Say the words sideburns out loud and it brings vivid images to mind – and not necessarily in a good way. From flashes of Saturday Night Fever to Sir Wiggo stuck in his mods and rockers time warp, it can get grisly fast.

But done right – with a little restraint, that is – sideburns can outgrow these associations and add a little distinction to your mug. Aveda master barber, Stel Nicolaou, is here to steer your sideburns to the right side of stylish, not slapstick.

Style It Out

If you’re toying with the idea of letting your mop set a course south, then start conservatively. Sideburns that are short, tidy and no more than an inch in width are a safe bet. It’s the right length to make your colleagues double take, but they won’t be entirely sure why.

Feeling confident after a first foray? From here you can make adjustments that better suit your face shape. “Those with a square face may opt for a little more length to help to even proportions around the jawline,” explains Nicolaou. “Whereas if you have more of an oval face, which is naturally very proportional, creating the illusion of length may not be so important and therefore a mid-length sideburn would maintain balance.”

Patch Work

If sideburns are as hirsute as you can hope for in the pursuit of facial hair, then experiment with fading.

“By getting your barber to add some variation, gradually shortening [hair length] before reaching the thinnest part at the end of your sideburn, you’ll be able to disguise any patchy sections in the hair,” says Nicolau. Get faded.

Pick A Side

When your barber inevitably poses the question, “Natural or styled?”, you’re being asked to align yourself with one of two very separate ideologies, so choose wisely.

Now, natural doesn’t mean wild and rough around the edges, it simply means your sideburns will follow the natural growth outline of your beard. Styled, on the other hand, has more defined lines that can be tailored to any width you desire, chopping down the rest of your natural sideburns to fit.

It requires more work to regularly get rid of the stubble from your natural sideys’ growth, but it’s the price you pay for total control.

Length Of Time

Take into consideration the degree of maintenance when opting for a change in style, because a shorter, more blended look can require a lot more upkeep. Sideburns tend to grow quicker than most other facial hair and may need to be trimmed roughly every three days.

“I’d always recommend investing in a good set of clippers, but ask your barber and they will be able to recommend the best tool based on your style and hair type,” says Nicolaou.

Looking for a good place to start? The Babyliss Super Stubble XTP provides perfect precision while its flexibility helps it stick to the angle of your face for an even trim.

Babyliss For Men Super Stubble XTP, available at Tesco, priced £62.01.

Washbag Hero

Finally, unless you’re shepherding a serious set of muttonchops onto your face, investing in a product for two square inches of extra growth may feel sheepish. However, because of your sideburns natural thickness and coarseness, a few drops can make all the difference.

“I love a product that multi-tasks, so I get all of my guests to try Aveda Men Composition Oil,” says Nicolaou. “I like to massage the oil onto my sideburns for added moisture. It works as a brilliant beard conditioning product, softening any brittle stubble and smoothing sideburns.”

Sideburns needn’t be scruff – show off your softer side.

Aveda Men Composition Oil, available at House of Fraser, priced £24.