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How to shape a beard: The ultimate guide for every face shape

Trimming a beard
luckybusiness / Adobe Stock

You never want to be caught with a scratchy, messy beard while you’re out and about. Regardless of the time of year, it’s vitally important to keep your beard grooming on point. For starters, having high-quality beard oil or beard balm will definitely help you get started, product-wise. Whether you’re still getting the hang of growing one out, or are a seasoned pro, it’s crucial to upkeep and maintain the best beard shape for you and your face shape. Yes, you read that right, learning how to shape a beard will help you maintain the best beard shape for your facial features.

Shaping your beard takes diligence, yet it yields incredible results and will make you look more handsome, as opposed to Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Whether you have experimented on your own with trimming your beard or not, now is the perfect time to learn how to trim your beard properly to freshen up your look.

For tips, we turned to Karen Lynn Accattato, who has helped many high-profile men look their best, including some NFL players like quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky and Dak Prescott, as well as the cast of numerous TV series like Empire.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about shaping your beard, and it makes all the difference in the world. Utilizing the proper techniques and strategy will keep you looking and feeling cool all year long.

Learning how to start shaping your beard is an art that requires a good amount of discipline, plenty of experimentation, and lots of time to regrow if you mess up slightly. No one knows your beard better than you do, so we recommend sampling the best beard products and techniques that work for you.

A man getting his beard trimmed
Nikolaos Dimou / Pexels

Quick guide to beard shaping

  • Find your face shape. Rounder faces require fuller beards to even out proportions, and slimmer faces need to sport a more streamlined, refined beard. This is especially crucial as you continue to grow it out during the remaining winter months.
  • Brush your beard hair all in the same direction. Trim the stragglers and overly long ones according to the beard shape and length that look best on your face. Again, keep this top of mind if you’re growing your beard slightly longer than usual.
  • Shape your sideburns and remove any hairs that appear on your cheeks above your beard line.
  • Define your neckline with a razor or extremely close-cutting beard trimmer.
  • Touch up around your lips. Make sure no hairs extend over them. Follow that with precision trimming of your nostrils, too.
The Manual face shape chart
The Manual Graphics

Start with your face shape

Since every beard is different, there is no one set of rules that applies to finding the best beard style for you. For year-round care, we’ve compiled thoughts on shaping shorter, cooler beards and managing longer beards over time, too.

“When I look at a face, I look at it as a landscape,” Accattato said. “I’m looking at structure. I love to see the top of the cheekbones, and I like everything to be in proportion. I think if you have a very narrow face, a big heavy beard is quite overpowering, but if you have a wider face, you can do a wider beard. Just keep it in proportion with your bone structure.”

If you’re going to rock a beard, you could consider longer locks. While a close-cropped beard looks just fine with short hair, a long beard with short hair might not be the best fit for your look. “[Your beard] has to be in proportion to the hair on your head,” Accattato continued. “I’m one who likes harmony and symmetry. So as long as there’s a balance, I think it works. It’s hard if you have thinning hair and you’re wearing a big heavy beard; I think it’s out of proportion.”

That being said, fret not when it comes to rocking a beard and a bald head — at times, this combo can be best, too.

The Manual face and beard shape chart for triangle shaped faces
The Manual Graphics

The best beard shapes by face shape

The best beard for triangle faces

For men with wider cheekbones and a pointier chin, you can’t go wrong with a beardstache. Grow a full mustache with a beard and stubble while keeping the bottom of your facial hair short to balance out your prominent chin.

The Manual face and beard shape chart for square shaped faces
The Manual Graphics

The best beard for square faces

If you’re blessed with a chiseled jawline, accentuate it even further with a circle beard, which can also elongate your chin and balance out your face’s square proportions.

The Manual face and beard shape chart for round and heart shaped faces
The Manual Graphics

The best beard for round or heart-shaped faces

A full, lengthy beard elongates your mug, which is great for men with rounder or heart-shaped faces. Make sure to keep the sides short to maximize your beard’s lengthening appearance.

The Manual face and beard shape chart for oval shaped faces
The Manual Graphics

The best beard for oval faces

An oval face is the easiest shape to work with since it works with almost any beard style. You can’t go wrong with a full beard, keeping both sides bushy while keeping the bottom shorter for a voluminous finish. (Make sure to straighten your beard if it gets too frizzy.)

The Manual face and beard shape chart for oblong rectangle and diamond shaped faces
The Manual Graphics

The best beards for oblong, rectangular, or diamond faces

When trying to trim your beard for these face shapes, make sure to keep the sides short and shape the bottom more rounded to soften your mug’s angles and help your face appear fuller.

Trimming a mustache
Yakobchuk Olena / Getty Images

Trimming your beard

Kick things off by bringing the hairs off your face by using a wide-tooth comb to brush through the beard. If you’re happy with the length, here’s where you can take a pair of grooming scissors (blunted on the ends) to snip off the stragglers.

If you don’t have one already, it’s worth investing in a beard trimmer with several guard sizes. “Using a clipper with a guard is very easy to take off the bulk of the beard so it doesn’t get too heavy looking,” Accattato mentioned. Start with the longest option, then work your way down until you find the right length for you.

You might try the scissors-over-comb technique for precision cutting. You can also combine the two methods by using a comb and your beard trimmer on the lowest setting. Don’t forget to clean up the stray hairs on your cheek with your trimmer’s shaping tool or, if you’re feeling brutish, a dry cartridge (no cream needed).

man getting Sideburns trimmed
AntonioDiaz / Adobe Stock

Shaping the sideburns

If you’re growing a beard, you’ll need to figure out where the hair on your head ends and your beard begins — we’re talking about sideburns. Too many bearded men dismiss this area as a No Man’s Land, allowing the hair around the ears to grow too long.

“If you’re adept with clippers or with a comb, you can do what a barber does: You can create a nice taper. It’s the best way to blend, and I think it’s easy to do with a clipper,” Accattato elaborated. Begin by taking just a little hair at the bridge between your hairline and your beard until you find a length that is acceptable. Over time, tapering your ‘burns will become second nature.

Shaving beard neck
Eugenio Marongiu / Shutterstock

Shaping the neckline

Men grow beards for many different reasons. For some men, the idea is to go for a more natural look. However, there’s nothing good about a caveman-like “neckbeard.” Drawing the neckline too high can also be problematic, making you look unnatural and overgroomed.

Generally speaking, a good neckline should be a natural extension down from the curve of your ear. The hair should pass about 1 to 1.5 inches above the Adam’s apple, if you have one, in the territory between the neck and head. A good rule of thumb is to take your index and middle finger and place them right at the top of your Adam’s apple, like you’re checking your pulse. Your beard should end right at the top of your index finger.

Sam Elliot
Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

Shaping around the mouth

The bushy mustache may work for legendary cowboy Sam Elliott (see above) or vintage Tom Selleck, but for the rest of us, usually not so much. The goatee area around your mouth deserves special attention when you’re shaping your beard.

“Make sure your mustache isn’t going over the upper lip,” Accattato said. “You can use rounded scissors to trim that — the same rounded scissors that you use to trim your nose hairs are good to also trim that upper lip area.”

Lastly, for the area around your soul patch, shape it carefully using your clipper’s narrow head attachment, or try your hand at using a good quality pair of hair scissors.

Man applying aftershave
Kolostock / Getty Images


You look great today, but after a week or two, you’re inevitably going to be due for another trim. Set yourself up for success by maintaining the use of your beard oils throughout the week.

After shaving, especially if you’re defining the neckline, grab your favorite aftershave balm and generously apply it to anywhere your razor had direct contact with your skin. This will help prevent unsightly and uncomfortable razor burn, while also making it that much easier to reshape your beard the next time around.

Take it from a professional celebrity stylist, shaping a beard can make or break your look. With a little practice, patience, and effort, it’s only a matter of time until you start nailing down your beard shape, and luckily this ultimate guide on tips for maintaining the proper beard shape for your face will help you get the right one for you.

Beard trimming
VadimGuzhva / Adobe Stock

More beard-trimming tips

We’ve covered most of the basics, but there are always more tips and techniques out there to help you grow and shape the perfect beard for your face. First and foremost, make sure you invest in good, quality tools for beard maintenance. You don’t want to go cheap here, so look for a trimmer with enough settings that you can taper your beard and cut it to different lengths.

Secondly, when you’re getting up close and personal with your trimming, be careful. You don’t want to trim too much and be stuck with a patchy beard. Also. when you are trying to get rid of those pesky flyaway hairs, brush your beard so the hairs stand up, and then trim in a downward motion to clip them off. You should only trim upward against the grain of your facial hair when you are trying to make it shorter.

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Nate Swanner
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nate is General Manager for all not-Digital-Trends properties at DTMG, including The Manual, Digital Trends en Espanol…
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