Still have a beard? It might be time to shave. “The full-on beard is no longer dominating,” says celebrity stylist and Braun grooming expert Sascha Breuer. “If there’s one thing you can take away from the red carpet this season, it’s that men are wearing a huge range of beard styles.”
The most popular right now: stubble. And no, this isn’t the same as the look you get when you go camping for the weekend without a razor. This is a calculated, sharp look, if understated. “Picture Justin Timberlake or Tom Ford — they have this cool barely-there beard that makes them look more manly but not too manicured,” Breuer says. Perhaps that’s why in a recent poll nearly one in two women voted for stubble as their favorite facial hair style for men. So how do you do the look right? Take notes.
1. Size up your growth.
While the big, bushy beards work better with some face shapes and hairstyles than others, just about every man can wear a stubble look. “The only consideration is the quality of your beard growth,” Breuer says. “If your hair does not grow in evenly, it may look patchy when it’s this short.”
2. Start long.
Because individual hairs may grow at slightly different rates, allowing them to fill in means once you trim, the stubble will look fuller. “When facial hair grows out, the ends of the shafts get thinner and thinner,” Breuer says. When you take a trimmer to it, the roots will be thicker “and therefore the stubble will look fuller.” And take note of the natural line that forms along your jaw where hair growth stops or tapers, and use it to determine the edge of your beard.
Before anything, wash your face with warm water, which will soften the hair and make it easier to work with, and use a gentle facial scrub to exfoliate. “The process of exfoliating lifts the hair follicles, making them easier to grab with the trimmer,” Breuer says. One to try: A product like Anthony Facial Scrub is formulated with Bora Bora white sand, to remove grime, and aloe vera and chamomile to soothe delicate skin.
4. Start conservative.
The old adage “you can take it away but you can’t add it back” applies here. Set your trimmer for a longer length first — do a second pass on a shorter length if necessary. “There is no ‘right’ length for stubble,” Breuer says. “It is an individual preference.”
5. Shave outside the line.
Stubble is supposed to look casually cool, but its shape is definitely deliberate. You want to remove the stray whiskers creeping up on your cheeks, or messing with the line below your chin. “I would shave from below the chin to the Adam’s apple,” Breuer says.
Longer beards benefit from beard oil or wax, which coats the strands and adds luster to the hair. But for stubble-length styles, “you are better off using a moisturizer, which can reach the skin beneath,” Breuer says. Heavier oils can clog pores if applied directly to the skin, but a moisturizer will allow the skin to breathe, while still protecting it (and your facial hair) from dryness. A good bet: Tenzing Skincare for Men Sandalwood Face Moisturizer uses an aloe base to soothe and hydrate skin, plus other natural ingredients that add a protective barrier between your face and the elements.
For stubble, maintenance is key. Depending on how fast your hair grows, you’ll need to trim once every two to four days. Use a razor to create a defined beard line, or use a higher trimmer setting for a fade. Either way, the goal is to make your stubble look intentional and sharp, not scraggly.