Get An Envy-Inducing Beard With This Comprehensive Style Guide
The AskMen Acquire team thoroughly researches & reviews the best gear, services and staples for life. Beard styles 2016.
Fact of life: Chicks dig scuff. Research proves that women rate facial hair as one of the major physical attractions of men. And just because Movember is still months away, that shouldn't discourage you from sporting the fuzzy facial trend you desire — beard or moustache.
Quit being so self-conscious, staring at the glorious whiskers of other men, wondering if it’s possible to grow your facial hair so resplendently (or whether or not your employer would approve). Time to aim — and aim high. Don’t sweat patchy areas or whether your features only allow for a wispy bristle; you can work with whatever is present and still get acceptable, admirable results. After all, the only way to know how it will look is to grow it out, and experiment with options.
Read this guide for everything you need to know: How to get the coolest beard and mustache styles, how to complement your face shape with the most flattering beard, how to trim and fade your facial hair, and how to keep it all clean and scratch-free with some top-tier grooming products and tools. Your beard-envy days are soon over, but the excitement is only beginning.
1. 12 Beard Styles You Should Try
Good news for beard growers: There are dozens of ways you can shape yours, and at various lengths. Eric Bandholz, the founder and hirsute face of Beardbrand, shared his 12 favorite styles, for guys with all sorts of growing abilities and professional demands.
The shortest beard, often just distinguished stubble. It can be grown from one day to two weeks. Neckline and cheek line can be left natural or trimmed. Guys who would otherwise grow patchy beards will often stop at the stubble beard.
Says Bandholz: “The stubble beard is a hotly debated beard within the community. Many guys don’t consider it a beard because it’s so short. In my opinion, if it’s intentional, it’s a beard; if it’s not, then it’s just a dude who hasn’t shaved for a while. The beauty with this beard is any guy, regardless of genetics, can pull this off. It doesn’t matter if your beard comes in patchy or full and thick. Take James Franco, for instance: he’s always rocking this look to give just a little bit more depth to his style than a complete shave would do.”
This is the most common beard that guys wear; it’s full and covers the skin completely. An office-friendly corporate beard is anywhere from two weeks to two months long before it evolves into something else.
Says Bandholz: “In a formal work setting, guys who want to grow a beard will need to trim their cheek line and neckline; this makes a great, more professional beard. You can dress it up or dress it down, which makes it the most transitional beard, too. The corporate beard is generally reserved for those who have the genetics to grow a fuller beard, as a patchy beard doesn’t present fully as it gets longer. As it grows, you’ll want to start using beard oil, and will need to keep it tidy with scissors or a trimmer.”
A photo posted by Captain Jack Sparrow (@johnnydepp.oficial) on Apr 9, 2016 at 5:40am PDT
Hair is concentrated to the chin and mustache, not on the cheeks. A goatee is just a chin beard (no mustache; if it’s connected it’s called a “circle beard”). The Van Dyke has disconnected mustache and chin hair (and sometimes the soul patch).
Says Bandholz: “The late 90’s and early 2000’s were the peak for this style, but it’s a classic go-to that guys can still rock. If your cheeks come in patchy, this may be the best option for you. Johnny Depp is a perfect example of a guy who’s made the Van Dyke part of his style. Another iteration of these beards is the Balbo beard, which is rocked by both Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio. Essentially, that beard extends through the neck portion without connecting sideburns.”
The beard is grown (anything corporate or longer), and the mustache is shaved entirely (no stubble). Fun fact: Abraham Lincoln had a whaler beard.
Says Bandholz: “You’ll need to maintain this look just like any full beard. The length will require at least six months’ growth. A spinoff of this beard is the Amish beard, which will also trim a little lower around the chin to expose more of the mouth. If you didn’t know, the Amish shave off their mustache because the mustache was worn by many military leaders. Because they are pacifists, they didn’t want to be associated with men of war.”
This style is loud: It requires a full, bushy mustache that far outweighs the beard itself. The beard’s length is usually short, like a stubble beard. If you want to get away with this look in a professional environment, you will likely need to dress up so that it feels like part of the ensemble. Otherwise, it can be too polarizing.
Says Bandholz: “This is my favorite styled beard. It’s a very bold style that not a lot of guys have the gumption to pull off (myself included). Basically, it’s the combination of a big styled mustache with a stubble beard.”
This is the inverse of the Beardstache. The mustache is kept at stubble length, whereas the beard is worn full.
Says Bandholz: “Requires approximately six months’ growth. If you are a white guy, this is a more conservative style beard and most likely won’t be worn in more fashion-forward environments, but it is common with guys whose hands help them make a living — like bartenders, barbers, or musicians. For guys of color, the hair on the upper lip is often too curly and tedious to grow out, so this is a great option that still has the a contrast of hair between lip and chin, instead of shaving the mustache entirely.”
Long bushy sideburns with a stubble beard…basically, it’s Wolverine.
Popular goatee styles
Says Bandholz: “This one is very hard to pull off; it is a bold style that gets no love from general society. This is a great option for guys who can grow great sideburns but don’t get the front part coming in too full. You’ll need to keep your sideburns to about two months of growth or shorter. A disheveled, less groomed look is to be expected.”
The inverse of scruffburns: short, stubbled sides, with a bushy, grown-out goatee, Van Dyke, or circle beard.
Says Bandholz: “This is a fresh, bold look on the more conservative circle beard. Like the scruffburns, this one will be harder to pull off in a professional setting, unless you are dressing up. With any beard style your best bet for getting away with it is to look dapper. Get yourself some trimmers to keep the cheek line at the stubble level and use scissors for your goatee and mustache.”
A full beard with a styled mustache. The beard should be under one year of growth, and will be highly groomed. The mustache is usually not a handlebar mustache (although it can be), but instead has a sweeping style.
Says Bandholz: “This is my current beard style. It’s a very dapper look that can be worn in a professional or casual setting. It’s a little more maintenance than a corporate beard but with training (especially on the mustache), it can be tamed very shortly in the morning. Keep your neck line and cheek line neat, and consistently use a beard wash and beard softener.”
A corporate beard on steroids. Depending on how fast your beard grows, it takes two months to one year.
Says Bandholz: “It’s less common in a professional setting, but due to a societal shift in acceptance of larger beards, you may be able to get away with it. Because of the length, you aren’t going to need to worry about trimming the neck line. However, I recommend trimming the cheek line for a more corporate look. Most guys will comb the mustache into the beard, but some will style them out to the sides. It’s going to be less kempt than your Verdi beard.”
As the names suggest, a yeard is a beard that exceeds one year’s growth, and a tweard exceeds two. (For the record, a “forever beard” that is grown long past two years is called a terminal beard.)
Says Bandholz: “It takes a surprisingly large amount of maintenance to take care of a bigger beard. Blow-drying it will help it dry quicker, tame the curls, and give it the density you are looking for. Daily beard oil is a must for skin and hair, to keep both hydrated and soft. Be sure to apply it directly at the roots, too, so that the hair grows healthily. These beards can only be rocked in the most liberal of work settings, but it’s something I recommend all guys try if they can. It’s a wonderful journey.”
A vintage look best associated with the Golden Era of Hollywood, it promotes the thickness of a full beard and the distinctive trimming of a boxed beard. Not a bad look for red carpet and social affairs.
Says Bandholz: “Ok, if you haven’t followed Travis White you need to follow him. He’s rocking one of the coolest beards out there right now. It’s a combination of the chinstrap & circle beard, but with an entirely modern look to it. To get this look, you’ll want to give your cheeks a straight line towards your earlobe then shave everything up to your sideburns. Depending on the look you're going for, you can trim right up to the chin by your neck, or let that grow out and do a standard neckline. For a lot of guys with patchy cheeks, this is an awesome beard to pull off.”
2. And A Few Mustache Styles…
In the era of the beard, the ‘stache really doesn’t get the love it deserves. Still, the iconic facial look is adopted by a niche group of fellers out there, each one favoring a select style over another. Sascha Breuer, Braun grooming expert and celebrity stylist shares his professional insight on six of the most celebrated looks of the modern man.
A thick, full mustache that fills the space above the upper lip.
Says Sasha: “Popularly known as ‘The Selleck,’ the chevron is a cool classic. It’s one of my favorites because it’s elegant in its simplicity. And all you have to do is grow out a thick moustache and keep the lengths even and the ends neat and downward facing. The style works on most face types and you can play with extending the width farther or closer in against your mouth to see what suits you best.?
A “dandy” style that requires long (we’re talking long) outer ends, which are curled upward with wax. Several variations of the handlebar exist, which is all dependent on the hair type you naturally grow.
Says Sasha: “Not for the fainthearted, the handlebar is for those who look for some flair and flamboyance in their facial hair. Buy some moustache wax and experiment with the telltale curled ends: softer for a more subdued look or really thin and pointy for max impact. If you’re pairing the handlebar with a beard, I suggest keeping the latter well shaped and neatly trimmed to let the moustache shine. The style is best avoided by those with narrow faces: drowning in your own facial hair is never a good look.”
The name is self-explanatory in terms of appearance. Think Chevron, plus sides that droop down on both sides of the lips.
Says Sasha: “Remember Hulk Hogan’s trademark inverted-U moustache? The horseshoe rarely works outside of biker gangs and the ring, so I do recommend some caution before committing to the look. You can sport a whiskery stubble if you like, but the horseshoe is typically worn without a beard. The moustache is statement enough for one face!”
Thin and certainly a bit eerie, unless you’re John Waters or Vincent Price, the style is found adjacent to, or slightly above the lip.
Says Sasha: “Fancy a devil-may-care vibe that works in the boardroom? The pencil is a thin, short and straight moustache made famous by the likes of Clark Gable. The style requires regular upkeep. It works best on square-shaped faces and should ideally be avoided by those with rounder faces.”
Think of it as the bigger, badder version of the Chevron. It’s just bushy enough to cover both lips entirely. Any guy capable of pulling this off would make Teddy Roosevelt (or Yosemite Sam) proud.
Says Sasha: “The walrus involves growing a moustache out over your upper lip. You can channel your 18th century playwright by growing a full-blown moustache if you like. Personally, I would advise keeping the moustache trimmed such that it barely skims the lip. Add a modern beard like the French beard and you just might find your way back to the 21st century.”
Made popular by the last emperor of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm II, the look is meant to signify authority and royalty. Fit the profile?
Says Sasha: “Of all the bold, statement moustaches and beards that are so popular now, the imperial is the most unique: it connects hair from the upper lip and the cheeks to create an impressive form, which can then be styled to the individual. The imperial is imposing yet adaptable, and definitely a head turner. Pro tip: avoid the imperial if you can’t devote the necessary time and effort to styling. Growing out enough facial hair for the look requires a ton of patience and you need to groom regularly to maintain the style.”
3. How to Pick the Best Beard Style for Your Face Shape
No two men can wear a beard the same way; each style flatters differently, depending on the grower’s face shape. Here’s a quick guide to knowing which styles will look best on you.
First, you need to determine your face shape.
Look in the mirror. Is your face longer than it is wide? And how does your forehead connect to your cheekbones? Furthermore, how do your cheekbones graduate into your jawline and chin? Chances are, you fit one of the following face shapes: square, circle, rectangle/oblong, triangle, diamond, oval. It’s fairly easy to figure out which one you’ve got, and even easier to know which standard beards will look best.
Second, try to make your face look as oval as possible. This is the most aesthetically pleasing shape, and will prevent you from elongating an already narrow face, or widening a characteristically shorter face.
If you have a square face: Your face is as long as it is wide, with sharp angles at the jaw and little graduation to and from the cheekbones. Pick a beard that adds length and is short on the sides.
If you have a circular face: Your face is as long as it is wide, except that your forehead and jaw graduate toward the cheeks at a soft angle, and your cheekbones are the widest point. Like square faces, pick a beard that is short on the sides but long on bottom.
If you have a rectangular/oblong face: Your face is longer than it is wide; it doesn’t matter if you have a rounded jaw or square jaw, because the main objective here is to broaden the face. Grow a beard that is full on the sides, but short on the bottom. You don’t want to add much additional length.
If you have a triangular face: Your face is as wide as it is long, but your cheeks graduate sharply toward your chin, with little prominence at the jaws. Your cheeks and forehead are relatively close in width. Pick a beard that is short on the sides, longer on the bottom, but wide on the graduated parts of your chin; fill in the space to create a full, oval beard.
If you have a diamond face: Your cheekbones are the widest part of your face, graduating toward the chin and forehead more sharply than a circular face. Jaw may or may not be prominent. Like triangular faces, diamonds are best complemented with a full beard that masks the sharp angles toward the chin. Keep it trim on the sides, and longer on the bottom.
If you have an oval face: Your face is slightly longer than it is wide, with soft angles toward the chin and forehead. Jaws are prominent, but not sharp. Most beard styles will look good on you, since your face shape is already the “most complementary” shape. However, try to keep it even on the sides and bottom for shorter styles, and grow a longer beard only if you want to break away from workplace molds.
4. Styling and Maintenance: The Essential Beard (And Mustache) Products
Growing facial hair is easy, but growing great facial hair takes patience and discipline. You need to maintain the neck and cheek lines, trim any strays, and clean and condition the hairs regularly — all in addition to any actual styling. Avoid amateur status by picking up a few of these products and tools.
Braun Multi-Grooming 8-in-1 Kit
Even when growing out a beard, one must keep it orderly. Braun’s multi-purpose trimmer comes stocked with a variety of comb attachments to fashion the hair length you desire. Use it to fade the beard from the neckline, plus touch up cheek line. Taper edges using the bundled Gillette Fusion Proglide to contour easily across curved landscaping.
Beardbrand Tree Ranger Beard Oil
Most oils are packed with natural ingredients that soften hairs and protects the skin underneath, thus preventing dryness and promoting healthy growth. This lightweight serum comes loaded with essential oils and intoxicating notes of eucalyptus, cedar, and pine to keep the thigh tickler feeling so fresh and so clean. Apply this leave-in conditioner once daily (at a minimum).
Baxter of California Large Comb
Combs will, of course, coax all hairs into a presentable style, but they also evenly distribute the natural oils in your hair, as well as any conditioning oils that you apply. Baxter’s hair styler comes with smoothly tapered teeth to gently stroke across the coarsest hair.
Billy Jealousy Hydrating Beard Wash
Always avoid using soap to wash your beard, for it will dry it out faster. The best shampoos are engineered for sturdy beard hairs and this one contains oils that condition while they clean. A combination of Aloe leaf juice and soy protein works to hydrate and shine facial fuzz, creating a silky-smooth finish that women will flock to place their fingers through.
Proraso Moustache Wax
A little twizzle makes all the difference for guys with stylable ‘staches. Warm up this wax between your fingers and then swipe it across your mustache to keep hairs off your lip and in proper formation. Dampen with warm water to re-style, if necessary.
Zeus Boar Bristle Pocket Beard Brush
Before hitting the sack, brushing out your beard helps distribute any oils and straighten any tangled hairs. Zeus grooming tool will achieve just that, even massage and exfoliate skin beneath with gentle comfort.
Beard Balm From Detroit
Like oil, beard balm nourishes your hairs and the skin beneath. It’s also doubles as a styler to keep longer hairs in check. Here is a facial salve to tames frizz and tangles, all while preventing split ends and fortifying strands to reduce patchiness. All ingredients come from the earth to help you maintain the most organic look possible.
Clubman 2-in-1 Beard Conditioner
Beard growth becomes uncomfortable due to dry skin that develops underneath. This dual-action solution features a concentrated hit of hydrating and fortifying oils to relieve your neck of itch and scaling. A light hint of cooling grapefruit leaves it feeling refreshed.
Tweezerman G.E.A.R. Moustache Scissors
Some hairs will stray; don’t pluck them! Snip them away, then put these scissors aside for routine mustache trimming. Allow the G.E.A.R.’s sharp blades to sheer through unattractive threads and style those whiskers to your liking.
Kent 87T Folding Beard and Mustache Comb
No matter the length of your ‘stache, straightening it is essential. Kent’s pocketable comb is a sweet everyday carry item to keep around to disentangle and style your crumb catcher. High-quality construction ensure this sucker remains intact for long-term use.
5. How To Trim And Fade Your Beard
It might seem counterproductive, but you’ll need to trim your beard as it grows. This will coach it into proper shape, though you may want to hold off until the hair is long enough to require such maintenance.
Before you trim anything, brush out your clean, dried beard to straighten the hairs as best as possible. Then, comb it into your desired style; you’ll want to trim it from this state. Use an electric razor if you want to maintain an even length — you’ll also need this to fade and trim the necklines, and to trim the cheek lines. Use beard scissors to manage any stray hairs that refuse direction, and to trim any mustache hairs that dangle over the upper lip. (Comb the hairs straight down over the lip to check.)
The neckline is where a lot of men mess up an otherwise great beard. You want the hairs of your beard to round the backside of your jaw. Imagine a “U” shaped line that connects the back of your ears to a point above your Adam’s apple. (This point can be determined by placing two fingers above the Adam’s apple. Draw the line from behind the ears to this spot above your fingers.) Everything below this line should be shaved entirely (with an electric razor, or with a blade). This is your official beard neckline — and should be universal law.
Some guys like to fade the neckline of shorter beard styles, the same way a barber might fade your shorter sides into longer hair on the top of your head. It’s easy to fade your own neckline: Take your normal beard setting and trim your entire beard to this length. Then, go down two settings and trim up from the neckline approximately half an inch, particularly under the jaw. (It’s harder to do on the sideburns behind the ear, since they aren’t very deep.) Then, go back up one setting, and trim another half inch up from this first fade. You’re simply graduating the length, very steadily, so that it doesn’t cut off so sharply at the neckline. This becomes less of a necessity as your beard gets really long; in that case, just shave everything below the neckline since nobody will notice a subtle graduation against such long beards.