Shave Facial Hair Styles

Man who is shaving his beard
Photo: Mladen Mitrinovic/Shutterstock
Q: Can you give me advice on how to shave neat symmetrical facial hair styles, and what features to follow so as to look correct (such as jaw line)? I have a lot of trouble trying to get it to look right. Some ideas would be very much appreciated.
A: This is a common problem for many men who want to grow facial hair. Mastering the tricks to grooming facial hair takes practice, but is well worth it in the end. They key is to use your facial geography as “landmarks” to which you anchor the style of facial hair you want. By doing this, you can use your grooming tools to create the look you desire.
The best results require the proper grooming tools. A good grooming kit should include: a fine-tooth comb, scissors, trimmers (with approximately a 1” clipper head), and standard and narrow-width safety razors (or electric shaver). The narrow-width razors are approximately ¾ inch wide and are usually available at your local beauty supply store. They were originally designed for the careful grooming of personal areas, but are great for the control they offer in grooming facial hair styles.
As you create the look you want, use your tools to make even lines and use your facial landmarks to give you guides. For example: if you want to create a Vandyke mustache/goatee combination, but aren’t sure how to gauge how wide to make it, lay your comb vertically across your face so that the edge of the teeth creates a line from the inside of the iris straight down the face. Use your trimmers to cut away the hairs to the outside of that line, creating the outline of the Vandyke style. Repeat the process for the other side of the face. Once you’ve trimmed away the excess hairs, use your razors to “clean shave” the face around the Vandyke. By doing this, you guarantee that your facial hair will be symmetrical.
Another good example of using facial geography is in creating the clean lines of a groomed full beard. In this case, you use “anchor points” on the side of the face and around the mouth to give you a guide to follow. The full beard combines sideburns, mustache and beard into one continuous facial hair style. Start with the depth you want the jaw portion of the beard to be. You can make a wide beard by using the comb to create a line from the top of the earlobe to the center of the upper lip, then trim the hair above that line along the cheeks. Next move to the sideburns and use your comb as a template to make the width of the sideburns, trimming away the excess width and joining the two lines.
Trim your mustache by stretching your lips wide in a smile and use your comb to create a line to follow for trimming the hairs there. If you prefer, you can use angled lines following the line of the upper lip on each side. For the body of the facial hair, use a trimmer with length guides to keep the hairs a uniform length. The exact length is, of course, a matter of personal taste.
The underside of the jaw/chin is always a matter of contention for those who have facial hair. Some men like their beards to extend under the jaw and down the neck to a cleanly defined line, while others prefer to stop the hair just under the jawline and leave the neck clean shaven. Whichever look you prefer, use your tools to create your clean lines.
Once you’ve gotten some practice and have become comfortable with the facial hair grooming, you will be able to do much of the grooming freehand. At the very least, after an initial grooming session in which you create the basic look you want, daily shaving of the clear-skin areas and weekly touch-ups on the edges is usually sufficient to keep your facial hair well groomed.
See also:
Men's grooming and how to get a good shave
Basic styles for moustaches and beards
Can a beard or moustache make a man look slimmer?