The Best Stubble Trimmer: Our Buying Guide and Product Reviews
Somewhere between “100% shaved” and “fully bearded” lies perfect stubble: that really masculine look that tells the world, “Listen, a couple of days ago I was well-groomed, but then I got into some trouble and had some adventures, and, well, here I am.” It’s a great look—both rugged and groomed at the same time—but it can be hard to pull off.
So here we’ll dive head-first into stubble shavers: we’ll discuss features to look for when buying one, provide our top picks for the best stubble trimmer depending on your needs, and provide some tips on how to grow and shape stubble (because creating a “stubbly look” is actually a little more difficult than it might seem). Let’s jump in:
A Quick Summary: Stubble Trimmer Top Picks
We realize some of you are in a rush and just here for the reviews, and we appreciate that, so before we jump into our buying guide, here’s a quick summary of our top picks for best trimmer, along with what makes each model unique. We have researched and recommend…
The Remington MB4040 Mustache Beard and Stubble Trimmer: a "just the basics" model that's designed just for stubble-trimming;
The Conair Super Stubble Ultimate Trimmer: our pick for best stubble trimmer overall, that allows you to shave stubble into different lengths and shave in lines for a "clean-but-stubbly" look;
The Philips Norelco Beard Trimmer Series 3500: A great mid-range stubble trimmer + beard trimmer, if you like to switch things up;
The Panasonic Milano All-in-One Trimmer: A water-friendly model you can use while showering (no clean-up!), and a solid stubble + beard trimmer;
The Philips Norelco Beard and Hair Trimmer BT5215/41: Good from trimming facial hair into stubble, with an adjustable guard you can also use to shave body hair;
The Panasonic ER-GB80-S Body and Beard Trimmer: a high-end option designed for men with sensitive skin, with a broad range of cutting lengths great for short-to-long stubble and short-to-long beards.
How to Select a Stubble Trimmer
You might think a stubble trimmer would be a simple tool—you’d imagine that, hey, it’s got one job to do, and that job is to shorten whiskers to stubble-length, so how complicated could that be—but that’s not the case. Just like their first cousins, the beard trimmer, they’ve got a lot of features, and it’s not always clear what you should look for. Here are the factors you may want to keep in mind, and we’ll start with the most important one:
The Length Setting
Most stubble trimmers have multiple length settings to give you more control over the cut of your stubble, and you can adjust the cutting length in incremental steps. Here’s a rough guide on how it breaks down:
A good stubble trimmer should be able to cut whiskers in 1 mm increments;
A very good stubble trimmer will be able to cut whiskers in .5 mm increments; and
A very, very good, high-end, luxury stubble trimmer will be to cut whiskers in .2 mm increments.
Here’s the thing: a trimmer that can trim whiskers down to .2 mm is pretty darn impressive, but for most guys, it’s probably not necessary. If you’ve got really thick facial hair and want an exact stubble length, a trimmer with .2 mm increments can be a nice option, but for most guys with “average” facial hair growth and thickness, .5 mm or 1 mm increments is probably fine.
Also, before we move on—it helps to know the difference between stubble trimmers, beard trimmers, and electric shavers: electric shavers are designed to shave all of your whiskers off, to the root, so that you look totally clean-shaven; stubble trimmers cut your whiskers so that they’re anywhere from 0.2 mm to 5 mm or so, and as devices go, they’re somewhat rare, and not as widely used as electric shavers or beard trimmers; and beard trimmers can provide you with a stubbly look, but they’re primarily used for shaping longer facial hair and beards. Now you know!
Clip-On Combs for Detail Work
If you’ve ever owned a stubble trimmer or a beard trimmer, you’ve probably seen these before—they’re usually black pieces of plastic with long thin teeth that you attach to the razor head. If you don’t know what they look like, here’s a stock photo of a guy using a stubble trimmer on his whiskers:
You’ll notice that the teeth are very small, so that they can cut whisker very short. You’ll also notice that model is smiling, because no matter you’re doing in a stock photo, you smile.
Here’s a stock photo of a stubble trimmer with two clip-on combs:
These are incredibly useful, because if you ever get tired of your stubble—and many of us like to switch things up every once in a while—and grow a full beard, the clip-ons will allow you to groom that beard and cut it to a particular length. They’re not imperative, but they’re nice to have—especially if you eventually want to grow your stubble into a beard.
Home vs. Travel Use
Stubble trimmers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and the type that you choose should depend largely on your lifestyle.
If you plan to shave at home, you may want to opt for a large luxury trimmer, whereas a traveling businessman might want to look for something a little easier to pack. Smaller trimmers tend to be more convenient because they’re portable and lightweight, but they tend to be less powerful than larger models.
No matter what size stubble trimmer you’re looking at, it’s important to make sure that it has an ergonomic build. It should fit comfortably in your hand without causing too much sweating or cramping. Switches should also be intuitive and easy to reach. Wherever possible, we’ve included this factor in our reviews—and for most trimmers, it’s a non-issue. Most are easy to hold. If one looks a little wonky to you, however, you may want to keep looking.
Cord vs. No Cord
While some stubble trimmers need to be plugged into an outlet during use, others are cordless. They use a rechargeable battery for power and usually come with a corded charging port.
This seems like a secondary characteristic, but there are some guys (Editor’s Note: I am one of those guys), who absolutely hate cords. They’re ugly, they get in the way while you’re trying to shave, and they make storage difficult. If that describes your approach, look for a model that can be recharged without the use of a cord.
That said, other guys—more patient, less finicky guys—really don’t mind them at all. So it’s up to you.
There are other considerations, though, in the cord-vs.-no-cord decision:
Cordless trimmers are an excellent choice for men who are constantly on the go, as they’re lightweight and portable, and if you’re headed for a weekend trip someplace remote, you might not always have an electrical outlet handy, but corded trimmers, on the other hand, tend to be more reliable—you don’t have to worry about running out of battery life midway through a shave, and you also don’t have to remember to plug your trimmer in each night to charge. There’s an “ease of use” aspect to corded trimmers that some guys appreciate.
So, that one’s up to you.
Battery Life and Recharge Capabilities
If you opt for a cordless trimmer, it’s crucial that you check out the battery’s charge and runtime. You want to find a model that will last through your entire shaving routine without losing steam. Many high-quality trimmers offer over an hour of run time on a full charge, and that’s pretty fantastic—chances are very, very strong you’re not going to be trimming your beard for a full hour.
That said, the time it takes for a device to charge can be just as important as its runtime. If you’re the kind of guy who’s got a solid routine and shaves every morning, you can plug the shaver in each night and charge it while you sleep. If, however, you have an irregular schedule—or, like many of us, are just plain-old forgetful, it can be a good idea to look for a quick-charging trimmer that can power up in minutes when you’re short on time. The Philips Norelco Multi Groomer MG3750 is one example—it’s designed so that if you charge it for only two minutes, it’ll have enough juice for a shave. That can be a fantastic option, especially if you’re the kind of guy who may forget to charge the device so that it’s ready to go when you need it.
Hair Removal Add-Ons
Many of us not only need to trim hairs on the face and neck, but also in the nose, ears, and eyebrows. Different trimmers come with different accessories to accomplish these tasks, and while this shouldn’t be a model’s main selling point, it’s certainly a welcome perk, and many of them do a pretty good job of hair removal in those areas.
There’s another reason why those add-ons can be a great choice, though: often, the alternative to removing unwanted hair in the ears and nose is plucking them out with tweezers, and we’d advise against that. Not only is it painful, but repeated plucking can actually regenerate growth, and chances are that’s not what you want.
Even aside from that, though—plucking takes a while! You may not care about your follicles, but you may care about your schedule—especially if you’ve got a demanding schedule.
Best Stubble Trimmer Reviews
Believe it or not, there aren’t too many “stubble trimmer only” models available—most devices that you’d use to groom your facial hair into stubble are actually beard trimmers, and they have a “stubble” setting that you can use to shorten your whiskers to stubble-length. That’s why we like the first two models we’ll discuss—they’re made specifically for the purpose of providing you with a “stubbly” look.
After we discuss those two stubble trimmers, we’ll discuss beard trimmers that are great for cutting your facial hair into stubble. Keep in mind, there are a lot of beard trimmers out there; the ones we review below are the ones we think “make the grade” in terms of creating a nice stubbly look.
The Remington MB4040 Mustache Beard and Stubble Trimmer
Our pick for “best no-frills” stubble trimmer
Remington has been around for a long, long time (more than two centuries, if you can believe it), and they’ve been making beard trimmer and electric razors since the mid-1930s. We think their Remington MB4040 Mustache Beard and Stubble Trimmer is a great choice: it’s got a respectable range of settings, and you can cut your stubble down to 1.5 mm long—which, in the grand scheme of things, is pretty short—all the way up to 18 mm (which is roughly 3/4 of an inch), and it features a shaving guard, which can make it a good choice if you’ve got a tight mustache or very short beard and want to trim that, as well.
The “zoom wheel” is a great feature—there are nine lengths settings, and you can easily switch between settings by rotating the wheel—but it also has some other nice features that we appreciate: the blades pop off pretty easily, and that makes then easy to clean; at maximum power, it can last for 120 minutes; and recharging is fairly simple—just attach the device to the charger and plug the charger into an outlet. Our only complaint is that it’s not waterproof, as some models are, but that’s to be expected for a mid-range stubble trimmer.
Overall, we think it’s a good, solid pick. It doesn’t have the capability to provide a super-close stubble, so if you’re interested in that, our next review might be a better option:
The Conair Super Stubble Ultimate Trimmer
Our pick for best stubble trimmer all-around; a high-end option designed specifically to sculpt stubble
The Conair Super Stubble Ultimate Trimmer gets our pick for best stubble trimmer overall, and here’s why:
It provides a truly wide range of stubble lengths, all the way from 0.4 mm—very, very short—all the way up to 5 mm, and you can choose lengths at 0.2 increments. If you’re into stubble and you want control of it, that might be as good as it gets—there may be more precise stubble tools out there, but we haven’t seen them.
It has a clear digital display. In our last review, we mention that we liked the zoom wheel, and we do—but we like the digital display better. It tells you the exact length your stubble will be, so you don’t have to do any guesswork.
It has a “Flip Back Guide Comb,” which you can use to add lines and details to your stubble. Below, in our “Stubble Maintenance and Grooming Tips” section, we discuss how un-manicured stubble can sometimes look a little disorganized, so having an on-device option to shave some lines into the stubble—particularly in that area around and below your Adam’s Apple—can be a fantastic feature.
It’s cordless, which, if you hate being tethered to a wire, is another nice feature, and it’s got a pretty decent charge time—the first time you use it, it needs to be charged for 16 hours before you can use it, but after that, it only requires 80 minutes of charging time for 70 minutes of use, and if you’re in a rush and haven’t charged it, you can plug it in for 5 minutes and it should have enough juice for a single shave.
AND, it’s waterproof, so you can take it to your sink and rinse it under running water. Can’t take it into the shower, but having it sink-friendly is a very nice touch.
All of the stubble trimmers in this post get our thumbs up, but this is far-and-away our favorite. Remember, it’s not for beards—this is specifically made for stubble—and it gets our vote for “#1 Stubble Trimmer.”
The following five trimmers are all beard trimmers, but they have stubble-shaping capabilities that we think make the grade.
The Philips Norelco Beard Trimmer Series 3500
A good mid-range pick that’s good for stubble and beards
For a device that’s technically a beard trimmer, the Philips Norelco Series 3500 has a really aggressive stubble trimmer, and can cut stubble down to 0.5 mm. That’s pretty good—if you go to a ruler and look at a half-a-millimeter, you may see that half-a-millimeter is pretty darn short—so for a tool that’s not primarily a stubble trimmer, that’s respectable. It has 20 settings, so you can manicure facial hair in 0.5 mm increments all the way to 10 mm (or a little bit less than a half-an-inch). Also good, and with the beard guard that comes with it, you can do some grooming if you have a short- to medium-length beard. That diversity makes it a nice pick.
It’s also got some admirable secondary features: after a single hour of charge, it’s got enough juice for about two hours of run time, so if you find yourself only able to charge this once or twice a week—maybe you travel for work, or work odd hours—that can be a plus; it’s got washable heads, which can make cleaning the blades easier than some other options; and it’s cordless, which we think can be a huge advantage—trying to shave all those oddly angled nooks and crannies on your face can be a chore. We think this one is a good option if you have stubble and/or a beard, and aren’t not looking for something with a ton of bells and whistles.
The Panasonic Milano All-in-One Trimmer
A versatile stubble trimmer + beard trimmer that you can use in the shower
There aren’t too many stubble trimmers / beard trimmers that you can use in the shower, and that’s why we like the Panasonic Milano All-in-One Trimmer: it’s 100% waterproof and designed for the shower, so you can use it in front of the mirror at the sink, or you can drag it into the shower with you, and use it there.
That may sound like an inconsequential feature, but if you hate cleaning up the endless whiskers that come off your face when you shave in front of the mirror, that in-shower capability is a fantastic thing.
So we like that, but there’s a lot else we like, too: it’s got stainless steel blades, which are designed to slice through whiskers; it’s got 19 different adjustment settings ranging from 1 mm to 10 mm—not great if you want super short stubble, but respectable, and the adjustment dial to change settings is pretty simple; and it’s got a nice shape to it—not all trimmers fit nicely into the hand, but Panasonic seems to have put some thought into the ergonomics of this model.
As far as charge and recharge goes, it’s also got features we hope to see: it’s cordless—something we deeply appreciate—and it’s got a charging station and can last 50 minutes after a charge. Different models have different charging capability, but for a lot of guys, that’s not the biggest deal—especially if you charge the model every night as you sleep.
The Philips Norelco Beard and Hair Trimmer BT5215/41
A great stubble trimmer that can also handle body hair
When you’re buying a beard or stubble trimmer, it helps to know what you’re actually going to use it for. If you’re just going to be using it to shape stubble, you could go with any of the previous models we’ve reviewed; if you’re going to use it on stubble, beard whiskers, and body hair, the Philips Norelco Beard and Hair Trimmer BT5215/41 can be a good option.
Let’s quickly run through its stats:
17 length settings, from 0.4 mm (very short, very good) to 13 mm (about a half-inch—about what you’d expect for a beard trimmer), and you can use the “zoom wheel” to switch from setting to setting;
It’s got a specifically-designed attachment comb to cut body hair, which can be a great option for those of us who need to do chest-shaving;
It’s good for use under the sink and you can wash the entire unit under running water; and
It comes with a tidy little carrying sack, so if you need to hit the road, you can stuff it in the pouch, throw the pouch in your suitcase or backpack, and hit the road.
A solid bet, with that nice added feature of the body groomer. It’s odd more stubble trimmers don’t market that function—a lot of guys like that short, stubbly chest-hair look, and this can be a good option for that sort of thing.
Panasonic ER-GB80-S Body and Beard Trimmer
A great high-end option for men with sensitive skin, and good for use on stubble, short beards, medium-length beards, and long beards
Remember when we talked above about our favorite stubble trimmer? Well, this is our favorite beard and body and stubble trimmer: the Panasonic ER-GB80-S Body and Beard Trimmer.
It's got juuuuust about everything we look for:
Not 15, not 30, but 39 different settings, from 0.5 mm to 20 mm. That’s an incredible range, and that makes it very versatile—if you have a beard, and want to trim it, you should be able to, but if you have a beard and want to shave it off for some short stubble, the 0.5 mm setting should accommodate that;
Different comb attachments for beard trimming, body grooming, and even hair-on-your-head trimming;
A quieter “buzz” sound when operating—some trimmers can be LOUD, and if you’ve got a wife / kids / roommates and need to get ready for the day while they’re still asleep, that quieter operation can be a great option;
A decent run time—it can hold 50 minutes of charge after only one hour of charging, and it’s cordless; and this is another aspect that we like:
It’s designed for men with sensitive skin. It’s odd how many products forget that men can have sensitive skin, and the blades on the ER-GB80-S are forged from hypoallergenic steel (stainless steel, in fact), designed to be used for guys with skin issues. It’s not a sure thing that it’ll work for your skin, if you’ve got sensitivity issues—but it’s one of the few stubble trimmers we’ve seen that’s designed for men with sensitive skin.
Our one complaint—and it’s not a complaint; really—is that this model needs to be oiled after use. That’s not an issue, really, and a little bit of upkeep is common for high-end razors—and the trimmer itself is fully cleanable under running water.
We’re big fans of this one—recommended.
Beard vs. Stubble: What is Stubble, Exactly?
Somewhere between a clean-shaven face and a full-blown beard lies perfect stubble: long enough to be seen, but not long enough to run a comb through. When people use the term "stubble," they're usually referring to facial hair that’s trimmed close to the face, but that's pretty non-descript.
The technical, "agreed-upon" definition of stubble is facial hair that's 3 mm (roughly an 1/8 of an inch) long, up to about 6 mm (roughly a 1/4 of an inch) on the very long side.
We'd actually disagree with that 3 mm measurement, though, and would argue that whisker thickness is a factor, as well—a guy with very thick facial hair will appear to have stubble (something like a five-o'clock-shadow) at 0.5 or 1 mm, whereas a guy with thinner facial hair will look like he has stubble at 3 mm or more. Stubble may be measurable in millimeters, but how it looks—and how it needs to maintained—can be a very personal thing.
Stubble grows at different rates for different guys, and while a dense covering may seem to appear overnight for some of us, for others, it can take weeks to develop a thick stubble beard. Often, the first couple of days appear sparse or patchy before evening out for a more distinguished appearance, and even though you might imagine part of the appeal of a stubble beard is that you don't have to take care of it, that's not the case, and you can actually groom a stubble beard so that it's a little more appealing than it would be if you left it alone.
Stubble Maintenance and Grooming Tips
Maintaining stubble is actually kind of tricky. You might imagine stubble is simply a pre-beard that you don’t have to take care of, but that’s not really the case. Here are some things you should know about growing stubble, grooming it, and not going crazy when it itches the heck out of you. The first thing you should do is…
Pay Attention to Growth Rates. If you’ve ever grown a long beard, you may have noticed that whiskers on different parts of your face grow at different rates. Your mustache whiskers may grow quickly, while the whiskers on your cheeks grow slowly, etc. That’s obvious when you’ve got a full beard, because it’s easy to see long whiskers vs. short ones—but you can also see that disparity in length when you’ve got stubble. Even though stubble is very short, you’ll be able to see where it’s fully grown and where it’s patchy—and other people will, too.
So as you grow out your facial hair, take a moment to observe where it grows in thick, and where it grows in thin. If you’ve got thick facial hair, it probably grows in thick all over the place, and you’re good to go. If you’re like a lot of guys, though, you’ll need to pay attention, because here-and-there stubble isn’t always a great look, so you may want to keep your stubble very short on all areas of your face, or shave areas of your face (like your cheeks) where your stubble isn’t growing in so well.
Keeping in mind that stubble may grow unevenly, you may want to…
Grow It Out First, and Then Trim It Off When It’s Beard Length. If you want to make stubble your go-to look, you may want to grow a full beard first, set your stubble trimmer to a longer length—say, 5 mm—and then shave the entire beard off. That way, all your stubble will be the same length, and you can see how it looks. Then you can adjust your trimmer to 4 mm and see how that looks, and so on.
If you’re one of the lucky ones, your facial hair grows uniformly over the skin above your lip, on your chin, along your jawline and cheeks, and on your neck, and when you buzz it off, you’ll be looking at a nice crop of stubble that covers your face evenly. If you’re like everyone else, you’ll have some areas that you’ll have heavily-whiskered areas and thinly-whiskered areas that you’ll have to groom.
Hold the Line! For a lot of guys, there’s a “transition area” on the neck—right at or below the Adam’s Apple—between where whiskers grow and where they don’t. Often times, men neglect that area, and it can look a little… we’ll say, “disorganized.” The whiskers in that area are sparser and growing in all directions, and when they’re not groomed, you get a disheveled, unkempt look, instead of a handsome, well-stubbled one.
For a lot of men, shaving a line into that area can make stubble look thicker and more pronounced, and it can tidy things up a bit. It takes an extra minute or two in the morning (or whenever you shave), but it’s something consider if your “transition area” tends to be a bit wily.
If you find, however, that the line is a little too harsh, you can…
Create a Fade. Sharp lines and contours can sometimes make a stubble beard look a little awkward, especially in its early stages. Instead of simply shaving all hair evenly, you can sculpt a more natural style by fading hair to the cheeks and neckline.
To create a fade, gradually decrease the length setting of your stubble trimmer as you go. You may also be able to create a fade by slowly adding more pressure along each stroke, but be careful not to cause any accidental nicks or cuts.
If You’re Itchy, Consider Beard Oil. If you’ve noticed, guys with long beards never complain about itchiness, because facial hair doesn’t itch when it’s long. It itches when it’s growing in and the ends of the whiskers curl back and irritate your skin, and man, that can be wildly bothersome.
There’s no 100% cure for the itchiness, but beard oils can help. They’re designed to soften whisker hairs (and make them smell good), and they can be good for your skin, too. There are plenty all-natural varieties out there, and the good ones only contain a few ingredients (usually one or more carrier oils like argan oil or jojoba oil or sweet almond oil, that lubricate whiskers and skin, and a very small amount of essential oils, like sandalwood or lavender or lemongrass or patchouli, that can smell really wonderful). Some can even help with beardruff.
If you decide to incorporate beard oil into your grooming routine, be careful: they can be a little addictive. The scents can be really pleasant, and “beard oil collection syndrome” is a thing. We’ve got dozens of different varieties of beard oil, and each one has a really enticing scent signature. You’ve been warned!
Remember: On-the-Fly Stubble Doesn’t Work for Everyone. “On-the-fly” stubble is what you get when you miss a few days shaving, and as we mentioned above, it doesn’t for everybody. If your stubble grows in patchy or at very different rates, make sure groom it. It can be the difference between “handsome” and “disheveled.”
Also keep in mind that if you have heavy beard growth, maintaining stubble isn’t really that different than shaving every day. If you’re going with stubble to avoid shaving, you might find that it’s not really saving you that much time. Something to keep in mind.
If You Have Patchy Growth… You may want to consider the “stubble-tee” (yes, that’s a totally new term, that we just phrased, right here, right now).
For a lot of guys, whiskers are full and fertile everywhere except the cheeks and along the jaw underneath the ear. It’s not great, but it is what it is, and if that’s your situation, you may want to use your stubble trimmer so that it’s 1 or 2 mm above your lip and on your chin, and then shave your cheeks and your jawline under the ear. It’s a sure thing, and it might not look right, but it can be a unique, signature look that might be a good way to enjoy stubble without being able to grow a full face of whiskers.
If you are able to grow a full face of whiskers, we might suggest that you rock one of our all-time favorite looks, which is…
The Stache-and-Stubble. This is, without a doubt, one of our all-time favorite looks: the burly mustache lying atop a healthy bed of stubble whiskers. It’s sometimes referred to as “the high-end hillbilly,” and it’s an amazing mix of cultured but still rough-around-the-edges. Rugged men throughout all of American history have had it: every cowboy worth his salt had it, Magnum P.I. had it, and if you’re one of those lucky dudes who has a healthy growth of facial hair, you might be able to have it too.
Cleanse, Exfoliate, and Moisturize Daily. This is one of those “best practices” routines we occasionally need to remind guys about: treating your skin right is not only good for you, it can also make shaving easier.
Before trimming your stubble, give your face a good wash with a gentle cleanser designed for sensitive skin. Then, exfoliate using a facial scrub to remove dead skin cells that can get in the way of trimmer blades, and finally apply a gentle moisturizer to the area and allow to sit for five to ten minutes. Moisturizers help to soften skin, giving your trimmer a smoother glide, and can also plump up hairs to make them easier to cut. If you’re prone to acne and breakouts, you may want to look for an oil-free moisturizer, as guys sometimes have good luck with those.
Use Lukewarm Water. When cleaning your face before shaving, try to avoid using water that’s too hot. While a splash of steaming water might feel good in the morning, it can dry your skin out, leaving it flaky and difficult to manage, especially in the winter. Instead of scalding temperatures, keep water lukewarm when washing your face to prevent irritation. After shaving, a quick rinse with cold water helps to close and protect pores. Warm-to-hot water can feel wonderful, but for some of us, it’s not a great option.
Stubble is Actually Kind of an Interesting Topic
If you hadn’t gathered from the literally thousands of words we just wrote about stubble trimmers, we’re kind of nerds when it comes to shaving. And, as self-professed shaving nerds, we love the historical aspect to shaving—and in this case, stubble. Here are some fun facts about stubble you might not have known:
Stubble Trimmers Owe Their Existence to a TV Show. The 80s! What an odd time in our history—big hair, amazing music, and believe it or not—the birth of the stubble trimmer.
Musical acts had popularized stubble in the 1980s, and perhaps the most famous stubble of the era belongs the magnificent George Michael, originally of Wham! fame. He was one of the first mega-famous men to truly embrace the stubble look, and a lot of other bands followed suit.
The real stubble hero of the 1980s, though, was the amazing Don Johnson. His show, Miami Vice, was waaaaay ahead of its time, and in a way, it helped define the age. The sleek-but-also-gaudy fashion, the over-the-top looks, and the cars—it was an incredibly fun show. Even though it looks somewhat hokey now, it was cutting edge the time, and incredibly popular.
And Don Johnson rocked the stubble, all the time. Every episode, regardless of the occasion, Don Johnson had stubble. It didn’t matter what he was doing—raiding a drug den, lounging around the house, or paying respects at a funeral—he had an aggressive mat of stubble, and it caught on, and a lot of men tried to re-create the look.
The only problem was that you could only find tools designed to either trim a full beard or offer a clean shave. There wasn’t really anything specifically designed to make it look like you had been up all night on a stakeout (which the guys on Miami Vice did, quite a bit).
So in 1986, Wahl tried to capitalize on the rising popularity of Miami Vice stubble by putting out a trimmer called the “Miami Device”. Wahl soon changed the name—they were worried about copyright infringement, and it’s a little weird their legal team allowed them to develop a product with that name in the first place—so they changed the name to the Stubble Trimmer instead, and… sales tanked. The fad had kind lapsed, anyway, and wasn’t until…
About twenty years later, in 2010, that the specialty trimmer re-appearance. Conair and Philips Norelco retired the term “beard trimmer,” instead starting a line of “stubble trimmers” designed to cut within a closer range. These specialty trimmers took off immediately, with the first year seeing a 14% increase in sales. In 2011, sales continued to rise up over 17%, and that trends seems to be continuing.
So, stubble seems to come in and out of style. And in fact…
Men Have Been Embracing the “Stubble Look” Since the Prehistoric Era. There’s plenty of evidence that shaving isn’t a new idea, but you may not realize just how far back the practice goes. Cave paintings have depicted people shaving, most likely with tools such as flint and sharp shells. They couldn’t get a close shave—how could you, with a flint?—and shaving was more about keeping long hair off your face, to 1) keep insects and vermin out of your whiskers, and 2) keep from freezing: in extremely cold temperatures, beard hair would freeze, and could cause frostbite on the skin. So they hacked it away.
It wasn’t until razors made of copper and gold did men get a closer shave, and blades featuring those two materials have been found in Egyptian archaeological sites that date as far back as 4,000 BCE. While the Egyptians preferred a clean-shaven look, other cultures carefully styled stubble and facial hair to fit in with the current stubbly fashion.
But while manicured facial may have been the style in ancient Egypt, at other points in history…
Facial Hair Has Actually Been Taxed. Stubble hasn’t always been at the height of fashion, and throughout history, different rulers have instituted a “beard tax” on men with facial hair: in 16th century England, King Henry VIII is said to have started a tax on men growing beards, and the higher status you had in society, the more you had to pay; over a century later, Peter the Great of Russia attempted to modernize Russia by following the European trend of cleanshavenness, and he taxed those with facial hair, and publicly shaved those who refused to comply. That’s crazy.
It’s hard to imagine Peter the Great doing that to Don Johnson, though! He’s a rebel. He’d figure out a way to get around the rules.
That Wraps It Up for Stubble Trimmers
There’s a lot here, so hopefully you’ve got a clear understand of what stubble trimmers are, how they work, and how to choose the best stubble trimmer for your facial hair. Have fun, and happy shaving!