Once the lazy man’s facial hair of choice, in days gone by people would look askance if you appeared unshaven. And that light chin hair may still garner the odd disparaging look from the older generation. Well, they’re just annoyed that they had to shave every day and you don’t. It’s now a daily chore we can dodge – and look good at the same time.

The current prevalence of beards and stubble is also indicative of the changing codes at work. It’s more typical to see a millennial with some kind of beard or stubble than with a clean shave. In fact, it might not help you get ahead in the City or in certain traditional professional fields where they still favour a hair-free look, but these are becoming fewer and far between.

Stubble first appeared as a fashion trend during the 1980s and singer George Michael is often credited as the pioneer of “designer” stubble, a look that involved a very precise five o’clock shadow. Time has now extended – the favoured look these days is the “three-day look”, or even longer. Ben Vowles, Senior Barber at Murdock London Shoreditch, explains how to get the best from your bristles.

Help, My Stubble Is Patchy

Getting perfect coverage can be encouraged with good habits. “The best way to boost the growth of facial hair is to keep it clean and moisturised so the hair can grow through at a healthy, natural rate,” advises Ben. “If your beard happens to be patchy in areas – don’t worry, you can still work with this. Your barber will always be able to advise on the best growth and shape options to take, while helping trim any tricky areas.”

The way your beard grows is as unique as your fingerprint, so embrace any gaps or patches.

What’s The Best Technique For An Even Trim?

Everyone’s hair grows at different speeds, and this will dictate how often you need to trim and when (at night, if your hair grows like weeds). This also applies to overall coverage – some wear their moustache ever so slightly thicker than the beard area. However you like it, a decent trimmer or electric shaver is essential. “If you are going to maintain the shape/lines at home then be sure to invest in a good trimmer,” says Ben. The best versions can be used dry or wet (in the bath/shower), which is useful in the rush to get out of the house.

Philips OneBlade, £44.97 >
WAHL Aqua Blade, £89.99 >

Beard trimmers also give more control with the choice of settings, so you can pick a length and then adjust it if you want to take it closer. Prefer a razor? Philips OneBlade was designed with edging maintenance in mind. Speaking of edges, as a general rule, follow the line under the neck from ear to ear and roughly two fingers above your Adam’s apple – you can safely trim everything beneath it and above where the hair naturally begins thinning out on the cheeks.

Which Grooming Products Are Essential For Stubble Care?

Beard products exist because the hair on your chin has specific needs. Stubble is the prickliest stage of facial hair (before the hairs begin curling under) so a beard oil or aftershave balm can help soften the feel. An exfoliating facial cleanser or scrub should also be used as they prevent ingrown hairs and spots by keeping the roots of the follicles clear and removing dry skin underneath. If you’re willing to invest, a sonic cleansing brush, like Clarisonic’s Alpha Fit, makes a worthwhile addition to your grooming arsenal for the same reasons while giving skin a deep cleanse at the same time.

Who Suits Stubble?

Provided you can grow it, stubble isn’t particularly suited to one individual over another, but you can definitely style it to your advantage and enhance your facial features. That said, it particularly suits sensitive skin types that don’t react well the harsh side effects of shaving and can help disguise aspects of our skin that we prefer not to show – birth mark, pigmentation or acne scars for example. However, as we age, facial hair greys faster than the hair on our heads. So, if the white strands start to outweigh the dark, it might be time to shave again: it can take more years off than a face lift.

Unsure of what will suit you? Talk to your barber. “Take our advice,” advises Ben, “we see many faces and beards day to day and will be able to work a length or style to naturally suit your face shape and your type of beard growth.” If in doubt, these general rules apply:

Round face or soft jawline

If you have a soft jawline or rounder face, stubble can really help to give the lower half of your face definition. If your face is round keep the stubble towards the lower edges of the cheeks to strengthen the angles of the jawline and give more of a chiselled look. It can also reinforce your neckline if you’ve gained weight in that area.

Square face or jawline

Don’t be tempted to groom your stubble with precision edges as this can make an angular bone structure appear more pronounced. Instead, keep the edges and overall look soft to create balance.

Short chin

Keeping growth slightly shorter along the cheeks and jawline while maintaining more length around the chin area will create the illusion of length.

Prominent chin

To counterbalance a strong chin keep the moustache light and go wider on the sides of the cheeks to accentuate the width of the jawline.