These days, if you’re not a pogonophile yourself, chances are you know one. (We’ll wait here while you Google it.)
Brushing off claims that peak beard has been and passed – the facial hair trend is here to stay. And with beards now a firm part of men’s facial furniture, the emphasis has shifted to ‘how’, not ‘if’, you should grow yours
Much the same way not every hairstyle will suit you, beards are not one-size-fits-all. So here, with the help of London’s best barbershops, brush up on your knowledge and trim any chance of picking an unflattering style.
But first, take a look in the mirror and use our guide below to identify your face shape and make all future grooming decisions clean-cut.
What Face Shape Am I?
How do you determine what shape your face is? It’s simple. First, arm yourself with a flexible tape measure. Then, take the following measurements, recording each as you go:
- Forehead: Measure across your face from the peak of one eyebrow arch to the peak of the opposite arch.
- Cheekbones: Measure across your cheekbones, starting and ending at the pointiest part below the outer corner of each eye.
- Jawline: Measure from tip of your chin to below your ear at the point at which your jaw angles upwards. Multiply that number by two to get your jawline measurement.
- Face Length: Measure from the centre of your hairline to the tip of your chin.
Once you’ve taken these measurements, note which is the largest of the four, and then compare to the below profiles to see which best describes your face shape:
- Oval: Face length is greater than the width of the cheekbones, and forehead is greater than the jawline. The angle of the jaw is rounded rather than sharp.
- Rectangle: Face length is the greatest measurement. Forehead, cheekbones, and jawline are similar in size.
- Triangular: Jawline measures greater than cheekbones, which measure larger than forehead.
- Round: Cheekbones and face length have a similar measurement. They are larger than forehead and jawline, which also have a similar measurement. The angle of the jaw is soft and much less defined.
- Heart: Forehead measures greater than the cheekbones and jawline. The chin is pointed.
- Square: All measurements are fairly similar. The angle of the jaw is sharp rather than rounded.
- Diamond: Face length measures largest. Then, in descending order: cheekbones, forehead, and smallest is jawline. The chin is pointed.
Got it? Then read on to find the right beard for you:
If you recognise yourself in this shape, try not to look too smug as you read on. With an oval face, you can get away with a variety of beard types that other men can’t. This versatility comes from being the owner of both square and round features, meaning you don’t really need to balance anything out. All you need to focus on is keeping your beard looking its best.
Rather than using this as an opportunity to change styles as often as Paul Pogba changes his hair; opt for a timeless, classic style every other face shape wishes they could foster.
“The beard you want is squared at the jaw, with clean lines on the cheeks, short on the sides and cut underneath,” explains Joe Mills of Joe & Co Barbers in Soho. This look combines the weight of a full beard with the definition too often lacking from a hipster thatch.
There’s no need for the long face. Especially when you consider that a rectangular face shape allows you to throw caution to the wind and see just what your facial follicles can achieve (providing it also suits your hairstyle).
“A rectangle is a longer face shape. Therefore, having your beard styled long, triangular or pointy at the chin will do you no favours,” says Lilybelle Louis of Pall Mall Barbers in Bishopsgate. “Having fuller cheeks on a beard will give the impression of a slightly wider jaw, ensuring the attention is taken away from the length of the face altogether.”
You don’t want to exaggerate the shape you already have. So give it some width and, if you can, let the beard grow in higher up the cheeks, too. Doing so will stop your face looking too elongated.
With a triangular face, which is essentially the opposite of a ‘heart’ shape (see below), the aim is to take the attention away from a more prominent chin.
The easiest way to do this is with a beardstache. Once the preserve of Victorian strongmen, now a seriously cool look that’ll draw attention higher up the face.
With this hybrid style, avoid anything too full and thick on the cheeks, which will give the unwanted impression of an even wider jawline. “Keeping hair off the cheeks does allow you to bring some well-established sideburns further down your face,” advises Mills. “I’d be loathed to go too long on the chin. Instead, square it off at the bottom.”
Cultivating a large, unkempt beard will, in this case, only serve to turn your head into a bowling ball. So to combat this, you need to work the angles.
“A rounded face shape benefits from having a triangular-shaped style,” advises Louis. “Opt for a beard that is shorter on the cheeks and longer towards the chin for a look that’s truly flattering.”
For instance, a goatee – still with stubble on the cheeks – will create the impression of a longer and more pronounced chin. Pensive stroking of this style in meetings comes as standard.
No man ever wants to be accused of having a weak chin. Fortunately for those with a heart shape face, there is a way to add ballast with a beard.
That said, don’t invest in oil, combs and clippers just yet. “This is a smaller face shape, so a beard will only make your face appear smaller,” warns Louis. The risk, therefore, lies in growing a beard and becoming, well, just a beard.
Instead, opt for designer stubble on the sides that will afford you the rough-and-ready look without overpowering your natural bone structure. Meanwhile, leave more length in the chin and moustache to add depth and volume to your jawline.
While a strong, square jaw is something many men would gladly trade their patch-filled beard for, it does have its limitations when choosing to extend a five o’clock shadow into something more serious.
You don’t want a beard that is going to over-exaggerate what you already have and turn you into Johnny Bravo. “A square beard with sharp lines and right angles will not be flattering with a broad jawline,” says Louis. “To complement this face shape, you need to ensure that the chin area is rounded or triangular.”
Lengthening the chin with a goatee-style beard helps softens thick, wide jawbones, while still creating a chiselled look. This will also focus the eye on other features of the face, giving those bright blues a chance to shine.
The diamond face shape is widest at the cheekbones, with a narrow forehead and jawline that are approximately symmetrical in width. Therefore, the goal should always be to keep hair on the chin to offset the cheekbones. Ideally, you want to square off a prominent chin, to create the illusion of having more balanced bone structure.
“Be mindful of length,” says Mills. “I wouldn’t advise going too long on the chin – anything too pointy tends to accentuate this face shape. You can go wider on the cheeks and wider on the edge of the jawbone, however, so it squares off the bottom half of your face.”
Going lighter on the moustache, meanwhile, will give further emphasis to your cheeks and jawline.