Hair Clippers vs Hair Trimmers – What’s the Difference?

hair clipper vs hair trimmer

Being a hairdresser requires a lot of skills and knowledge. You don’t only need to know how to cut, style, and colour hair in various ways, but you also have to be able to choose tools appropriate to different situations. After all, you won’t cut long and short hair with the same devices, will you?

Nevertheless, when you’re only starting to pursue this career, it can be challenging to decide which tool to use. Scissors? Professional hair clippers? Or a hair trimmer? Is there even a difference between those two?  

Well, it can be tricky: sometimes, you’ll use the first one, sometimes – the second one. But there are also situations where you can use both. Below you will find everything explained in plain English. Let’s go!

Table of Contents

Hair Clippers: Definition

First things first, let’s define what exactly hair clippers are. Hair clippers are used for any kind of haircut: from short to shoulder-length hairstyles. They can also be used for cutting men’s beards because of their wide range of length settings.

The principle of using this tool is quite simple: this hand-held device consists of a set of blades (2-8) and attachments that allow you to adjust the size of the cut, depending on the hair length. Then, you attach the desired blade and easily switch between them using a lever or a button. It sounds simple, right?

Thanks to their interchangeable blades and a number of different guides (depending on how short or long you want to cut), hair clippers are used in both beauty salons and barber shops by hairdressers or stylists. They are also perfect for doing your own haircut at home!

Hair Trimmers: Definition

As we’ve already established above, hair trimmers can be used for any kind of hairstyle and cut. However, just like hair clippers, they are used mostly for shorter haircuts or beard trimming. Even though they are called ‘hair trimmers’, they don’t cut your hair as smoothly as hair clippers do. But they have better flexibility and manoeuvrability than clippers do. This means that you won’t only use them to trim your beard or other body hair, but also to tidy up your eyebrows or finish your neckline!

When it comes to the cutting length, trimmers have a wide range compared to clippers: 1-10 mm (1=0.4 inch), so they’re much more precise. Most haircuts require using them on 3-4 and 4-5 mm settings – shorter and longer than that depending on the type of haircut you need! For instance, if you want to leave your locks 3 mm long all over the head, but then lengthen them in some areas as well (such as sides), you will need a tool for that!

As an added bonus: most models feature a pop-up detail trimmer which makes it easier to get into tight spots (like around your ears or nose!). There are also waterproof models that come with special nozzles where you can apply shaving foam before shaving – handy if you want the process to be even more convenient!

What Are The Similarities?

Apart from their versatility, both hair clippers and the hair trimmers have one more thing in common – speed. And we’re not talking about their cutting speed here! (Yes, they are fast, but at least they are designed to work in a safe manner when used as intended by manufacturers.) It is true that the speed of those tools can be significantly faster when compared to other cutting devices, but these are ‘hair’ tools. They are designed specifically for use on the head (hence ‘hair trimmers’) and on body hair (hence ‘hair clippers’).

Apart from that, both clippers and trimmers feature interchangeable blades and attachments. This allows us to keep changing blades depending on various situations. It may be important to note here that when using such a device for the first time, you should consider using hair clips with smaller attachments – it takes less time to get used to this equipment! Besides, carrying around small blades is much easier!

On top of it all, both hair clippers and hair trimmers don’t only feature adjustable blade lengths but also adjustable blade speeds! Also, you can choose models with corded ones or cordless ones, depending on your preferences. In addition to this, some trimmers even feature special attachments which adjust the length for you according to the beard density. Those who have sensitive skin will enjoy using such attachments! 

What Are The Differences?

Just like any other product on the market, these two kinds of tools have distinctive features. Here is what usually makes a difference:

  • Quality and precision: While cutting quality depends mostly on the blade length adjustment device and its blade quality (as well as how often this device has been used), using a trimmer is still slightly better than a clipper because it consistently gives more precise cuts. You will appreciate this if you plan on having your best looks and up-to-date hairstyle every single day! 
  • Shaving: We already mentioned that trimming isn’t only about cutting off hairs – it can also be shaving off body hair! At least part of it: Some devices come with a pop-up detail trimmer which can also help you shave your face smoothly! 
  • Convenience: Of course, depending on your preferences and hairstyles, you could go either way here (clipper vs trimmer). However, it’s also nice to know that leaving longer hair requires frequent grooming (cutting) sessions. In this case, clippers would be more convenient thanks to smaller attachments which take less time to attach/remove from them!
  • Versatility: Clippers and trimmers can be used for different purposes: from short haircuts or beard trimming to cleaning up sideburns or having a smooth neckline as well as eyebrows!


If you spend too much money on visits to hair salons, you should consider getting professional equipment and doing the job instead. This way, you’ll have to pay a hefty price for the hairdressing tools, but you’ll save money in the long run. However, you might be confused as to what the difference between hair clippers and hair trimmers is. We hope that after reading this article, you now know what their similarities and differences are, so that you’ll know when to use either one of these.

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