The Best Way To Trim Your Beard (Whatever Its Length)


Growing a beard is a zero-risk investment. But they require regular maintenance if you want to be looking your best. It may sound pretty easy, but with so many razors, trimmers, creams, foams, oils and all the rest of it, getting your mug rug into shape can be a confusing affair. Many men simply don’t know how to trim a beard.

And that’s before we even get into the different lengths of facial fuzz. With a spectrum spanning from ‘hairless’ to ‘Hagrid’, there’s a lot of space for things to go awry if you’re not suitably clued up on your beard trimming dos and don’ts.

Get it right and you’ll perfectly frame your face, accentuating (or creating the illusion of) a strong jaw or slimmer neck; get it wrong and you’ll look like Craig David. To that end, here’s your ultimate guide on how to trim a beard.

How to Trim a Beard in 8 Easy Steps

  1. Wash and dry your beard.
  2. Brush your beard to rid it of tangles and leave you with a clean, tidy canvas to work with.
  3. Use clippers first. You can target strays first to bring everything to an even length before going in with your trimmer.
  4. Start with a longer guide and work your way down. This will allow you to avoid hacking everything off accidentally and being forced to start your beard journey from square one.
  5. Fade the neck and define the cheeks. Work your way down to smaller clipper settings and fade out the neck and cheeks to give your beard more definition.
  6. Address the mustache. Brush your mustache hairs, then remove the guide to trim the hairs below your nose.
  7. Spot-check for any missed strays, then rinse your beard off to remove the trimmings.
  8. Finish with a beard oil, moisturizer or beard balm to shape and style your freshly coiffed beard.

How to Trim a Stubble Beard

Yes, stubble requires maintenance too. Like all ostensible just-got-out-of-bed looks, stubble is in reality a science that demands planning and precision. “The key to turning stubble from negligence into a ‘look’ is trimming and shaping,” says Jake Murphy, barber at Ruffians, Covent Garden. “Leave it grow for two-to-three days for the length to even out – hair tends to grow unevenly – then trim.”

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You’ll need a good trimmer if you’re going to pull it off properly. Opt for something with an adjustable guard that can be removed when it’s time to neaten things up around the edges. You could also employ a razor to clear up anything above the cheek line and below the Adam’s apple.

Wearing a chinstrap in public is immoral – this isn’t the 1990s and you’re not about to drop a seminal R&B album. “A rule of thumb is to always set the line on your neck just above the Adam’s apple,” says Murphy. “Do not follow along the jaw, ever.” But why? Well, while you may think shaving along the jawline is a surefire way to miraculously grant yourself the bone structure of a Greek god, you’d be wrong. In reality, all you’re going to be doing is drawing attention to the problem area.

Once you’ve got that in check, you can then trim to accent your facial features. “Keep the cheeks in line with the corners of your mustache or mouth. There are plenty of options: rounding, fading, lower lines, higher lines. Experiment to see what suits you,” says Murphy. “If you have a soft jaw, higher cheek lines and fuller corners will accentuate it and make it look stronger.”

How to Trim a Mid-Length Beard

Moving up into the middleweight category is as appearance-changing for a beardsman as it is a boxer. This beard style literally adds inches to your face, creating a sense of length and width. But for a total knockout look, you might want to ring in some even bigger changes. Keeping the ‘tache longer for a beardstache or maintaining weight around the goatee will plonk a statement piece right on your face for all to see.

“Continue the steps from the stubble stage, letting it grow a bit longer over a few weeks,” says Murphy. “The secret every good barber knows is that it’s all about gradual steps. You want to nurture the beard to your desired length with regular trims. If you have to shape the beard from scratch, you’re going to need a few mirrors and a steady hand.” Take your time and you’ll arrive at a result that’s more George Clooney, less George Michael.

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The precise attention you give to each area will depend on your face shape and desired outcome, but one rule holds true for all. “The sideburns can puff out, so get those bad boys under control,” says Murphy. You’ll notice every scissorsmith worth his salt will take these in tight when you go for a professional trim. “You can follow this at the top of the cheek line for a face-squaring fade.”

For the ultimate square beard – and therefore a squarer jaw – work the neck like a pro. “The weight under the chin can become quite bulbous. Comb this area out and trim it with as flat a line as possible – this will enhance the chin,” says Murphy.

“Random growth patterns are where things get tricky. Some areas grow into others causing them to jut out.” A barber’s trick here is to use a comb with a naked trimmer rather than using a guard. “You’re essentially combing to expose stray hairs then trimming. Finish with a beard balm to keep the hairs in line.”

How to Trim a Beard

How to Trim a Long Beard

A long bushy beard has been a marker of strength, wisdom and downright unabashed manliness for as long as history can remember. If you were hoping to add a touch of badass to your appearance, but don’t fancy splurging on a Harley or a leather jacket, growing a massive beard is the best way to go.

You’re obviously going to need to relax the rules on how often you trim back your beard. Think on the previous tips for a mid-length beard and cut back on the number of trims per week. “Also allow the sideburns a little more length now. Trim a line across the cheeks so you don’t just look like you’ve given up,” says Murphy. “But you can start to let your mustache grow over your lip. A trim ‘stache doesn’t really work with a longer beard.” There’s a reason they call them flavor savers, you know.

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Steady hands, boys, steady hands. “Free handing with your beard trimmer is about to become more commonplace, so get some practice in,” says Murphy. “As the beard grows past the neck, you can maintain the neckline using the Adam’s apple rule, but let the hair growing from the jaw pass that line to create a fuller beard.”

Keep your ‘stache looking reasonable using the comb and trim method: “Comb it outwards from the middle and cut any stubborn hairs that are too long. Once it’s got length, blow dry it for the best look. Dampen it, comb, blow dry and apply a little wax,” says Murphy. “When you’ve got the length, use the blowdry technique on the rest of your beard to encourage your hair to fall in line there too. You can fade your cheek hair so it’s much lighter toward the eyes.” This allows you to increase the overall length of your beard without going full Captain Caveman.

And a parting tip. “Beard oil can help with skin irritation and improve the health of your beard. But remember this: less is more.” A slimy beard is never a good look.

FAQs About How to Trim a Beard

Should you trim your beard wet or dry?

Always trim your beard while it’s dry. When your beard is wet, it will give the impression that the hairs are longer than they are, which could cause you to cut them shorter than desired. Also, trimming your beard while the hair is dry will give you a better sense of what it will actually look like. Make sure you dry your beard completely before trimming.

Should I brush out my beard before trimming?

A beard brush is a helpful tool because it ensures that all the hairs are going in the same direction. When thinking about how to trim a beard, the first steps are to wash, dry and brush out your beard so you can work with a clean, blank canvas. Without brushing your beard out first, you run the risk of cutting the wrong hairs, or giving your beard an uneven look.

 

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