Work With What You’ve Got: Best Beard Styles Based on Face Shape
In past centuries, there was a time when any self-respecting man sported some sort of beard, but in more recent times, facial hair started to fade out of style around the same time as bell bottoms and vinyl. However, there’s no doubting the fact that beards have made a massive comeback (as has vinyl, but that’s a whole another story) and are definitely fully in fashion at the moment—with men from all walks of life now proudly sporting full beards and other popular facial hair styles.
Still, while beards may be considered super stylish and manly nowadays, it doesn’t mean that all facial hair styles fall into this category, as it takes the right kind of man with the right kind of face to pull off the bearded look. Not only that, but it also requires putting in the time to trim and shape the beard otherwise you run the risk of looking like a slob instead of adding some much needed style. We have some great posts to help you out on this point including our assessment of the best beard trimmers and how to trim a beard.
So to help you in your quest for ultimate bearded manliness, we’ve put together a list of the best beard styles and how to achieve them. In addition, we’ve also described the specific beard styles that work well with certain face shapes, allowing you to find the style that matches both your personality and your face. Also check out our posts about the best facial hair for round faces and best beard styles for black men. In these modern times, wearing a beard can be something like a badge of honor—provided you know how to do it properly. So read on to discover the secrets you need to know to wear your beard with pride and look good while doing it.
Best Beard Styles: Understanding the Shape of Your Face
Looking your best in a beard is really all about the shape of your face, as it’s important that you choose a style that will accentuate your good features (or hide your bad ones). Unfortunately, not all faces are created equal, as some men can pull off almost any style, while others of us are more limited in our choices. So, the first step towards choosing the best beard styles is to understand how the shape of your face affects how your beard will look. We’ve provided recommendations about which beard styles look good on each shape of face, but keep in mind that these are merely basic guidelines, as the only way to know is to let it grow. In addition, your hair style will also play a part in how your beard looks, so keep that in mind as well. You can check out our article on what kind of haircut goes good with a beard for guidance.
- Round Face: Men with a more rounded shape face specific obstacles when wearing a beard, as it’s important to choose a style that makes the face look longer—otherwise your beard may further accentuate your round features and make your face look fat. Beard of Choice: The Circle Beard
- Long, Skinny or Pointed Face: Men with longer, skinnier faces have basically the opposite problem of those with round faces. While it’s unlikely that any beard will make your face look fat, the wrong style can easily result in a horse face look if you’re not careful. Beard of Choice: Tight Beard
- Square Face: Men with more square shaped faces are more fortunate than those with long or round faces, as there’s a wide range of styles that can look good on this shape of face. That being said, you’ll probably want to consider fading your beard, as otherwise your face could look overly boxy. On the same token, you’ll probably want to choose a style that helps to make your face look more slender instead of accentuating the boxy look. Beard of Choice: Short Box Beard
- Rectangular Face: Similar to those with long faces, men with more rectangular shaped faces will want to choose a style that helps accentuate your angular features, while also shortening the face and making it look more rounded. Beard of Choice: Permanent Stubble or Five O’Clock Shadow
- Prominent Chin: For men with a prominent chin, it’s all about accentuating the sides of the face to help lessen the appearance of the chin. Beard of Choice: Full Beard with longer sides and well-trimmed chin
- Weak Chin: Men with a weaker chin or jawline can probably benefit more from the right beard style than any others, as the facial hair can do a good job of accentuating the jawline and making it look more prominent. On the other hand, the wrong beard style can have the opposite effect. Beard of Choice: Short to Medium Length Wide Chinstrap
Best Beard Styles of 2016 and Beyond
#1 Full Beard
Hands down one of the most popular beard styles, but also one of the hardest to pull off. The full beard really only works for those men that have thick and full enough facial hair to provide total coverage. The full beard typically requires less maintenance than other styles, but this doesn’t mean you can just let it grow, as there’s a fine line between a stylish full beard and an extreme epic beard (which very few men can properly pull off). If you plan on going for the full beard look, you’ll definitely want to try to hair under your chin faded, as this will help keep it from looking too wild or unruly. Keep in mind that when we say full beard, we’re usually talking about a short to medium length beard that fully covers the face—although the actual length of the beard is fully up to you. For more information on the full beard including how to grow and trim one, check out this article.
- Recomended beard oil: Mountaineer Brand Natural Beard Oil here on Amazon
#2 Tight Beard
This is basically the same thing as the full beard, except perhaps a bit more professional looking. Whereas the full beard is typically an even length all over, the tight beard is usually kept trimmed a bit shorter, while still covering the entire face. With the tight beard, you’ll want to especially keep the hair on your cheeks trimmed short, but without changing the shape. Basically, the tight beard keeps the natural shape of your facial hair (although you may want to touch up the lines).
- Recommended beard trimmer: Norelco Multigroom All-in-One Grooming Kit here on Amazon
#3 Short Box Beard
This style is quite similar to the tight beard, except that it requires more trimming and shaping on the cheeks. Probably the easiest way to describe the short box beard is as a combination of chin strap and circle beard, with tight lines on the cheeks and little to no hair below the jaw line. The reason it’s usually referred to as the box beard is that the cheeks trimmed so that the hair around your mouth has a more square shape. This style typically works best when kept trimmed short, meaning it will require quite a bit more trimming than some other styles, as the effect can quickly be ruined with even a minimal amount of stubble.
- Recommended beard balm: Honest Amish Beard Balm Leave-In Conditioner
#4 Chinstrap Beard
The chinstrap is probably one of the harder styles to pull off, as it takes a certain shape of face and a man who’s willing to trim and touch it up several times a week. The chinstrap beard is basically a line of hair that follows the jawline all the way across the face. The actual width of the line is a matter of personal preference, but we can definitely recommend not going too skinny, as a pencil thin chinstrap is surely one of the hardest looks to pull off properly. With the chinstrap, you’ll need to keep the cheeks and chin bare and you’ll probably also want to keep the sides faded to prevent it from looking like the Amish beard.
- Recommended safety razor for clean lines: Edwin Jagger DE89lbl here on Amazon
#5 Circle Beard
Many men continually confuse the circle beard with the goatee, as a goatee only refers to a patch of hair on your chin while a circle beard is a combination of goatee and mustache. If you’re considering a goatee, we’d definitely recommend trying out the circle beard first, as the true goatee basically went out of style in the 90s. The reason it’s called the circle beard is that it is basically an unbroken circle (or square) of hair that fully surrounds the mouth. Still, the length and width of the circle is a matter of choice, as some men look great with a highly stylized and well-trimmed circle beard, while others look better with a wider, rounder and longer style.
- Recommended beard comb: Rocky Mountain Sandalwood Beard Comb
#6 Five O’ Clock Shadow/ Permanent Stubble
This is one style that often drives the women wild, as it screams ultimate manliness—making it look like you’re so masculine that no amount of shaving will ever keep your face smooth. That being said, it still takes a bit of effort to pull it off, as there’s a fine line between looking stylishly unkempt and slobbish. This style requires a good beard trimmer, as you’ll first need to let your hair grow for a few days, then keep it trimmed up using a short guard. If you want to go for the five o’ clock shadow, we recommend trimming every day or so (depending on how fast your facial hair grows), while the permanent stubble look only needs to be trimmed two to three times a week.
- Recommended beard trimmer: Norelco 7300 Series here on Amazon
#7 Extreme or Epic Beard
While we probably wouldn’t recommend this style for most men, there is a nonetheless a subset of guys who can pull this one off and look good while doing it. Although you could be forgiven for thinking that this style requires no maintenance, all but the most extreme epic beards will still need a bit of trimming periodically to keep them from looking too wild or unkempt. In addition, we definitely recommend investing in a quality beard oil and comb, as this will go a long way towards keeping your face and beard healthy and preventing your beard from getting too out of hand.
- Check out the hundreds of glowing reviews of this Leven Rose beard oil and this Sandalwood beard comb here on Amazon
No matter what beard style you choose, the most important part is to wear it with pride and confidence. The next most important thing is to properly maintain your beard and keep it looking nice and healthy by using a quality beard oil or in many cases, preferably one of the top beard balms. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments in the box below. I will do my best to address them personally or find another expert who can.
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Ben Rose is the founder and senior editor at Prim&Prep, the definitive guide to male grooming. He is a wet shaving expert and body grooming aficionado. His work has been featured on many other prominent publications including Good Men Project, Addicted to Success, Steven Aitchison, and Sharpologist.