A lot of guys might grow their beards without considering the possibilities. They may look at their facial hair pattern and density, and then accept this as their beard pre-set. They grow the beard and mustache out, trim it periodically and evenly, and that’s about it. But why not try a beard style, the same way you try different styles with the hair on top of your head? You can fade the beard down from the sideburns, or grow a fuller mustache and a shorter beard. Does it look patchy? There are styles that embrace what you have. So in the spirit of getting more out of your facial hair, here are four options worth trying.
THE FULLER MUSTACHE
This look is great for guys who can only grow patchy beards, says Ann Shim, director of barbering at Grooming Lounge. This is because it requires short hair everywhere except on the lip. (But it works on guys who can grow full beards, too.) Keep the beard short—1-2mm to start, but grow out the mustache. Again, you want attention on this fuller ‘stache. You can modify the look by growing everything longer and in proportion, like a two-week beard with a two-month mustache, for example. Maintenance depends on how full and bushy you want the beard to be. The shorter the style, the more often you’ll need to touch it up.
THE REVERSE FADED BEARD
This beard fades down from the sideburns, opposite of how the hair fades up into your hairstyle. This is its main feature, Shim says, otherwise allowing you to grow your beard like normal. You don’t need to be able to grow a big beard to pull it off, but you should have enough hair on the sides of your jaw in order to emphasize the graduation.
It takes a lot of precision to correctly trim the fade, so it’s helpful to get it professionally done on a regular basis. But of course, you can try fading it at home, too: Change the guard setting from one short length to a longer one (a few notches higher on the guard). You trim a blunt line between the two lengths. Then, you find a mid-length guard between these two, and trim roughly 1/2-1 cm of the top of the longer facial hair so that it steadily progresses from short to long. On top of that, you need the two sides to look balanced.
THE LONG FULL BEARD
This will take a few months or more to grow, and it only works on guys who can grow a full beard. Shim notes that every guy’s beard will fill in differently as it reaches this length. It’s important to visit your barber for some professional hedge trimming as it grows to help coach it into place. It’s a lot like a long hairstyle: It needs to be layered shorter in some places and kept longer in others.
In general, you won’t want to trim it for the first month or more. But the mustache will need more regular maintenance to keep the hair off the lips, but the rest of the style requires patience and a few grooming products. Shim says that the beard should be conditioned with a beard lotion, like the Scotch Porter Beard Conditioner, to make it less itchy and easier to sculpt. You can use your mustache wax to tame any strays and maintain the rounded beard shape, too. Otherwise, a softening beard balm, like The Roosevelts Glacier Beard Balm, works as a great styler. You’ll do the sculpting with your hands, meeting them at the bottom of the beard in the same way you would scoop water in your palms. Use a comb to coach any strays into place.
After the first month or two, you will need to trim the sides regularly while the chin grows longer. You can comb the hair against the grain and trim it at an easier angle—only snipping a few millimeters at a time, once a week—in order to maintain this permanent length. You can also trim strays that refuse to stay in line, which will happen more frequently at longer lengths.
THE DISCONNECTED MUSTACHE
Similar to the “longer mustache” look, this one creates definition between the mustache and beard. It’s a favorite of Jeff Chastain, stylist and founder of men’s grooming line MASC by Jeff Chastain. Only in this style, the mustache and beard can be the same length. The difference is that you’re completely shaving the bridge between the two. This is especially good for guys who have sparse or patchy cheeks, Chastain says. It allows you to grow the jaw, lip, and chin fully, which is your strong suit. Then, by disconnecting the beard from the chin, you create an intentional separation. Then, you’ll shave your cheeks to remove any patchiness that otherwise stands out. Because you need this “bridge” area to be bare, you will need to trim or shave it daily, according to Chastain.
By Adam Hurly