just a little, then repeat until you get to your desired length. Don’t cut off too much—you can always trim more, but you’ll have to wait a fair amount of time to grow it back if you go too short.
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Setup and help: Participants were asked how easy or difficult it was for them to get started and set up the model for their needs, and how useful the instructions were.
Maintenance and cleaning: Participants were asked what they thought about the required steps, including the difficulty with disassembling and reassembling trimmer parts during cleaning, as well as how they took care of the model overall.
Operation: After each use of the beard trimmer, participants were asked how easy or difficult it was to handle and what their satisfaction was with the results afterward.
Basic features: After at least two uses of the beard trimmer, participants were asked what they thought about the model’s settings, attachments, and features, as well as how easy or difficult it was to change the attachments.
Advanced features: For this study, only two models with advanced features were assessed. These features included a digital touch screen with memory settings (the Remington Smart Beard Trimmer) and a hair clippings vacuum (Remington Vacuum Beard & Stubble Trimmer). Only participants who received these models were asked to score these features.
All participants also scored their beard trimmer models on a 10-question usability scale covering user experience factors. Questions included, for example: whether they needed help from an experienced person to use the model; how confident they felt using the model; whether they liked using the model; and how well-integrated the various aspects of the model were.
What They Liked
Easy-to-follow instructions: While some participants said they like to use third-party tutorials, such as YouTube videos, most appreciated receiving clear and thorough instructions from the manufacturer.
“The instructions were comprehensive in multiple languages,” said a user who tried the Wahl Lithium Ion+, adding that the manual “discussed the basics of trimming and using all of the different components. It was a value to me because it was my first time using a trimmer.”
Sturdiness and durability: A key point for participants was how durable they felt the model they tried was, and the sturdiness of its additional parts.
Fully washable: Participants who received fully washable models liked being able to simply run the trimmer under water to clean it.
Travel lock: Participants responded enthusiastically to the Remington Smart Beard Trimmer and the Wahl Lithium Ion+, models that both feature a travel lock that automatically prevents the trimmer from turning on while in transit.
“While I was familiar with using the different grooming combs, I also learned this beard trimmer has a travel lock which is a great feature,” one user said.
Packaging: Clean, elegant, and informative exterior packaging made a difference in beard trimmer appeal.
What They Didn't Like
Lots of small, flimsy parts: Trimmers that came with many small parts tended to make participants nervous about whether they could keep track of them all. Participants noted that these small parts appeared “cheap,” and likely to break over time.
“Feels a little flimsy,” a user said of the Remington Vacuum Beard & Stubble Trimmer. “Not sure how long it will last.”
High maintenance cleaning requirements: Participants who tried models that are not fully washable worried that this would make cleaning more onerous over time. Some models also require the user to oil the blades periodically, which participants felt was overly time-consuming.
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Short battery life/long charge time: Long battery life is a key feature for most participants, many of whom said that they don’t want to have to charge their trimmer between uses. Long charge times also annoyed participants who were eager to use their trimmer as soon as they unboxed it.
Noise level: While some participants said that a louder trimmer gave them more confidence that it was a robust machine, most preferred trimmers with quieter motors.
See our final user experience scores and explore a model-by-model breakdown below.