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Clipper vs Trimmer: What's The Difference & When To Use Them

set of trimmer and hair clipper

Hair clippers and trimmers are electric devices that were made for the sole purpose of cutting hair — men’s hair specifically.


Although these devices have similar purposes and appearance to some, they’re entirely different. Both of them serve different purposes and were designed for specific things.

So what is the difference between a clipper and a trimmer exactly? Keep reading and you’ll find out more than just that!

Differences Between A Hair Clipper VS A Trimmer

professional hairdresser using a hair clipper to a young man

The main differences between a hair clipper vs a trimmer are:

  • Clippers are used to cut hair with longer lengths in bulk, whereas trimmers shorten hair that is already short.
  • Clippers can cut inches through long hair, whereas trimmers were specifically made to cut hair close to the scalp and on areas that are hard to reach.  
  • A clipper can only cut different hair lengths, whereas trimmers are designed for trimming, outlining, edging, and creating details.
  • Clippers make use of multiple attachments to adjust the blade’s distance from the scalp, whereas trimmers make use of thinner blades and may or may not come with attachments.

Trimmer vs Clipper: The Differences And Similarities


Nowadays, almost everyone is familiar with hair clippers and/or trimmers. Their similar appearances often confuse people, which is why their names are often mistakenly interchanged.

When you visit the barbershop to get a haircut, the barber would often start with a clipper. This is because clippers were created to cut long and thick hair in bulk to the desired length.

Then they would often proceed with a trimmer to add finishing touches and cut hair from the neck and ears. Trimmers were made to cut near the scalp and the areas that clippers cannot reach even with their shortest guard.



The blades of these devices determine their purposes.

Clippers have two big comb-looking blades that work together. The bottom blade feeds the hair into the top blade as it rapidly moves back and forth. Because of these, clippers can cut thick and long hair in large amounts, especially the best hair clippers for fades.

Trimmers use very short thin and fine blades that have small shark teeth spikes to comb through thin hair. With this, a trimmer can reach certain areas and create details, outlines, and edges for trendy hairstyles.

Both devices either use blades made of stainless steel or ceramic.


hair clipper and attachments

Hair clippers are known for their various attachments that help people cut their hair safely and effectively with ease.

All clippers come with attachments called guards. These are made of either plastic or metal that have specific sizes which will define the distance between the clipper’s blade and the scalp.

If you’ve ever gone into a barbershop and heard someone ask for a number two haircut, you’ll see the barber attach the number 2 guard onto his clipper.

The shortest guard (0) is 1/16 of an inch while the longest (12) is 1.5 inches.

High-end and complete clipper kits also come with attachments to be used on a specific area such as beard and nose and ear attachments.

On the other hand, trimmers don’t always come with attachments because of their blade. 

Trimmer vs Clipper: The Benefits

Since clippers come with guard combs, you won’t have to worry about unevenly cutting hair or accidents anymore. These are a great alternative if you don’t know how to work a scissor or if you’re not comfortable in using one.

Clippers also come with other attachments, not just guard combs. These attachments will help you produce a safer, and more satisfying result.

Here's an explanation about clipper guards:

On the other hand, trimmers are good replacements for shavers because of their thin blades. They also come with hypoallergenic blades for people with sensitive skin.

Comparing the benefits of clippers vs trimmers, we can easily say that clippers are safer, easier, and more versatile.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can A Hair Clipper Be Used As A Beard Trimmer?

No! Clippers were made for long and thick hair. Those are two things that a beard isn’t, except of course if you’ve been growing it for years. 😉

With their long and thick blades, you won’t be able to achieve a smooth finish on your beard the way you do with razors, even when using the shortest guard attachments.

There are of course exceptions. One would be if your clipper has an attachment specifically used for beard trimming, and two would be if it also functions as a trimmer. 

What Makes A Clipper Different From A Trimmer?

Let’s summarize the differences that we discussed above. The best way to distinguish one of these devices from the other is to look at their blades. If the blades are big and thick, then it’s a clipper, but if they’re short and thin, then it’s a trimmer.

These two devices differ in purpose and ability. This how clippers works you can cut inches long through thick hair with ease, while trimmers can cut close to the scalp and reach certain areas like the back of the ears. 


Trimmers and clippers are devices that serve the same purpose which is cutting hair. However, being aware of their differences are crucial in avoiding accidents and hassles.

We really hope this guide helped you distinguish the difference between a clipper and a trimmer and that you’ve also learned when and where to use them.

Always remember to read the safety handbooks and instruction manuals before using one, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from a friend!

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