Top 5 Short Beard Styles For Modern Gentlemen (And Who They Suit)

Growing facial hair is a great way to switch up your appearance – it’s easy, it’s free and it can alter a man’s look far more drastically than a new jacket or pair of shoes ever could.

The problem is, not every man is blessed with the genetics or the workplace grooming policy to make a full beard an option. So what’s the alternative?

Thankfully, a beard doesn’t have to be bushy in order to look respectable. Quite the opposite, in fact. A short beard is a smart, neat facial-hair option that can be styled to mitigate even the patchiest of growth. It’s just a case of settling on a style that works for you, letting nature do its thing for a couple of weeks, firing up the trimmer and sculpting your way to bearded glory.

Here we give you a head start by answering some common questions before taking a deep dive into the key short beard styles and who they suit.

Should I Grow A Short Beard?

First thing’s first. Before growing a short beard, a long beard or even a somewhere-in-the-middle beard, there’s one important question you need to ask yourself: is this right for me? The answer will depend on a number of factors.

Firstly, short beards require a fair amount of upkeep. Regular touch-ups with a trimmer are imperative, as is precision edging with a razor if you decide to opt for a more sculpted style. If you have a busy schedule and can’t spare 10 minutes or so every other day to keep it neat then a short beard probably isn’t for you.

Secondly, do you have the coverage for it? There are few things that sap style credentials quite like a sparse, wispy beard. If you can’t grow a full beard then don’t grow a full beard. Still, that’s not to say facial hair is off the cards completely. One of the benefits of short beard styles is that there are plenty of options for men with patchy growth. A full beard might not work, but a more manicured style that leaves problem areas like the cheeks bare might.

Which Short Beard Style Will Suit Me?

Knowing your face shape and what type of facial hair will suit it is vital when it comes to picking the right short beard style.

As a rule of thumb, men with round faces should go for angular styles that add structure. Meanwhile, men with square faces should opt for more natural styles that help to soften harsh features.

Heart- and diamond-shaped faces benefit from more bulk to balance out proportions. Generally speaking, thicker, fuller styles will be the best match for these types of bone structure.


Face-Shape Suitability: All

Well-groomed stubble consistently comes out on top in studies of which facial hair people find most attractive. It’s simple, it’s masculine and it can do wonders for a weak jawline when sculpted correctly.

Well-groomed is the operative term here. It’s a common misconception that stubble is easy to maintain, and while it’s not exactly difficult, it does require some commitment to keep it looking good.

Invest in a good beard trimmer and use it as often as necessary to keep stray hairs at bay and edges neat. For bonus points, use it on different cutting lengths for the cheeks, moustache, chin and sideburns to add definition where required.

Short Boxed Beard

Face-Shape Suitability: All

Sitting somewhere between a bushy beard and heavy stubble, the short boxed beard is a great option for those who like the look of a full beard but prefer their facial hair a little shorter.

The key to keeping this style from straying into sloppy territory is to establish a neckline. This can be done by using either a razor or an unguarded trimmer and shaving any hairs that sit below the invisible line that runs from just below each earlobe, down and under the chin. Use the Adam’s apple as a guide point for where the middle of this line should be.

In terms of trimming, it’s much the same as with stubble, only selecting a slightly longer setting on your trimmer. If you have excessive growth high up the cheeks then use a razor or unguarded trimmer to neaten this up.


Face-Shape Suitability: All

There are two types of men in this world: those who have wondered what they might look like with a moustache, and liars. The beardstache is a rugged facial-hair style that took Hollywood by storm a few years back and it’s a great way to get a taste for the moustache life without going full Magnum P.I.

This style works by softening the contrast between the hair on the upper lip and the hair elsewhere by using differing lengths. The hair on the sideburns, cheeks and chin is worn as a heavy stubble, while the hair on the upper lip is grown out into a full moustache.

To maintain it, perform regular touch-ups with the trimmer to keep the hair length uniform everywhere but the upper lip. Depending on the length of your ‘tache you’ll want to give it a trim every week or so using either a pair of scissors or your trimmer. Make sure to keep it from creeping over the top lip too much, too.

Circle Beard

Face-Shape Suitability: Square, Oval, Heart & Diamond

Granted, the circle beard has been almost entirely ruined by David Brent and Ali G. Still, if you’re prepared to look past that, it can make an excellent option for those with patchy growth on the sideburns or cheeks.

This style does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a circle of hair that surrounds the mouth, with hair on the rest of the face shaved down to the skin. Due to its rounded shape, it’s best avoided by anyone with a particularly round face. Although edges can be squared off to make it a little more angular.

Maintenance-wise, you’ll need a steady hand and a razor. Failing that, there are tools on the market that can be placed over the mouth and cut around to achieve the perfect shape.


Face-Shape Suitability: Round, Square & Oval

Named for its distinctive shape, the anchor is a disconnected style of beard that incorporates a moustache and a goatee. It’s a great option for patchy growth as it focuses on the areas that tend to have the thickest coverage.

Round and square faces can really benefit from this style as it helps to draw the face to a point at the bottom. It’s also got the David Beckham seal of approval, although you probably shouldn’t make a habit of copying everything he does with his hair.

In terms of styling, the first thing is to grow your facial hair out to a decent length all over. Once that’s done, we’d recommend a trip to the barber to get it cut in properly. It’ll be much easier to trim at home once the shape has been established by a professional.

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.