Stubble declares you’re a little rebellious and not the clean-shaven type. Maybe you’re a
James Franco smart-cool type or a David Beckham-style Sexy Man Icon. But while a stubble beard, or five o’clock shadow, seems like an exercise in lazy-sexy-cool, it still needs to be groomed to look good. A critical part of the process is trimming the neckline. This can present a challenge to some, so we’d like to offer some advice.
A stubble beard should show short whisker hairs that do not completely cover the face. Stubble often forms over just a few days for most men, or perhaps less for other men who have a dark five o’clock shadow at the end of the day. How do you know if you have enough stubble for a beard? Just run your hand over the chin. Do you feel a coarse grain? If so, that is stubble. A good crop of stubble
should spread across the face and under the jaw in a consistent pattern. If you have many empty spots, then you will want to wait to grow it out more.
Once you’ve reach the rough stubble level, you will have an idea of the amount of time it takes to grow. Based on this knowledge, you can determine how often you will need to shave. A stubble beard may need to be shaved only twice a week, though it may need more if you have a thicker beard shadow. If you need to have a trimmed bearded look for a big presentation on Wednesday and you want a short stubble look, then plan to not shave starting Monday. Of course, the time may vary, depending on the growth cycle of your facial hair.
For many men, stubble is just what happens when you don’t shave; however, this normal look can be cultivated into a refined designer stubble but not without some thought and care. Hoping to look when you really just haven’t cared to shave for a few days will not cut it – people can tell the difference. A stubble beard needs boundaries like the fall leaves. A nice designer stubble beard may even be acceptable at the office nowadays, but only if it is maintained to look professional.
Getting the Look
In order to know how to shave a stubble beard, you have to determine your look. How thick do you want the stubble? Will it fade below the neck or have a definitive neckline? These choices will determine your method of grooming. Either way, a good set of tools is necessary.
A solid set of trimmers can help make your goal image a reality. A stubble beard needs a tool that can bring it on several levels. An electric razor is also essential to acquiring the stubble look. Manual safety razors and ordinary trimmers do not have the ability to adapt to the varying levels of the stubble beard. You need an electric shaver with adjustable trimmers to fade the beard. You can also use a pair of hair clippers on the first guard setting for a longer “short” stubble beard. Whichever hardware you use, make sure it is a quality unit.
Several of the top-rated razors online make use of an auto-adjusting trimmer head that saves you from having to switch clipper guards or trimmer combs. This saves time and also makes shaving easier because you need only one item.
If you are serious about maintaining a stubble beard for years, you may want to get a
trimmer with a specific stubble mode. The Philips Norelco Beard Trimmer 7300 sports a short stubble mode of 1/64” or .5 mm. That’s enough to get close enough to the skin without removing the hair completely. and it even comes with a vacuum to suck up the stubble trimmings.
Conair offers another dedicated stubble trimmer, the i-stubble, which goes to .4 mm, slightly lower than the Philips 7300. It claims to contour well across the curves of the face in order to make shaving moments natural and effortless.
Remington also has their version of a stubble trimmer that comes with a stubble blade made
of fine titanium teeth.
Even without a special stubble trimmer, you should be able to achieve similar results using clippers or a trimmer without a guard. Note that this method may involve more precise control of the blade in order to avoid nicking your neck. Butterfingers may want to avoid this method.
Making the Face
There are two approaches to shaving the neck on a designer stubble beard: a defined neckline or a tapered natural neckline. Either look can appear attractive. The natural look brings a rugged manliness that some women may find attractive. The more trimmed look may appear more professional in some work environments; however, well-kempt fade could work for a natural neckline too. Either will involve planning and practice with the trimmers.
Before you begin, wash and moisturize the face with an exfoliating agent, such as a natural oil or gel that loosens and empties the pores. The oil helps lubricate the skin so that the blade will glide smoothly over the facial hair follicles. This will lessen the effects of any ingrown hairs or razor burn.
Once the outline is set, you can start to trim using your chosen electric trimmer. First, mark the boundaries of your beard. Then choose which look you prefer: a straight-cut approach or a natural look. For both, begin trimming with the razor set to stubble mode, or as near to .5 as possible. Most regular beard trimmers will get to only 1 mm, so you may have to take off the guard or attempt multiple passes in several directions to try to get a short length.
- Draw a line from the top of the sideburns until it reaches down to the jawline. These points will be the corners of the beard.
- To find the ending edge of the stubble beard, put a finger within one inch above the Adam’s apple. With the shaver buzz a line at that point. Shave anything clean below that line. When shaving the jawline, be careful not to make the stubble too short or else the shadow will appear forced and unblended with the rest of the face instead of appearing easy and confident.
- Next shave anything above the cheekbones and below where wandering whiskers may interfere with a consistent look of a shadow. Whichever levels you chose, you will likely need to run it over your face several times to make the hair even. Leaving patches longer or shorter detracts from the intended overall suave look.
Follow the instructions for the straight cut but do not find specific corners of the beard outline. Instead, you want to find the spot under the chin where the head meets the neck. The beard should start to curve around there until it reaches the line by the ears. The neckline for a natural stubble beard needs to be tapered gradually.
- Set the clippers or trimmer the shortest length against the skin just above the Adam’s apple. Apply gentle pressure and shave with the grain initially. Then repeat passes, trimming against the grain. Alternate this pattern horizontally and diagonally until the stubble reaches the desired consistency.
- As you go up, the adjustable blade length should rise bit by bit until it is at a sufficient stubble stage. You can make the stubble uniform or vary the setting so that it is longer near the jawline and shorter near the chin and cheeks. You want to follow the natural contours of the face.
- To further blend in the unkempt look, taper around the outer edge of the neck stubble with a lower level, if possible. Leaving hair below it gives a lost woodsman look that says you don’t care how you look instead of pretending to not care but still keeping up a stylish stubble beard.
After you have shaved, check for stray hairs on the neck and cheeks. Make sure the mustache and chin areas are equally manicured with the trimmer. Pay attention to any loose hairs. Rinse your beard, and moisturize it again with oil to soothe the sores.
If the razor shaved too closely, it may have irritated the hair follicles while it was pulling out the hair and left some bumps. Soothe those by pressing a warm cloth against the face and rubbing some hydrocortisone cream on the spots. You could also try an anti-bump shaving formula without alcohol. If bumps persist, a dermatologist can prescribe a medication to calm and prevent irritation.
If you have trouble determining a jawline, you may want to consult a barber for advice. He or she might be able to give suggestions on where to start the line around the neck in order to make the jaw look more squared and prominent. Of course, it could be the case that a stubble look does not work for you. In such a case, consider fuller beard shapes that fit round faces.
If your beard bothers you as itchy, you can try a moisturizing cream to calm the prickliness. The Stubble Goat even claims to soften stubble by rubbing a semi-rough pad over it a few times per day. However, reviewers online seem to wonder if it really works. It may be worth a try if you still need softening.
You can also try a leave-in beard balm wax or an oil applied after shaving. The oil can soothe your skin through natural aloe ingredients and can even stay in the beard to soften it throughout the day. A beard balm is massaged thoroughly into the beard in order to maintain the shape and soften it through restoring shea butter.
Your Fine-looking Face
A stubble beard can be a good casual approach to shaving. But appearing nonchalant in the shaving department still involves a controlled grooming procedure of timed shaving and trimming with a quality razor to craft a well-trimmed and faded neckline that can make the beard professional instead. With practice, you can master the art of the stubble beard.
Have questions or comments? Let us know below.