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Clipper vs. Trimmer: What’s the Difference Between Them?

By Laura
October 20, 2023
7 minutes
clipper vs trimmer

One thing that lockdown has taught us is cutting our hair by ourselves. Whether these are your long stray hair beard, body, or scalp, you can keep them under your control as long as you know which device to use.

Learning about the right methods and devices for cutting your hair helps you stay tidy during situations like lockdowns. It also saves you time and money as you won’t have to go to a barber.  The most important tools that should be in your kit depend upon what you need.

To know what suits your requirements, you must know the difference between all the tools out there. All other tools can be easily differentiated but people often mistake hair clippers with hair trimmers. So, here we are! With a detailed guide on the difference between these two so that you never order the wrong one.

Table of Contents:

Part 1: What is A Hair Clipper?What is A Hair Clipper

A hair clipper is a device specifically designed to cut the thick hair on your beard or the scalp. It has big blades that rub against one another thus giving you a perfectly leveled cut. With guard combs and several other attachments in a hair clipper, you can try a variety of styling options by yourself.

They come in different sizes ranging from size 0 to size 12. The size actually refers to the different guards used for getting your hair cut to a specific length. These sizes decide the length of hair a clipper would leave behind. For instance, size 0 leaves behind 1/6 inches of your hair while clipper 12 leaves behind 1.5 inches.

Part 2: What is A Hair Trimmer?

As the name indicates, hair trimmers trim your hair so they are preferred for use on shorter hair. They trim your beard, sideburns, cheek lines, and edges precisely.

The hair-trimming tool has small and thin multiple blades and shark-like teeth that enable precise cutting. Furthermore, they are mostly made of hypoallergenic stainless steel material. Therefore, they are useful for trimming hair in sensitive areas as well.

There is a wide variety of trimmers available like bikini trimmers, ear and nose trimmers, and beard trimmers. Hence, it is recommended to keep your needs in mind while buying a hair trimmer.

Part 3: What is the Difference Between Clipper vs. Trimmer?

By now, you must have a rough idea about what each of these tools are. However, if you are still confused about them, this section will help you clearly differentiate and choose the right equipment.

Size and Weight

As clippers are intended to do the heavy-duty work, they are bigger in size. The bigger the size is, the heavier the tool will be. Being heavy, it is difficult to keep holding the clipper for too long. Your hands might feel stiff, fatigued, and painful after you are done cutting all your hair.

Unlike the hair clippers, trimmers are smaller and lighter in weight. This makes it easy for users to hold the trimmers even for long. So, in terms of user experience, trimmers are far better than clippers.

What is the Difference Between Clipper vs. Trimmer


The number, size, and width of blades in each hair removal tool solely depend on their purpose. In a hair clipper, there are usually two comb-like blades that become active together on turning the clipper on. As you swipe them across your beard, or body one blade catches your hair while the other moves to and fro.

This oscillating motion cuts your hair evenly and efficiently. On the other hand, the blades in a trimmer also work on the basis of oscillation. But, these blades are shorter, thinner, and more in number as compared to a clipper. They are divided into stationary and movable blades. They overlap with each other pinching off your hair and giving you the required results.


Now we are done understanding the anatomy of hair clippers and hair trimmers. Let’s see the functions each of them can perform.

Hair clippers are responsible for doing the bulky work and cutting long hair to a minimum of 1.5 inches in length. They are used for cutting the hair on your scalp or shortening your long coarse beard hair.  Moreover, they are preferred for use in larger areas as they have bigger heads.

Hair trimmers are used to compensate for those areas a hair clipper cannot reach. They can cut close to the skin. So, you can use them to cut short and fine facial hair, tidy up your sideburns, and give your beard a finer detail.

Handling and Maintenance

If we discuss the handling and maintenance of clippers and trimmers, clippers are relatively hard to handle and maintain. Being heavy in weight, your arms easily get tired of holding them for too long and if you have joint problems, it is going to be even more difficult.

For maintenance, you need to lubricate the clippers often, clean them often, and get rid of all the accumulated debris regularly. As they cut long coarse hair, they get easily stuck thus hindering the normal working of clippers.

The trimmers are lightweight and smaller so you can easily move them around your face and smaller areas. You can clean them after every two to three uses.

Accessories and Attachments

The hair clippers have long and thick blades and are used for coarser hair, so they require some extra attachments for safe and effective hair cutting. They have guide combs also referred to as clipper guards.

These guards are responsible for maintaining a safe distance between your hair and the clipper blade. They come in different sizes which determine the length of your hair. Furthermore, there are extra attachments for ear, nose, or beard hair.

In contrast to hair clippers, hair trimmers do not have extra attachments not even the guard combs. If you need them, you have to buy them separately.

Can A Clipper and Trimmer be Used AlternativelyPower

The clippers are made for cutting the bulk hair while trimmers are made for short and sleek hair. The motors in electric clippers are more powerful so that they can cut coarse hair easily. On the other hand, the motors in trimmers are weak as they are only responsible for thin hair.

Having a weak motor does not mean that trimmers cannot work well. The power in the motors of both tools is right according to their functioning. So, both can work well irrespective of their power.

Part 4: Can A Clipper and Trimmer be Used Alternatively?

No, they should not be used alternatively. It is because clippers cannot cut hair close to your skin. The clipper guards prevent them from going close to your skin and allow cutting to only a certain hair length. In addition, they are big in size, so they cannot reach smaller areas and will be hard to handle.

Another reason is that clippers have strong motors. So, if you use them for cutting hair in sensitive areas, it is going to be painful with every swipe. They are not precise enough for use on small areas like sideburns, or tidying up your stray hair.

Similarly, trimmers do not have adequately powerful enough motors to cut coarse, thick, and long hair on your body. Trimmers also have small blades therefore it is going to be time-consuming if you are using them for your long hair.

Hence, you should not think of using them as each other if you want accurate results.

Part 5: Which One Should You Buy?

The answer to this depends upon your needs. They are mainly used for cutting your scalp hair. But, you can also use them for your beard if you like keeping short-beard hair.

On the other hand, if you prefer a clean shave, or looking for a tool that can trim your facial hair, let you shape your sideburns, and clean your edges, then go for the hair trimmer.

You can buy one initially after carefully considering your requirements. After some experience with one tool, you can also start using both. One will give you your desired cutting while the other will let you add more details and clean the left-out stray hair.


Now, let’s move towards the conclusion. The hair clippers and trimmers are often mixed up with each other because of how similar they look. However, if we go into detail, there are various factors that differentiate them.

Hair trimmers have short and thin blades that can precisely trim your fine hair. Their motor is weak as compared to clippers. They do not have any clipper guards and are lightweight. Moreover, they are a little smaller than hair clippers. You can easily hold them and use them in areas even clippers cannot reach.

Keeping these points in mind, you can choose the one that meets your needs. Trimmers can be used before shaving but if you are tired of shaving every other day, you can try Ulike IPL Sapphire Air3 as a long-term solution to your unwanted body and facial hair.

Want to know about this IPL device? Click Ulike IPL Laser Hair Removal: Effective for Men and Women.

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