Historically, workplaces took a dim view to male employees who sported facial hair in the office, with even Jeremy Paxman’s decision to grow a short beard when hosting Newsnight prompting huge debate on social media as recently as 2013.
According to history lecturer Christopher Oldstone-Moore, this may have something to do with the fact that facial hair for the past century has been synonymous with a suspicious streak of individuality and defiance, which aren’t always qualities that employers look for in candidates for work.
Despite the lingering sense amongst some employers that facial hair isn’t appropriate for the workplace, however, so-called “professional” or “corporate” beards have emerged as potentially safer options for men who want to sport some carefully cultivated fuzz in the office.
The corporate beard is also particularly popular amongst young professionals, but what defines this neat style and how can you maintain this unique style over time?
What is the Corporate Beard Style?
Before we discuss the nuances of the corporate beard, it’s important to describe this in careful and precise terms.
More specifically, this is undoubtedly a well-groomed example of facial hair, while it’s also a fulsome beard that’s defined by noticeably sharp lines.
In terms of length, a corporate beard should rarely exceed ½-inch to one-inch, while its lines should be neat, even and ideally symmetrical to the naked eye. To this end, the length should remain even across the whole beard, while the neckline should also be kept trimmed and clean with this style.
As for the moustache, this should also be trimmed and kept to a similar length, while the ‘soul patch’ (which refers to the small and isolated patch of hair beneath the lower lip) should also be relatively short while maintaining its natural shape.
OK, we hear you ask, but how does this differ from similar beard styles? Well, if you compare it to the popular ‘boxed’ beard, you’ll see that this aesthetic is a little longer and more rugged, with the lack of clean cheek lines contributing to a slightly more unkempt appearance.
Similarly, if your corporate beard grows to significantly longer than one inch, it can begin to merge into the iconic ‘lumberjack’ style. This is considerably thicker and more fulsome, while it also negates the need to maintain clean cheek and neck lines over time.
This is an area of debate amongst beard aficionados, some of whom argue that you can comfortably grow a corporate beard to longer than one inch.
However, this really depends on your facial shape and how your facial hair grows, so you may want to experiment when attempting to grow a corporate beard for the very first time.
What Face Shape Suits the Corporate Beard?
Let’s open with the good news; as the full and symmetrical nature of the corporate beard makes it compatible with all face shapes, from square, triangle and diamond visages to those that are decidedly more round, oval or heart-shaped in their nature.
But why is this the case? Well, the even and well-maintained nature of the corporate beard doesn’t overly emphasise any particular part of the face, creating a soft and flexible look that can be worn by virtually anyone!
However, it’s at least fair to surmise that the corporate beard works better with some face shapes than others.
For example, those of you with an angular or pointed chin will particularly appreciate the corporate beard, as it’s capable of drawing visual attention away from the chin and creating a far greater sense of balance.
If you gave a triangle, diamond or heart-shaped face, the corporate beard will also be a great choice. Similarly, men with oval-shaped visages will provide the ideal showcase for short and symmetrical facial hair, although such individuals are fortunate enough to pull virtually any type of beard!
A word of caution; however, as those with a round or particularly square face will need to be a little more careful when shaping and trimming your corporate beard.
After all, if this style grows beyond one inch and becomes a little too long, it can make round and square visages appear too wide or potentially bottom-heavy. So, be sure to pay particular attention to the lower portion of your face, while keeping your facial hair short and closely trimmed on a regular basis (we’ll touch a little more on this in the next segment).
Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty – Growing and Shaping a Corporate Beard
This leads us neatly into the next segment of the article, as regular and attentive maintenance is absolutely essential to the essence of the corporate beard.
Remember, the corporate beard is an incredibly precise and defined example of facial hair, while allowing it to grow unchecked will blur the lines between other styles and potentially create a far shabbier look.
So, here are some tips on initially growing out your corporate beard and shaping this to achieve the optimal effect!
Understand the Time-Frames That are In Play
Managing expectations is crucial when growing any beard, both in terms of the time required to achieve your optimal look and the tools needed to make this a reality.
In general terms, facial hair grows at an average rate of between ½-inch and one inch per month, so it will take between four and six weeks to grow your beard enough to create the corporate aesthetic.
During this period, your beard should be allowed to grow out freely and without interruption, enabling the facial hair to fill in fully and create a more fulsome appearance that can be sculpted in the future.
Invest in the Tools of the Trade
At this stage, you should be able to consider bringing your corporate beard to fruition, but you’ll definitely need some dedicated tools to help achieve this aim.
The first thing that you’ll need is a high quality electric (or dry) razor with a dedicated trimmer function. This serves a dual purpose when initially trimming your facial hair, as you can use the razor with a comb of a specific length to remove some of the length from your beard and ensure an even and symmetrical finish.
These tools may either be built-in to the razor or available as standalone guards of variable length, while they have the advantage of allowing you to experiment with different lengths when trimming your beard and the moustache.
Then, you can utilise the razor’s bare trimmer function to define the cheek and necklines of your beard, establishing a clean and neat outline that’s relatively easy to create.
This also lays the foundation from which you can further shape your corporate beard, but we’ll cover this particular topic in further detail below.
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While they’re not essential, we’d also recommend investing in a high-quality and durable set of beard scissors. This creates a little flexibility when trimming your moustache, enabling you to reach the various nooks and crannies that can be hard to reach effectively with an electric razor.
Shaping Your Beard in its Entirety
Now that your facial hair has been successfully grown out and trimmed to the ideal length, the next step is to finish shaping your corporate beard and attending to those delicate finishing touches.
There are several elements to this, starting with the shaping of the neckline. Remember, the corporate beard requires a much higher neckline than other full beard styles, in order to create a cleaner and more professional look.
More specifically, most full beards see the neckline trimmed to the Adam’s Apple, whereas the corporate alternative maintains this just above the thyroid cartilage (to give its scientific name).
You’ll therefore need to tilt your head and visualise a neckline that runs from the left ear to the area above the Adam’s Apple, before tracing this across to the right ear.
Then, simply move carefully along this line using your trimmer, while taking the time to remove any excess hair located beneath. You should take this opportunity to clean up the corners of your jawline, along a vertical line that runs from the sideburns and contributes to a clean and more angular look.
A similar principle needs to be applied to the cheek, which should be trimmed along an imaginary line that runs from the centre of each ear to the moustache. Simply trim any hair that sits above this, focusing on creating a straight and angular line that’s incredibly neat.
We’d then recommend taking a wet shaver to trace the contours of your neck and cheek lines, creating a more precise and even finish that contributes to an even more professional visage.
At this stage, we should note that the corporate beard style is incredibly compatible with a shaved or bald scalp.
However, marrying these two distinct looks together may require you to engage in beard fading, which effectively means blending your cheek hair into your sideburns and then into your scalp as you work your way upwards.
This simply adds another dimension to your corporate look, and one that’s indicative of a well-groomed male who takes immense pride in their appearance.
Maintaining Your Corporate Beard
Congratulations! You now have a corporate beard that would make you the envy of any high-flying executive or enigmatic Wall Street trader!
However, this means little if you’re unable to maintain the look, as without proper and regular maintenance even the most professional of beards can descend into chaos, mess and the type of facial hair usually sported by those who may be stranded on a desert island.
So, to conclude the post, let’s consider some of the steps that enable you to maintain your corporate beard without compromising your precious spare time!
Continue to Trim and Shave on a Regular Basis
A consistent grooming regime is key to maintaining your professional facial hair, particularly in terms of how often you trim and shave your face.
In terms of trimming the length of your beard, you should aim to do this at least once every one or two weeks. This will be dependent on how quickly your facial hair tends to grow, as you ideally focus on ensuring that your beard remains between ½-inch and one inch in length at all times.
In terms of shaving with a traditional wet razor, this should be done far more frequently at an average of once every two days. This will enable you to remove stray hairs from the neck or cheek lines, while also attending to the hairs that continue to grow around the moustache and soul patch.
You should definitely ensure that your neckline and cheeks are cleanly shaven on a frequent basis, as otherwise the look can begin to look uneven and detract from the overall impression that you’re trying to achieve.
Once again, however, remember to factor in the average speed at which your facial hair grows, as you may need to shave with a traditional razor everyday in some instances. This shouldn’t be an issue if you regularly shave your scalp, as you can simply incorporate this into your existing grooming regime.
Moisturise, Moisturise and Moisturise Some More
Forgive the sub-heading, but we can’t over-emphasise the importance of moisturising your face as a way of maintaining a healthy and fulsome beard.
You should definitely moisturise immediately after washing and drying your face, in order to rehydrate the kin and prepare it for the rigours of electric and wet shaving.
In general terms, it’s recommended that you moisturise your beard twice a day, ideally using dedicated day and night-time products that protect your skin in different ways. However, you need to moisturise once as a bare minimum, so you’ll need to find a way to incorporate this into your schedule.
You may also want to use a moisturiser that includes SPF (Sun Factor Protection), particularly as the summer months approach. This not only safeguards your skin from the harmful UV rays that radiate from the sun (which can precipitate premature aging and even cancer), but this type of product can also be used seamlessly to moisturise the skin on your scalp.
On a final note, don’t be afraid to use similar products like beard oils or balms after shaving. These also boast hydrating qualities, while they can be combined with a moisturiser before being massaged gently into the skin and combed directly into the beard for uniformity.
Just try to avoid products that include alcohol, as this can irritate and dry out your skin unnecessarily over an extended period of use.
Don’t Use Shampoo for Your Head on Your Beard
We’d also recommend investing in dedicated beard shampoos as part of your grooming regime, even though this may seem like an unnecessary expense given the products that you already have in your bathroom.
But why’s this we hear you ask? Well, using basic soap or normal shampoo on your corporate beard can quickly dry out your skin and hair follicles, potentially clogging your pores and damaging the growth of your beard in the process.
It may also leave your beard looking bristly and feeling hard to the touch, which is a million miles away from the soft and fulsome beard that you want to wear on your face!
So, be sure to compare the market for a natural and high-quality beard shampoo, as this should be considered as an important investment when maintaining the corporate facial hair of your dreams!
The Last Word
So, there you have it; our detailed guide to growing and maintaining a corporate beard, which also includes some basic insight into whether this particular type of facial hair is suitable for you.
As you can see, it can take a little time to grow and sculpt the ideal corporate beard, especially given the focus on precision, length and the desire to maintain an even finish and decidedly clean lines.
It’s also important to have the right tools and accessories in your armoury, from an electric razor and beard scissors to an SPF-infused moisturiser. Such tools can make creating and maintaining a corporate beard easy and time-efficient, which is ideal if you’re a high-flyer with a high-powered career!