How to Define Your Beard Line

by Chris Glasner

illustration from Esquire

Real good-looking beards involve some work and much of it includes defining your beard neck line and cheek line, the places where your beard stops. Unless you’re going for the wild man look or an untrimmed full beard for religious reasons, you need to make sure that your beard doesn’t overgrow and take over your entire neck.

A well defined beard neck line and cheek line is often presentable enough for all workplaces and professions. If you work in an office or meet many people socially because of your profession, you will want to define the outline of your beard line with a beard trimmer and manage it well.

A good rough guide is to keep it above your adam’s apple. I like to use my fingers as a measure. Put a finger just above your adam’s apple, that’s where you should probably end. Rotate your finger around to your cheek and you’ll find your beard cheek line as well.

However your beard neck line also depends on the shape of your chin. If you have a thick neck or a double chin, the flesh beneath your jaw will tend to be visible from the front. If this is the case, you don’t need to have make the beard line too low. Maybe 2 fingers above the adam’s apple would work. If the underside of your jaw cannot be seen from the front, you can afford to make your beard line a little lower to pad out your beard a little.

The position of your beard cheek line depends on the shape of your jaw. If you are blessed with a strong jawline it’ll be easy to define the shape of your beard cheek line. You can even keep the beard cheek line fairly high because your jawbones will define your face shape. If not, it’s still fine. Just let it creep around your jaw a little to hug your neck. One mistake that many people make is to end the beard right at your jawbone. That makes your beard look wimpy and you may end up looking uptight as well. Unless you’re going for a stubble look, avoid that.

Just a tip. When you are growing out a beard, it’ll tend to look messy. Resist the urge to define your beard neck line and cheek line too high. Allowing it to have some length allows you to observe how hair tends to grow and will help later on when you want to trim the beard down. Your beard tends to even out and ‘tidy’ itself. Sometimes all you need is to stay away from the beard trimmer and give it some length.

Steps to Define your Beard Line on Neck and Cheeks

You can start defining your beard line as early as 2 weeks after you’ve started to let your beard grow out. Some people recommend starting only after a month but you can certainly do so much earlier. It depends on the growth rate of facial hair and the type of beard you want.

When defining your beard line, you can use a beard trimmer although I think a straight razor or normal razor will give you more precision. My preference is a straight razor: it gives me that barber shop feeling and its just so much manlier to use it. However, its not something that’s easy to use if you are not experienced with it so stick to a normal Gilette razor with a couple of blades if that works better for you.

Wash your neck and face with warm water and lather on some shaving gel. Try to keep it non-foamy because you want to see where you’re shaving. It’s recommended to shave in the direction of your hair growth, which means you should place the shaver right above your adam’s apple and move downwards to mark out the line.

I know some friends who prefer to invert the shaver and move it upwards towards your chin. This is a little more risky in my opinion, especially if you’re trying to do this while tilting your head up and looking at the mirror because your beard line isn’t already marked out in your mind. When you’re shaving downwards, you already decided the beard neck line and you’re just shaving according to it. Personally I like the keep my thumb placed right above my adam’s angle as a stopper of some sort and that works for it.

This method doesn’t require you to look at a mirror and I generally do not look at a mirror until I’m done but you can definitely do this by standing on a platform and tilting your head slightly. This reduces the need to tilt your head back too much and can help in the beard line defining process.

I hope this helps you guys to define your beard line!

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