Facial hair is back. The beard is as much a part of the male look today as it was during the late 60’s when John Lennon encouraged guys from Liverpool to LA to put the razor down and back away from the sink. The common misconception though is that there’s only one beard style: yours. As in you let your facial hair go for a few days or weeks and then do your best to corral it once some sort of boundaries become apparent. While this is certainly one way to go about styling your beard there are, fortunately, lots of other style possibilities inherent in just about any man’s facial hair. All you have to do is be aware of them. Now you’ve probably been searching the web for tutorials on styling your beard (see best beard brushes), and maybe even watched a few styling video on your TV. This is why you’ve ended up here – you’re all for trying to rock a new style. So in this article, we’re going to look at 17 buzz-worthy beard styles.
17 of Today’s Most Sophisticated Beard Styles
Any guy with a desire to cultivate the profile of a 21st male who’s all-in on the fashion front can find a beard style here that will work for them. Just keep in mind that, while growing a beard can take time, your patience is bound to be fully rewarded.
1) The Bandholz – The Bandholz is a classic style made popular with a contemporary audience by the guy who gave it his name: Eric Bandholz. Eric was a suit who also happened to love his beard. As a result he found himself forced to make a choice between his beard and his job. He, of course, chose his beard and the rest is history. The Bandholz is a contemporary take on the classic “Lumberjack” beard. They’re both long, wild-ish beard styles that are subjected to just enough trimming to keep them from taking over the planet ala the red slime from War of the Worlds. It’s best suited to men with oval shaped faces though in truth any guy with thick enough facial hair can probably make it work. Be prepared to invest the better part of a year however to get true lumberjack quality results.
2) The Dutchman – The Classic Dutchman (or just The Dutch depending on who’s talking) is another beard staple that seems to come back into vogue every couple of generations (as Honest Abe can attest). It’s definitely old school but it also has a nice pioneering feel to it that says you’re a forward looking guy with no fear. There’s no moustache wax to filter your soup through with the Dutch and the rest of the beard is blissfully simple. Just let the hair hug the chin line and keep it off the cheeks and throat and you’re good to go. Perhaps best worn by men with a rounded shape to their face, although Abe proves that if you got the look you got the look.
3) The Beckham – David Beckham made a name for himself by being able to angle a shot into the goal from almost anywhere on the pitch. His thundering, carefully crafted shots were the thing of legend (just ask the Greeks). How ironic then that when the dude decided to let his facial hair go he did just that: let it go. No particular style, no particular shape, no particular giving of any you-know-what’s. Just a face with some hair on it. Of course he’s also taken the opposite tack from time to time subjecting his beard to extreme grooming but he’s most fondly known for this “anybody can do it” beard style that’s barely any style at all. About the only requirements for the Beckham are that it’s relatively short and patchy, that it extends down the neck a ways and that the sideburns are trimmed so that they blossom into thew lower part of the beard.
4) The Balbo – The Balbo was popularized by Robert Downey Jr (if you need us to explain who that is it’s time to come out from under the rock) and is today one of the most commonly seen types of geometric beards. This is the anti-lumberjack: carefully cultivated, never intruding on the neck or cheeks and always, always well groomed. The Balbo is as much a fashion statement as it is a declaration of masculinity. It’s cool, calm and collected just like the wearer. The Balbo is perhaps best worn by men looking to add a bit of oomph to their chin and while it looks like it might be attainable in a week it can actually take several weeks before you’re able to carve a good Balbo from your growth.
5) The Viking – For the Viking we leave the carefully studied precision of the contemporary world behind to drag a medieval favorite out of the shadows. The Viking look is both traditional and unconventional. Traditional in that it was all the rage for several hundred years among the plundering tribes of Northern Europe and unconventional because in this day and age we were supposed to have left plundering-chic behind. The Viking doesn’t require a whole lot of careful grooming. What it requires is patience because you’ll need at least 6 months of growth to create a compelling Viking beard. Once you have enough length create 3 braids: one under the bottom lip and one extending down from each corner of the chin. That’s it. Best for stout faces.
6) The Two Tone – The Two Tone is a man’s beard. It’s for guys who’ve been around the track a few times but who are still vital and engaged. It’s an imposing style that typically utilizes a man’s natural grey hairs to produce a downward facing, spearhead type point that’s framed by the wearer’s natural hair color. Hair on the cheeks should start short and end long by the chin and the moustache should be full but not so long that it interferes with eating. While mostly seen on older (not old) guys the Two Tone has also been adaptedwith some success by younger men who use bleach to achieve the shock of white on the ‘spearhead’. The Two Tone typically requires a fully fleshed out face to be convincing.
7) The Circle – This beard could use some help from the marketing department as far as the name goes but that doesn’t diminish its popularity one iota. The Circle is often mistaken for the Goatee but that venerable style includes only the chin component of the Circle. The full Circle beard is just that; a circle that includes a moustache that extends down toward the chin and a Goatee that reaches up to meet the moustache and complete the circle effect. It’s been a popular style for many years because it’s fairly easy to achieve and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. It’s also versatile and will work with almost any shape face. The thing about the Circle is that it’s always best if it’s kept neatly trimmed.
8) The Extended Goatee – As long as we’re in the Goatee’s back yard maybe it’s a good time to give it some love. In this case we’re going with the Extended Goatee or the Tailback. Truth be told we prefer “Tailback” since a true Goatee doesn’t incorporate a moustache but the Extended Goatee is how it’s most commonly known as so we’ll bend to the will of the people. The Extended Goatee is much like a Circle beard but with the chin portion extending out toward the ears. The Extended gradually tapers to a point about halfway along the chin line and is typically cropped pretty close to the face (although to be sure there are those who prefer to wear it a bit longer). The Extended Goatee favors those with oval or square facial geometry and requires that the surrounding areas be kept clean.
9) The Chin Strap – The Chin Strap beard is a minimalist beard that really needs the hair style to go along with it. It requires precise grooming and can be as simple or as elaborate as the wearer wishes. If you have a closely cropped head of hair you’re going to want the upper ends of the Chin Strap near the ears to fade down to the skin. But that said no part of the Chin Strap should ever be more than a quarter inch long. The Chin Strap is an accent beard meant to highlight and complement the lines of the face. As such you’ll want to make sure the beard never encroaches on your cheek or extends down to the neck. Moustache is optional with the Chin Strap but if you decide to wear one it too should be narrow and closely cropped. Looks best on men with a square-ish face.
10) The Serious – Another beard that could use a name makeover the Serious – sometimes call the Full Serious – is probably what most people think of when they think of a beard. It encompasses most of the hair on your face though you don’t want to let it creep too far up the cheeks toward the eyes. You’ll also want to keep the neck clear beyond where it meets the underside of the chin. The moustache should be full but not so long that it’s drawn into a handlebar or covers your mouth. As the Serious beard tends to fill out the lower portion of the face visually it can be confidently worn by just about anyone from round-faced gents to their thinner counterparts.
11) Mutton Chops – Mutton Chops are the original sideburns and became popular in the post-Civil War era after being popularized by Union General Ambrose Burnside. With Mutton Chops you allow the sideburns and moustache to grow together while fully shaving the chin and neck areas. Mutton Chops today are typically cropped closer than their historical antecedents although there are plenty of men who still prefer the Burnside bushiness. There’s also a popular variation that takes a pass on the moustache and confines the hair to the side of the face. Hugh Jackman often sports this variant while playing the Wolverine, although he does occasionally let the moustache grow out a bit too. Works best with round or square faces.
12) Designer Stubble – This look, first popularized by Don Johnson’s character Sonny Crockett in the 1980s TV show Miami Vice, has been a constant on the cultural landscape ever since. Pop sensation George Michael was another believer in the power of designer stubble and perhaps the most famous contemporary champion of the look is Jason Statham. It’s the ultimate in cool looks but one of the more difficult to maintain due to the fact that you need to keep it closely cropped at all times. If you have a square face and a full beard Designer Stubble will often work for you. An electric beard trimmer can be used to maintain the look but it takes some practice.
13) The Garibaldi – The Garibaldi is another full bodied beard but one that takes a slightly more relaxed approach to trimming than say the Full Serious. The Garibaldi is sometimes mistaken for the Lumberjack as well and the two do share visuals with the differences often being subtle. The Garibaldi will typically be shorter and the moustache more carefully groomed and notextending over the mouth the way it often does with the Lumberjack (Bandholz). To achieve a pleasing Garibaldi you’ll need to let your beard grow for at least 3 or 4 months. You’ll ultimately be looking to create a full shape, rounded at the corners. Men with longer rectangular bone structures to their face often look great with a Garibaldi.
14) The Van Dyke – The name of this beard is taken from its most famous proponent; the Northern Renaissance painter Anthony Van Dyke. Today, nearly 400 years after the artist’s death it remains a favorite of men everywhere and is one of the more distinctive beard styles you can adopt. The Van Dyke is similar to the Two Tone but the edges of the chin are shaved inward until only a narrow strip is left down the middle of the chin. This strip is often grown to several inches in length and cropped to a point. The moustache portion of the Van Dyke is typically allowed to grow out a bit and either twirled into a mild handlebar or grown out onto the cheek where it’s trimmed into a curl. The Van Dyke does a good job complementing the facial lines of men with narrower chins.
15) Beard with Handlebars – For this style you’ll want a long, full beard that’s been only minimally groomed. In many ways this is a variation on the Garibaldi although the particulars of the beard section aren’t etched in stone. Your beard could extend down your neck unchecked or you could establish a border where the bottom of the chin meets the neck. Likewise it could extend up your cheeks without a hard border or you could establish a hard line from ear to ‘stache. Whatever the situation though the beard itself should never feel out of control. The most important aspect of this style is the handlebar moustache itself. You’ll need to grow the ‘stache out for several months in order to acquire enough raw material to be able to create a bold handlebar shape and use beard wax to ensure the handlebar holds that shape over the course of the day. This style will work with just about any shape face.
16) Classic Full Beard – The Classic Full Beard doesn’t require any careful cultivation or special grooming tools. It doesn’t say “tough guy” or “cool” or “brainy” or anything else other than “man”. “Full” in this case just means that you let it all grow out conducting only the most modest edge work to keep things neat. You could describe the style as a sort of ‘Fatherly‘ look, in that it gives off a manly vibe, while displaying hints of repsonsibility. There’s no prescribed length for the full beard though anything longer than a few inches might start to feel a bit much. As it’s growing in you may want to trim it from time to time to keep the length more or less even all around and you’ll definitely want to get into some good beard oils to keep it looking neat and clean. The moustache should be long-ish but kept neatly trimmed. The Classic Full Beard is great for those with a diamond or triangular shape to their face.
17) The Clean Shave – We couldn’t do a list dealing with facial hair without giving voice to the opposing camp. For those who have tried various sorts of beards and found them not to their liking, those who wish to take a break from facial hair or those who have just never been able to fathom why someone would want to let hair grow on their face we present the Clean Shave. It’s hard to beat the clean shave when it comes to looking clean and neat. It’s been the go-to look for millennia and in all likelihood isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s the preferred look of the boardroom and there are few grooming activities that yield a more satisfying end result than a really great shave conducted by a skilled barber using a straight razor. Anyone can and does do the Clean Shave. It’s the one time when all men’s beards are equal.
Maintaining your Beard
If you’ve opted for facial hair you have a responsibility to make sure it’s always clean and well taken care of. The longer the beard, the greater the amount of maintenance it will require. Keeping it clean though is not just a matter of appeasing onlookers, it’s common sense hygiene as a poorly maintained beard can lead to problems with the underlying skin and can also attract and harbor bacteria that will give the beard a funky odor. You should wash your beard as often as you wash your hair and using a conditioner will help keep it feeling fresh and light. To dry it you can either rub it gently with a towel and let it air dry or use a hair dryer that’s set to cool or warm. You should also consider finding a good beard oil as this will help your beard maintain a healthy glow while moisturizing the underlying skin.