December 14, 2011 10:04 AM   Subscribe

ISO the best beard grooming system for my special bearded person.

My dude is an extremely fair brunette (very dark hair) with hella thick, straight hair on top and a thick, soft, full beard. He has sensitive, reactive skin and some tendency to get ingrowns where he shaves with a razor (neck, places outside the lines of his beard). His preference is to keep a fairly conservatively-shaped full beard with a smooth neck. It's not so long, but not on-purpose stubble close, either (long enough to be soft, I guess).

He has struck out in his quest to get the right tools to efficiently trim his beard and keep the smooth parts shaved without blotchiness and ingrowns. So now, he has asked me to take over the search and gift him with a nice system for his holiday present.

He has decided that Wahl is a non-starter--he's tried several of their mid priced systems and feels they don't handle his very thick beard without snagging, pulling, and trimming unevenly before they simply break down (he has problems with the plastic guards snapping off and snagging in his beard when he trims). He thinks he may be interested in a system that includes an electric razor component for his neck, but wonders if this will mean neither component (the trimmer or the shaver) will work well. He's looking for extremely high functionality that can handle his beard's thickness but is still precise. He also wonders if razor shaving the rest is the best option, or if there is something he's missing to avoid freaking out the skin on his neck.

He's tired of dealing with tools that are supposed to trim and end up making it look like his beard was unevenly chewed--because his skin is so fair and his beard is so dark, he feels unintentionally shorter patches created by a suck trimmer "glow through." He's tired of trimmers that break down inside a year despite good care. He's tired of a blazing red razor-burned neck.

I am hoping that other bearded mefites can help me find an excellent system south of 150ish (also, I have Amazon Prime)? Additionally, if you are moved to provide personal advice that you think might help him (or me) feel free.
posted by rumposinc to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I can't link easily on my phone, but I would suggest a professional-grade trimmer like the Classic 76; other good ones have been suggested in previous clipper threads. Basically, nothing cheap with crappy plastic guards. Personally, I'm happy to do neck and cheek shaving with the clippers with a 000 blade; that is adequately smooth and zero irritation, but I know a razor would be smoother.
posted by Forktine at 10:16 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have been very happy with this Philips trimmer. I had--and hated--a Whal. The trimmer I linked to is adjustable so I can go to 1mm for my neck (and then razor shave) and the vacuum is awesome as it limits the mess and the proliferation of beard stubble in the bathroom, which my dear wife refers to as "mouse turds."
posted by donovan at 10:27 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I use an ANDIS trimmer. It is excellent. MUCH better than the Wahl or the other off-the-shelf kinds at the drugstore.

This is the one I use for my beard; there are other models, too. But ANDIS really is the brand you want.
posted by Dr. Wu at 12:42 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm picky and had to try out 4 different trimmers before I found my current one. The first was Wahl and yeah, not so good. Philips is better - I still use the Philips as a backup sometimes. I'm particular about having the option to trim my beard all the way to stubble or leave it lengthy as my mood changes, so ultimately I ended up with the ConAir iStubble, which has trim settings from 0.4mm to 5mm. It also has a shape that might be what he's looking for: "What is different about the Conair i-Stubble from most facial hair trimmers is its floating cutting head, which follows the contours of your face much like the cutting head of an electric shaver... the precise settings the i-Stubble offers allows you to keep your face looking neat, trim and shadowy, instead of dark and patchy." AskMen.
posted by naju at 3:12 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I tend just not to completely shave down the "beard spillage" down on the neck etc. I find that if I just trim it shorter than the rest to a significant enough degree, it serves as an illusion of shavedness. For me, the void left by a razor is always visible, it's such a contrast to the texture of the beard. Not using a razor and just trimming down somewhat is actually less visible, even though it technically leaves more hair left. I don't have that much acreage of beard though, it doesn't go very far down the neck, so this may not apply to everybody. So seconding a good trimmer that is pleasant to use, and some very nice well-made scissors.
posted by krilli at 4:11 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Alternately, how about a 'subscription' to a bi-weekly beard trim at a local barber shop? The barber shop near me charges $5 for a beard trim, so that's like a year of beard trims if you want to spend $150.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 5:46 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: All of these answers helped so much, guys! Thank you very much. I appreciate the links to amazon, as well.
posted by rumposinc at 9:13 AM on December 16, 2011

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