Once an undesired trait synonymous with neglect and bad hygiene, designer or sport Stubble has become a hallmark of masculinity. The term’s etymology predates the 13th Century as the name for stalks of grain left after harvest. During the majority of the 20th Century, clean-shaven was the accepted norm in Western society and denoted smartness and cleanliness.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that the so-called 5 o’clock shadow became a fashion statement. Late British pop singer, George Michael, can be credited for pioneering designer stubble. It exuded a carefree image with a rebellious and masculine streak. The calculated unkempt aesthetic was reminiscent of bad-boy anti-heroes portrayed by actors such as Clint Eastwood and Kurt Russell.
Throughout the 1990s until the early 2000s, the look was still considered inappropriate for many workplaces. It wasn’t until the beard’s renaissance that it became almost universally accepted as a fashionable and even desirable look.
Scientifically Proven Attractiveness
In 2008, biological psychologists, Dr Nick Neave and Kerry Shields of Northumbria University studied the effects of facial hair on female perceptions of attractiveness, masculinity and dominance in male faces. Analysing 60 women, they concluded that men with light Stubble were considered to be the most attractive. Furthermore, it was also preferred for both short and long-term relationships.
You could interpret these findings by concluding that Stubble appears more attractive as the onset of facial hair displays a man’s capabilities of growth. Facial hair denotes maturity and masculinity, which equally denotes strength and vitality. Every man worn it numerous times in their life but often the look is incidental rather than intentional. When deliberately crafted, Stubble’s laissez faire imagery appears effortless and edges towards Sprezzatura (studied carelessness). However, although it does require effort, some is needed to avoid appearing dishevelled.
Why Choose Stubble?
Stubble is ideal for men who refrain from going Full Beard but do want to lose the baby face. It creates the desired texture that can enhance a man’s features like a beard. What’s more, it structures a man’s jawline and can create angular shadow on round cheeks. Men who suffer from skin irritation due to regular shaving can greatly benefit from growing a healthy 5 o’clock shadow.
Decreasing the frequency and simply grooming the hair growth can soothe the skin and allow it to heal between shaves. Alternatively, men with sensitive skin can simply let it grow out and just trimmed it short every few days.
Unlike many beards, well-groomed stubble is actually excellent for men with patchy facial hair growth. Consider both Ryan Gosling and Leonardo DiCaprio. Their ventures into Stubble are not only iconic but have also cast away their baby face features.
How To Trim Stubble
- With the natural beard cleaned and dried, trim down the volume in increments. Try to choose a length based on the hair’s density, colour as well as the ruggedness desired.
- Don’t hesitate to vary the length to create gradients. 1/16th of an inch (2 mm) extra length on the cheeks can provide better density and hide patchier areas.
- Trim in multiple passes once at the desired length to ensure consistency and catch missed spots.
- Use a razor to contour the cheek and neckline as described here. As a general rule, shave below the Adam’s Apple.
- Add a Fade to the neckline if desired. Do this by decreasing the guard number from the jawline and towards the Adam’s Apple.
- Alternatively, gradually add pressure when trimming towards the Adam’s Apple.
The French appropriately call stubble “la barbe de trois jours” or the three-day beard. A flawlessly unkempt 5 o’clock shadow is around 1/8th of an inch (3 mm) in length. This usually represents 3 or 4 days of the average man’s hair growth. Heavy stubble can represent as much as a week’s worth of growth but after that, it can quickly venture into Boxed beard territory.
Men with thick and fast hair growth may like to oscillate between clean shaven and stubble. However, beard trimmers or at least clippers with a number 1 guard are essential for stubble management. For perfectly-sculpted stubble, consider growing a beard for at least one week, which allows any patchier areas to fill out.
Stubble requires revising every three to four days to keep its structure and contours in check. Although it can be left for longer, it can very quickly appear shaggy and lose the calculated rugged appearance.
Be sure to invest in skin and haircare products. It’s important to exfoliate and moisturise the skin beneath the stubble to ensure it remains healthy. Professional beard oil is also highly recommended, which softens sharp hair and reduces irritation. Furthermore, it will make you considerably more kissable for your significant other by avoiding the fiendish “pash rash”.
On a final note, be sure to consider how the beard style complements and contrasts the final ensemble. Stubble should be paired with a hairstyle and attire that denotes a well thought-out and intentional appearance. Should it seem incidental, you may inadvertently appear scruffy and bedraggled.
Will Stubble Suit My Face Shape?
Although Stubble will suit the majority of face shapes, it comes with caveats to take into account their specific requirements. To some extent, it can be used to redistribute the face’s proportions. However, its major strength derives from how it can emphasise, harden or indeed soften facial features. Be sure to identify your face shape before you continue reading this section.
Heart Face Shapes
Heart shapes can suffer the most from baby face features, a 5 o’clock shadow creates maturity. The result is a layer of texture that denotes experience whilst still retaining the hallmarks of their youthful complexion.
Oblong Face Shapes
Oblong faces can enjoy the benefits of a light coat to provide texture and adding emphasis to the jawline. However, heavier Stubble can be used to reduce face length by trimming short below the jawline. Although this may require some experimentation to get right, it can drastically reduce face length and provide some width.
Oval Face Shapes
Oval face shapes can experiment with both light and heavy Stubble with the least restraint as it will unlikely affect their facial proportions. Try to avoid very soft finishes and aim for more angular contours. This will make the face appear slightly squarer.
Square Face Shapes
Square face shapes are better suited to light stubble. This populates their pronounced features without risking any overemphasis. Longer growth can be used to soften the face but the finishes should be keep neat to avoid blowing features out of proportion.
Triangle Face Shapes
Triangle face shapes fare far better with light Stubble. The added texture retains their angularity and flaunts their strong jawlines without overemphasis. Longer growth can soften these traits if they’re too strong. However, it’s advised that if heavier growth is desired, the cheeks are kept straight and tidy to avoid exaggerating the jaw.
Diamond Face Shapes
Diamond faces can struggle in relishing Stubble. The short hair growth can risk severely exaggerating their angular features and quickly appears scruffy. Short Stubble can make their cheeks appear hollow and the chin appear pointed. Heavy stubble would be more effective but it may be even more effective to grow a fuller beard style instead.
Round Face Shape
The use of Stubble is somewhat more complex for Round face shapes. Although light fuzz can be exploited to break away from the monotony of absent features, it doesn’t do much to redistribute structure. Using heavy Stubble to offset the face and make it squarer is certainly worth attempting by keeping the sides trimmed. Stubble must be kept in check as the hair contours will fade and soften the features when growing out.