Stubble strikes the perfect balance between a beard and a clean shave, but that balance is delicate. It’s the so-called Goldilocks of the facial hair world — it can’t be too short or too long.
The benefits of scruff are obvious: You can pull off a rugged presence without all the work of a full-grown beard, and it can help sooth your skine if you’re prone to irritation from persistent shaving.
However, just like sipping bourbon or broiling steak, there’s a right way and a wrong way to wear stubble. We’ve assembled some tips and products to help you keep that fresh, five o’clock shadow look. Everything you need about growing and maintaining stubble can be found right here.
Clean and Exfoliate
Like any great masterpiece, you need a clean canvas to start on. A good cleanser keeps your skin’s moisture in balance, leaving behind a face prepared for shaving and a great base for growing new hair. Port Products Detoxifying Daily Cleanser ($28) will gently purify your pores with yucca root and oat kernel extracts.
A beard shampooing and conditioning routine will also keep your hairs strong and healthy during the growing process. The role of a beard-specific washing product is to get rid of dirt and excess oils, while leaving (and adding) natural oils that keep your beard and skin healthy. The Roosevelts Beard Company offers their superb beard wash and condition bundle ($35) in three different scents.
Pick the Right Trimmer
Trimmers come in a variety of styles, sizes, and price points. At the end of the day, it’s important to make a selection that best suits your routine.
Daily shapers may want to invest in a nicer, more durable model for their arsenal. Our favorite trimmer for shaping stubble, the Conair Man I-Stubble GMT900R ($50), is safe for sensitive skin and features contouring head tracks for extra comfort and stabilization in those hard-to-reach areas.
Those with slower facial growth could get by with the always dependable (and, most importantly, affordable) Philips Norelco Multigroom Series 3 100 ($20), which boasts 18 different trim lengths and five attachments.
No matter what, you’ll need a regular razor for keeping the neck beard in check and give your facial hair the bold border it deserves. With five blades, a flex hinge, and a precision trimmer, The Winston ($20) from Harry’s is a great, cost-effective pick that supplies everything you need for close precision work.
Find the Right Length for You
Any beard trimmer or shaver that you buy should come with several blade guards to allow you to maintain different lengths of stubble. If this is your first foray into the five o’clock shadow, we suggest growing out your beard and then trimming it down to your desired length.
Start with the longest blade guard and test it out. Too long? Size down one, and repeat until you’re satisfied. The worst that could happen is you have to shave completely and start all over again. The best? Well, you’re on your way to being that untamed, well-maintained beast you were always meant to be.
A quite note on beard color: If you have lighter colored facial hair (or multi-colored facial hair), it’s important to grow your stubble grow a little longer than our darker bearded brothers. Going too short on a blonde beard can subvert your goal of maintaining an appropriately cool stubble. If your beard is too light, in some instances, it may appear to not exist at all. Men with dark hair, on the other hand, can sport extremely short stubble without looking any worse for the wear.
Sharpen Your Look
Facial hair has a tendency to pop up outside of the normal growing regions of the face. Patches can, and will, appear randomly, so take care to shave those and keep uniform lines to complement your structure. This is where the time and effort you took picking out a trimmer pays off.
Take it from us: The best way to remain semi-presentable while cultivating your beard is to avoid the dreaded “neckbeard.” Trim only about one inch above your Adam’s apple, or you’ll risk losing the depth of your beard growth. This technique can make your beard stand out early on; the contrast between beardliness and non-beardliness will let people know you’re serious.
Trimming the cheeks is also essential. Again, you don’t want to overdo it—just use a razor to wrangle a few stragglers that wander too far north. If you have something akin to a Chewbacca beard, you’ll need to take more drastic measures. Shave your cheek hair so it’s even with the bottom of your nose.”
Don’t Skimp on Beard Oil
Before you wrap things up, massage in a few drops of beard oil, keeps your whiskers soft and the skin on your face feeling fantastic. There are dozens of options these days to complement any skin type. However, we recommend trying some out to find the right essential oils for your own face, as well as a scent that tickles your fancy.
With that being said, Brooklyn Grooming’s unscented beard oil ($29) packs a powerful punch of organic organ, jojoba oil, hempseed, and sesame oils for added moisturizing properties. If you’re looking for something more intriguing to the nose, the Original Scent beard oil ($20) from California Beard Company is brimming with hints of tea tree and peppermint. Need more suggestions? Here are The Manual’s favorite beard oils.
Article originally published by Geoff Nudelman on January 19, 2017. Last updated by Bryan Holt on January 26, 2018.