A Complete Style Guide to the Goatee

by Chris Glasner

brad pitt wearing van dyke and soul patch

What are goatees anyway? Basically its a small beard or tuft of hair that is concentrated at your chin area. That’s the pure definition of a goatee. Key point to note: A goatee does not include a mustache. However many people consider a mustache with a chin beard to be a goatee when it should really be called a Van Dyke. Although nowadays most people seem to consider the Van Dyke as a goatee and very little actually refer to it by its actual name.

The name goatee is probably developed from the word ‘goat’ and came about as a reference to the hair under the chin of a goat. First made popular way back in the 17th century, goatees were often depicted in paintings especially by a Flemish dude called Sir Anthony Van Dyke (where the Van Dyke name came from).

Goatees and beards were than adopted by military men in the American Civil War and in modern times, the goatee became popular as a result of the Beats in the 1930 to 1950s. Many jazz musicians, writers, intellectuals, painters and thinkers wore goatees in Europe and America, which led to its bohemian image.

The goatee also came about because some people were not able to grow hair along their jawline and were only able to grow chin hair. Everybody’s genetics is different and a goatee is a great option if you are not able to grow a cheek-wide full beard.

How do You Grow and Shape a Goatee?

As usual, grow out your beard by leaving it alone for 4 to 6 weeks. After that pick a goatee style you want after looking at pictures of other men or celebrities. After you’ve gotten sufficient hair on your chin and jaw, you can start to trim the goatee down. This is similar to the process of trimming a beard so there’s nothing new here.

A goatee only features hair under the chin and perhaps a mustache on top if you’re doing a variation. This means you only need to one thing, take away the hair that is outside the width of your lips and chin. But the tricky part is to do this symmetrically so you don’t have a lop-sized goatee. This can be achieved using a razor or a beard trimmer. Use a comb with both if possible to prevent yourself from over-exceeding the boundaries and removing too much hair.

Make sure to cleanly shave the rest of your face so as to accentuate your goatee when you’re done. Maintenance work is pretty easy to do. Simply trim your goatee every 2 days with a good electric beard trimmer and you’re good to go. Don’t use a trimmer guard if you’re trying to outline and use a trimmer guard when you’re trying to thin out and reduce length.

Quick Style Tips for Goatees

  • Make a smile while looking in the mirror. Make sure that your goatee does not go beyond the smile lines showing up at the edge of your mouth. This will help you to decide how wide your goatee must be.
  • Shave your cheeks and jawline to make sure that there is no stubble hair on your face. This draws attention to your goatee and makes it look even better. Otherwise you may look untidy and messy.
  • Define the edges of your goatee well by creating symmetrical vertical lines at the edges of your mouth and jawline.
  • Don’t trim your goatee too often. Once every two or three days is more than enough. Trimming your goatee everyday may eventually cause it to become lopsized, especially if you over-trim.

Types of Goatee Beards

This is probably only one way to do a pure goatee but many people consider certain beard styles to be spin-offs or variations on the classic goatee. Here are some of the goatee-cum-beard styles:

The Goatee

Yes, its called the ‘goatee’ and this is pretty much just having hair around your chin area. Your hair can be long or short and closely trimmed. The goatee runs the full width of your mouth and it is only on your lower lip. There is no mustache involved.

The Chin Curtain

This is an interesting/gruffy look. You should grow hair on the lower part of your face near the skin and it should go alongside your jawline. The beard can be trimmed in a thin line alongside your jaw or done with all sorts of fancy line designs. But in the old days, the chin curtain features thick clumps of hair all along the lower part of your face. A lot of Amish men wear chin curtains.

The Soul Patch

This is simple and really easy to do. Just have a tiny patch of hair just below your bottom lip. The patch of hair should be narrow. It’s sorta like a chin strip that ends below it reaches the bottom of your chin and should NOT cover your full chin width.

The Van Dyke

This is in basic terms just a goatee and a mustache. It’s commonly mistaken as a goatee but when you have hair under your chin and a mustache, that’s called a Van Dyke (cool name). In any case, your mustache should be joined to your goatee in some way in order for it to qualify as a pure Van Dyke.

The Chin Strip

This one was popular in the old days. And its simple to do. This is simply a mustache that is not connected or joined to a think strip of hair under the lower lip, which extends to the chin.

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