Currently the most popular ‘beard styling’ YouTube tutorial shows Dona, a middle-aged mum from Alabama, ruining some guy’s face with her patented beard panaches: The Birdy, Balbo and The Hollywood Inn.
While I wouldn’t normally contradict 800,000 bearded men, I find this disturbing.
Rather than insulting Dona and spending the next decade arguing with beard trolls, I’m taking the Gandhi approach, not to beards – the pacifist never made it past a moustache – but to offering alternatives; so here is my beard style guide.
Choosing a beard is like choosing a beer, a housemate, or religion – there is no universal truth. The decision is personal and entirely your responsibility.
Firstly, hit the internet and trawl through your favourite beards. Generally, those who are awarded the prestige of appearing on a Google image search are wealthy enough to afford stylists, so you can be confident that their perfect beards aren’t a result of Dona’s misanthropy. Note face shape and size, hair and skin colour, and match them to your own.
Second option: trial-and-error. Experiment with shapes and angles, lengths and styles, while aiming to achieve harmony between your face and beard. This is the perfect approach if you are messing around with two-to-four week stubble because if you fuck up you can easily shave it off and start again.
For the yearders among you, this is not an option. A misjudged trim can reduce months of hard growth. Many who have chosen to yeard will simply let their facial hair grow wild and run free and we fully support this. However, as sure as the hair grows from your face, a time will come where you will want to pizazz your beard.
Before you rush to the mirror, equipped with a razor and blurry image of Johnny Depp, there are a few rules regarding face shape and beard style.
- Circle Face: If you have a curvaceous head you will want a beard that creates a new centre-point on your face to detract attention from your roundness. Cut straight lines atop your cheeks, trim the side-burns, and grow out the hair around your chin and the bottom of your face. If you have a large beard, trim your cheeks and grow the rest; this will even out the curves and help to eclipse your moon face.
- Long Face: Antithetical to round face, the long face requires a fuller beard around the cheeks and at the sides, and a shorter trim below the chin. Basically when styling you must use your beard to refine what your genetics could not.
- Large Face: For the giant Viking types, you will want your beard to mimic your body size: bigger the face, bigger the beard. Grow it out as massive and thick as possible. Maintain the edges and crop any loose hairs to prevent yourself from looking like Wurzel Gummidge. And remember, it is all about proportions, so if you have a small face, stick to a smaller beard.
If caught in the tug-of-war of indecision, contact your local barber and ask for their opinion. After shaving and grooming millions of men their knowledge of beards will be wizardly and sagacious, and far surpass any information collected from a haphazard internet search. And if you can spare the pennies, it is a good idea to have your first trim done professionally, as afterwards your responsibility is restricted to its maintenance. Keep in mind that the more intricate style you choose, the more future attention it will require. It's also a good idea to pick up the best beard oil, beard scissors and beard combs treasure can buy.
Finally, try not to take your beard too seriously. Paternal love for a beard is a beautiful thing but don’t let it prevent you from experimenting and having fun because, no matter how bad you fuck up, it will always grow back.