While it’s fair to say that the trend of the beard comes and goes, we’ve undoubtedly seen facial hair become increasingly popular over the course of the last five years.
According to research collated by YouGov, around 37% of Brits sported some form of facial hair in August 2011. This number had increased to 42% by late 2016, with the growth of full beards and stubble especially popular among UK men.
Arguably, we’ve also seen a rise in the number of men who grow their beard deliberately, rather than out of convenience or a failure to shave regularly. If this is true in your case, however, you’ll need to learn how to shape your beard like a boss so that you can make the most of your appearance. Here’s how:
Start by Finding the Right Beard Shape for You
Let’s start with the basics; as there’s little point in learning how to shape your beard if you’re unable to identify what type of facial hair best suits your face.
To help you on your way, we’ve listed a number of different face shapes and the types of beard that suit these.
The Round Face
If you have a round face, growing a beard can help to add structure to your visage and create a more angular jawline.
The key is to go a little bit longer at the chin, as this elongates the face and makes it appear far less round. Similarly, we recommend that you avoid bushy sideburns and keep the sides of your beard trim, as this will draw attention to the chin and make the face seem a little longer.
Men with a rounder face tend to favour full beards, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with this a goatee may offer a better option.
This will certainly make round or rotund faces appear leaner, particularly when combined with an extended beard shape and neatly trimmed sideburns.
The Long Face
If you’ve ever been asked “why the long face?”, it may be because you’ve selected the wrong beard type to suit your features.
As this is the exact opposite of a round face, you’ll need to grow a beard that’s fulsome at the sides and cropped at the chin. This will add width to the thinner portions of your face, making it appear a little shorter in the process.
With this in mind, a fuller beard is undoubtedly preferable for men with longer faces, as it’s important to retain thicker and fuller sides if you’re to maintain the desired appearance.
Just be sure to avoid abrupt changes in length, as otherwise, the shaping will become obvious and determinantal to your overall look. We’ll offer some tips on how you can achieve this a little later in the piece.
The Square Face
In many ways, people with a square jaw and face must deal with similar problems to those with a rounder visage.
More specifically, facial hair must be grown to elongate the face and soften the overall look, in order to create a more structured and masculine shape.
In this instance, you’ll also need to crop your facial hair at the side and keep it longer at the chin, whilst maintaining a slightly rounder beard in order to soften your jawline.
A goatee beard is also a good idea in this instance, but a fuller alternative may be preferable if you really want to make your face appear less wide.
The Broad Face
A broad face may be wide and feature a high forehead, and in this instance, a sculpted or goatee beard will appear out of proportion.
As a result, these types of facial hair can make your face appear disproportionally bigger, creating an uneven look that’s far from desirable.
To negate this, you need to focus on growing a fulsome and thick beard, whilst also maintaining a large and well-groomed moustache a lot the square face style.
We’re also aware that broader faces can be round or square, so pay attention to the shape and follow the relevant steps above to cultivate your look further.
The Small Face
Conversely, those of you with a small face will need to focus on growing compact and sculpted beards that are proportionate.
Make no mistake; large or more fulsome facial hair styles will appear totally out proportion in this instance, so consider adopting a goatee or chin-strap beard to help make the most of your appearance.
If you have a small face that’s relatively angular, you could consider growing designer stubble evenly across your face.
This will provide a subtle and manageable beard that does not overwhelm your facial features, while you can experiment with the precise length to suit your expectations.
The Oval Face
In many ways, the oval face shape represents the Holy Grail for men who want to grow a beard!
After, this is a balanced, symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing shape that is compatible with almost every conceivable beard type, meaning that you can adopt a number of variable options and continue to look your best.
Whether you plump for a full and thick beard or a stylish goatee, however, sculpting is still an important consideration if you’re aiming for a deliberate look.
This ensures that you tread the fine line between a sculpted beard and one that’s unkempt, which is crucial if you’re to make the most of a symmetrical face.
A Word on Patience and Why this is Important
This information will help you to sculpt your existing beard, in order to suit the shape of your face and its unique features.
If you’re growing facial hair from scratch or looking to radically change your beard style, however, you’ll also need to exercise patience as you cultivate the desired look.
This particularly true when growing your beard, as the facial (or androgenic) hair, goes through three distinct growth stages that take a predetermined amount of time.
The anagen stage comes first, and this can last for anywhere between three months and a year depending on factors such as your age, genetics and natural testosterone levels. Interestingly, this is still noticeably shorter than the anagen phase for scalp hair, which explains why your beard will never grow long enough to reach the floor!
Then comes the catagen phase, which typically lasts for a couple of weeks and is considered to be a resting period. Your beard will then enter the telogen phase, which is similar in that no growth occurs during this time and all that takes place is the transition between old and new hair follicles.
This phase can last for up to four months before the entire cycle begins again and the various stages of growth are repeated.
With these points in mind, it’s clear that growing, sculpting and reshaping your beard can take time, so you’ll need to be patient during this process and retain a clear vision of your facial hair will look in the end.
Now for the Nitty Gritty – How to Style your Beard
At this stage, you probably have a beard trimmer in one hand and your smartphone in the other, as you look to get to grips with your facial hair and style it to suit your preferences.
We’re keen to get started too, so here’s a detailed guide on the various styling tips that you’ll need to create a beard that other men would kill for!
If you’ve let your beard grow out in order to length or thickness, one of the first things that you’ll need to get to grips with is trimming.
Believe it or not, this process starts by bringing the individual hairs off your face using a wide tooth comb. This should then brush through the beard, as you angle the comb to move away from your face and in an upwards direction from the bottom.
At this stage, you’ll need to determine precisely how much you want to trim from your facial hair. If you’re largely happy with the length, you can simply take a pair of grooming scissors which are blunted on the ends to snip off any stragglers or uneven hairs.
Conversely, if you want to perform a moderate trim and achieve a precise look, you might want to attempt the scissors-over-comb technique. This is the best and most effective methods of precision cutting, while it helps you to trim a specific length from your beard and create a genuinely even look.
To complete a more severe trim, we’d definitely recommend investing in a beard trimmer that’s complete with several guard sizes. This is not only easy to use, but it allows you trim variable lengths from your beard and quickly remove any unwanted bulk or thickness.
If you’re still experimenting to get the right look, start by using the longest guard setting before working your way down to find the ideal length.
When this process is complete, just remember to use the trimmer’s shaping tool to clear away any stray hairs on your cheek. In terms of frequency, you don’t need to trim your beard any more than once a day, while you can also use various products to help enhance the effects of this process (we’ll have a little more on this later).
Shaping the Sideburns
If you ever speak to a full-beard enthusiast, you’ll know that they often declare the space where your scalp hair ends and your facial hair begins as “no man’s land”.
In essence, this term refers to your sideburns, and failing to address these or shape them can undermine the aesthetic of your beard and allow the hair around your ears to grow far too long.
Ultimately, your best bet is to create a nice taper between your head and facial hair, particularly if you want to avoid any overgrown sideburns or bald spaces on the side of your face. This is quite easy to achieve if you’re adept with clippers or a comb, but even if you’re not it will become second nature over time.
To begin with, simply take a small amount of hair at the bridge between the middle of your ears and your beard, depending on where you want your sideburns will end. Then take a clipper and taper the hair to your desired length, which you can experiment with as you grow accustomed to your brand new look.
The most important thing is that you don’t overlook your sideburns, as this can force even the best-laid facial hair plans to go awry.
Defining the Neckline
On a similar note, defining the neckline can also be deceptively challenging for people who are looking to shape their beard and cultivate the desired look.
However, whether you’re looking to create a sculptured and minimalist beard or one that’s thick and fulsome, it’s imperative that you define your ideal neckline and avoid the growth of excess hair in this area.
Let’s face facts; there’s nothing appealing about a so-called “neckbeard”, even if your facial hair is natural and slightly wild in its appearance. At the same time, drawing a neckline that’s too high can also be problematic, as it may appear unnatural and undermine the attempts that you’ve made to groom your beard.
In general terms, a sensible neckline should serve as a natural extension down from the curve of your ear, with the hair passing no more than 1.5 inches above the Adam’s apple.
You’re ultimately free to define your own neckline, of course, but using this as a basic guide will ensure that you achieve a natural look that’s smooth and regularly maintained.
Dealing with the Lips
We’re going to come onto the moustache in a little more detail in a while, but first, we thought it best to lay down some ground rules when grooming around the lips.
This is certainly true if you want to avoid the sort of bushy moustache that defined the legendary cowboy Sam Eliott, as while this is certainly a distinctive look it’s not one for faint-hearted.
It’s also fair to say that the goatee area around your mouth deserves special attention when you’re shaping your beard, as while it’s easy to overlook this can have a significant impact on your style.
In basic terms, you need to ensure that your moustache isn’t growing over the upper lip, and you can use rounded scissors to trim this quite easily. This will ensure that the hairs on your lip grow in an even and uniform manner, and don’t begin to look unkempt over time.
When it comes to that delicate area around your soul patch, we’d also recommend using your beard trimmer and its narrow head attachment to shape this. This area on your chin can often become overgrown quite quickly, so regularly trimming this will help you maintain the desired aesthetic.
Trimming your Moustache
We often talk about the moustache as part of trimming your overall beard, but it’s important to note that your lip hair represents a monster all by itself.
We’ve already touched on the fact that you need to trim your lip hair and maintain this frequently, but despite this, it’s crucial that your moustache maintains its bulk and original shape.
This can be a delicate balance to achieve, but fortunately, there are some techniques that can help you to realise such a goal.
Start by using a fine-tooth comb to brush your moustache down towards your upper lip, before identifying any stray hairs or split ends. Using your scissors, you should then begin to cut slowly and deliberately in a triangle shape, with the top point of this starting in the middle of your upper lip.
This creates a sculpted frown shape, that ensures your ‘tache is both versatile and capable of being moulded into a number of different styles.
This trimming technique will also help you to retain the bulk of your moustache, helping it to look great with or without the use of styling products.
These steps should help you shape and cultivate your beard as desired, without overlooking crucial elements like the sideburns and the moustache. On a final note, just remember to wash your beard regularly, with a frequency of once or twice a week keeping your facial hair clean without damaging it!
The Tools of the Trade – How to Keep your Beard Looking Fresh
By now, you should have a compatible beard type that’s well-groomed and incredibly stylish. While achieving this look is one thing, however, it’s quite another to maintain it and ensure that your facial hair retains a sleek and decidedly fresh aesthetic.
Thankfully, we know of a few tools of the trade that can keep your beard looking fresh at all times. Here’s just a few to get you started:
Beard oil is an increasingly popular and well-known product and one that’s designed to moisturise your facial hair and the underlying skin.
This type of product is also extremely hydrating, and this enables it to double as an effective styling agent in the current market.
The question that remains, of course, is what to look for in a high-quality beard oil? This is an increasingly important consideration, particularly as the market expands to include a wider array of good (and sadly questionable) products.
Aside from being marketed as moisturising and hydrating, the very best beard oils should also use exclusively natural ingredients. These include argan and jojoba oils, which are incredibly hydrating and capable of safeguarding the skin underneath your facial hair.
Oils that include cedarwood also offer excellent value for money, as this serves as a natural antiseptic and provides further protection for your skin.
Products that include all of these ingredients are great for treating dry skin and facial hair, while these oils are also absorbed quickly into the skin and can help to prevent split ends.
This formula will also help to combat the dreaded beard itch, which can slowly drive you mad if you don’t take care of your facial hair properly.
Training your Beard with a Comb or Brush
The term “training your beard” is an interesting one and one that conjures up images of teaching it performance tricks.
It actually refers to using combing techniques and products to help cultivate even growth, while it also enables you to achieve variable and desired styles.
To perform these techniques properly, you’ll need to invest in the right type of comb for different portions of the face. A comb with wide teeth will glide seamlessly through the main body of your beard, for example, while a product with smaller teeth can be used to cultivate your moustache.
We’d recommend avoiding cheap plastic combs too, as they can cause snags and may find it difficult to move thicker and more fulsome beards.
You can then start by combing the beard outwards and from the bottom as we discussed earlier, as this separates individual hairs and creates a fuller appearance. Once this process has been completed, you can start to comb the beard downwards in order to style it in the manner of your choosing.
Now, you may encounter some snags when combing through your beard. While using beard oil and the right type of comb will help to minimise these, if you do come across one you must remember not to tug or pull at it aggressively.
Instead, gently comb through the snag and look to separate the crossed hairs, as this is far more effective and less painful overall!
Feed your Beard with the Right Nutrients
On a final note, it’s crucial that you feed your beard with the right nutrients and vitamins. These elements are central to healthy hair growth, and your beard, in particular, relies on a handful of dietary resources.
In general terms, healthy beard growth relies on fats and proteins, but vitamins are also crucial to the maintenance of thick and shiny facial hair. These include Vitamin A and Beta-carotene, which repairs skin tissue and lays the foundation for a healthy beard.
Vitamins C and E are also important as they boost the production of sebum, which lubricates the skin and hair in equal measure. You should also enrich your diet with sources of Omega 3 and Zinc, which help to protect cell membranes and enhances tissue growth respectively.
But what does this mean in dietary terms? Quite simply, you need to consume vitamin-rich foods like nuts (especially almonds), sunflower seeds, fruit, vegetables and dark leafy greens such as broccoli.
Protein can also be sourced through meat, while vegetarians and vegans can get their fix by consuming beans, legumes and tofu.
The Last Word
So there you have it; our comprehensive guide on how to shape your beard like a boss and make the most of your appearance!
Just remember to factor all of these tips into your grooming regime, as each one plays an important role in defining your style and maintaining healthy growth.