Hair Trimmer vs Clipper: Here’s the Difference

In this article, we’ll explore the difference between a hair trimmer and a hair clipper. We'll also look into the pros and cons of each.
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Last updated: September 07, 2023
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At first glance, the trimmer vs clipper debate would seem to be inconsequential because both devices are designed to cut men’s hair. But, although these devices seem to be very similar they are very different and designed for very specific tasks. Choosing the right clipper or trimmer to meet your needs can be difficult, if you don’t understand how they are supposed to be used. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information on this topic online and it’s hard to get a handle on the subject. In this article we will look at the hair trimmer vs hair clipper comparison in more detail to help you make an informed purchasing decision.

What is a Trimmer?

Hair Trimmer vs Clipper: Here's the DifferenceThere are different types of trimmers, but they are all designed for light trimming and detailing duties. However, the right trimmer can minimize the risk of ingrown hairs Trusted Source Ingrown Hair: On Scalp Ingrown hairs on your scalp sometimes remain under the skin growing sideways inside the hair follicle. We’ll explore the many things you can do to release ingrown hairs and prevent them from occurring. . Some ideal applications for a trimmer are trimming beards, sideburns, nasal hair and more. You can invest in a beard and nose hair trimmer or go with a dedicated tool for each task as required. Trimmers are well suited to detail work because they have a tooth and blade size appropriate for cuts that are closer to your skin. Most trimmers come with a variety of tools and attachments that you can use to trim your hair and body hair. Reading the owner’s manual is recommended if you want to get the best performance out of the trimmer and all the included extras.

A second type of trimmer is often referred to as a “detail trimmer”, many people own one and use it in conjunction with other trimmers and clippers. This could be described as the best nose trimmer but there are usually attachments for nose, ear and eyebrow trimming. Each piece allows for very precise trimming and there may be different heads for other grooming tasks such as sideburn trimming. Again, following the instructions carefully is advisable because the results may be poor if you don’t use the correct heads and/or attachments with your detail trimmer.

What is a Clipper?

Hair Trimmer vs Clipper: Here's the DifferenceThe hair clipper vs trimmer comparison is easier to comprehend when you consider that a clipper is designed to cut longer lengths of hair. This would usually be the hair on your head and the cut will not be close to the skin. When it comes to home grooming it’s important to have the right tools for the task at hand. As a prime example, you wouldn’t use a clipper to trim your sensitive areas when investing in the best pubic hair trimmer would make more sense.

Hair clippers have been around for a long time, but we didn’t see an electrically powered unit until Leo J. Wahl invented the first electromagnetic hair clipper in 1919. The technology has changed a great deal but the underlying principle remains.

A clipper is electrically powered, it can be operated with one hand and it cuts longer hair. Modern clippers may have a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or a power cord that must be plugged into your bathroom outlet.

A battery-powered unit is easier to use and you have more freedom of movement when clipping.

Hair clippers typically come with a number of guide combs that you clip onto the top of the unit to set the length of cut that you need. These guides usually run from 1/16” up to 1.5” which means that you can change your look dramatically. The guide combs are not designed for different thicknesses of hair which can make them inflexible for some men. If you’re a man of color you may want to choose the best clippers for black men that are designed to work with your hair Trusted Source Razor Bump Treatment For Black Men: How-To Make Them Disappear Razor bumps, also called Pseudofollicultis Barbae, can occur in any area that hair is temporarily removed by shaving, waxing or tweezing. .

For every user, it’s advisable to start clipping with a longer guide comb and then follow up as needed if you want to cut shorter. This will help you to avoid going too short too quickly and give you more control over the cutting. There may be some confusion about using a beard trimmer vs a hair clipper on facial hair. However, the same principles discussed earlier still apply and this makes it easier to choose the right tool. A hair clipper can be used to trim a longer and thicker beard accurately. But, if you have a shorter beard or you want to cultivate stubble use a trimmer instead.

Hair Trimmer vs Hair Clipper: Differences & Similarities

In summary, clippers cut longer and bulkier hair and trimmers cut short and finer hair. A clipper can cut hair at various lengths and trimmers tend to have tools for finer detailing. The trimmer has thin blades that may be used with attachments and clippers certainly use guides and attachments to keep those thicker blades away from your skin.

In Practice

When you visit a barber, they typically start with clippers to remove the bulk of your hair and get the hair length that you want. Next, the barber would probably switch to a trimmer to trim around the ears and neck and to create details. The trimmer can make safer and shorter cuts that a clipper can’t make with even the shortest guide fitted.

Blade Length

Hair Trimmer vs Clipper: Here's the DifferenceWhen you look at the trimmer blades, they have smaller spiked teeth that are designed to move easily through shorter hair. Clipper blades are larger, they are arranged in pairs, the top blade is fed hair by the bottom blade and cutting is conducted as it moves. Both clippers and trimmers typically have blades made of ceramic or stainless steel.


Clippers typically come with plastic or metal guards in various lengths up to around 1.5”. The best clippers even have attachments to trim the ears, nose and beard. Trimmers don’t use attachments because the length of the blade is too short and they are a more specific tool.

Clipper vs Trimmer: What are the Benefits?

A clipper comes with a set of guard combs to prevent uneven hair cutting if you’re not comfortable cutting hair with a scissor. It is possible to get some great results without any formal training and modern clippers are very safe to use at home.

Trimmers can be a viable replacement for a razor because they have thinner blades that you can use safely nearer to your skin. Most modern trimmers even have hypoallergenic blades which are ideal for users with sensitive skin.

Making a direct comparison between clippers and trimmers is hard because they are designed for different grooming tasks. Generally speaking, clippers are easier to use, they are more versatile and the guard combs make them a safer option. That being said, most people getting into personal grooming at home are likely to have a clipper and at least one trimmer.

Can You Use a Hair Clipper as a Beard Trimmer?

Unless you have a very thick and longer beard, this is not advisable. It’s virtually impossible to get a smoother finish on a beard with a clipper even with a shorter comb guard. Certain clippers may have a dedicated beard trimming attachment which may be a feature to look for if you want a more flexible clipper.

Final Thoughts

Every personal grooming tool on the market is designed with a primary function and some can be used in different ways. For some users, flexibility is important if they don’t want to keep track of multiple tools or if they are travelling. For this reason, it’s important to research the products carefully to ensure that you get the tool to meet your needs. In this clipper vs trimmer comparison, we hope that we’ve shown that both have their place in your daily grooming routine. If you look after your clipper and trimmer, they can really improve your personal grooming results and provide years of faithful service.


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Ingrown hairs on your scalp sometimes remain under the skin growing sideways inside the hair follicle. We’ll explore the many things you can do to release ingrown hairs and prevent them from occurring.
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