We’ve established I have neither the hair nor social milieu for braids. That blows. But then, so does life. I’m over it. It’s fine, because one thing I can grow is a mighty beard. And have been able to do so since my teenage years. And this means I’ve tried most facial hair styles out there, you can be sure. I’ve had the time.
Believe it or not, but beard trends are a thing. They come and go, but what comes next you'd be within your rights to ask? From the hipster beard to the normcore trend of studied nonchalance, and that 'lumbersexual' phase (the less said about that, the better), then maybe men should just go clean shaven? But if we’ve learned anything from famous beards, famous beard trends, and indeed this column, it’s that shaving the whole thing off is now as much of a statement as growing one. In the age of hirsutism, a clean shave is now the new hipster ‘tache, to the point where shave clubs for you and your bros from pros like our partner Gillette are now a real bona fide thing. Pay a price and you get a set amount of quality razor blades through your letter box, expertly timed just at the point your blades go blunt (you can choose the frequency of deliveries as well as the type of blade you prefer, delivering ultimate flexibility tailored to every guy, because that's just the kind of age we're living in now).
So if you haven't joined the club just yet and are debating the merits of continued facial topiary, here are the years' biggest beard trends, in descending order of hair. Plus, y'know, all the reasons why you could always go clean shaven as well...
If you follow Groom Service, you'll know that a certain sensitive hip-hop star's decision to shave their beard hit me hard. I loved that thing. The sweet duet of full beard and shaved head works in such juxtapositional harmony, it's hard to forgive and forget. Which is why it's on this list, so you can live the dream and fill the streets with manly mega full beards.
Good for: Accentuating a small jaw (and if you're balding)
Get it: For The Full Beard, there is, of course, the prerequisite of some serious growth here. You could enlist the help of a barber to keep the shape as it goes. If you’re going DIY, use a trimmer like Gillette’s Fusion Proglide Styler to keep undercutting the neck. Tighten around the temples down to the jaw, too.
You know how certain Hollywood actors seem to have developed that unhinged, might-kill-your-cat look in their eye? Well, it’s not actually in their eye. It’s in their beard. And it’s awesome. The Balbo makes you look fricking insane. But, like, in a good way. No, seriously, it’s great. Stop moving on to number three. Keep reading. Guys? GUYS!
Good for: Lengthening a round face
Get it: The Balbo is a good power-up after going full beard. You need a lot of length around the jawline that should be allowed to grow three-or-so inches. Again, go behind this with your Styler to remove any bulk between the adam’s apple and jaw. Keep the cheeks tight or clean shaven to the point there’s a disconnect between jaw and temples.
My personal fave. This is essentially a short, cropped beard with the 'tache given a bit more length (geddit now? beardstache? idiot...). You can really experiment with 'tache-to-beard ratio. My advice would be to keep the 'tache shaped as a solid slug rather than teetering that hipster/hick/Fu Manchu line of a handlebar or anything fancier. This style still looks badass without being full crazy-Balbo beard.
Good for: Men with a full jaw
Get it: Either trim down from your beard, leaving the 'tache untouched (I’d go for circa 2mm on the Styler for the beard), keeping every area apart from the top lip equally short. Or you can grow up from stubble by continuing business as usual but allowing your ‘tache to go wild.
There are a couple of fine lines here. One: the actual fine line of your jawstrap and beard. Two: the fine line between looking cool and looking like someone trying to be cool. You’ll be on fleek when this is done right, for sure. But the angular, super-neat nature of this style means mistakes are easy to spot. Done wrong, you’ll look at best like you’ve drawn the thing on.
Good for: Adding contrast to your jawline
Get it: You, of course, don’t require too much length in the lines of beard you do keep. That would be weird. Trim it tight and then shave it to shape with the razor end of the Styler. It’s important to follow the natural contour of your jaw rather than trying to create a chiseled line where there isn’t one. If you’re that much of a joker you’d may as well draw the thing.
We were told we'd reached peak beard. That was obviously a lie. Beards are great. But a clean shave is now becoming the different choice. It's cool. Especially if you live in an area overrun by hipsters.
Good for: Anyone
Get it: For the biggest impact, grow a full beard and keep it for a while. Let everyone see you. Let everyone know. And when half your mates have copied you, when the world is used to your bearded face, go and shave the whole thing off. Maintain that smooth new visage of yours with regular wet shaves with a quality piece like the Fusion ProShield Razor, once going with the grain and then once going against for an extra smooth finish. Maintain it through the Gillette Shave Club.
For extra buddy points, refer a friend and get $5 credit.
Knock knock. Who is it? Groom Service.