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The Best Short Beard Styles to Wear in the 2020s

By July 12, 2021August 4th, 2021No Comments

Whether you’re looking to ditch a messy long beard or simply tired of constantly chasing the 5 o’clock shadow away, a short beard can be a great alternative to a completely clean shave. There are many great styles out there that work with all kinds of face shapes, and the great thing about a short beard is that it’s easy to maintain, easy on your skin, and perfect for various situations.

A short beard can look just as good when you’re dressed down as it does in the office, and it’s also nice during the summer when you want to stay nice and cool. The trouble is, there are a lot of different variations out there, and not all of them suit every face. That’s why we’ve put together some tips on how to choose the best short beard for you and a handy list of contemporary short beard styles in case you need some further references.

Read on to find your perfect match, and before you know it, you’ll have a rocking new short beard that suits your style to a tee.

How to style and maintain a short beard

First things first, if you’re looking to grow out a boxy short beard of any length, you’re going to need around 4-6 weeks of linear growth if you’re coming straight from a clean shave. It’s important to get this initial growing period out of the way so that you’ve got a nice, thick covering of facial hair to work with, and the more coverage you have, the more styles you’re going to be able to try out.

Similarly, if you’re coming down from a long beard to a shorter beard, you’re going to need to trim it to a level where it’s manageable. Don’t just go lopping the whole thing off and starting from scratch; you can save yourself the effort by just bringing everything down to around an inch or 1.5 inches in length, and from there, you can trim further once you know which style you want to achieve. 

Once you’ve got the desired length of beard and decided on a style, you’re going to need two things. First off, you’ll need a good beard trimmer to allow you to make the most out of your newly shorn facial hair, and second, a decent selection of beard care products such as beard balms and shampoo so that you can keep your hair healthy and happy as you go along. From there, it’s all about cutting your beard into your desired shape, and keeping it washed, combed, and cleaned in the days ahead!

How to choose a short beard style

There are a few key things to consider when picking a short beard style to wear. For one thing, you’re going to want to think about the shape of your face. Differently shaped faces will look better with differently shaped beards, as a good beard always complements the natural lines of your cheekbones, chin, and jawline. Take note, as we’ll come back to this later!

Aside from that, it’s also important to think about your skin type and beard coverage. If you have sensitive skin, you don’t want to be wearing a beard so short that you have to shave constantly to maintain it. Similarly, if you have fine or very light facial hair, you may want to opt for a very short style that detracts from any patchiness and gives you a nice bit of shading instead of a scraggly longer beard.

And last but not least, there’s the issue of maintenance. You need to think not just about the beard you want but also how to style a beard like that and how much time that might take out of your week. While you can always make more time for grooming, perhaps you simply don’t want to, in which case a more rugged, casual stubble beard style might be a better option for you.

Face shapes that look best with a short beard

Now for the all-important part – face shapes! While there’s a lot of information online about which beard styles look good with which face shapes, the fact is that not everybody’s face falls into a perfectly defined bracket. That’s why it’s always worth experimenting with different beard trim styles and going with what you think makes you look and feel the best.

However, there are some good rules of thumb to guide you along the way. For example, if you have a square face, then a short goatee or another boxy cut can be a great pick, as it can help give a sense of symmetry to your features. Similarly, round faces work very well with short beards, as they suit Balbo beards, boxy beards, anchor shapes, and Van Dyke beards very well, as all of these options add some nice defined points to an otherwise rounded chin.

For those with oval or square-shaped faces, there are some great short beard options, too, like chinstraps and stubble beards, but in general, they work well with most styles you’ll find. And as noted above, it’s always worth experimenting, as everybody’s face is different! 

How to trim a short beard

First things first, no matter which style you opt for, you’re going to want to wash and condition your beard before trimming, preferably with a beard shampoo and conditioner. Then, if it’s of a brushable length, take a beard brush to it once dry and stroke against the grain. That’ll get your hair nice and bristly and give it a consistent standing length before you start the trim.

From there, it’s a good idea to start trimming with your biggest guard first, as this way, you’ll avoid shaving the entire beard too short by accident. Work your way down through each part of the beard, changing guards when necessary, and make sure to balance things out by giving your chin and mustache a little bit more length than your temples and cheeks, as these areas generally have denser hair growth. 

Next up, it’s time to work on the fine details. It’s a good idea to swap out trimmers for scissors when you handle your mustache, as, no matter what style you’re going for, you’ll want to give it an even gradient without making it look too straight. As for the neckline, it’s important to taper your beard naturally and line it up with your jawline at a nice level. Too high, and you’ll make your chin look too big, too low, and you’ll have something of a neckbeard. A good rule of thumb is to line up the lowest part of your fade just above or just below your Adam’s apple, depending on what suits your chin best. 

How to keep a short beard looking good

A bit of beard oil can be the perfect thing to keep your beard looking good after trimming, as it adds some much-needed moisture and softness to a bristly beard after harsh soaps and razors have had their turn.

Aside from that, the key to keeping your short beard looking good is to maintain it well and experiment with it a bit when it comes to trimming. If you have one bad trim, it’s not a big problem; simply let the beard grow out for a week or two again and then have another go at reshaping your lines or experiment with different lengths in different areas.

Ultimately, if you keep your beard washed and moisturized and groom it regularly, you can keep it looking good every day of the week. Remember to focus on defining your jawline and tapering sideburn and chin-length, too, as these areas are key in building a strong beard silhouette to match your unique facial features. 

BEARD TYPES

STUBBLE

There are many types of beard styles out there, but no matter your face shape or level of beard coverage, a stubble beard is easy to grow and easy to maintain, making it one of the best casual beard styles around. A good short stubble beard can help add some definition to the chin and jawline, while a medium or long stubble cut can further enhance the silhouette of your face by adding some areas of darker shading.

The best thing about having a stubble beard is that you can shave it off and grow it back out within just a couple of weeks. This means you’re free to experiment with it, too, as if you make any mistakes, you’re only a week or two away from having your original style back.

GOATEE

The key thing with a goatee is that you need your mustache and chin area to connect, as otherwise, you won’t have a goatee at all! However, if you can manage this, it’s a great style for square and rectangular faces, as it adds a nice focal point to your jawline.

In order to style it, you’ll want to shave your beard down to an even short length first to allow you to shape the goatee area easily. Then, using a short guard of 1mm or so, you should begin to define the box shape of the goatee, keeping it symmetrical on each side – in general, you can line it up with the edges of your mouth to help with this. Once you’re happy with the rough silhouette of it, you can wet shave the rest of your beard away, leaving only the goatee. From there, it’s just a simple case of defining the exact lines of the beard for a striking finished look.

DEFINED LINES

A ‘defined lines’ beard is a boxy beard of long stubble with straight, sharp edges down the cheeks and around the neck and mouth. The key here is to work with the contours of your cheekbones and your natural jawline to achieve a strong face-on silhouette. You’ll want to shave just a half-inch or so from the upper line of your cheeks to give it a straight edge and similarly taper your goatee area into a boxy shape without removing its outer edges.

A BIT OF FUZZ

Not every beard style has to be constantly trimmed. A fuzzy beard can give a playful, rugged edge to a stubble beard simply by letting the chinstrap area grow out a little while keeping the rest of your face trimmed. You don’t want to let this chinstrap grow too long but rather keep it cut to just a slightly longer length than the rest of your beard, really adding emphasis to the edges of your jawline.

THICK AND THIN

If you have a particularly long, narrow face shape, a thick and thin approach can help balance your facial features. For this faded beard style, simply keep the sideburns a little longer and thicker than the rest of your beard and taper them naturally into a long stubble on the lower jaw. This will lend a powerful, stately appearance to any longer face and give a boxy dimension to narrow, thin features.

THE 5’OCLOCK SHADOW

The 5 o’clock shadow is a low-effort, high-reward beard in that all you have to do is keep your neckline vaguely tapered while you let the rest of your beard grow out naturally. Of course, this beard looks great on men with strongly defined jawlines, as it serves to emphasize natural lines and edges. Give the whole thing a super short-length trim once every day or two, and you can keep this shadowy style as long as you like for a rugged, masculine look.

THE ANCHOR 

The anchor is very similar to a goatee but has a gap between the chin area and the mustache and more of a chinstrap than a boxed chin. Think Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man or Christian Bale’s classic bearded look; this is a beard that works great with longer chins and sharp jawlines, as it’s all about long, thin lines and a clean-cut finish. You can always grow it out a little longer for a more refined effect, making it a very versatile beard all-in-all.

BEARDSTACHE

The beardstache is a great beard and mustache style that’s coming back into its own in the 2020s. This is one of the best beard styles for men with a strong mustache, and it works with all manner of face shapes. It’s a combination of a thick, well-groomed mustache and a rough-and-tumble longer stubble of around 3-5mm, so it’s an easy beard to grow; all you have to do is let your mustache grow out while keeping the rest of your beard trimmed to a short stubble.

To maintain your stache, it’s a good idea to use some beard oil and beard shampoo, and it’s always wise to comb it daily to help give it a defined shape. Take care always to keep the mustache symmetrical, as it’s the focal point of the style. After all, that’s what’s so fun about the beardstache; you get the stability of a simple short beard style with the flexibility of a longer mustache to play around with.

VAN DYKE

No, it’s not named after Dick Van Dyke, but rather the 17th Century Flemish painter – so this is one for all the art history buffs out there! This beard is king amongst patchy beard styles as it leaves the cheeks completely bare, allowing you to focus on the chin and mustache area, and its artfully shaped aesthetic also makes it a great beard style for bald men.

There are a few different versions of the beard, but essentially you want to allow your mustache to grow out to the sides while creating a downward point on the chin. You can do this by blending your soul patch and chin beard into one defined descending beard. Keep everything else shaved either to a clean shave or close stubble, and remember to leave a good gap between your mustache and your chin area, as this adds to the descending effect of the style.

THE BALBO

The Balbo is a bit of a tricky beard style to get right, but essentially you can think of it as a longer version of the anchor beard with a more pronounced chin and a thicker mustache. This beard style requires quite much maintenance, but it works well with any face with a prominent chin. It can be worn long or short, too, with the longer styles simply drawing out the inverted T-shape of the chin until it’s thicker and thicker while allowing the mustache to grow out simultaneously.

CIRCLE BEARD

The circle beard is another great short beard style for men with rounder faces and a good alternative to the traditional goatee. This beard once again tapers the cheeks to give them more definition with a clean shave, much like the goatee, only this time around, you’re going for curved edges around the chin area and the sides of the mouth. This draws attention to the mouth while giving your chin some definition, which is why it’s such a good choice amongst beard styles for a round face.

ROYALE (ROYAL BEARD)

The Royale beard is another cool men’s beard style based on the goatee, this time with the connective area between the mustache and the beard left clean-shaven. It’s a great option for those who struggle with patchier growth, and it’s easily achieved by letting your chin beard, soul patch, and mustache grow while keeping each of them neatly trimmed. Once again, you can experiment a little with the mustache if you want to try out different variations of this great goatee beard style.

PETITE GOATEE

The petite goatee is a very simple chin beard style that lends itself to prominent chins and square face shapes. This style takes the classic goatee and does away with the mustache altogether, leaving only a soul patch and chin beard. It’s extremely easy to maintain, but it can be hard to get it right on your first try. As with the goatee, always aim to use the edges of your mouth as a guide to how narrow the beard should be unless you’re going for a thin, pointed style. And if you don’t want to do away with the mustache altogether, a stubble mustache works great with this style too.

SHORT BOXED BEARD

The short boxed beard is one of the most classic short hair beard styles going, and it’s a great look for those who have good levels of facial coverage and a thick beard in general. The nice thing about it is that, for all its ruggedness, this full-face beard can also work in formal settings, as it takes a simple, grown-out beard and defines it with sharp edges around the jawline for a striking look.

A good short boxed beard is all about the neckline and the cheeks; if you can keep a sharp neckline with a strong, angular top-line and rigid cheek lines that taper in an almost straight line towards the mouth, then you’ll have a great-looking boxed beard all week long. Trimming is also key, as a good boxed beard needs to remain at a consistent length of around ½ an inch to 1 inch to stay looking fresh.

MUTTON CHOPS

If you’re after something slightly different, then a really fun take on chin strap beard styles is the ‘mutton chops’ look. So-called because it looks like a pair of lambchops on your face, this style is defined by a pair of thick sideburns that extend all the way down to the lower cheeks with a clean-shaven or stubble gap separating them at the chin.

These chops look great by themselves, or you can connect them with a handlebar mustache for a classic biker look. And don’t go thinking this is just a novelty beard style; you only have to recall Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine to remember how good it can look on the right guy. By experimenting with stubble mustaches and stubble around the chin, you can turn the mutton chops into a great-looking short beard style.

LITTLE EFFORT

The so-called ‘little effort’ is essentially the same as the 5 o’clock shadow, only this time around, you’ll want to let the beard grow out around your neck too. Then the only thing to do is keep it cropped nice and short, as otherwise you risk veering into totally unkempt territory. This is an easy, casual beard style and proves that letting your beard grow out in its natural shape isn’t always a bad thing – so long as you’re able to keep it well-maintained along the way.

PERFECT UNIFORMITY

This is one of those short beard styles for men who love the look of a short beard but want to let their hair grow out a little longer without having to trim it constantly. The idea here is to make a longer beard look short by brushing it all in the same direction while maintaining sharp cheek lines like those you’d find in any common short beard style.

This is easy enough to achieve with a good brush and frequent maintenance and washing, but it can also help to have a good pair of beard straighteners on hand if you’re someone with more bristly or curly hair. When done properly, this style gives your beard a silky, well-groomed look.

CHIN STRAP

Last but not least, we have the classic chin strap. The easiest of chin beard styles to create, the chinstrap is a simple chin and jaw-only beard that you can achieve simply by linking up very thin ½ inch – 1-inch sideburns with a slightly thicker strap beard along the jawline and chin. You can either blend this up into a soul patch or stubble mustache for a more mouth-focused beard or keep everything else clean-shaven and leave the outer shadow to emphasize your jawline. The silhouetted nature of this look is also part of what makes it a great choice of black beard styles.