Growing a beard is the top of the pyramid for male rites of passage, just above surviving a wasp sting and not crying during the end of Bambi, it’s a process that tests many tenets of manhood.
The journey of growing a beard demands a fair whack of patience and resilience. You also need the courage to ignore those second glances in the office, during that awkward period where your so-called beard looks like you’re hungover for the sixth day in a row and losing the plot a little bit.
And with so many beard styles for men popping up all the time, going on a beard growing quest will help you to soon realise there’s never been a better time in modern history to give it a crack. Fifty-five per cent of men worldwide have some facial hair, and a beard is no longer the domain of barbarians and bikies.
Barbershops now offer comprehensive beard maintenance services, alongside the regular selection of men’s haircuts, and you’ll struggle to find a shopping arcade that doesn’t have some sort of quirky man-den selling various beard oils, creams, and razors to help you get those beard styles just right.
This brings us nicely onto the very subject of the best beard styles for men. A beard isn’t simply a beard, after all. With every Tom, Dick and Harry wanting to show off their individual personality, combined with the fact no two men will share the same follicular prowess, sifting through the best beard styles for men is no easy task.
A lot of the process will come down to trial and error, so make sure you’re prepared to spare the time to grow, trim and style your beard. Facial hair doesn’t grow long and thick overnight, after all. Fortunately, if you don’t have the time or the facial follicles to warrant a full lumberjack style beard, there are still plenty of beard styles for men everywhere.
So, allow us to take you through the most essential and the best beard styles for men.
In this beard styles story…
Designer Stubble Beard
A stubble beard is meant to be the natural consequence of not shaving for a period of time and is one of the easiest and most common bears for men. Some guys enjoy the challenge of maintaining the pretence of a 5 o’clock shadow as a permanent solution to their beard woes.
Irony aside, a stubble beard achieves that slightly dishevelled cool that makes you look indifferent to the scorn of your peers. Less composed than being facial hair-free, a bit of scruff suggests to others that the guy couldn’t care less if he doesn’t look ‘schmick’ all the time.
A stubble beard does, however, require weekly maintenance across the entire chin and jaw with a beard trimmer. Use a plastic attachment or handheld comb to determine the desired length – shorter teeth are usually better.
Ensure your work is even and neatly trimmed. Neglecting parts of your chin or jaw will result in a patchy beard, with an uneven look that will make you look like you got flustered and forgot the basics of shaving. Designer stubble suits men with strong oval or square features, as it will accentuate an existing jawline.
If your face is on the longer side, stubble will also frame your features, and square things up a little. Unfortunately, not everyone is invited to the party. If you have a bit of extra baggage beneath your jawline, sit tight on the stubble beard. Trying to shave a jawline into rounded or plump features won’t fool anyone, and can draw attention to your affliction.
That being said, if you’re someone who is a victim of serious razor burn, using an electric beard trimmer to maintain a little bit of scruff might be a very masculine alternative to the embarrassment of red splotches across your chin and neck.
Chevron Beard Style
Admittedly more of a moustache style than a beard, the Chevron look was favoured by distinguished British chaps in World War II photos, before its adoption and immortalisation by Tom Selleck.
Although the chevron is a 20th-century classic, it is sufficiently versatile and masculine so adapting it for a contemporary audience won’t see you laughed out of the office. The chevron derives its name from military stripes that denote rank – hence, it forms a bent triangular shape.
You don’t need to be an old-money Brit or action hero to pull the chevron beard off. Simply let the moustache ends grow evenly across the top of your lip for several weeks, steadily brushing it with a comb to train the hairs to take the desired silhouette.
Using wax can help to shape the look – your barber will give you pointers on the right product for the thickness and texture of your hair. However, many men need more than 12 weeks to allow the shorter hairs beneath their nostrils to grow out to the edge of the moustache.
Keep everything else hair-free, as a stubble beard will undermine the clear contrast of the look. Keep it tight and neatly trimmed around the corners of your mouth – any longer and it becomes a handlebar in the making.
The chevron beard looks mustard on men with oval-shaped features. A prominent moustache can appear top-heavy over noticeably angular features, however. If that’s you, think about a smaller variant for proportion’s sake.
Believe it or not, a scruffy beard is indeed a look that many men aspire to achieve, most likely due to its low maintenance and relative ease. Let your facial hair grow naturally for a good couple of weeks, without doing anything to the beard in this time. This will allow the hair to grow from all follicles – and could have you well on your way to growing a fully-fledged beard if you wish – and it doesn’t matter so much if you end up with some patches in places, as this is part of the scruffy beard’s charm.
At around four weeks, you may way to wield your beard trimmer to tidy up the neckline and potentially the top section of your cheeks, unless you want to end up with a wolverine-like beard as pictured below. And, because of its unkempt nature, a scruffy beard will inevitably have an itchy phase or phases. To help combat this, you’ll want to invest in a good quality beard oil and a moisturiser to keep the skin and the hair hydrated.
If you’ve seen Logan, or any of the X-Men movies, you might have rediscovered how sideburns can look decent outside black-and-white portraits from the 1860’s.
Most of us associate sideburns with number two Australian poster boy Hugh Jackman, but its origins are steeped in history. The sideburn beard became fashionable during the American Civil War (by a bloke called Burnside, points for originality) and has fluctuated in popularity ever since.
It took off again in the mid-’70s in a less dramatic cut to its wartime forebear. Sideburns extend from the tip of the cheekbone below the ear, and down the sides of the face. Growing sideburns follows the same expectations of a classic beard.
The chin is usually left free of any facial hair, with an optional moustache. Let the sides grow out for several weeks, while consistently shaving your chin to emphasise the side whiskers. Regular brushing will neaten the look of this beard unless your plan is to go for the extravagant Victorian-era mutton chop thing.
Substantial beard growth that covers most of your cheeks will need a bit of love from a decent moisturiser – the skin underneath still needs a good clean on a regular basis. The good news is that sideburns are fairly universal but tend to complement blokes with long or angular face shapes, by adding depth to the lower angles of the face.
Men with a square or oval face shape don’t really stand to benefit considering they already have pronounced facial structure, so if you belong to this category, then maybe leave it to Hugh Jackman and Civil War re-enactors to carry this beard.
If the last few options smack of unnecessary compromise, then the full beard is for you. It’s the manliest, most primal option and one that all men secretly aspire to at some stage. As the most prototypically masculine option on this list, it’s also the hardest beard to pull off.
Achieving this masculine beard doesn’t depend on your skill with a razor or persistence. This is because no amount of careful shaping or waiting will trump the genetic precondition of even, thick growth – and not everyone won the genetic lottery.
Your full beard must be even across the board, with no patches of weak or absent facial hair. No reason not to give it a crack, though. There’s only really one way to do this, and that’s to just grow that stuff. Don’t trim anything before work in the morning, or try to shave it before you’ve achieved peak density. Seriously. Let your beard grow for well beyond eight weeks. Then, look at upkeep.
The rugged Viking beard look might make you feel like a man, but the company director might form a different perspective. If you’ve got shaky hands, make fortnightly visits to the barber’s chair for touch-ups and trims to keep the wildness in check.
Hygiene-wise, regular moisturising will keep the skin underneath your beard hydrated, and shampooing your beard will clean out dead skin and bacteria that can (and will) form if you’re not careful. If you’ve got the goods to pull it off, a full beard can flatter just about any face shape. A beard disguises perceived facial defects, such as a soft jawline or poorly defined cheekbones. If you worry that your sharp, defined features pose a safety hazard, a full beard can soften this for your peace of mind.
Not all men have ambitions to resemble their pillaging Scandinavian ancestors. To this end, short beards are the leaner, less fierce cousins of a long beard. Instead of letting the beard grow out completely, close to the cheekbone and several centimetres below the jaw, short beards are shaved closer to the chin on the sides, with minimal length outwards.
These beards require a similar period of growth, but much more maintenance than their fuller beard brethren. Exercise the same patience you would for a longer beard, allowing 8-12 weeks of untouched growth to ensure balance and density. Then it’s a matter of ‘shaping’ it, (i.e. doing some beard surgery with clippers and a comb) to reduce the longer ends and shave the beard beneath the tip of your cheekbone.
Use clippers to define the tip of the beard across your cheek, and remember to shave your neck to finalise the tidiness of your beard. The result is a cleaner – but no less masculine – alternative to an untamed long beard.
A reasonable compromise for corporate guys and good news for men of different facial hair blessings. Short beards are a democratic option that don’t favour or disfavour anybody in particular. Most blokes can make them work, and they’re tidy enough to preserve your reputation in stuffy corporate gigs. A short beard is one of the best beard options in our opinion.
Of all beard types, it’s the goatee that cops a hard rap due to its typical associations with creepy dudes and angry frontmen from bands that you weren’t allowed to listen to in high school. That’s hardly fair, though. Goatee beards deserve a second shot at life outside the angst of 90’s nu-metal.
The goatee beard is a surprise contender for versatility – it can be styled with longer growth beneath the chin, or combined with the chevron moustache to create something similar to the Van Dyke beard. Plus, Brad Pitt made it work, which puts it further into the realms of acceptability.
A goatee can take shape in a month of decent growth, but just make sure to keep the sides of your face clean-shaven, while maximising beard growth on your chin and around the mouth area. Use your beard trimmer skills to tidy up and keep the moustache and chin are connected, otherwise, this beard can fall back into Limp Bizkit territory.
A goatee beard doesn’t ask for a great deal of dedication due to its lesser beard length, but you’ll still need regular maintenance with your beard trimmer to keep the beard length and moustache neat.
The goatee beard complements round features by adding definition and breaking up the chubbiness to some degree. If you have sharp, pointy features, let your goatee beard grow out a bit to soften the look, as you may risk looking like you could slice open a cardboard box with your facial furniture.
Choosing the best long beard for your face can actually be a tricky process. You need to consider your individual face shape, as it will determine the beard length and the best beard shape that will work best for you. Men with oval face shapes, for example, can rest safe in the knowledge pretty much any beard will suit them. Men with square face shapes, however, will want to introduce some round shaping into their beards, instead of opting for something more angular.
Fortunately, with long beards, you will have enough facial hair to play with so that you can find the best beard that works for you – just prepare to put in the time and dedication to letting the beardhair grow out.
The main thing to remember with long beards is that you perform regular maintenance, such as keeping the edges neat and tidy, and removing any straggling beard hairs with a pair of scissors. Leave your long beard to grow naturally for too long and you’ll soon start looking like someone who doesn’t understand the term ‘personal hygiene’.
A great example of a long beard is the Yeard. Named as such because it refers to letting your facial hair grow for a full year without any cutting – aside from the routine maintenance mentioned above – a yeard will gift you long beard facial fuzz that will have other men green with envy.
Clean Shaven Beard
Yeah, I know, this is a beard list. But sometimes it’s necessary to illustrate the opposite. For some men, it’s a tragic certainty that a beard just isn’t going to happen. You might have an unfortunate soul patch in a conspicuous spot.
Maybe the follicular Gods just didn’t like you enough to bless you with the right density for a full Viking beard. Either way, you just can’t do it. Your only option is to get cosy with lots of shaving cream and a razor and hope for the best. A well-executed close shave might not give you the Magnum P.I. boost of virility you’d hope for, but it does impart some crucial benefits. Going clean-shaven is safe and reliable.
Clean-shaven men look respectable, composed, and like they’re on top of themselves. Importantly, it’s unlikely to risk retrospective humiliation, as different beards go in and out of fashion. The best way to execute a proper close shave is like many things – the old-school way. The dodgy disposable razors in your cupboard are an inferior, poor man’s alternative to double-edged or safety razors.
Spend a minute or two softening your cheeks, jaw, and neck with a damp and warm towel. Use a shaving brush to lather shaving cream on the desired areas and then use short, careful strokes with the grain (watch the direction of growth and follow that), to achieve the optimum beard length – in this case, none. Less pressure is better – you can always go over the area again, but bruising the skin is never worth it.
Wash your blade after each stroke. Make absolutely sure to moisturise the crap out of the shaven area afterwards. Razor burn flatters no man.
Beard And Moustache
If you can grow a moustache, chances are you can grow a beard too. Some of the beards already mentioned on this page incorporate the two, but the beard and moustache look is one where the end goal is firmly set. Whereas some beards will encompass facial hair over the upper, a beard and moustache style sees that hair grown out a bit further, so that you can style it too, such as into a handlebar.
It’s a solid option for men with round faces, and the excess facial hair will help to draw attention away from your less-chiselled jawline and lack of any real facial features. As with most other beard styles, you’ll want to experiment with the beard length, and you’ll want to enlist a beard trimmer to keep the edges neat and tidy so that your beard can create the illusion of a more pronounced jawline.
That’s not to say men with square or rectangular face shapes need not apply, as if anything, the beard and moustache look can also help to elongate the face shape, making you look more rugged than you ever thought possible.
Handlebar Moustache Beard
No one can resist a curly moustache. The handlebar accompaniment to a beard has seen various peculiar iterations over the centuries. It’s been seen on nasty German dictators and big-city bartenders who wear suspenders and refer to themselves as ‘mixologists’, but still can’t pick up.
It’s likely you fall somewhere in the middle of these extremes, so don’t be frightened off by its claimants. The handlebar moustache can be done with or without a beard. This style is achieved by lengthening the moustache ends, and twisting them with bucketloads of wax to hold everything together. The ‘petit’ variant doesn’t extend beyond the corners of the mouth, but fuller variants impose no limit, besides genetics, on how far the ends can go.
A solid handlebar demands patience and a load of work twisting and shaping the ends. After growing it out to such an extent that the hairs closest to your nose reach beyond the corners of your mouth, you need to begin waxing and brushing the handlebar daily. Twist the ends and pull them (gently) towards your ears or higher, depending on the desired shape.
Heavier wax gets more bang for your buck, with the trade-off that heavy-duty waxes tend to be quite shiny. The handlebar’s dimensions depend on your face shape. Round faces suit a petit handlebar, as a long moustache will look out of proportion. Square or oval shape features sit somewhere in the middle. The best thing to do is experiment initially, and see how your unique dimension’s suit (or don’t suit) the look. Be brave.
If you have aspirations to join the Hell’s Angels, you might need one of these first. Sometimes mistaken for the handlebar moustache, the horseshoe or biker moustache is named due to its (you guessed it) resemblance to metallic plates worn to protect a horse’s feet.
It became popular among fat dudes on Harleys and wrestlers like Hulk Hogan. Growing a horseshoe moustache is a test of your willpower and genetic potential. Not all men can achieve an unbroken moustache line down to their chin in the right thickness.
Most barbers recommend growing facial hair to the point where the beard length is bordering on bushy territory, then shaving the edges off the cheekbone and jaw. Trying to sculpt a moustache as it grows can risk uneven shape, due to styling errors and sloppy clipper work. So, leave your facial hair alone for 8 or so weeks before having a sit-down in a barber’s chair to shave off excess hair and sculpt the horseshoe shape into place.
The width of the moustache ends shouldn’t be too chunky, nor should it be wispy thin. Keep the proportions of your face in mind; narrower features suit a thinner horseshoe, whereas a broad face asks for the opposite – but still try to avoid extremes altogether.
Before you put on leather pants and fire up your Harley, remember that this beard style doesn’t work on every Comanchero-wannabe. Long faces should stay away – this will just draw attention to your elongated features. If you have broad, plump cheeks though, the horseshoe takes some weight out of your face and can create a narrower profile.