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Trimmer vs Shaver: Main Differences & Which is Better?

man wearing white shirt shaving his beard

What do you do when you want to trim your beard in the morning, and it's too early to pass by the barbershop?


You buy a trimmer or a shaver. That's what you do. You first figure out which is better, trimmer vs shaver, and then go shopping. We'll do the first task for you. We'll list the differences and types of both grooming tools for you.

As for the similarities, both tools won't leave you with a messy bathroom counter, like the case with manual razors. Plus, the market has a variety of models and brands.

Let's look at:

Main Differences Between Electric Shavers vs Trimmers

man shaving his hair

The main differences between trimmer vs razor are:

  • A trimmer cuts and trims your hair, whereas an electric shaver only cuts hair.
  • A trimmer can shape your beard style, whereas a shaver can't personalize the shave.
  • A trimmer can use both corded and cordless power, whereas most shavers are cordless.
  • A trimmer can't give you a close cut, whereas a shaver cuts your hair close to the skin.
  • A trimmer isn't suited to cutting long hair, whereas a shaver can cut such hair close.
  • A trimmer has guard attachments that help style your haircut to various lengths, whereas an electric shaver doesn't have guide attachments.

To expound on the electric shaver vs. trimmer debate, let's look at each type separately. We’ll explain if you can get a wet shave and if shaving longer hair is possible or you have to settle for a manual razor.

What's A Trimmer?

When you look at an electric trimmer closely, you'll notice that it has two or more blades. Its design gives it a small width; hence, a trimmer is precise even when you use it to style your hair.

When you glide a trimmer through hair, the guard attachment guides it on the length to trim, similar to the traditional method where you'd lift hair with a comb then pass a pair of scissors as a manual razor through it.

A wiser decision is getting a trimmer with adjustable combs if you like to vary the hair length and a fixed comb if it's your first time trimming facial hair at home.

Types Of Trimmers

Some trimmers work on hair in various body parts, while others are for specific areas. That's because hair has different textures in different body parts.

Hair Trimmers

Any gender can use them, and they trim the hair in different body parts, from beard to body hair. But, remember, the texture of facial hair is different from head hair. Therefore, you might pull your skin by using a general body groomer on sensitive skin.

Nose & Ear Trimmers

Sometimes, you'll get a hair trimmer package that's inclusive of a set of nose hair and ear trimmers. The skin in your ears and nostrils is more sensitive, so you ought to be more careful. Each of them has a unique shape to penetrate the nose or ear. 

Bikini Trimmer

It's also for sensitive areas, as is the case with the trimmer above. Though hair removal creams and epilators rule this market, this hair clipper doesn't cause allergic reactions when trimming your pubic hair.

Hair removal with a manual razor is tedious; therefore, invest in an electric razor with a powerful motor and quality blades. You see, with an electric razor, you can get a rotary shaver that’ll curve to the contour of your body, making hair removal in this sensitive area easy.

Beard Trimmer

This one isn't confusing as its name tells you where you can use it.

It trims a beard to grow in the desired beard style, from circle beard to mutton chops. There's variety in types as there are corded and cordless trimmers, others are precision trimmers, and others are just average. You may even get a stubble trimmer when you vary the trimming length using a comb attachment.

Let's turn to:

What's It Like To Use An Electric Shaver?

hand holding an electric shaver

It'll cut all the facial hair off your face as it's a close-cutting tool. It's the kind you go for when you want a clean look after spotting stubble or a full beard. For that reason, the shaver comes close to your skin, and it can harden it from regular shaving.

Plus, there's the risk of irritation or pulling your skin. But, electric options like the best Panasonic men's shavers are safer than manual razors.

Types Of Electric Shavers

Rotary Shaver

As the shaver glides over your skin, the fixed guard captures facial hair for the cutters in the three rotary heads. The circular motion the shaver makes allows it to follow the contour of your face to reach under the jawline. The rotary shaver moves in a circular motion as hair grows in different directions, and its large openings capture all hair types.

Foil Shaver

Unlike the three heads of the rotary, the foil shaver has oscillating blades under a metallic foil. This foil has a mesh pattern that traps and cuts hair as you glide the shaver over your face. It’s a hair removal tool that works in an up and down motion.

Use a foil shaver on fine hair as that's the size that fits into the mesh pattern.

The foil and rotary electric razor types can be wet or dry shavers, meaning you can use them with or without lubrication or cream. The dry ones aren't the best when you're using a shaver for the first time.

Popular Questions About Trimmers And Shavers

Which Is Better: Trimmer Or Shaver?

They are both excellent choices but for different reasons. Therefore, there is no definite winner in shavers vs. trimmers. But, if you want a general cut without styling, get a shaver. It’s excellent for cleaning your face if you’d like to get rid of your beard. For example, if you don’t like the mustache that pops up every few days, use a shaver.


However, get a trimmer if you'd like to cut and style your beard. It’ll first cut the beard to the length you want using a guide comb. Next, it'll detail or style your new beard length to match the beard style you have in mind.

Is Using A Trimmer The Same As Electric Shaving?

A trimmer, as the word suggests, cuts or trims your hair. On the other hand, a shaver cuts close and gets rid of all hair.

Can Trimmers Be Used For Clean Shaving?

No, because they don't cut as close to the skin as electric shavers. That's the difference between a trimmer and a shaver.

What Should You Be Looking For In A Beard Trimmer vs Razor?

Blade Quality

Your beard trimmer or electric shaver should have sharp, sturdy, hypoallergenic blades. It depends on the model and the brand, and you'll come across three types of trimmer blades.

The teeth of the fine-tooth blade are shorter, with small gaps between them. It's the kind of hair clippers you need when your hair is textured. Plus, such teeth make detailing and edging easy.

However, you'd not use such if you're trimming dense hair fast. Instead, you'd go for the standard tooth that's excellent for bulk trimming, and edging, and it's for all hair types.

The third option is the deep tooth, in which the teeth are longer. The gap between these teeth is wide; therefore, it has fewer teeth than the fine-tooth blade. It's an all-purpose design.

You'll also want to know the material. For example, steel blades get too hot fast. You'll have to work in small sessions to let the trimmer cool down. Ceramic blades are better as they resist such situations.

Dry And Wet Shaving

Having the two options makes the experience livable, more so as you start grooming your beard hair at home. Lubricating your face creates a barrier to prevent razor burns, razor bumps, and ingrown hair caused by the sharp blades. It's what you need when learning how to take care of your face. Later on, you can do it dry without shaving cream or foam.

This is how to do dry shaving with an electric shaver:

Corded And Cordless

Get a tool with the two options if possible so it can also be travel-friendly. The best corded beard trimmers have more power for styling and detailing. However, cordless power lets you work outside your house, even in your backyard, as you enjoy the morning breeze or when camping. There are so many brands to compare, from Philips Norelco to Wahl.

Easy To Maintain

For a beard trimmer, you remove the guards, rinse them, and clean the blade. So simple! It shouldn't be a tiresome process that has you skipping some steps. If cleaning it is tedious, and you use it at least three times a week, you may get tired of cleaning it, and bacterial will grow on it. Therefore, go for something easy to wash and lubricate.

Final Thoughts

To conclude the trimmer vs shaver debate, if you'd like to keep short hair, about 1 mm of hair, you need a beard trimmer. On the other hand, if you want a clean shave, get an electric shaver.

A beard trimmer helps you maintain your beard until your next visit to the barber. It trims and styles the design your beard stylist contoured.

An electric shaver, on the other hand, can't outline your beard. It'll just leave you with smooth skin, making it a perfect option as a trimmer for balls.

Both trimmers and shavers come in different designs and additional features. For instance, a beard trimmer might be inclusive of comb attachments and a nose trimmer.

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