Your beard defines your personality, outwardly proving who you want to be and how you want to look to your family, friends and colleagues. However, for the best results there are a few things to take into consideration.
Whether you are a beginner beard dabbler or a diehard hairy old hand, sporting a beard should be about character! You take your beard wherever you go, so having it styled and shaped to fit your face as well as your personality is essential. There are many styles of beard to consider and you might want to try one or two before you settle into a more permanent image, but something to bear in mind is that some styles will not cut the mustard if you don’t have the right shape face for it. Of course, that’s open to opinion, but you’ll probably want those opinions to be positive!
We’re going to explore styles of growth in more depth, starting with the small stuff…
Short Growth, Little Beards
Designer stubble – yep, you could argue that a 5 o’clock shadow is not actually a beard, but it’s worth considering when the fact is that surveys reveal that 10 day old stubble is the most attractive facial feature to women. The slightly rugged but contained look that comes with the statement that the guy wearing it has been out saving the world and hasn’t had time to pick up the razor recently seems to set something off in the female psyche.
The great thing about a stubble beard is that it’s easy to maintain and will usually suit all face shapes, but it works best if you have dark hair rather than blonde or ginger, which, quite frankly, can make it appear to be too much of an accident to be attractive. Designer stubble is just that – it’s there by design rather than laziness, and it should be noted that trimming regularly to maintain an even length, and creating an edge (rather than a sprouting-all-over look) to appear casual but dapper, has the most pleasing effect. How long you allow your stubble to grow will largely depend on what color it is, how thickly it grows, and how smart you want it to look.
- Suitable for most face shapes. However, it can help mature a baby face, emphasize the jaw lines of oblong and triangular faces, and oval faces may look squarer.
Maintenance: Use beard wash regularly to maintain healthy skin, reduce the chance of itching and soften the stubble. Trim with an electric beard razor at least three times a week to preserve an equal growth. Trim any stray hairs with the trimmer without the guard, as well define the edges on the neckline and cheeks. You may wish to decrease the length towards the edges by using a higher setting on the trimmer, so the stubble doesn’t end abruptly.
Soul Patch – aka the Mouche or Jazz Dot, the Soul Patch is a small, short area of beard grown just below the lower lip but above the chin, sometimes narrow or shaped to a point, without any other facial hair - although a mustache is an acceptable accessory. Love it or hate it, it shows you have affiliation for some sort of facial hair growth without too much effort to keep it smart, and generally gives the impression of having an easygoing personality. Popular with jazz musicians (trumpeters reckon it’s great to rest the mouthpiece on), arty types and 1960’s beatnik characters. More recently brought back into fashion through Luke Perry from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Kevin Costner.
- Suitable for most face shapes; however, round faces will appear longer, and Soul Patches emphasize lips and chins.
Maintenance: How wide and low you grow your patch is a personal preference, but it will require the edges to be trimmed regularly to keep it from looking like a mishap of an otherwise clean shaven chap! Comb downwards then lift and trim the ends of the hair with an electric beard trimmer. Even for such a small area of facial hair a good quality comb is a must. Apply a little beard oil to help soften and keep in good shape.
The Zappa – named for the American musician Frank Zappa, this style is defined by the bushy mustache. The small beard itself is usually a little wider and thicker than a Soul Patch, and the full mustache above is allowed to grow down around the corners of the mouth and into a taper, but not quite attach itself to the patch. It should cover the upper lip towards the mouth by at least half, if not completely. The bushy Zappa mustache is at the essence of this bohemian style, but the patch can legitimately become a goatee. Some Zappa men have no beard at all and it’s a good style for those who can grow a mustache of greatness but whose beard leaves a little to be desired.
- Much like the Soul Patch, the Zappa is suitable for the majority of face shapes, particularly those that benefit from a strong growth of hair around the mouth, with emphasis on the mustache. For those with an oval or longer face, the thick mustache can help balance the overall shape.
Maintenance: Beard oil will help the long hairs of the mustache remain silky smooth in all its ruggedness! Trim it carefully along the top line under the nostrils – this is the only exact perimeter – but leave the rest looking more ‘au natural’. Because of the hair covering the upper lip itself, it is essential to focus on good hygiene standards as food will easily become entrapped, liquids staining and sticky. Sideburns should be short to medium in length and not left untrimmed, as you will have enough of a busy, bushy look without adding to it!
Goat Patch and Norse Skipper – also known as the Chin Puff or the Chin Strip (not to be confused with the Shin strap), and smaller than the usual Goatee, this beard connects a Soul Patch to a narrow Goatee strip heading south. The Norse Skipper is longer but narrow, never extending its width beyond the corners of the mouth. Both can lengthen a little way past the chin and tend to taper downwards.
- The Goat Patch is best for faces of a square of diamond shape. Beard styles for the round face include the Norse Skipper because focus is redirected towards the chin. However, both styles work well with many facial shapes.
Maintenance: Comb the hair downwards and trim to the length you desire. A razor is required to control all other facial growth including under your chin. Apply beard oil for softness and beard balm to sculpt and hold if necessary. A natural bristle brush will help distribute the product and lay the hairs down into the shape you desire.
Goatees and Circles – we’ve all heard of the Goatee – even the clean shaven among us generally knows what this one looks like. Traditionally the hair is grown on the chin only, but any beard styled solely below the mouth with nothing grown on the cheeks is now considered a Goatee, often with a mustache joining it around the sides of the mouth, which is also known as a Circle Beard. Other Goatee styles include the Anchor (because of its shape), plus combinations where the Goatee is incorporated into a Chin Strap, or grown wide like the Balbo.
The Goatee is the popular choice of many, and has been the embodiment of various cultures throughout the ages. However, it was initially associated with Pan in Greek mythology (he of the pipes), the half-man, half-goat god. Ancient Greeks are known to have chosen this style of beard regularly. The pagan relevance merged into Christianity as new beliefs became popular, with Satan becoming the most famous Goatee wearer of all time. Its symbol of evil was especially prevalent with the Victorians and Edwardians. There may be some psychological influence at play too – researchers have found that a downward facing triangle is subconsciously perceived as threatening, and a Goatee tends to turn the face into this specific shape. Notice how even today the baddies in the movies often sport a Goatee!
- The Goatee is suitable for many face shapes, and the small variants allow you to try several styles before deciding on the right one for your overall image.
Maintenance: Easy to grow and covering many incremental subtleties, there are just a few rules to playing the Goatee game. The shape should be well maintained and clearly defined, and must be completely symmetrical. It should not extend beyond the nasolabial folds (smile lines), and if a mustache is included in your Goatee style, it should be neatly clipped with a sharp outline. For such an essential style, everything you need to keep it in trim can be found in our Beard Package Gift Box, with a choice of oils and balms, and an all natural sandalwood comb.
Medium Lengths and Styles
Van Dyke – related to the Goatee with a noticeable division between the beard and the mustache, this style cannot be worn with beard alone. The two elements are usually individually maintained, and although it can be worn short, we’ve thrown it into the medium pot as the famous artist Anthony van Dyke himself embraced. Not only did he sport the style personally, but he liked it so much that he often incorporated into the portraits of people he painted.
The correct style for the mustache is similar to a short Handlebar design, with the ends twiddled and tapered into points that resemble the iconic shape of a smile. The beard can comprise either of a patch on the chin only with a short to medium length growth, or Soul Patch added below the lower lip, maybe with a less dense area of growth between the two, or nothing at all leaving the gap clean shaven. If the beard is allowed to become bushier but still remains only on the chin, it is called a French Beard.
- Best suited to square, diamond, heart and triangular faces, the van Dyke is a striking design which will turn heads!
Maintenance: The mustache should grow on the face beyond the width of the top lip, and the length of the hair allowed to reach a suitable length to be able shape the slightly curled, tapered ends. Use a comb or bristle brush to place the hairs into the correct direction and use beard balm with beeswax to nourish, shape and hold into place. All our beard balms contain beeswax for this very reason! A natural bristle brush is great for the beard. Brush in the direction of hair growth and trim to the desired shape. A shorter beard can be controlled with an electric trimmer; longer, bushier facial hair can be trimmed with scissors. Usually the design is triangular so you will need to clean shave carefully around the shape, especially if you also wish to maintain a Soul Patch too.
Balbo – coming under the umbrella of the van Dyke, this can be styled in either a medium or full length with extra intensity. Unlike the van Dyke, the emphasis is on the beard rather than the mustache, so that the hair on the upper lip might not flare out so much each side, (it might be shorter or alternatively fall downward rather than out and curled), but the beard is fuller and extends along the jaw line towards the bottom of the ears. It is named for Italo Balbo, who became Italy's Marshal of the Air Force in 1933, and it was a popular style during the 19th century into the early 20th century, particularly in military circles.
- A shorter Balbo is great for oblong faces as the eyes tend to focus away from the chin length. Longer facial hair in this style could be exactly the beard for a round face.
Maintenance: Much the same as the van Dyke, although the mustache can be trimmed shorter and styled in less of the Handlebar fashion. Our range of accessories provides the tools to keep you looking distinguished in true military style!
Chin Curtain and Chin Strap – The Chin Curtain, also known as a Lion’s Mane or Amish Beard, is simply a full beard that runs from ear to ear encompassing the chin, minus both mustache or neck hair. The Chin Strap in almost identical except it runs below the chin rather than over it.
- Suitable for oval faces. Grown on long face shapes elongates them further.
Maintenance: Beard wash will help to keep the skin beneath the hair clean. Both styles are easily kept smart with an electric beard trimmer with the guard on, and edges can be kept neat without the guard. Use beard oil for softness and balm to style if needed. A shorter length of hair feels great when massaged with a bristle brush, then groomed neatly into place.
Longer Hair and The Mane Course
Mutton Chops – this style denotes sideburns that grow long and whiskery. They don’t join to form a full beard, but flare out at the bottom resembling quite literally a mutton chop cut of meat.
Friendly Mutton Chops – this is a mutation of the standard Mutton Chops style where the sideburns are connected by a mustache. Once again no chin hair is present.
Side Whiskers – as before, related to the Mutton Chop styles but much longer and more aggressive with the length being permitted to hang below the line of the jaw. Side Whiskers can be connected with a mustache, or left clear without connection.
- Most suitable for long or oblong faces as the side whiskers helps to fill the face out. Generally associated with older gentlemen, often with greying hair.
Maintenance: A vigorous workout with a boar bristle brush will stimulate and untangle the long hair, followed by the smoothing effects of a good quality natural comb with longer teeth to get to grips with those wild whiskers! Washes, oils and balms should all be considered as useful products.
Shenandoah – a much longer version of the Chin Curtain with the beard running from ear to ear, covering the chin but not reaching up to the lower lip. The neck hair is included in this style which makes the beard appear thick and bushy. No mustache is present. The beard is usually long and was particularly popular in the 19th century. This style is another that is often closely associated with the Amish community.
- Suitable for oval face shape, filling out the sides but also elongating the general shape of the head.
Maintenance: An all-natural boar bristle brush is a must, along with a good comb. There are some great choices in the Real Bearded Men range here. Washes, balms and oils are all be considered essential to keep everything in a good, healthy order..
Ned Kelly – named for the Australian outlaw of the 1800’s, the Ned Kelly beard comprises of a completely full, lengthy beard and mustache. It should be considered a veritable mane, and kept in the best condition making it feel soft and luxuriant. Unlike some full beards, this one is characterized by the wearer having short, well styled head hair, and the whole effect combines a casual look with a cared for attitude.
- Providing you have the ability to grow a great beard, any face can support this as it covers up the shape almost completely.
Maintenance: See the Full, Long Beard maintenance guide below for more info.
The Long, Full Beard – many people confuse the full beard with the Ned Kelly; however there is an essential difference in that the full beard may have head hair of any style or length. Jesus, ZZ Top and Hairy Bikers may all sport a full beard, and it is often associated with craft ale, desert islands and wildmen! The one exception to having the longer hair length is to be completely and naturally bald – an adverse phenomenon that still works with this type of generous, replete growth!
- If you can grow a bushy beard, this can suit any face shape. You just have to want to look casual, and sometimes a little unkempt to pull it off!
Maintenance: There is a great responsibility to undertake any type of long, bushy beard, regardless of whether you want the casually bespoke look or the wildman commodity. Brushing the dry beard with a good quality natural bristle brush will help to remove loose hairs and show up uneven growth which may need a trim. It will also help to sort out any potential matting and you should commit to a through brushing at least once a day. Don’t expect all the hairs to grow at the same rate, so unless you’re not bothered, getting at those stray whiskers will help to keep the beard in good shape. Beard oil is a must to maintain good condition, and should be worked into the skin under all that hair. Likewise with your washing ritual, it’s important to cleanse through to the skin to remove any grime and dead skin, and promote new, healthy growth. Beard balm will enhance moisturization, great for avoiding split ends and that hard, fuzzy texture with the prickly feel. Our selection of Beard Care Kits and Gift Sets provide many of the answers to selecting the items you need to look after such an amazing facial experience!
These are just a few models of beard (there are plenty more and a multitude of variations) - we’d be pleased to see yours and hear your tips and tricks to keep them in top order. We know that much of what you can grow is in the genes - if your dad had a great beard then there’s a good chance you will too! So do you have a beard face? Let us know about your journey to find the perfect style, what face shape you have underneath all that hair, and maybe send us a pic! We’re here, and we’re interested! Meanwhile, you’ll find all you need to keep your mane in tiptop condition, whether short and sweet or long and flowing, in our Real Bearded Men shop.
Follow this handy infographic to determine the best beard type for your face shape!
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