How to trim a beard

Posted at 17:26hin Style & Grooming 55 Comments

A lot of men go wrong when it comes to designing and trimming the outline of their beard. When it comes to outlining a beard, the key is to avoid the mistake of trimming the neckline too high up on the neck and entering the jawline and face region. This is a classic beard gaff that ends up making it look like your beard shrunk in the dryer and is now entirely too small for your face. It’s like wearing a tiny hat or squeezing into skinny jeans.

Trimming A Beard Neckline

Why a Neckline

You don’t need a neckline. You may want to grow your beard naturally because in some cases this looks better and it’s a lot easier to maintain. For most of us however, neck hair can be uncomfortable and look untamed. Also, no one wants their facial hair to connect to their chest hair unless you’re transforming into a werewolf. But even werewolves have some standards.

A neckline simply outlines the bottom portion of the beard, which varies from man to man. Of course, this is only if your aim to to grow the classic full beard or short box beard, otherwise other facial hair styles play by different rules.

Trimming A Beard Neckline

Trimming A Beard NecklineStep One

First, imagine a slightly curved line that goes from right behind your ear lobes and travels under the jaw line. It should stop at the angle where your neck meets the underside of your jaw below your chin. The line will be very close to the top of your Adam’s apple (yellow line in the picture). That’s your neckline. Another way to visualize it is to tilt your chin down and a natural crease will reveal itself where the underside of your chin meets the top of your neck.

Your Beard Grooming Tool Kit

It’s no good going to work on your beard with a rusty old pair of kitchen scissors and a blunt razor and expecting to come away from the bathroom looking like Tom Ford. If you want to succeed, you’re going to need a properly stocked selection of tools.

Beard Trimmer

Philips Series 9000 Laser Guided Beard & Stubble Trimmer, £120 >

Whether you’re sporting designer stubble or a full bushy beard, you’ll need a good trimmer to keep things in check. For stubble and shorter beards, you’ll be able to use this to maintain the overall length of your facial hair. And for longer styles, you’ll need it to keep your sideburns, moustache, neckline and cheeks in shape. Just make sure to purchase a model that can be set to different lengths as longer beards need to be graduated.

Facial Hair Scissors

Tweezerman G.E.A.R. Facial Hair Scissors, £20 >

When shaping larger beards, it’s essential to have a sharp pair of scissors to get rid of rogue hairs. Think of it as facial-hair topiary. These will be the most important weapon in your arsenal when it comes to making sure your fuzz looks the way you want it to, and for making minor adjustments here and there.

Beard Comb

Kent Handmade Fine Toothed Beard Comb,

Obviously, a comb isn’t necessary when it comes to very short beards or stubble. However, where long beards are concerned, it’s the difference between a tangled mess and a flowing mane.


Philips OneBlade Hybrid Trimmer & Shaver, £46.81 >

Given that you’re reading this article, we’re going to go out on a limb and guess you aren’t interested in going clean shaven. However, that doesn’t mean you can forego a razor entirely. Especially in the case of stubble, you’ll find a quality razor to be useful for making precise adjustments around the edges. Carving a neckline, removing high-growing hair on the cheeks and keeping sideburns neat and tidy are just a few of the tasks a good razor will assist you with.

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Beard Oil

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Conditioning Beard Oil, £40 >

It’s a common misconception that beard oil is nothing more than a gimmick. However, as anyone who has ever suffered from beard dandruff will tell you, this stuff is no joke. The skin beneath the facial hair often gets neglected, dry and flakey, but applying oil frequently will help to keep it nourished and moisturised. Not only that, but it will also keep the hair itself soft, conditioned, and feeling less like a wire brush.

Shaving Gel

Clinique For Men Aloe Shave Gel, £15 >

Again, while we know you don’t want to shave your entire chin down to the bone, you’ll still need something to aid shaving around the neck and the cheeks. Opting for a transparent gel as opposed to a thick foam or shave cream will enable you to see where you’re shaving, allowing you to keep those edges razor sharp and laser straight.

Aftershave Balm

After Shave BalmGeo F Trumper Skin Food, £23 >

Last but by no means least, keep that razor burn and dry skin under control with a good aftershave balm. Because what good is an immaculate beard if it’s surrounded by itchy, irritated skin?

Short Beards

Facial hair that falls somewhere between stubble and a full beard has consistently been proven in surveys as making men appear more attractive. Bearing that in mind, it’s no wonder it’s become such a popular beard style. Still, in order to keep it looking sharp at all times, you’ll need to make sure it’s trimmed to perfection.

What You’ll Need

  • Trimmer
  • Razor
  • Aftershave Balm

How To Do It

As soon as facial hair gets any longer than stubble, it tends to appear a bit unkempt. However, in order to pull a short beard off effectively, it’s imperative that you ride this period out. It can be itchy and scruffy looking, but you can alleviate this somewhat by carving a neckline in early on to make it look intentional and not as if you’ve just stopped bothering to shave.

Once you’ve grown it out, you’ll want to take the hair down to the same length all over using your trimmer. Grades vary from brand to brand but you should be aiming for around a centimetre. Once this is done, set the trimmer to a slightly shorter setting and use it to taper the sideburns and your neck hair, plus thin out any areas that look too thick.

Finally, using either your razor and shaving gel or the trimmer without the guard, carefully carve a neckline, starting at the middle of the throat just above the Adam’s apple, then working your way up each side to where the earlobe meets the jawbone. When tilting your head back and looking in the mirror, this should form a smooth, curved line from earlobe to earlobe.

Mid-Length Beards

As beard length progresses, it requires more careful thought. It’s important to pick the right hair to suit your face shape, and the same should be taken into consideration when it comes to your facial hair. Beards which are mid-length or longer can dramatically alter the shape of the face, adding length and/or width.

What You’ll Need

  • Trimmer
  • Scissors
  • Beard oil
  • Comb

How To Do It

Most trimmers can be set to a grade high enough to accommodate a mid-length beard, making keeping it preened relatively straightforward. First off, take the hair to the same length all over. Then use shorter settings to blend the hair on the cheeks, neck and sideburns.

Next, remove the guard and use the blades to neaten up the edges around the neckline, above the top lip and above the cheeks. It’s best not to use a razor for this part as very straight lines and sharp graduations can look a little out of place on longer beards.

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Once that’s done, rub a small amount of beard oil between your fingers and work it through the beard, right down to the roots. Use your comb to smooth the hair into shape and then use the scissors to trim any stragglers.

Long Beards

There’s no denying it’s a bold look, and certainly not for everyone. But look after it well, keep it groomed, and a long beard can become your trademark. Again, remember to consider face shape when deciding whether or not to sport a long beard. The bigger the beard, the more inches it’s going to add. And if your face is already on the long or wide side, you don’t have much room for manoeuvre.

What You’ll Need

  • Scissors
  • Trimmer
  • Comb
  • Beard oil

How To Do It

When shaping a large beard, scissors are your friend. If you’re growing one for the first time a good thing to do is book in for a beard shaping with your local barber. Once you’ve had it done professionally, it’ll be much easier to keep in check at home and you will even be able to pick up a few pointers on how to do it right.

Once your barber has worked his or her magic, it’s down to you to maintain it. This should be done a few times a week, using a comb to smooth the hair out and removing any stray hairs with scihe BEst ssors in order to preserve the overall shape. You can then run over it with your trimmer to remove any excess hair from the neck and trim the moustache back so it rests just above the top lip.

Again, take your beard oil and massage it through the hair, right down to the roots. Make sure to pay attention to the skin under the beard, keeping it moisturised to avoid dry skin or dandruff.

Have a clean (and dry) beard ready for trimming.

Washing BeardTo begin your beard trimming, wash your beard thoroughly and condition it. Then dry it. Very well. In fact, it’s best to have your beard bone dry for a successful trim that will leave you feeling pleased with the results.

Fix the wild hairs with a pair of scissors.

scissor trimSome might think this is a no brainer, but trust it isn’t. If you’re holding your trimmer and you see a flyaway hair, the solution is NOT to hold your trimmer near it and hope for the best. Wait until you’re finished trimming, comb your beard once more, and then snip the unruly hairs with your scissors.

Start by Washing and Drying your Beard

Before you trim your beard, you should always wash it and dry thoroughly. A clean beard is easier to trim and the finished result looks a whole lot better.

Once your beard has dried, then comb through it to ensure that all the hairs are lying flat and there are no hairs curled up and hidden. This process is particularly important for people with long full beards.

If you don´t already have one, I would suggest you invest in a mid range beard trimmer. These devices are quite versatile these days and can be used for body grooming as well as giving yourself a quick hair cut.

For those who have never trimmed their beard before or if you are using a new trimmer, begin with the longest trimming length on the tool. You can always change to a shorter length so that you won´t risk over cutting your hair.

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Move To The Side Of The Face

Now that you have the neck taken care of, go to the side of your face starting from your sideburns. Always trim the sides of your beard before trimming the chin area.

Before starting on the sides of your face, you should decide if you want to extend your beard covering the cheeks or if you prefer to keep a U shape beard style with shaven cheeks.

If your choice is to have shaven cheeks, now is the time to define a line. Whilst it´s easy to make a neck line with the trimmer, it´s not advisable to do the same on the cheeks.

You will find that the trimmer gets in the way and you can´t exactly see where to stop. In this case, I would suggest the use of a normal throw away safety razor also because the defining line is not always straight and it´s easier to manage the curves with a razor instead of a trimmer.

The beard always looks nicer when the hair on the sides are shorter than the chin area. I usually maintain a difference of 2 guard combs between my sides and the chin.

Use the trimmer vertically, trimming towards your jawline. If you are extending your beard on the cheeks too, you should trim the cheeks area with the trimmer, using the size of the comb you started with for the sides.

Once you are done trimming, comb out your beard again to make sure that there are no stray hairs that were missed and then shave the cheek area where you don’t want any facial hair to appear.

Change the guard to higher number, starting from about 1 inch above the chin area. Complete the trimming of the chin without touching your mustache, which we will get to next.

How to Shape the Ducktail beard

A full beard is your starting point for the ducktail. Once you’ve achieved that glorious stage of facial hair growth, you can begin shaping it:

  • Trim the hairs on the upper part of your chin from top to bottom while tapering each side in the direction of a center point under your chin.
  • Once you’ve determined you desired length, you can begin to trim the ducktail shape on the lower portion of your cheeks. Take your time with this and give it your full concentration.
  • Keep your ducktail in shape by frequently combing it. Use only a high-quality beard comb, not the cheap plastic version you can buy off the shelf of your local pharmacy.
  • You don’t have to make an extremely sharp point at the bottom of the chin. A rounded shape looks pretty damn good, too.
  • Keep your side chin trimmed.

Famous People Who Wear The Ducktail

Leonardo Dicaprio has worn the ducktail on the silver screen, as well as Mel Gibson has sported an awesome-looking ducktail that perfectly fits his facial shape.

Leonardo Dicaprio Ducktail beard

Leonardo DiCaprio

Back to:

  • Beard styles
  • All facial hair styles

Why grow a beard?

Beard… What’s the point?

There are many reasons to grow a beard. It shows that you’re fashionable if you choose a suitable one that’s well maintained. BUT the real reason is, that a beard can make you appear more dominant.

  1. A beard can help you stand out in a crowd. 
  2. Men with beard are seen as stronger, older and more aggressive.

Stubbel beard

The extended goatee beard

The extended goatee is also called the tailback or the Hollywoodian and it’s a combination of the goatee and the mustache.

The name Hollywood, came from the golden era this beard had in Hollywood where it seemed that everyone was sporting it.

Ryan Gosling with an extended goatee beard

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