You might not think much of the old 5 o’clock shadow! Older men think it’s laziness, younger men think it looks unkempt, but women find it hotter. A 2016 study found that women much prefer stubble over the clean-shaven or bearded look. Quite a few famous men have also cottoned on to this trend: Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joe Manganiello, Bradley Cooper…the list is long and attractive.
If you want to achieve this super-sexy look for yourself, you’ll need a high-quality stubble trimmer. And luckily for you, this article is going to answer all your questions about stubble trimmers. What are the best stubble trimmers on the market? What can they offer, what will they do for me? How do I actually use one?
Table Of Contents
- Best Stubble Trimmer Comparison Table
- Our Stubble Trimmer Lineup
- Remington MB4040 Mustache, Beard and Stubble Trimmer Kit
- ConairMAN Super Stubble Ultimate Flexhead Trimmer
- Philips Norelco Multigroom Series 7000, MG7750/49
- ConairMAN i-Stubble Ultimate Flexhead Trimmer
- Philips Norelco Beard Trimmer Series 3500, QT4018/49
- Wahl Stainless Steel Lithium Ion+ Beard Trimmer Model 9818
- Braun Multi Grooming Kit MGK3980
- A Buyer’s Guide To Stubble Trimmers
- A Quick Guide To Styling Stubble
- What’s The Difference Between A Stubble Trimmer And A Beard Trimmer?
- Final Words
Best Stubble Trimmer Comparison Table
|Remington MB4040 Stubble Trimmer||9 lengths||120 Minutes||3 precision blades|
|ConairMAN Super Stubble Trimmer||24 lengths||70 Minutes||Digital Length settings|
|Philips Norelco 7000, MG7750/49||14 guards||300 Minutes||Nose & ear trimmer|
|ConairMAN i-Stubble Trimmer||15 lengths||45 Minutes||Digital Length settings|
|Philips Norelco 3500, QT4018/49||20 lengths||120 Minutes||1 Beard comb|
|Wahl Lithium Ion+ Trimmer 9818||12 Guards||240 Minutes||3 Different head|
|Braun Multi Grooming Kit MGK3980||13 lengths||60 Minutes||4 Different comb|
Our Stubble Trimmer Lineup
Below, we’ve selected seven of the best trimmers for stubble. They cover a range of price ranges and roles, so give them a read to see which one works best for you.
When it comes to men’s personal care, Remington is the best of the best. This trimmer kit is specifically oriented to groom facial hair and comes at a bargain price.
The MB4040’s body is curved, which lets it fit nicely into the hand in whichever orientation you need to turn it. The body itself is rubberized for easier grip, and it weighs only a pound.
It comes with three blades: a beard blade already fitted onto the trimmer, a stubble blade, and a smaller detail blade for precision work. To change blades, just press the button on the back of the trimmer, and the blade pops out. All three blades are precision-ground and titanium coated, and they’re also self-sharpening and self-oiling, so the only maintenance you’ll need to do is to brush them out when you’re done. Of the three, you’ll do most of the work with the stubble blade.
Its best feature is its power. The combination of the motor and blades let it cut through practically anything. If you’ve got a thick or coarse beard, you won’t need to worry, because the MB4040 will get through your facial hair without a hiccup.
You only get one comb, but that’s fine, because the trimmer itself has an adjustment wheel to set the length of that comb. Settings are from 1.5mm to 18mm. You can also take it off for a shorter length, but as always when you zero-gap any blade near your skin, you need to exercise caution.
It’s cordless-only, with a battery life of two hours, and it takes three hours to top up the battery. The lithium-ion battery does hold a charge quite well, so there’s no need to worry about the battery dying if you’ve left it buried underneath something. Beyond that, it’s got a cleaning brush for when you’re done shaving.
Thankfully, downsides are minor at best. The machine has a habit of overheating if used for too long, and it isn’t made for wet use. The first is easily handled (just don’t take too long shaving); the second may be a problem if you prefer wet shaving. The biggest issue is that it’s not a good traveling shaver: its charger is 120V only, so if you’re going anywhere that’s 240V (most of Europe, Asia, or Africa), you’ll need a voltage adapter. Plus it doesn’t have a dedicated travel case; you’ll have to get one of your own.
On the whole, there are few options that do as well as the MB4040 for the bargain price that it comes at. That’s why it’s our first pick for the best stubble trimmer.
Where the MB4040 was a multiple-use facial hair trimmer, the Super Stubble stakes its claim right from the name: It does stubble better than any other trimmer! It weighs just over a pound and it sits nicely in the hand, and there’s a slight curve for easier grip.
The blades are electrochemically formed, super sharp, and super durable. They’re mounted on the flexhead, which lives up to its name, mounted on a floating hinge for maximum freedom of movement. It’ll follow the curves of your face to give you the closest shave possible. The head also has an integrated comb, but you can flip it back to zero-gap at your leisure. The blades are also hypo-allergenic, so they won’t trouble sensitive skin.
The zero-gapping is only really needed for detail work. Comb length is controlled by the front panel, which gives you options from 0.4mm to 5mm. If you really want to play around with precise lengths, settings are in 0.2mm increments, yielding 24 settings in total. If you ever wanted to up your fade game, the Super Stubble has the right tools for you. It’ll even remember the last length you set.
Battery life is seventy minutes, with a charge time of eighty minutes, and it’s cordless-only. There’s also a five-minute quick-charge that’ll get you one short shave. The battery delivers consistent power, so even if it’s low, you still get the same performance. Even better, the front panel also shows how much charge you have left.
And it’s waterproof! You can take it into the shower, or use it with shaving cream as you prefer. Cleaning is made easy as well; just a little time under the tap and it’s good as new.
There are only a few shortcomings I can think of. First, the battery life is short compared to other trimmers on the market; we’d prefer slightly longer, or perhaps a corded option. Also, the comb isn’t that durable, and if you press too hard, the comb gives a little and gets closer to the blade than it should, which makes for an uneven shave. So don’t push too hard on your shave; let the blades do the work, and if you want it shorter, adjust the comb or just zero it.
It’s a simple fact that a specialist tool will always outdo a generalist tool. When you’re completely committed to stubble and want only the best, the ConairMAN Super Stubble is the trimmer for you.
Where the last two Conair trimmers were dedicated to stubble, the Multigroom is a generalist. This time, it’s not just a facial hair trimmer; it’s intended to trim hairs anywhere on your body, from head to toe.
Similar to the MB4040, it’s got a set of switchable heads to handle those jobs around the body. For stubble specifically, two blades are most important. The default blade works best for general duty and pairs best with a comb to trim stubble. You’ll also want the detail trimmer for small spaces and precision cutting. For those areas that should be shaved clean, there’s a foil shaver. The rest (an extra-wide T-blade trimmer and a nose and ear trimmer) are just icing on the cake, but you’ll no doubt find a use for them after you’re done with your beard.
Trim length is controlled by fourteen combs, giving you a range between 1mm to 16mm. Most relevant to us are the stubble combs (1mm and 2mm) and the beard combs (3mm, 5mm, and 7mm); this selection gives you the opportunity to pull off a pretty good fade!
Power capacity is just about as good as it gets. It can run both corded and cordless, and when cordless, its battery lasts for five hours. That battery takes two hours to charge, but if you need a quick trim while it’s charging, there’s a five-minute quick charge.
In the matter of water, it’s a mixed bag. The Multigroom isn’t fully waterproof, but it is washable, so cleaning up is easy enough. It can work with wet shaving, but it performs better whilst dry.
The Multigroom’s sheer flexibility is also its main failing. While it can do a lot of things reasonably well, it doesn’t do any of them exceptionally well. In particular, the foil trimmer has a rigid head and thus can’t follow contours as effectively, and its shave isn’t as close. The sheer number of attachments also makes it a fiddly device to manage,
Overall, it does fine as a stubble trimmer, and you get extra value from the other heads. If you want to take care of most of your grooming needs with just one tool, then the Multigroom will do just fine.
This next offering, also by ConairMAN, is a relative of the Super Stubble. It’s the older cousin, but it holds up well enough against the younger device. Plus it’s still a dedicated stubble trimmer, which gives it an edge over all the one-size-fits-all types out there.
The body is a little different from the Super Stubble; where the Super Stubble is all black and modern, the i-Stubble is metallic, but it’s still got that signature curved shape, so you can get a good solid grip and maneuver it around the face as needed.
The working end is exactly the same: razor sharp and durable chemically etched blades, set into the flexhead on its floating hinge for a close, contour-following shave. The integrated comb is still there, so you can keep it on to set length or flip it back for the zero gap.
Length control isn’t as fine as on the Super Stubble. You get the same limits of 0.4mm to 5mm, but there are only fifteen settings; the longer lengths go up in increments of 0.5mm. This isn’t really that big a loss; you still have the fading capability, after all.
Another significant difference is the battery life. Instead of the lithium-ion on the Super Stubble, the i-Stubble uses an older nickel-metal hydride battery. This gives it a battery life of only forty-five minutes, and the charge time is a painful four hours. The good news is, it can run corded. Depending on how long your shaving routine is, the option to run corded is a great advantage.
The biggest difference is that the i-Stubble is not waterproof. Cleaning is still easily done using the included blade brush, but losing the ability to shave wet is the real loss here. It’s not as bad as other razors, thanks to the hypo-allergenic blades, but having the option would be nice.
Again, it’s a tool dedicated to cutting and maintaining a stubble look. If you’re committed to stubble, then it’ll serve you excellently. Its shortcomings are easily mitigated, and there are few things better at working with stubble than ConairMAN’s trimmers.
Where the Multigroom was a flexible all-rounder, the Series 3500 is the best beard trimmer for stubble from the same manufacturer. The body has that bent head that Philips favors for most of its body groomers, which makes it sit naturally in the hand and also makes it easy to maneuver; a textured underside also helps your grip.
The blades are quality pieces: titanium steel and self-sharpening, with rounded tips to mitigate any irritation. Since they’re skin friendly, you don’t need to worry about injuring yourself when you’re zero-gapping. Comb length is controlled by the zoom wheel, and you’ve got twenty settings to play with: 0.5mm to 10mm, in 0.5mm increments.
The lithium-ion battery packs two hours of shaving time, with an hour needed to charge. It’s usable both cordless and corded. Philips also does travelers a favor with their universal voltage chargers, so wherever you are in the world, all you’ll need is a plug adapter and your Series 3500 is good to go.
On matters of water, it’s a mixed bag. It’s not waterproof, so a wet shave is definitely not recommended; on the other hand, the head is detachable and can be cleaned under a tap, so at least theirs easier maintenance on that front. Just remember to dry it out completely before you put it back onto the trimmer.
It also comes with a beard comb. It’s useful not just for grooming after the shave but also as prep for the shave itself, so having one with the trimmer saves you some effort.
Despite the excellence of the design, the power button and zoom wheel are awkwardly placed. If your grip is too tight, you risk pressing down on the power button, or accidentally nudging the zoom wheel if you haven’t locked it. Still, these are minor issues at best; the performance remains good.
All things considered, the Series 3500 is an excellent traveler shaver. If you’re on the go often and need to maintain your stubble on the road, the Series 3500 will serve you very well.
If you’ve looked into personal grooming products, you’ve probably encountered a Wahl somewhere along the way. With almost 100 years of experience in the men’s grooming industry, they’re a brand you can trust!
This stainless steel machine weighs just under 13 ounces, and the body is sleek and non-rubberized. Already mounted is a stainless steel T-blade, and you can switch that out for three other heads of your choice: a detail trimmer, a detail shaver, and a trimmer for the ears and nose.
For stubble duty, the standard T-blade works best, and you can switch in the detail trimmer for precision work.
Length control is achieved by twelve combs. Of these, eight are standard combs of lengths from 6mm to 25mm. The four stubble combs give you options of 2mm, 3mm, 4mm, and 8mm.
The Lithium Ion is cordless-only, but it does get four hours from the battery. The power button flashes to signal a low battery. Charge time is just one hour, while the quick-charge is one minute of charging time for three minutes of use.
It’s also got a few useful attachments. The blade oil, cleaning brush, and charger are to be expected, but the beard comb and storage case make it easier to bring the Lithium Ion around with you. There’s also a travel lock to prevent accidentally powering up the trimmer; simply insert the included bright red plug into its slot on the tail.
With that said, the Lithium Ion has two main failings. One, it’s got the same problem as the Philips Multigroom: it’s good as a generalist, but fails as a specialist tool. The other is that it doesn’t like water: it’s not waterproof or even cleanable by running under a tap (this rusts the blade in mere weeks), the body gets slippery when it’s wet, and it doesn’t work very well with wet shaving.
Yet ultimately those faults don’t detract from the quality of Wahl’s product. When you want to get just one thing to cover a dozen needs, you won’t go wrong with the Lithium Ion 9818.
Like Wahl, Braun is another one of the big-boys on the men’s grooming scene. The shaver giant may sell this kit at a slightly higher price than most of the others in this list, but you certainly do get what you pay for!
As the name indicates, it’s another multi-role product. The trimmer comes with a blade head of its own for general use, and it incorporates three other heads: a detail trimmer, a body groomer, and an ear and nose trimmer. And when you want to get the closest possible shave, there’s also an included Gillette razor (a Fusion5 ProGlide).
There’s a little curve to the body; not much, but it does make for a slightly easier grip. If you want to achieve that perfect stubble, you’ll mostly want to be using the standard trimmer head for general shaving and the detail trimmer for small, hard-to-reach areas. And as a bonus the included Gillette can really help you shape your neckline.
Braun advertises thirteen length settings, but includes only four combs. This is thanks to adjustable positioning on the combs; each comb can lock at one of three different points. Including using it without a comb, this yields the advertised thirteen length settings. The shortest is 0.5mm, longest is 21mm.
It’s cordless-only, and battery life is a fairly short sixty minutes, but it also only needs an hour to charge, so it balances out. It’s also fully waterproof, so you can take it into the shower, and rinse it off without the MGK3980 ever complaining. To help with cleaning, there’s also an included blade brush.
It also includes a travel case that can carry the trimmer, combs, and heads. Couple that with the universal voltage charger, and you have the ability to go anywhere and still perform your usual grooming routine.
There are two particular downsides to the MGK3980. One is that despite being waterproof, it’s not very good at wet shaving; the blades don’t move as fast, and so it has a tendency to pull while shaving wet. The other is that this is a multi-role tool, and so isn’t as good in one role as a specialist might be.
On the whole, the MGK3980 is an excellent grooming kit that can travel with you and keep you groomed on the go.
A Buyer’s Guide To Stubble Trimmers
Here are the guidelines we used to pick the seven trimmers we listed above. Consider your own needs and preferences to judge which factors are most important to you.
Cutting Power Through Hair
More power gets you a lot of things, but most of all, it saves you time. More power means that you can more easily cut through thick or coarse hair, and more power means you don’t have to go back and cut the same spot again.
Also, a more powerful trimmer means there’s less chance of the blades pulling on hair. Fewer pulls and snags means a faster and more comfortable shaving experience.
Controlling Stubble Length
While some trimmers still ask you to switch out combs to achieve different lengths, some other models let you adjust comb position and length on the fly. This means fewer pieces to juggle and better control over hair length. Fine length control also lets you do more natural fades, and gives you more freedom to choose the style you want.
Power Capability: Corded Vs Cordless
A few decades ago, it would have only been corded, but in this age of ever-improving batteries, cordless trimmers are a viable option. There are advantages to both. Corded trimmers won’t die from loss of battery mid-cut, and tend to be more powerful. Cordless trimmers are much more travel-friendly, whether ‘travel’ means just to your bathroom, or all across the country.
If you’ve chosen a cordless trimmer, you’ll also want to think about battery life and charge time. Ideally, you want the longest possible battery life with the shortest possible charge time. This depends on your shaving routine, so check if the battery life is long enough based on how much time you spend shaving.
Ergonomics And Trimmer Size
You always have to consider design, specifically how well the trimmer fits in your hand. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time with the trimmer, and it pays to have something that won’t be a literal pain to hold. A natural fit in the hand, with several possible ways to grip, means an easier time shaving.
Size itself is also a concern, albeit a minor one. If a trimmer is too large, it can’t adequately cut or trim in the tighter areas of the face. If it’s too small, though, it becomes difficult to properly grip and maneuver. The ‘right size’ is ultimately something that’s unique to each person.
Wet Or Dry Capability
In the context of shaving, this means if you can use it with shaving cream or similar such products. This is important, since stubble trimmers work very close to the skin, and may cut into it. Wet shaving is easier on the skin, and helps prevent irritation, cuts, and sensitive skin.
You should also consider if you’d like a waterproof trimmer; these make it much easier to shave overall, because you can use your trimmer in the shower and easily rinse it underneath a tap.
Attachments And Accessories
These are secondary to the main purpose of a trimmer, but they’re helpful all the same. We’ve already mentioned combs; those trimmers with switchable blades may also have blades fit for other areas of the body. Ear and nose trimmers are fairly common; for our purposes, a detail head is most useful. These tend to be smaller than normal blades, so they can fit around the smaller nooks on your face and perform precision work.
A Quick Guide To Styling Stubble
Simply owning the right trimmer is just half the work; if you want to achieve that celebrity-level stubble then you’ll need to know how to use the machine to the best of its ability, and this guide will help you get started.
Step 1: Allow For Hair Growth
You can’t trim bare skin! Give your facial hair a few days to grow out; about four days will give you enough to work with for most stubble looks. Add a day or two for heavier stubble, and remove a day or two for light stubble. Of course, not everyone’s hair grows at the same rate, but this should put you in the right ballpark.
Step 2: Select Your Style
The five o’clock shadow is the classic stubble look, but there are other lengths to consider, from light to heavy and all points in between. Consider the shape of your face and the thickness of your hair to find which look works best for you. Also, consider your hair color. As a guideline, the lighter your hair is the less visible your stubble will be when it’s short.
Consider what areas you’ll shave and how short they have to be, based on the style you’re going for. And don’t forget your neckline: do you want to shave the whole thing, or do you want to have it fade up into your beard?
Step 3: Comb Your Beard
It might be short, but comb it anyway. This helps prepare the hair for cutting, and anything that’s longer than normal will stand out and thus be easier to cut. Comb in the same direction that your hairs are growing to be sure. A beard comb comes in handy here, so make sure you’ve got a decent one.
Step 4: Adjust Your Trimmer’s Length Settings
Before you get started on committing to a particular look, get comfortable with your trimmer first. Acquaint yourself with its features, and give yourself a few test trims. That way, you’ll know what your machine can do when the time comes to get properly started.
Whenever you’re cutting any kind of hair, it’s best to start with the longer settings first. You can always cut a hair to a shorter length if it’s too long for you, but there’s no undo button if you cut too close.
Step 5: Get To Trimming
Once you know what length you’re shooting for and your trimmer is ready, it’s time to apply it to your beard. You want to go steady and smooth, in strokes that overlap each other a little bit. This ensures you don’t miss any spots. Once you’ve done the longest length, switch down to the next shortest, then trim those areas. Remember, longest to shortest is the way to go.
Step 6: Precision Work
Most of your trimming will be done with the comb on, to be sure you’re not cutting too much. However, this also means that some spots won’t be cut to the right length.
There are two areas of precision work: cleaning up the areas that are outside the intended zone of stubble, and adding detail to achieve your look. Once you’ve done the initial cutting with the comb, it’s time to take it off and put the blade to the skin, or to switch in the detail head, whichever works better.
The extra hair outside your stubble zone, you can cut down all the way to the skin. You may want to use a manual razor for this, as they can get the closest possible shave. For the detail work within the stubble zone, use your detail head with care, or use your very smallest comb setting—this is where those 0.4mm and 0.5mm combs come in handy.
Step 7: Style Your Mustache
How you do your mustache depends on the look you’re going for. To achieve an evenly trimmed mustache area, it’s best to hold the trimmer with the blades facing up, working in vertical strokes; that way you get a nicely defined mustache. If you intend to taper it, start from the center of your top lip with the right length of comb, then head on out to the edges, shortening the comb as you go.
Step 8: Service Your Trimmer
Look after your tools! Clean tools are happy tools, and happy tools make for smooth shaving. The best time to clean is right after you shave, so you don’t forget. If you’ve got a waterproof trimmer, just stick it under the nearest tap and give it a wash. If it isn’t waterproof, bring out the blade brush.
Don’t forget to oil the blades! Some trimmers may be self-oiling, but it never hurts to keep the blades lubricated. Besides, there are lots of other trimmers that aren’t self-oiling.
Oiling should take place about once every month. You won’t need much; two or three drops generally suffices. Put one on the center, and a drop on each end, then wipe off any excess oil. Then turn the trimmer on and let it run for about twenty seconds to let the oil penetrate.
What’s The Difference Between A Stubble Trimmer And A Beard Trimmer?
Stubble is shorter than a proper beard. The demarcation line is 5mm or one-fifth an inch. Above 5mm and it’s a beard, below 5mm, it’s stubble. Hair usually grows long enough to be workable as stubble in around three to five days. The classic stubble look is the five o’clock shadow, which is about 3mm, but there are other stubble styles. You can usually get to beard territory with growth of four to six weeks.
Their respective trimmers thus have different concerns. Stubble trimmers are made to get in close, so you can expect some form of contact with skin. Beard trimmers usually have longer length settings and don’t usually touch the skin. They also tend to have a few more styling options than stubble trimmers.
However, the two types of trimmers have more similarities than they have differences, and as you’ve seen above, it’s not uncommon for manufacturers to make trimmers that can function as both.
And remember, trimmers are not clippers. Trimmers can’t handle long hair so well, so if you’ve been growing out some facial hair but now want to get it a little closer, it’s best to do a little pre-cutting with a clipper before applying the trimmer.
Let’s face it: Stubble is attractive. And it’s a lot less effort to grow and style than a full beard. That happy medium between the two extremes of bearded and clean-shaven gets you the best of both worlds, so it’s easy to see why more and more men are going for stubble these days.
In this list, I hope I’ve given you a good spread to choose from to keep your stubble in order. Whether it’s Remington’s powerful MB4040, ConairMAN’s dedicated stubble trimmers, or the flexibility of Wahl and Philips Norelco, whichever trimmer you choose, you and your facial hair are in good hands!