How To Pick The Right Beard For Your Face Shape

Growing a beard is one of the best ways to dramatically switch up your look for free. Pick the right beard style and it can work miracles. Watch your double chin fade away as the stubble thickens; marvel in the mirror at your new-found jawline after you carve that neckline out for the first time.

But tread carefully, because while it’s true the right beard will enhance your features, complement your bone structure and even shave a few years off your appearance, the wrong one will do quite the opposite.

So, how can you be sure of the right style of beard without resorting to trial and error? Simple. Take some quick measurements in the mirror, make a mental note of your face shape and adhere to the corresponding advice below.

Finding Your Face Shape

First things first. Before you get to work cultivating some facial hair, you’ll need to determine which shape category your face falls into.

Some will tell you there are as many as seven different face-shape types, but in the interest of keeping things simple, everything can be covered in five: round, oval, square, heart and rectangle.

First: Measure Up

In order to find out which one best applies to your own face, you’ll need to make a note of a few key measurements. They are:

  • Forehead width: the distance between the outermost tip of each eyebrow
  • Cheekbone width: the distance between your cheekbones
  • Jawline length: the distance from the tip of the chin to the end of the jawbone under the ear, multiplied by two
  • Face length: the distance from your hairline to the bottom of your chin).

Once you have these details to hand, look at the shapes below to see which most closely describes your measurements.

Round Face

Jawline and forehead have similar measurements. Face length and cheekbones have similar measurements. The angle of the jaw is soft and curved.

Oval Face

Face length is the largest measurement. Forehead and jawline measurements are similar. Both are lesser than the cheekbones. The angle of the jaw is gently curved.

Square Face

All measurements are roughly similar. The angle of the jawline is sharp and pronounced.

Heart Face

Cheekbones and jawline both measure smaller than the forehead. The face comes to a distinct point at the chin.

Rectangle Face

Forehead, cheekbones and jawline measurements are all roughly similar while the face length measures largest. The Angle of the jaw is sharp and pronounced.

Picking The Right Beard For Your Face Shape

When thinking about what type of beard is going to work best with your face shape, it’s important to understand the end goal. What we’re aiming for is balance between the face and facial hair – wide faces slimmed down, thin faces filled out and so on and so forth. We also want to sharpen up weak lines and soften any parts of the bone structure that are overly angular. All of which can be achieved by sticking to the tips below.

Quick Jump: Round Face | Oval Face | Square Face | Heart Face | Rectangle Face

The Best Beard Styles For A Round Face

Key Styles: Short boxed beard / Goatee & Stubble / Van Dyke
The foremost goals when dealing with a round face are to elongate, slim down and sharpen. Therefore, any beard style chosen should be trim on the sides so as not to create additional width, it should add volume to the bottom of the face and it should be neatly groomed to give the chin and jawline some shape.

What really must be avoided at all costs is anything too bushy. Opt instead for a short beard style that stays close to the face on the sides and adds length and shape to the chin. A nicely blended short boxed beard would do the trick, as would a circle beard or goatee worn with heavy stubble.

The Best Beard Styles For An Oval Face

Key Styles: Full Beard / Stubble / Short boxed beard
Good news: if you’re lucky enough to be blessed with an oval-shaped face then your beard-growing options are almost limitless. As long as it’s well groomed and full, there’s no reason it won’t look good.

This really is the bone-structure jackpot, so feel free to experiment. Having said that, classic all-over styles like a well-maintained five-day stubble or a full beard will always look great and never date.

Your number one priority is keeping that hair in tip-top condition, so make sure to keep it trimmed and perhaps even invest in a beard oil or moisturiser.

The Best Beard Styles For A Square Face

Key Styles: Circle beard / Tapered full beard / Natural stubble
You’ve got a jawline to be proud of but perhaps it could do with toning down a little bit. The aim here isn’t to get rid of your angular lines, just to soften them slightly for a less aggressive look. The right beard will add some length to the bottom of the face while maintaining a low profile at the sides.

Longer styles work well so long as they’re well-groomed at the sides. Think a full beard but with sides that are neatly tapered and blended, so as not to add bulk to the width of the face. Stubble is another good option when it comes to softening harsh angles, particularly when left natural and not too sculpted.

Add some heavier growth around the mouth and chin – a circle beard would do the trick – and that’s all the boxes ticked.

The Best Beard Styles For A Heart Face

Key Styles: Beardstache / Garibaldi / Full beard
With its wide forehead and narrow, pointed chin, a heart-shaped face will benefit most from a beard style that adds bulk to the bottom of the face. Steer clear of anything that draws the chin to a point, like a goatee or a ducktail, as this will only accentuate the features you’re trying to balance out.

Full, heavy styles will work best. A classic full beard, for example. Or perhaps something even longer like a Garibaldi, if you have sufficient growth to pull it off. A moustache can help to create the illusion of width across the middle of the face too.

If a longer beard doesn’t really appeal, why not combine a ‘tache with some heavy stubble?

The Best Beard Styles For A Rectangle Face

Key Styles: Stubble / Beardstache / Full beard
If you’re constantly finding yourself on the receiving end of “why the long face?” jibes, the last thing you want to do is add more length. That’s why mission number one when it comes to a rectangular face is to create fuller cheeks , or even just the illusion of width across the face.

A fuller beard can be a good option for achieving this. The key thing to remember is not to exaggerate length, so any style that favours width is generally going to work nicely. Well-maintained stubble might be a good alternative if the bushier styles don’t speak to you. Pair it with a thick moustache to take things up a gear.

Paddy Maddison

Paddy Maddison is Ape's Style Editor. His work has been published in Esquire, Men’s Health, ShortList, The Independent and more. An outerwear and sneaker fanatic, his finger is firmly on the pulse for the latest trends, while always maintaining an interest in classic style.