How to properly shape your beard
Maintaining a healthy, attractive beard can be a production: It requires routine maintenance and a confidence about what looks best (and how to achieve it). If your beard needs a little direction — or if you’re just starting to grow one — follow this advice to keep it looking shapely and symmetrical.
Face shape should determine your beard style.
You want a beard to complement the shape of your face. Symmetry plays a big part in how aesthetically pleasing something is; if you’ve got a long, narrow face, you don’t want to grow an Abe Lincoln beard that further accentuates the length.
The goal is to make everything as oval as possible. It’s as simple as that. With this guiding principle, consider a few more prescriptive measures:
- For circular or square faces — where the width and the height are similar measurements — grow more hair on the bottom of the chin and keep the sides short. You want to elongate the face since yours is naturally wider than most.
- For rectangular, oblong, and triangular faces — where the height is greater than the width, or where the cheeks angle sharply toward the chin — grow the beard shorter on the bottom but fuller on the sides. You want to round out the sides and give some width to your head.
Guys with oval faces, congratulations: You’re the lucky ones who can try various lengths on the sides and bottom. Don’t let it get too disproportionate, though; try to maintain an oval shape, lest you compromise your genetic gift.
Know where and how to fade.
To keep your beard shapely, you need proper border control. Your neckline and cheek lines are the first things people will notice and scrutinize; tidying them is both simple and imperative.
The neckline is a more universal concern for men, since a lot of guys don’t grow hairs too far up the sides of their cheeks. Here’s the easiest way to “draw” the neckline: Imagine a “U” that runs from the base of your left ear to the base of your right ear. It goes behind each jaw — do it behind the jaw, to fill out the cheeks — and its base is roughly an inch above the Adam’s apple. A better way to measure the base is to take two fingers — the pointer and middle — and rest them just above the Adam’s apple. You should completely shave everything below this point, and then shape it into the imaginary “U” that you drew before. This forms your beard neckline.
However, the contrast between skin and beard can be aggressive, which is why fading the beard is also important. You want the neckline to be evident, but it should graduate steadily into the bulkier parts of the beard. To fade your beard, take your beard trimmer and adjust it to a length that is two settings shorter than your actual beard. Trim roughly one inch deep into the beard from each point along the beard neckline; it might be better to try longer settings first, in case your beard is already short, or in case you accidentally trim too much away.
The goal with this step is to find a “halfway” length between the long hairs and the abrupt neckline cutoff.
Next, cut that setting in half — if it was a quarter inch, make it an eighth — and start again at the beard neckline to trim halfway into the first pass. You should be able to stop after this, since the beard will have a steady graduation in length. If you have an especially long beard already, it may not be worth trying to fade it; the proper neckline trim should suffice. If you’re just starting to grow out the beard, you might want to wait a month to try fading the neckline, just to let the hairs grow long enough to offer any contrast. Either way, it’s important to at least maintain the right neckline, all the way through the jaw; it keeps your beard looking natural and not overly groomed or unkempt.
Your cheeklines won’t require as much maintenance; lots of guys have straight, diagonal cheeklines, while others have curved ones. The bigger priority here is to shave away any strays that climb up and away from the natural cheeklines. Some guys will fade their cheeks the same way they do their necklines, but it’s harder to do against the grain, not to mention less natural-looking.
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Trim regularly (even as you grow it out).
Trimming your beard is necessary for managing bulk, styling it to your desired shape, and eliminating strays. You’ll want to do this every week or two, depending on h
ow fast it grows. Once you’ve decided the length you need — remember, this might be a different length on the sides and bottom, per your face shape — comb the beard out against
the grain, then comb it back down into place. Trim it to your desired length. You can even try blending the sides and bottom if you’re growing them to different lengths — just use a halfway setting along the jaw between the two. Then, comb the beard into place again, and trim away any strays with beard scissors. Once you’ve trimmed the mustache to your desired setting, comb the hairs straight down and snip away anything that protrudes over the lips.
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18 built-in length settings
Invest in a conditioning styler.
To keep your beard looking sharp all day, you’ll want to style it in the morning — the same way you sculpt your hair. Get a nourishing wax styler, like The Tamer from Brothers Artisan Oil, which employs beeswax, shea butter, and an oil blend to keep beard bristles hydrated and soft while holding everything in place. A dime-size application onto a clean, dry beard should do the trick. Distribute it evenly with your beard comb, then coax the hairs into place by running your palms along the grain.
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