Fundamental to men’s grooming is learning how to perfect the art of beard shaping.
Sure, you could just let your beard grow and not touch it at all, and if you have decent coverage, in most cases it would still look decent.
However, with some beard sculpting magic, you can transform a slightly hobo-ish mane into a beard that demands respect and turns heads.
On paper, the basics of shaping the facial hair are pretty straight-forward.
- You trim the cheek line nice, even, and straight.
- Then you move into the sideburns area to tidy them a bit.
- Followed by shaping the jawline and neck area.
- And for a finishing touch, you trim the mustache and underlip.
Even though most men know the above, you can still see botched up and poorly shaped beards all around us.
This is not a surprise, a vast majority of the guys with facial hair – and even many barbers – don’t ever really put time and effort into learning the ins and outs of each step above.
This article changes that. We will teach you how to figure out the best beard shape for your face, how to find your beards optimal neckline, how to perfectly line up the cheeks, and what it takes to perfect the lip and underlip area.
Matching the Beard with your Face Shape
Almost all men on this planet can be categorized into one of the above face shapes, and the shape of your face determines your optimal hairstyle, what type of beard suits you best, and even what kind of sunglasses would likely look best on you.
- Triangle face: It can be hard to find a good beard style for triangle face shape as the jaw is prominent and pointy already. Full mustache with a shorter beard/stubble works best. Something like the Beardstache for example.
- Oval face: This is the universal face shape. Oval face shape can handle practically any type of beard, so experiment as much as you like.
- Round face: This face shape usually comes with a short chin and wide cheekbones. Make your beard shorter on the sides and longer on the chin for a more angular looking jaw. Here’s more details on how to choose a beard for round face shape.
- Heart face: This is the reverse of a triangle face shape, as your forehead is considerably larger than the jaw/chin area. A long and thick beard works well to add some fullness to the bottom part of your face for a more angular look. Here’s more details on choosing the right beard for heart shaped face.
- Diamond face: This shape tends to have very prominent cheekbones with a narrow forehead. A full beard with medium length can work wonders to mask the prominence of the cheekbones, just don’t let it grow too high on the cheeks or it’ll make them even more prominent (here’s a bigger guide on diamond face shape and its optimal beard styles).
- Square face: You’re lucky, this is often seen as the most masculine face shape of them all. Keep the sides short and the chin/mustache area full so you’re not hiding the details of your great jawline. If you’re not a fan of the full beard, then try a goatee, it suits the square face perfectly. You may want to also take a look at our bigger post on square face shape and best beard styles for it.
Find your Beards Neckline and Jawline
Sculpting a good neckline for your facial hair is the most important part of this whole article, and the easiest part to mess up too.
There are two key things that you need to avoid when trimming your beards neckline.
Don’t go too high: Many beardsmen, even professional barbers, think that they need to cut the neck and jawline directly from the edge of your jaw and chin, right where the bone ends. This is way too high and will look ridiculous.
Don’t go too fast: If you’re using a beard trimmer for this step, one small slip and your beard will be ruined. Which is why you need to take your time and double-check everything before you go ahead and cut anything off. Patience.
Unless you’re growing a long beard there should be a space of roughly two fingers between Adam’s apple and your jawbone, and the lower part of your beard (the neckline) should be running roughly at the midpoint of that two-finger sized area.
Here’s how to align it:
Put your index finger on the top of your Adam’s apple and cut the beard just above the finger for a perfect length. To make sure you’re not cutting too high, press the side of your index finger against your jawline and make sure there’s about one fingers width of beard below the edge of your jawbone.
Lining Up the Cheeks
Lining up the cheeks is quite possibly the easiest part of sculpting the beard, yet there’s still one thing that can mess up the cheek line and make your beard look ridiculous.
And that is going too low with the cheekline.
The upper cheeks are the weakest part of most guys beards since the circulation is less powerful in this area compared to the chin and upper lip. Because of that, many guys think its best to cut the cheeks low so the line would be more prominent.
But let me tell you, do not make the mistake of going too low here, you will end up looking like poor George Lucas above, who always sports a too low cheekline and a too-high neckline, creating the perfect example of how not to shape the beard.
The simplest of the beard shaping tips I can give for your cheeks is to just make a solid edge to the highest point of your upper cheeks where you feel comfortable. Aim for a line that aligns with the upper part of your mustache just as in the celebrity facial hair of Jake Gyllenhaal above.
You may use either a straight cut, a curve cut, or a step cut and for this, I would suggest a beard shaping tool which is really handy in making sure that both of the sides match up perfectly.
Shaping the Sideburns
How to shape the sideburn area is quite obvious. Just make sure there’s a nice line either straight or slightly curved next to the ear.
Also, make sure that its clean and no beard hairs overlap towards the earlobe.
You should see the sideburns as more of an extension to your hair, and because of this, your hairstyle often determines the shape of the sideburns as well.
If your sides are short or youd like to have a faded beard style, you might want to cut a clear line from where the beard starts. However, if your sides are bit longer, you may need to cut the sideburns to the same length.
If possible, ask your barbers opinion the next time he cuts your hair.
Finding the Perfect Mustache Shape
Last but not least, let’s look at how to shape the mustache area to finish out beard sculpting.
For starters, you have to identify what type of mustache you have. Is it pencil-thin and weak, or perhaps really full and thick, or something in between?
Thin and patchy mustaches should be kept relatively short and clean, all the overlapping hairs that go over the top lip should be trimmed and the emphasis should be put on the chin and cheeks instead.
Thick and wide mustaches, however, can make your beard really stand out and complete the picture. Bushy ‘Stache should grow almost wild and over the top lip, and you could apply mustache wax to brush it to the sides for an amazing full looking facial hair.
If you have a strong mustache, you could also consider having it overpower the rest of the facial hair by opting for a popular new style called the BeardStache, which is basically a heavy-stubble with a big mustache (seen in the image above).
Bottom line: thin and small mustaches should be kept short and clean. Big and bushy ones mostly styled to the sides and growing wild. If you want to just quickly tidy up the upper lip, trim down the hairs that overlap into your mouth, but don’t go too high or you’ll end up with a weird looking pencil mustache.
Sculpting the perfect facial hair for you seems like an easy process, but in reality, it takes a lot of experimentation and knowledge to do properly.
Many men are quick to rush into a barbershop, but even there, the results aren’t always guaranteed.
And hey, shaping your own beard allows you to try multiple different styles while saving a pretty penny, so think about it the next time you’re about to do some grooming.