Half-way between clean shaven and slightly scruffy, the 5 o’clock shadow is a short stubble beard that creates a smart, masculine look – that’s “in”.
It’s the new “designer stubble” sported by celebrities and fashion icons like George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
But stubble wasn’t always looked at as stylish or attractive – unshaven-ness was once considered inauspicious and unattractive.
Real, respectable men, were expected to be clean shaven, or to have a clean, well maintained beard.
Today, it’s a different story.
In fact, a recent study – stubble vs clean shaven – found that women find some hair growth more attractive than smooth, hairless cheeks.
That’s right, it’s scientifically proven that most women prefer a man to have at least a little facial hair.
Read on – as this stubble trimmer buying guide will review our top three best stubble trimmer picks to keep your facial hair at optimal length, and provide helpful advice on crafting the perfect stubble.
The Top Three Best Stubble Trimmer Reviews
Without further ado, we present our top choices – the three best stubble trimmers of 2021. Our selections were made based on cutting length, brand reputation, user satisfaction, features, battery life, performance and overall quality.
1. Braun BT7020 Beard, Stubble, and Hair Clipper
Braun’s BT7020 Beard Trimmer and Hair Clipper is a high-quality, mid-priced grooming tool well-suited to both maintaining stubble and keeping your beard under control.
Unlike some trimmers, the BT7020’s design allows for both corded and cordless operation. That makes it especially versatile: use it cordlessly for the ultimate in convenience, or plug it in for unlimited runtime – perfect for tackling a full beard (or if you’ve forgotten to charge the battery!).
That being said, the high-capacity, lithium-ion battery and auto-sensing motor, which maximizes cutting efficiency, make running out of power unlikely.
Despite including only two combs, the BT7020 offers a whopping 39 length settings, ranging from 0.5 to 20 mm.
An integrated precision dial lets you select your preferred length by half-millimetre increments in just a few clicks. The dial is large, and its scalloped edge makes it easy to hold and twist.
Also of note is the big, convex power button, mounted on a rubberized pad – the size and shape make it hard to miss.
Braun’s BT7020 makes it easy to complete your look. After trimming your beard or stubble, remove the comb and use the edge of the Lifetime Sharp blade – designed to stay sharp and tackle even tough hair with aplomb – to cut precise lines.
We found this works especially well in tricky areas, such as above the upper lip. Spots that are hard to reach with the main cutting head can be cleaned up with the included mini precision trimmer – or shaved with the foil shaver attachment or included Gillette Fusion5 ProGlide razor.
Braun BT7020 Trimmer Review Pros and Cons:
- Huge range of length settings in 0.5 mm increments
- Cordless and corded operation
- Includes useful accessories and Fusion5 ProGlide razor
- High-capacity lithium-ion battery that’s 150% better than previous model
- Auto-sensing motor and Lifetime sharp blades
- Large power button and accurate dial for length adjusting
- Braun’s quality build by the best in Men’s Grooming
- Not fully waterproof – can be rinsed off under the tap, but not taken into the shower. Not really a “con”, as it’s better to trim stubble dry, but I thought I should point this out.
- No USB charging. Again, not a fatal flaw, it comes with an excellent charger that’s powered from any wall socket.
2. Philips Series 5000 Beard and Stubble Trimmer with Full Metal Blades
From Philips – a global leader in personal care products – comes the Series 5000 Beard and Stubble Trimmer with Full Metal Blades.
Quite a mouthful – but this beard and stubble trimmer includes about as many unique features as there are words in its name.
Powered by an integrated, fast-charging lithium-ion battery, the Series 5000 trimmer runs up to 90 minutes on a 60-minute charge.
That’s enough power to trim your stubble five minutes a day for two weeks!
Should the battery run out, the 5-minute quick-charge feature provides enough power for a full trim—or, take advantage of the Series 5000’s ability to be used while plugged in.
Unique to Philips products is the Lift & Trim Pro System—a specially shaped comb that guides troublesome, low-lying hairs toward the blades, cutting more hair in fewer passes. A set of double-sharpened, stainless steel blades trim even thick hair, while brushing lightly against one another—a self-sharpening action that extends the blades’ lifespan, and eliminates the need for oiling.
As with the Braun BT7040, Philips’ Series 5000 trimmer includes two combs, and broad length setting adjustability. A thumb-controlled, lateral scroll wheel on the trimmer’s handle adjusts and locks in your preferred length between 0.4 and 20 mm, in 0.2mm increments. This is one of the most precise and wide-ranging adjustment systems we’ve seen on a stubble trimmer, and is perfect for crafting your ideal look.
With its fully waterproof design, the Philips Series 5000 Beard and Stubble Trimmer can be used dry, or in the shower. It’s easy to clean, too—just rinse off the trimmer head under running water. Dual-sided, textured handle inlays ensure a solid grip, even when wet.
Philips Series 5000 Beard and Stubble Trimmer Pros and Cons:
- Fast-charging, high-capacity battery
- Corded or cordless operation
- 40 length settings in 0.2 mm increments
- Lift & Trim Pro System and self-sharpening blades
- 100% waterproof
- Grippy handle and looks great
- Universal voltage compatibility
- Blade tips are especially sharp—extra caution is needed when trimming without comb guard in place
- Handle may be bulky for small hands
3. BaByliss for Men Super Stubble XTP Beard Trimmer
The history of BaByliss begins in Paris, where in the 1960s, a much-loved stylist created the world’s first professional hair curler. Today, BaByliss designs and produces a wide range of styling tools, available to consumers and professionals alike.
Sporting a unique appearance and driven by a rechargeable, lithium-ion battery that provides 80 minutes of runtime on a 70-minute charge, the XTP trimmer is like the great Babyliss i – designed specifically for stubble and short beards, making it ideal for men who keep their facial hair not longer than 5 mm.
Unlike many stubble trimmers, the BaByliss Super Stubble XTP trimmer includes no external comb guards. That makes for a neat, self-contained package that cuts down on clutter.
Cutting length – from 0.4 to 5 mm – (perfect for rugged stubble look) is adjusted in 24 increments by way of a motorized control, while the selected length and battery life are displayed on a vibrant, handle-integrated LED screen.
An integrated comb guard – which can be flipped for precise edging, shaping and styling, even heavy stubble, sits atop a unique, swiveling head that follows your facial contours. This feature is usually found on high-end electric shavers, not stubble trimmers, and is nice to see here.
The BaByliss Super Stubble XTP trimmer is completely waterproof, allowing for both dry and wet operation.
Like other waterproof stubble trimmers, the XTP trimmer can be rinsed clean under the tap.
BaByliss for Men Super Stubble XTP Beard Trimmer Pros and Cons
- Reliable Lithium-ion battery provides good runtime
- Unique, swiveling head and flippable comb
- Motorized length control
- 24 length settings
- Bright LED screen
- Waterproof design
- Glossy surface is not the easiest to grip and leaves finger prints
- Not as versatile as better rated stubble trimmer on the market
- Charge time could be faster, but not a deal breaker
How to Choose The Right Stubble Shaver
The best stubble trimmers are feature-packed, which can make choosing among them a challenge. Nothing to worry about, though—we’re going to look at what matters most, and how it should help shape your decision.
Corded or Cordless?
Most stubble trimmers are cordless, powered by a rechargeable battery. Though a corded trimmer has the advantage of unlimited runtime with no loss of power, a relatively quick task like trimming stubble doesn’t justify tethering oneself to a mains outlet.
Facial hair is tough—about on par with copper wire of the same diameter. Look for a stubble trimmer whose motor is capable of taking your stubble down to size. The coarser or denser your beard, the more important cutting power becomes. Which leads us to our next point…
A powerful trimmer with a small battery is like a sports car without enough fuel in the tank: it won’t take you far. If you opt for a cordless stubble trimmer, ensure that the battery’s charging and runtimes are, respectively, short and long enough for your needs.
One man’s stubble is another man’s beard. Or something like that. What this wise old adage—however incorrectly it may be phrased here— teaches, is that what looks bad on one face may look good on another.
Opt for a stubble trimmer with a wide range of length settings that cut down to at least 0.5 mm.
Size and Ergonomics
Choose a trimmer that fits your hands. As a general rule, this means a bigger trimmer for large hands, and vice versa. That said, it’s ultimately a matter of preference—and smaller trimmers are lighter, more compact and better suited to travel. Also take into consideration a trimmer’s ergonomic features, such as handle shape, button location and textured materials.
Wet or Dry Operation
Many stubble trimmers are designed to be used wet or dry. That means they can be cleaned off under running water, and often, used in the shower, which some guys prefer for comfort and convenience. Just be sure that the trimmer you choose is waterproof, not merely water-resistant, before taking it into the tub.
There’s a well-known acronym: K.I.S.S. The last time we checked, it stood for “Keep it simple, stubble.” Wait, no—that’s wrong. It was “Keep it simple, stupid.” And usually, simplicity is best. A grooming tool that comes bristling (no, that’s not a beard-related pun) with accessories might look impressive—but superfluous attachments can complicate matters, and are easily lost. There’s nothing wrong with extra parts, such as trimmers and comb guards—just make sure you’re not paying for something unnecessary.
Gone are the days when an unshaven face would be met with disapproval.
To the contrary, stubble holds wide appeal.
A happy medium between clean-shaven and fully bearded, stubble’s numerous advantages—including ease of maintenance and good looks, even on men whose beards appear straggly when long—make it an excellent choice for most guys.
The key to great-looking stubble is keeping it short and tidy. But how?
Well, you could shave every three days, or use a pair of scissors, but neither of those options holds much appeal.
No, friend, what you need is a great stubble trimmer – a dedicated grooming tool designed to keep your facial hair looking its stubbly best – and a guide to craft stellar stubble.
Choosing the best stubble trimmer for your needs requires a bit of thought and research. Fortunately, we’ve taken care of much of the latter! Consider which features are most important to you, and take a good look at our recommendations.
We’re confident you’ll find the right trimmer. Now get out there and tame that unruly beard!
How to Get, and Maintain the Perfect 5 ‘Clock Shadow
The 5 o’clock shadow got its name from the regrowth of a man’s facial hair seen at the end of a hard workday, after the long 9 – 5 grind.
What was once seen as tired and scruffy, grooming facial stubble has now become smart and manly – “designer”.
Step 1: Get the Right Beard Trimmer
You’re going to need a good beard or stubble trimmer, obviously.
But I just need to emphasise the fact that it should be at least “good” – because a crap, low quality trimmer is going to cause problems, and could make the whole experience a nightmare.
Low quality beard trimmers have poor motor power, which can cause the cutting blades to jam and get stuck in your beard – not cool!
The guard comb length could be inaccurate, and the brittle plastic teeth are prone to breaking off.
Bottom line – it’s wise to invest in a tool with sharp blades, and the reliability and cutting power to get the job done properly.
Step 2: Make Sure Your Hair is an Adequate Starting Length
You need a workable hair length.
If you’re currently clean shaven – you’ll need to wait until your beard has grown in to an adequate length for cutting.
Generally, 3 – 5 days of growth will be enough, if you’re hair grows slower, you’re looking at waiting 1 week before starting to trim down to create your five o’clock shadow.
If you’re already rocking a beard then you’re ready to get started.
Step 3: Start Trimming
Ok, you’ve got some facial hair to work with, and it’s clean and dry.
Let’s do this!
If you’re cutting down from a long beard, use a number 2 or 3 guard comb, and start taking some length off your beard.
Next, set you trimmer to a length between 0.5 and 3mm for the final cut – this is the optimal length in mm to create the best 5 o’clock shadow.
Choose between very short 0.5 – 1mm stubble, or loner 2 – 3mm, it’s up to you.
Use upward strokes, always going against the grain of hair growth. When using a hair clipper or trimmer, you need to make sure you’re going against the direct of hair growth, to ensure an even and accurate finish.
Don’t press down too hard against this skin, as you could cause cuts – moderate pressure will work.
Run over the same area multiple times, and in different direction to make sure every hair is cut.
Pull lips inward to stretch your skin and make cutting moustache hairs easier.
At this point you should have trimmed all of your face and neck hair down to around 1mm in length.
Step 4: It’s Time to Tidy
Trim your neck hair down with a slightly shorter setting <0.5 (or shave right down to a close smooth finish) as this will help accentuate the jawline and chin, and really bring out the defined, shadow look.
Use an electric razor (optional) to completely shave off your neck hair for a smooth, hair free finish.
The goal is to have your facial hair down to 1mm of stubble, and your neck hair should be even shorter, or completely clean shaven.
To achieve a sharp jawline and tidy cut, use just above your Adams apple, or where the bottom of your chin meets your neck as a guide.
Anything above your Adams apple should be 1mm, and below that reference point, the hair should be shorter, or clean shaven.
To maintain your new designer stubble, trim it down every other day (trim 1 – 3 days apart) so that your beard growth doesn’t get much longer than 1mm.