Ah, the chin strap beard. Chances are high that you had one of two reactions to reading those words. Utter disgust, or approval as you recalled the loose and arty chin strap-mustache combo styling of celebrities like Johnny Depp and James Franco. Opinions on the chin strap are polarized and vehement. But is it deserved adoration and despising? Is there some key point that one side is missing? I decided to look into finding out the secret tips and tricks to growing the best chin strap beard ever.
Hang on a minute…
This article isn’t going to be a bash on the chin strap. It got a bad rap, but Some poor, unfortunate souls just weren’t taught how to do a chin strap rightly, and who am I to fault them for ignorance?
That said, let’s begin by looking at the most famous chin strap beard, perhaps of all time: former President of the United States Abraham Lincoln. Unforgettable, history proved. Lincoln’s chin strap is perhaps the best known presidential facial hair style, seconded by Teddy Roosevelt’s stunning walrus ‘stache. Here’s the thing about Lincoln’s beard, though; it’s been dated as a style since that night John Wilkes Booth broke the heart of a country already battered by the Civil War. Show some respect, and leave the bushier chin straps to Lincoln portrayals in films and on stage.
Here’s a more updated version of the chin strap beard:
See the length of the hair, how it’s actually pretty…un-lengthy? That is one of the key elements to a good, flattering chin strap on the man of today. Keep it short, keep it clean, keep it sharp.
Wanna know how it’s done?
Now that we’ve seen the old and the new versions of the chin strap, let me share with you the detailed instructions I was able to compile from my searching. There are some things you need to get started:
- The capacity to grow facial hair, particularly around the jaw and chin region. If you can’t manage that much, you might be in the wrong place, my friend.
- A mirror, maybe two; one in front of you to watch your hands while they work and one handheld to inspect details in hard to see areas, such as beneath the jaw or on the neck.
- A beard trimmer and shaper. Some men like to use safety razors for the fine details, but it’s really a matter of preference.
- Beard oil and/or balm for shaping your new chin strap. Gotta keep that beard healthy and that shaved skin smooth.
Here’s How To Do It:
If you already have facial hair, begin with a freshly washed face and beard. And if you’re starting from scratch, wait a week or so before beginning to shape your chin strap. Start with a towel-dried beard and apply a quality shaving gel (not opaque shaving cream). This helps you see your line while you shave and shape your chin strap. You do not want your beard to be soaking while you do this, especially if you use an oil instead of a cream or gel for shaving. All the water and oil on your face would just make a mess, and who needs shaving to become an even harder ordeal?
YouTube is a wealth of information on how to shape the cheek line of your chin strap. The gentleman hosting this tutorial actually has a full beard, but because of the way his beard grows in over his cheeks, he really keeps it trimmed back to a chin strap/goatee combo. He also suggests an oil, as I mentioned above, for the see-through quality and skin benefits. This video can be very helpful for learning how to guide a chin strap shape over your jaw and chin.
Basically, you make a line from at the end of or below the ear to the corner of the mouth, like he showed you. I’d add my two cents here and tell you that you can go a bit lower with the top line of the strap, but watch that it doesn’t sink below mid-chin level. Too thin a line is just going to invite sketchy looks from suspicious observers who don’t know what a nice guy you really are. And remember, a chin strap is more than just a top line. You should also be shaping your neck line.
Now, that will help you shape a thick chin strap beard. Keep it modern by guarding against the length getting out of hand. Let’s say no longer than a half inch, unless you find that you’re one of those guys lucky enough to have a wicked strong jawline that can hold up something longer and thicker.
A stubble length chin strap can be very attractive also, so for those of you who can’t hold out for a long strap, have no fear–5 mm can be real smooth and cool. To guide the line of a shorter chin strap, see this video and photo below. This barber created a real smooth fade and one of the thinnest lines I’ve seen on a chin strap. With a shorter chin strap, it is imperative–I repeat, imperative–that you keep those lines maintained. You’ll be touching up your chin strap every other day, and please, no fewer than thrice a week.
Keep It Sharp
Whatever length you pursue, just keep those lines sharp, and I mean razor’s edge, papercut-fine, ultra hard and fast. Anything less is not even worth bearing on your face; you may as well be a caveman. Such defines the difference between the chin strap that is sketch and the chin strap that is oh, so fine.
One more note on styling: All I have talked about so far is the straight lined type of chin strap, but there does exist another, and that is the curved line style, shown here:
This style of chin strap is one of the most difficult to shape and maintain. Getting a symmetrical line on both sides of the face can feel like an exercise in futility. But let me share the how-tos of this style with those of you brave enough to try it.
Start just as I mentioned before, but instead of shaping a straight line from below the ear to the corner of the mouth, or the middle of the chin, shape the line so that it follows down to the corner of the jaw and then makes a curved turn at an angle down to the chin.
Getting the curve of the line to follow your face shape and flatter your jaw line can be tricky. You might consider making an investment in going to see a barber the first time you get your chin strap styled; then you can get a good sense of how to shape your lines. Be sure to bring pictures of the style you’re aiming to achieve so that your barber isn’t flying blind as he tries to get you the chin strap of your dreams. And never forget that the point of the chin strap is to flatter your own unique face and jaw shape. It’s all you, but refined to an exacting point. Maintenance after seeing a barber should be a piece of cake if you pay attention and don’t over-shave.
And that, my friends, should summarize the ins and outs of the chin strap beard. If you have any questions, let us know in the comment box below. We would also appreciate any words of kind compliment or testimony to your bearding adventures. Support your brethren in the beard community, and know that we are here for you.