Want An Envy-Inducing Beard? Follow These Simple Steps
Stop staring at the glorious whiskers of other men, wondering whether or not you could grow your facial hair so resplendently (or whether or not your employer would approve). It’s time to try — and to aim high. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got patchy facial hair or can only grow a wispy mustache; you can work with whatever you have and still get an acceptable, admirable result. After all, the only way to know how it will look is to grow it out, and to experiment with your options. How to select beard style.
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. 11 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 11 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.”
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.”
Beard designs 2016
Long bushy sideburns with a stubble beard…basically, it’s Wolverine.
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.”
2. And A Few Mustache Styles…
A thick, full mustache that fills the space above the upper lip.
A “dandy” style that requires long (we’re talking long) outer ends, which are curled upward with wax.
Think Chevron, plus sides that droop down on both sides of the lips.
It’s thin, and it’s a little eerie, unless you’re John Waters.
It’s a bigger, badder Chevron, sometimes so bushy that it covers both lips entirely.
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.
Beard Oil: Apply this leave-in conditioner once daily (at a minimum). Oils are packed with natural ingredients that soften hairs and nourish the skin underneath, thus preventing dryness and promoting healthy growth.
Beard Balm: Like oil, beard balm is a leave-in conditioner that nourishes your hairs and the skin beneath. It is also a styler, keeping longer hairs in check. It’s an essential for any workplace styles.
Beard style ideas
Beard Wash: It’s shampoo, engineered for your sturdy beard hairs. The best ones contain oils that condition while they clean. (Avoid using soap to wash your beard; it will dry out the hair.)
Beard Softener: Use it once weekly (substituting it for that day’s beard oil application), for a concentrated hit of hydrating, fortifying oils and butters.
Combs: These 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.
Beard Brush: Before bed each night, brush out your long beard to evenly distribute any oils, and to straighten any tangled hairs. After a day of being styled, you’ll do the beard a favor by airing it out, making it all the easier to apply hydrating products and oils to both the beard and the skin beneath.
Mustache Wax: A little twizzle makes all the difference for guys with stylable ‘staches. Warm up the wax between your fingers and then swipe it across your mustache to keep the hairs off your lip and in proper formation.
Scissors: Some hairs will stray; don’t pluck them! Snip them away, then put these scissors aside for routine mustache trimming.
Electric Razor: Even if you’re growing your beard out, you’ll need to keep it orderly. Use this on your neckline and cheek lines (and to fade the beard from the neckline). Also, if you settle into a permanent short style, you’ll need to trim it with an electric razor every couple weeks to keep it at that length.
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. (See “How to Pick the Best Beard Style for Your Face Shape” to learn what will look best on you.)
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.