If you’ve been reading much about beard trimming, you know there’s disagreement on lots of topics related to this very personal task that all guys with beards must deal with. Some people say it’s best to leave beard grooming to the professionals. Others think you should learn to do it yourself.

While I think it’s fine to let a professional groom your beard sometimes — you might pick up a trick or two — I also think it’s an important part of being a man to learn to do it yourself.

If you decide to follow my advice and learn to trim your facial hair yourself, you’ll need tools to do the job well. For some, that’s simply a pair of scissors. For most guys today, a trimmer is the easiest way to handle beard trimming.

Beard Trimming Advice

When grooming your beard, consider this advice:

Buy high-quality barber scissors. You won’t get good results with office scissors, which are too imprecise and usually too dull for beard trimming.

Get some good combs. You need a wide-toothed comb for combing your beard to make sure everything is groomed well and doesn‘t get pressed down too much, but you’ll need a fine-toothed comb for close grooming of a moustache.

Use more than one mirror. Things look different in different mirrors, plus you always need a side view. For most guys, this means doing most of the grooming with your well-lit wall mirror and checking the sides with a large hand mirror. Make sure any mirror you use is large enough to easily see your whole face at once.

Never trim your beard or moustache when wet. Your hair flattens out when wet and seems longer. If you cut it when wet, it will be too short once it dries, and it will look so bad you’ll probably end up having to shave everything off.

Start at one ear and trim downward. This helps if you have trouble keeping things even when trimming with scissors. Do one side at a time completely instead of going back and forth. When you work on both sides at once, you tend to overtrim in one area before moving on, which causes you to lose length and take more time than necessary.

Keep the length long on your trimmer guard. Until you get the hang of it, keep the setting fairly long on your beard trimmer. Often trimmers cut more than they appear to cut, so go over everything at a longer setting before deciding if you want to try a shorter one.

Trim your moustache by combing straight down. Even if you plan to push your moustache hairs to the side or curl them at the edges, comb down for trimming to get them even.

Don’t pluck stray hairs. Try combing again to make stray hairs lay down. If this doesn’t work, trim the hair with scissors. Plucking a hair damages the follicle and could mean it will never grown back.

Choosing The Right Beard Trimmer

A good beard trimmer is a tool every man needs if you want to be well-groomed. It’s easier, I think, to get a nice trim with a trimmer than with scissors, but make sure the trimmer you choose is a good one. Consider these characteristics:

Features and attachments. You may not need a carrying case, but you’ll need attachments of several different lengths as you experiment.

Corded or cordless. Corded models often have more power, but cordless models are more convenient. I use a cordless one and it’s plenty good enough.

Battery operated or rechargeable. Some beard trimmers run on disposable batteries, but I prefer models that have built-in batteries that can be recharged. These seem more powerful to me.

Price. The cheapest thing you find is probably junk, but you don’t have to pay top dollar either. Choose a mid-priced unit for the best combination of value and quality.

Whatever you do, have fun. A beard isn’t meant to be a hassle or a burden, so use care and use the right equipment and have fun maintaining your facial hair however you want it. For a lot of guys, one of the best reasons to have a beard is getting to work on it every week.

There’s no reason to leave the job of beard trimming to a professional when you can learn to do the job yourself to your complete satisfaction.