A stubble beard hasn’t always been regarded as a stylish, designer trait. Indeed, it was long regarded as a sign of poor hygiene. However, stubble’s reputation has very much changed. Therefore, this guide will show you how to grow stubble, trim it, and the best length to wear:
- What Is A Stubble Beard?
- Is Stubble Attractive?
- Why Wear Stubble?
- How To Trim Stubble
- Best Stubble Length
- How To Care For Stubble
- Will Stubble Suit My Face Shape?
Simply use the links above to jump ahead.
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.
Is Stubble Attractive?
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 has 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 Wear Beard 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 Beard Stubble
Growing beard stubble is relatively easy. Meanwhile, trimming it is challenging. We recommend following the following steps to trim your stubble beard:
- Trim length away in increments to avoid taking away too much.
- Decide on the length according to follicle density.
- Be mindful of the colour too as light beards need more length to be noticed.
- Play with length to create gradients and contours.
- Trim in multiple passes until arriving at the desired length to ensure consistency.
- Use a shavette to contour the cheek and necklines.
- Fade the neckline if desired by decreasing the guard number and pressure on each pass.
For the best results, we recommend using a high-quality beard trimmer. Head to our dedicated guide to the best beard trimmers to stock up!
Best Stubble Length
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.
Meanwhile, 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.
How To Care For Stubble
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.
The following face shapes won’t have any issues wearing stubble.
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.
The following face shapes can wear stubble but just need to be mindful of certain caveats and pitfalls.
Diamond Face Shapes
Diamond faces can struggle to wear 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.
Now that you have read about how to grow a stubble beard, check out some of our related guides:
I want a really light layer of stubble. Can you recommend good trimmers to achieve this?
If you head to our beard trimmer guide, you’ll find our favourites. We’ve included one that’s the best for stubble.
Good article I have always had stubble 3/4mm or a beard 10mm plus since age 17 now aged 60. It was very dark brown now silver grey. I have a babyliss i i-trimmer cost about £25.
Thanks for your comment!
Sounds like you’ve maintained your stubble very well. If you ever need to replace your Babyliss, check our guide on the best beard trimmers to buy online!
All the best,
Fantastic article and so helpful with regards to the face shapes!
It was great exchanging with you and I’m delighted to hear that you found our guides helpful.
All the best,
I have a triangle face and I’d like to know if a higher cheek line looks better on me than a lower one ..
I’ve been sporting a stubbled boxed beard for sometime with a semi-high cheek line but I feel that a higher cheek line would emphasis my cheeks a little more based on my face shape ..
However, if I do raise up the cheek line, then I would have to sport a “natural cheek line” beard if you get where I’m coming from which then transforms the boxed beard Into a full beard/ regular stubble beard
Just looking for feedback as the stubble boxed beard does suit me but the maintenance does not, ha!
Does a full beard/stubble beard with a high cheekline complement me more than a boxed beard with a slightly lower cheek line? (Based off face shape)
I suggest a higher cheek line on your beard with a triangle face shape. Like you said, it’ll be better for balancing your face shape. It doesn’t have to be overly natural, you can contour the line in a way that is to your liking.
Thanks for the feedback! Will most definitely try this out over the next couple of weeks of growing .. if I need it.
Which leads me to my next and final question. Does more hair or less hair complement my face shape? Should I lean towards stubble beard or full beard? Based only off your honest opinion and recommendation of the face shape because I see that a heavy beard or a stubble beard would be good, but which would be best suited?
Happy to help! It’s hard to say whether a full beard or stubble beard would be best suited before actually giving it a go. I recommend that you try growing it out to see what happens! If you’re not happy with the results, just trim it back down!
Bear in mind that triangle face shapes have strong jawlines, so you’ll need to try and taper the chin and add some volume in the moustache area to keep it proportional when it gets to a certain length.
All the best,
Okay! I will try the full beard and a “tapered chin” .. what is your definition of this? Fading the beard down to the chin by having it heavier on the chin?? Sorry for additional question. It’s only for clarity!! I appreciate EVERYTHING you’ve done so far regarding tips for
My face shape btw!
No worries! I recommend that you check out the pointed beard guide to see more about what we mean.
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Thanks for your input, Verlie!
I have a diamond face.I want to rock the short stubble.Can I rock it?Usually my beard length is between 0.5 mm to 3 mm.Do you have any suggestions for how I can still have a short stubble
Hey there Mike,
Yes, stubble is definitely acceptable with a diamond face shape. As long as it’s nicely trimmed (avoid the ‘messy stubble’), you should be fine!