Can I use a beard trimmer to cut my hair?
April 24, 2020 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Can I use a beard trimmer to cut my hair?

It's been six weeks since my last haircut. I usually get it cut every three weeks. I can probably go another week or two, but it's becoming clear that I'll want to cut my own hair before things re-open. I live alone so I won't have anyone to help out.

Can I use my beard trimmer (Norelco 7300, linked above) to cut my hair? Or is it better to use dedicated hair clippers?

I'm a cis white male in my late 40s, brown hair which is fairly straight when it's short but does get wavy if it's longer, albeit longer than it is now. I usually keep it fairly short, but not buzzcut. I estimate 15-18mm on top after a haircut. My beard trimmer has adjustments from 1-18mm in 1mm increments.

Will I run into problems if I use my beard trimmer to cut my hair?

If so, any recommendations on what clippers to use instead? I was looking at this one.

Side question: do I try to approximate my usual haircut, or just go for a buzzcut? I'm thinking I can try for the usual first, and fall back to a buzzcut if it goes badly. Does that make sense?
posted by DevilsAdvocate to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've used a trimmer to cut my husband's hair. It's slower but works fine. If you have someone to do it for you, use them.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:15 AM on April 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Did you see this in the NYT? Ultimate Buzz Cut Guide
posted by XtineHutch at 9:23 AM on April 24, 2020

Best answer: You probably know this, but you should keep in mind that a clipper cut is different than a scissors cut. It will follow the shape of your head more and give you a different texture. If you are used to a scissors cut then expect that it will be different.

I use a beard trimmer to maintain my undercut. It works great - I tie a bandana around the areas of hair I don't want to cut by accident to keep it protected. Plan on going over each area multiple times, because one pass never seems to get all the hairs.

If I were a guy I would definitely be giving myself buzz cuts at home all the time, it's so fun and satisfying. I vote you should go for it!
posted by beandip at 9:32 AM on April 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Regular clippers are better but I cut my husband’s hair for years with a beard trimmer. It’ll work.
posted by something something at 9:34 AM on April 24, 2020

Best answer: I have for about 30 years now.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:35 AM on April 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nah, you should be fine. Incidentally, I did sort of what you planned -- tried for a mohawk which really really did not work, so just buzzed my head the rest of the way. Because of how I'd cut the...non-mohawk part, I guess? I wound up going very very very short, much shorter than I usually buzz, and it was kind of startling. So I guess be mindful of what your potential final length might be :)
posted by kalimac at 9:36 AM on April 24, 2020

Best answer: I have been doing this since 2001, mainly because I had moved to Italy on 2 days notice and had no language skills at all to ask for a haircut with.... So I started doing it myself.

It is super easy, but really a buzz cut or a staged buzzcut is probably a good target. I do 6mm on top, 4mm around the sides (an inch up from my ear and downwards), and then trim around my ears. Done. I used to do 3mm from ears down, then 2mm halfway down again but it is a lot more work for little benefit. I use the mirror and my other hand held horizontally as a straight edge for keeping the transitions from being obvious.

I have never tried to replicate an actual hairstyle with them, but now would be an excellent time to try, because you can always buzz it if it is horrendous.
posted by Brockles at 9:48 AM on April 24, 2020

Best answer: Try for a non-buzz style: why not! I used some masking tape to get a slightly longer clippers setting than was officially available on mine. I initially went with one length all over but it's a little poofy on the sides for my tastes, presumably because my head is rounder than my hair usually gets cut, so I think I'm going to try going a little shorter there. It's not awful, however, and mostly flattens down during the day anyway, so meh. You'll be fine! I found it easiest to lean forward and work upside-down. Just make sure the plastic guard stays in contact with your head and you shouldn't end up with any dramatically shorter chunks.
posted by teremala at 10:07 AM on April 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just got a Braun BT5060 and it works great. I was worried that its longest setting might be too short, but I've ended up using a short setting with the longer guard, and it's totally fine. Once we're allowed to get haircuts, I'll be able to avoid getting one for quite a while.
posted by jonathanhughes at 10:32 AM on April 24, 2020

Best answer: I cut my husbands hair for years using a beard trimmer, and recently did my own in an all-over buzz. My trimmer had an option for 21 mm so I started there and ended up going back over everything with 17 mm because I felt too fluffy.
posted by buildmyworld at 10:32 AM on April 24, 2020

Best answer: My husband has been cutting my undercut with a beard trimmer with no issues
posted by notjustthefish at 11:17 AM on April 24, 2020

Best answer: I have been hacking away at the mullety back of my hair with a much less nice beard trimmer and it's perfectly fine. (I did this pre covid too because I'm a dirtbag.) Perfectly fine.
posted by phunniemee at 11:32 AM on April 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Timely question!! I have used mine to trim the hair above my ears, but I find that as the (my?) head hair is much lighter than the coarser/stiffer beard, it rides up with the trimmer, not slides through the guide onto the cutters. Suggestions on how to handle this? I have not been game to try a full haircut until I can be more confident of solving this ...
posted by GeeEmm at 3:36 PM on April 24, 2020

Best answer: My hair is both fine and thin with several bald spots. I get much better results on wet hair, and go against the grain to sort of scoop the hairs up and onto the blades.
posted by buildmyworld at 4:39 PM on April 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Yes! Get a spray bottle and mist your hair regularly while you buzz against the grain of your hairs.
posted by WedgedPiano at 11:24 PM on April 24, 2020

The thing I'm afraid of with the beard trimmer is my thick hair. It already struggles to get through my whole beard without stalling and needing a cleaning and oiling. I'm picturing not a bad haircut, but half a haircut when the under-powered beard trimmer drops dead. My Oster classic 76 should arrive any day now.
posted by ctmf at 5:55 PM on April 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have used a beard trimmer to maintain a buzzcut, and it, fine. Then I bought a cheap Wahl home haircut kit to remove a big and bushy beard (ironic) and it immediately replaced the beard trimmer for the top-of-head stuff, too. The clippers are just a lot better at it than the trimmers: they're faster, they don't scrape my scalp or lead to ingrown hairs, and they leave stubble that's even and soft. They also cost $30 and are still running great five years later. Frankly, they're one of the better-value purchases I've made in any part of my life.

So to answer your question, you totally can use a beard trimmer, but I wouldn't when there's a significantly better option out there for not a lot of money. I'd get one of the infinite-variety of inexpensive Wahl home haircut kits and give them a whirl.
posted by ZaphodB at 7:38 PM on April 25, 2020

Response by poster: Followup: Thanks, everyone. Everyone who said, yes, you can was right.

A word of advice to those who may be doing this in the future: If you wait another month and a half between the AskMe where you're thinking about cutting your hair, and doing it, it will take many, many passes through your hair to get it all cut. It may not look like it's getting any shorter at first, although you know there's something getting cut, because you have to keep emptying the trimmer. Be patient, and keep at it.

I'm hoping I'll only have to do this 0-1 more times before I can go back to getting my hair cut by a professional; any more than that and I'd take ZaphodB's advice to buy dedicated hair clippers.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:55 AM on June 7, 2020

Response by poster: Additional follow-up: as it has become increasingly evident that this isn't going away anytime soon and it will likely be months before I'm comfortable going to a salon again, I went ahead and bought dedicated hair clippers. I'm glad I did as the process was much faster than using my beard trimmer.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:20 AM on August 3, 2020

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