Four key steps to stylish facial stubble
Posted on January 17 2018
Curating stubble isn’t as easy as you might think. It takes some skill to be rakish and stylish and it’s a fine line between rugged and unkept.
Stubble can be a tricky look to pull off, mainly because it can look like it’s permanently on the way to being something else and runs the risk of looking somehow incomplete. This is especially so if you have a patchy beard growth or light-coloured facial hair.
Many of the same skills required to curate a beard come into play with stubble – especially the edges and evenness. It is these aspects that say that your stubble is a considered choice rather than a grooming breakdown or a waypoint to a different style.
There are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your growth sends a stylish and intentional statement.
Many of the same methods and considerations involved in maintaining a full beard.
Before you start, make sure you have access to necessary tools. While not as labour-intensive as being clean shaven, maintaining stubble can take time and equipment. To make sure you have at hand a razor, beard trimmer, and access to decent scissors (preferably barbers scissors). Once you have the required kit, its time to start.
Stage 1 - Reset - The first step is to start with a clean, close shave – ideally using a blade razor. This ensures that your face starts with the same level of growth all over.
Stage 2 – Grow - Let your beard grow for a week without interference to see how your beard hair grows and where the patchy bits are likely to be. If you have fair hair you might need to extend this growth period to 10-14 days. You’ll know you have reached the end of this stage when you have sufficient growth to move with a comb. This level of growth will give your beard trimmer something to trim. If your beard starts to itch, try using a beard oil to moisturise the hair and skin beneath it.
Stage 3 – Curate – Curation is the tidying and management process and can be thought of in three sections – neckline, cheeks and body (your stubble itself).
Neckline - To trim your neckline, imagine a stringline running from your left earlobe, down under your chin and up to the other earlobe. Note that the stringline under your jaw about two fingers up from your adams apple – not at the edge of your jaw. If you're not that imaginative, you can actually use a piece of string placed carefully from ear to ear to find the line. Use a razor to shave below this line so that you have a relatively clean edge and a clean-shaven neck below this line.
Cheeks – again this is best done with a razor. To get a clear line in your beard, use your little finger of your left hand as a rail for your left cheek and the index of your left hand for your right cheek. This uses your fingers to protect the line and gives your razor something to follow so that it doesn’t veer off the line.
Make sure that you can see where the line is on each side and that the line extends from your earlobe on each side to the same point in the middle of your face. Depending on your beard and where its natural line is, this might be the corner of the mouth, top of the nostril or even higher. The important thing is to ensure that whatever navigation point you select is the same on both sides.
Now get your beard trimmer and set the guard high.
Edge fading – Now you are going to trim in from the neckline to fade the clean edge back into the stubble. The first time you do this, set the guard so high initially that you don’t cut any hair. Work back in steps until the guard allows your trimmer to just contact (cut) the hair. This ensures that you don’t cut too deeply until you get the setting right.
Shift the guard one step closer and run the trimmer gently (and carefully) around 5mm into the stubble. Think of it like you are fading the edges of your lawn from the surrounding path back into the edge of the lawn. Do the same with working in from the cheeks.
Trimming – now click the trimmer guard up a step. If you can influence your growth with a comb then now is the time to give it a comb. Once you have done that, run across your growth to even out the length. Don’t overdo it -there is always a temptation to over-trim.
Once you have your stubble curated, you can enjoy the extra freedom that comes with not being clean-shaven. A good beard oil can help keep your stubble and the skin beneath it in good condition and is part of the bearded experience.
Depending on how quickly your beard grows, you might need to undertake a quick clean up like the one outlined above once a week to maintain that well-kept, seemingly unkept style.