Gone are the days when clean shaven was the only way to look well groomed. Some of the most stylish and sophisticated men on the planet are adopting a more rugged approach to facial hair, and from bar to boardroom stubble is no longer seen as scruffy.
If uncared for, stubble can make you look rough or haggard – but equally it has the ability to transform a smooth baby face into something far more masculine and handsome. The look we’re going to cover in this article (and what I consider to fall under the term ‘stubble’) includes everything from a couple of day’s growth to a short beard.
We’ll tackle how to achieve it, who wears it well and how you can perfect what Mother Nature has given you.
So how do we go about achieving this manly, distinguished look? Sit there and wait for it to grow, right? Unfortunately not. To maintain stubble that enhances your look, it requires a little more work than that. It’s one of those ‘effortless’ things that requires, well… effort.
First off, you have to ask yourself whether stubble is for you, because it doesn’t suit everyone. With this in mind, below are some simple indicators to help you decide whether short facial hair is for you.
You should grow some stubble if:
Avoid growing designer stubble if:
For those who are still not sure, here is some designer stubble inspiration for you, so you can see whether it produces the type of look you are after:
I mentioned in the introduction that stubble was no longer considered scruffy, but this largely depends on how you maintain it. One of the best ways to keep your stubble in check is by ‘shaping’ your facial hair to give a cleaner, sharper look.
Shaping involves clean shaving the areas outside the natural growth of your stubble – the top of your cheeks and the lower part of your neck – to eradicate any stray hairs and give a relatively clean line to the edge of the stubble. This is particularly important if you have dark, tough stubble that grows from your cheekbone down to the edge of the collar.
That being said, the major trend within men’s facial hair at the moment is a ‘natural’ look, so don’t try to sculpt your beard with too much precision – ‘chinstraps’ (à la Flo Rida) are not what we are aiming for here.
My biggest tip for this kind of work is to ensure you use a shave gel or shave oil that doesn’t lather during shaving. This will enable you to see clearly what stubble lies underneath (so you don’t shave off too much) but still provides you with optimum razor glide.
Wash your face with a high quality face wash or facial scrub to remove any dead skin cells and lift the beard for a smoother glide.
Next, apply shave gel or oil to the area that you’ll be shaving and leave for 30 seconds or so to allow your beard to soften.
Take your razor or trimmer/shaper and shave carefully in the direction of the hair growth. Don’t rush this step, and keep track of how much you’re shaving – you don’t want to remove too much stubble and ruin your look.
So what stops stubble becoming a full on beard, and where do you draw the line? Well, one of the top performing gadgets below is a great place to start. They allow you to keep the length of your stubble in check through handy adjustable cutting guides, helping ensure everything is nice and even so that your stubble always appears well groomed and never bordering on scruffy.
I personally use the BaByliss For Men i-Stubble to maintain my facial fuzz, giving my beard a once over every three to four days to stop the length getting out of hand. However, depending on how quickly your beard grows and your desired length, you may need to do this every couple of days. For those less follically blessed, you could even leave growth of a week or so.
Compared to daily shaving, this level of maintenance really is a major plus side for stubble.
One thing to bear in mind for those trying to maintain a shorter length beard (rather than just a few days worth of stubble) is how you deal with the hair below your jaw-line. As we are striving for a natural look, you don’t want to clean shave this hair and leave yourself with the aforementioned ‘chinstrap’. In this instance, start by setting your trimmer to your chosen beard length (usually a three to five guard setting is perfect) and go over the majority of your beard to keep it even and tidy.
As you move below your jaw line, reduce the guard to a slightly lower setting (in this case a two) and continue to go over your neck hair, reducing further to a one guard setting as you reach around your Adam’s apple. This enables you blend the hair in gradually with your beard, which looks neater and helps you remain well groomed without the sharp and jarring effect of a completely clean shaven neck.
Remember to shape by removing any stray hairs that are clearly outside the lines of your natural neckline:
There you have it, stubble is easier to maintain than you may initially think and it can help add a rugged masculinity to your look that you may have been missing – there really is a lot to be said for growing some well cared for designer stubble in 2013.
Share your experiences and tips for designer stubble in the comments section below, and if you’re thinking about changing your look, ask any questions you may have.