If for your entire adult life you’ve woken up every day and reached for the razor, deciding to finally grow a beard is a big step. And if all you’ve known so far has been a close shave, you may have realised that you are now opening a whole world of possibilities.
Beard styles are virtually endless. You can start with a classic yet fashionable Balbo, let your facial hair do its magic and grow a full beard, or keep things nice and short with a five o’clock shadow. Not to mention moustache styles: Dallas, Van Dyke, and of course, the hipsters’ favourite handlebar, just to name a few. As you can see, even the names of beard styles can be fascinating.
Earlier this year, I published a blog post listing five ways to upgrade your life, and growing a slick new beard is certainly one way to do that this year.
As always, I’m here to help. There are ways to figure out in advance if a beard style is right for you, your facial features, and your specific hair type. Let me explain everything I know about choosing the right beard style.
In this article I will walk you through a few simple questions you need to ask yourself in order to identify the most flattering look.
What Is Your Beard Type?
Before you can start reaching for the trimmer, you must get to know your facial hair. This means identifying its strengths and weaknesses and its growth pattern, and act on them.
If your hair is strong and full, for example, you virtually have endless possibilities at your disposal. Just make sure that you take proper care of it. If you decide to let it grow pretty long, you may want to avoid breakage and that brittle look with proper beard care products like beard oil and balm.
Styles to go for: just let your imagination lead you.
If your hair struggles to grow, you may want to try a few things before you give up on the longer styles. You may have an underlying skin issue (especially if you notice it to be dry, itchy, or easily irritated) that a good moisturiser and a dermatologist appointment can fix easily. If you smoke or have an unbalanced diet, you may be surprised by how much can a few lifestyle changes achieve for your beard health.
Styles to go for: Chin strap, goatee, five o’clock shadow, simple moustache.
Styles to avoid: Biker beard, full beard, Verdi, Balbo.
If your beard is patchy and irregular in its growth pattern, this may be due to genetics. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about that, except for seeing a specialist and getting medical advice. In the meantime, there are fantastic patchy-friendly beard styles that will turn this specific feature into your strength. Just look at Johnny Depp and Keanu Reeves.
Styles to avoid: Full beard, corporate beard, beard fade, Verdi.
Styles to go for: Van Dyke, scruffle, moustache(s).
What Are Your Beard Needs?
Like with everything else, you should assess your priorities. It’s not just about asking yourself why you’re growing a beard (‘because it’s cool’ is a perfectly acceptable answer) but figuring out how much effort you can put into it in your everyday life and what type of beards can work with your routine and specific needs.
If you want a low-maintenance beard, for example, you may want to avoid a few styles that are very attractive but require you to regularly see a barber, sculpt your beard daily, and use products like beard wax.
Styles to go for: Bushy beard, simple moustache, Balbo.
Styles to avoid: Imperial moustache, handlebar moustache, Van Dyke, corporate beard, Verdi, beard fade.
If you work in a company with a strict dress code you can’t have your beard get in the way of closing a deal with a new client or being promoted. Although I personally disagree with this type of policies (simply because I’m a great beard fan) I can see why they are in place.
Styles to go for: Five o’clock shadow, beard fade, corporate beard, simple moustache, Balbo, Van Dyke, chin strap.
Styles to avoid: Biker beard, yeard, bushy beard, scruff.
What Is Your Face Shape?
In order to dig into the best beard styles for each shape, I want to help you figure out what your face shape is in the first place. After all, humans are not exactly designed into geometrical figures and it’s normal to feel a bit confused.
You have a square face if your jaw is wide and your chin is near-flat, the opposite of pointy. You may also have a broad forehead. Just so that we’re on the same page, think of Brad Pitt. These people can often benefit from a beard that softens their edges.
Best styles for a square face: Corporate beard, full beard, five o’clock shadow, goatee, Dallas moustache.
Those with a face length greater than the width of their cheekbones can consider themselves to have an oval face. They have a jawline that is much less sharp than square-faced peeps. Oval-faced guys are very lucky when it comes to beard styles, and are among the barbers’ favourites.
Best styles for an oval face: virtually all.
Folks with a round face have full, often baby-like cheeks, and a soft chin. The chin is often considered a weakness to conceal, and guys with a round face often look for a beard that can give them some sharpness.
Best styles for a round face: Goatee, Van Dyke, five o’clock shadow, biker beard.
Diamond faces, also called heart faces (although there is a slight difference), have a pointed chin and quite some face length. They often have prominent cheekbones. Those with a diamond face will want to create volume on the sides while keeping the hair on the chin shorter.
Best styles for diamond faces: Mutton chops, designer stubble, beard fade, full beard.
Addressing Specific Issues with Your Beard
Everyone has special features that do not necessarily fall into their face categories. Maybe you have a very prominent forehead, an important nose, or tend to a double chin that you’d like to hide or soften. The fantastic thing about beard styles is that you can really make your beard work in your favour by highlighting your most attractive features and distracting the looker’s attention from parts that you don’t like as much.
Let’s go through a few common issues and what your beard can do about it.
Beards for a double chin
Those with a round face and those who tend to store fat in the lower part of their face should opt for a beard style that covers the neck and chin. It doesn’t have to be a full beard (although that works), even just letting your hair grow a little in the jawline area will do.
Beards for bald men
If your hairline is receding or you enjoy a bald head, there’s nothing to worry about. Beards work fantastic on bald guys as they give back symmetry to their profile. The classic style is the goatee or some Van Dyke variation, but even a biker beard or full beard will do wonders.
Weak jawline and asymmetrical faces
If you wish you had sharper lines or don’t like the overall shape of your face, a beard is a great ally. Faded and designer styles will allow you to do just about anything: improve symmetry, take the attention off an important nose, create the illusion of a decisive jawline. Unless you are an expert styler though, ask a barber for professional advice.