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Can I Use a Beard Trimmer to Cut My Hair? | It Depends

Sometimes you really need a haircut but aren’t able to get out, or you really need to save some money. You could try to use scissors, but what about that beard trimmer you have? Surely it’ll work like hair clippers.

You can use a beard trimmer to cut your hair, but the process will be a bit more tricky than it would be with hair clippers. Beard trimmers are designed for the thin hairs on the face. The hair on your head is much thicker, so you risk damaging both the blades and your hair.

Hair trimmer kits, like this one found on Amazon, are relatively inexpensive. I have one of these that has a number of different guards, which I use on my beard and the hair on my head.

Let’s take a look at what makes a beard trimmer capable of the job and how to cut your hair properly.

Beard Trimmers vs. Hair Clippers

You might think that beard trimmers are capable of cutting hair like hair clippers. Why wouldn’t they be? They look similar and essentially do the same function – they cut hair. 

Beard trimmers are actually quite different from hair clippers and can’t really perform as well when cutting hair on your head because they aren’t meant to take on such large portions of hair at once. Even thick beards are quite thin and fine compared to the hair on your head. Beard trimmers are made specifically for these little hairs and allow you to get a super close cut if needed.

Let’s take a look at a few components of beard trimmers and compare them to hair clippers to see how they’re different.


The blades on hair clippers are usually longer than the ones that are on beard trimmers. This is because the hair that grows on the top of the head can be longer and thicker than what can grow on a beard.

Length Differences

  • Hair clippers can adjust the length of the blades to suit the length of the hair. Shorter hair needs shorter blades, while longer hair will require the longest blades. If you’re going from long to short hair, you can adjust the blades as you go to get the style you’re going for.
  • Beard trimmers also have adjustable blades, but the blades are thinner and shorter. Beard hair isn’t always super long, and if it is, it’s usually thinner than the hair you’d find on the head. So, beard trimmers don’t need to have thick and long blades because those don’t suit the type of hair they’re supposed to trim. 

Differences in Power

  • Hair clippers are also generally more powerful and precise to give every haircut a neat and smooth finish.
  • Beard trimmer blades don’t typically create the same smooth look as hair clippers can. If you want to do a slightly complicated hairstyle like a fade, beard trimmers might not be the best tool to accomplish this with.


Beard trimmers do have the upper hand on getting close to the skin, however. So, if you want a shave that’s super close to the scalp, a beard trimmer will get you there.

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Guards, which come in my recommended hair trimming kit, are used to set the length of the blades. Both hair clippers and beard trimmers will have different settings, usually 1-3, but hair clippers might go up to 5 or 6. Taking the guard off means the blades will be right up against your skin, effectively making the setting a 0. 

If you have long hair that you want to cut short, a beard trimmer might be difficult to use since its settings might stop at a 3.

The Best Type of Beard Trimmer to Use

Hand Holding a Beard Trimmer

Not all beard trimmers are made equally. Some are more powerful than others and might actually be a decent contender for cutting hair. What makes a beard trimmer acceptable to be used on hair? It’s usually the following:

  • Durable blades
  • Powerful tool
  • Power cord
  • Blade guard

The most important thing is that the blades are strong enough to cut your hair.

If you use a beard trimmer for facial hair, consider the hair’s texture on your head and compare it to your facial hair. Then, consider how the beard trimmer performs when you trim up your beard or stubble.

  • Does it struggle to get through it or glide right over it? If it struggles to cut through your beard, it will have a tougher time getting through your hair.

Not only do the blades need to be sturdy and sharp, but the tool itself needs to be powerful. The best option is to use a trimmer that has a power cord. Cordless trimmers are typically lower power and can’t cut much more than facial hair. Corded trimmers, however, have more power and might do a better job of cutting through hair that’s thicker than that of a beard. 

How to Cut Hair With Beard Trimmers

Man Using Beard Trimmer on Top of His Head and Smiling

Cutting your hair with beard trimmers isn’t much different than using hair clippers. The only difference is that you will need to empty the hair out of the beard trimmer more often. The beard trimmer will be more prone to clogging, which will make the process last a little longer.


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To cut your hair with beard trimmers, do the following:

  1. Set up the space. Make sure you have a hand mirror, a fully-charged or plugged-in beard trimmer, and a towel or trash bag to wear to catch all the hair. It’s also a good idea to lay down a towel on the floor to make cleaning up easier.
  2. Wash your hair. Your hair will be easier to cut when it’s clean. Greasy hair and caked-on products will clog your beard trimmer and make the process way more difficult than it needs to be.
  3. Choose your settings. Decide which settings to use based on the style you want. When you’re cutting your own hair at home, a one-sized style is the easiest to do. It’s best to start with the longest setting and go from there, so you don’t get as much hair stuck in the trimmer or have to deal with regret from making your hair too short.
  4. Dive in and trim. Be sure to keep the blade against your head. Only do small sections at a time, and don’t be afraid to go over areas a second or third time. You will probably have to so you can get an even cut.
    1. For the top, start at the forehead and move toward the crown.
    2. For the sides, start at the sideburns and move toward the crown.
    3. For the back, start at the bottom (base of your neck) and move up toward the crown.
  5. Double-check the difficult areas. It can be difficult to get an even cut around the ears and the back of your head. Be sure to fold down your ears and use a mirror to make sure you get every area. Ask a friend to help you if you can’t reach certain areas.


You can use beard trimmers to cut your hair, but don’t expect to have the same quality as you would using hair clippers. Beard trimmers can be handy in a pinch and will give you a great buzz cut. If you’re skilled with hairstyling, you might be able to accomplish more complicated looks.

Beard trimmers are intended to be used with fine facial hair instead of thicker hair on your head. Keep this in mind if you use them. Start with the longest setting and move to shorter settings as you go—the more powerful the tool, the better. Ideally, sharp, sturdy blades and a beard trimmer that can be plugged in are what you should use if you have to use a beard trimmer for your hair.

For more, check out Should You Tip Your Barber? | General Guidelines.