Beards have been on-trend and desired for a while, and have managed to persevere despite what numerous publications and social scientists have referred to as “peak beard.” The “peak beard” belief states that when beards become too popular, they actually become less attractive to people.
When a trend like a beard is ubiquitous, people perceive them to be less attractive, according to the study in Biology Letters by a team of Australian researchers at the University of New South Wales.“The bigger the trend gets, the weaker the preference for beards and the tide will go out again,” researcher Robert Brooks told the Guardian Australia. Still, even amid negative reports, the trend remains popular. If you’d like to jump on the beard bandwagon in 2016, here are four looks to try.
1. The shorter long beard
This style is a tough one to grow; it requires that you have extensive facial hair growth and a lot of patience, but trust us, the payoff is quite big. “The shape [of this shorter take on the long beard] follows the face’s shape,” says Adam Brady, Ruffians Barbers’ trend expert, to FashionBeans. “Also, the lines on the cheek are sharp in order to contrast with the full, natural and unpredictable growth below. Finally, the bottom of the beard lies up to two inches below the chin,” he adds. Start by growing out your beard (which could take up to a month) and then shape it to suit your face. As it grows, be sure to only trim the lines of the cheeks if they’re growing up too high. And remember, take care of your beard. “Use a moisturizing beard shampoo [once every few days] to help the beard retain its moisture, otherwise it could flake and cause beard dandruff,” warns Brady. “While damp, run beard oil through it with your hands to keep it moist.”
If you really want to be a champ at styling the shorter long beard, especially if your beard tends to curl a little, you’re going have to take this into your own hands. Brady suggests that you apply a hair paste to your damp beard and blow dry it on medium while brushing downward to relax your beard hairs. This will not only make your beard appear longer, but it will make it easier to shape and style. This style is ideal for concealing a smaller chin, a double chin, or for elongating a rounder face; if you have a longer face, choose a beard that’s a little bit shorter.
2. The heavy stubble
Fact: Women are more attracted to men with facial stubble. According to a 2013 Australian study, the most attractive beard length for a man is “heavy stubble,” which comes after about 10 days of growth. Although that study was conducted in 2013, it begs the question: If you’re a gent who’s not sporting facial hair, what are you waiting for? 2016 is your year to do this, and it’s an easy style to achieve. Sported on the likes of Hollywood celebs — Ryan Gosling, George Clooney — and if that’s not motivation enough, then we’re not sure what is.
Simply allow your beard hair to grow until it gets itchy and note where your hair grow begins, ends, and if it’s patchy or uneven. Use the lines of your bone structure to guide where you want to keep the stubble and shave everything else off. Shave it down to a desired length and use a set of beard trimmers and dial them to 0.5 millimeter to 1 millimeter (or if you want it to be longer — 3mm to 5mm). When it come to maintaining your stubble, because it’s so close to your skin, be sure to take care of your skin and use an exfoliator, like Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub, that works to lift the hair out and prevent ingrowns that are more visible with stubble.
3. Long hair and beards
As Jared Leto has proven to us many times over: long hair and beards go together like peanut butter and jelly. The key to achieving this style, more so than the beard, is maintaining that mane. Whether you have longer hair now or are just starting to grow it out, “The key is to keep your hair hydrated — just as you would your skin,” says stylist Ben Thigpen to Men’s Health. “Hydration is key because long hair doesn’t require product.” To achieve this, Thigpen recommends Bumble and Bumble’s Quenching Conditioner to lock in extra moisture or Head & Shoulders Damage Rescue Shampoo and Conditioner, which hydrates the dry scalp and repairs damaged hair.
Ideally, to achieve a healthier mane, grow it out until you hit your mid-neck area. As you’ll soon learn, conditioner alone won’t solve all dry and split end messiness, so be sure to have your hair trimmed every month or two. Thigpen advises taking off as little as a centimeter, which he refers to as “dusting” instead of a traditional trim. Be weary though of what could look like an ’80s mullet, because the hair on the back of your head tends to grow faster than the front; you can take care of this by asking your stylist to cut a little more off the back. Also, be aware that as you’re growing your hair longer, expect some awkward stages as well, but don’t let that discourage you and cut it off. Use some heavy products or a good hat to get you through. Soon enough you’ll be there and will want to try the hipster-inspired top knot or a half-up, half-down style to switch up this new look.
As for your beard, we’ll leave the length up to you, although to balance it out and prevent you from looking like Chewbacca, keep it on the shorter, stubbly side — it’s all about complementing your look.
4. The Van Dyke
The Van Dyke is by no means a revolutionary beard style, but it is a stranger type of goatee. The mustache and the chin hair do not connect and often have different styles. Popularly known as a “French Beard” due to its popularity in France over the past hundred centuries, it’s been seen on method actor Christian Bale as well as Hugh Jackman. It’s a different interpretation of the modern goatee, and it’s sure as hell worth a try. You’re going to need to start out with a clean facial canvas for this one.
To start, shave completely and wait a week for your hair to even out. Your face will be ready to go when your stubble has grown out to about ¼ inch. Once you’ve grown your facial hair out, you’re going to shave a circle beard — by shaving your sideburns and cheeks. Start by your ears and remove your sideburns, as well as most of the hair on your cheeks, leaving about 2 inches of hair growth on either side of your mouth. Next, shave the hair from the bottom and sides of your neck, stopping just above your Adam’s apple. Leave your mustache and soul patch intact — what you have now is a “circle beard.”
Rinse any excess shaving cream off because here comes the fun part. Your precision work is going to begin. Dry your face off and carefully trim until you are left with small, neat beard that resembles a goatee. Take an electric razor (of if you feel more comfortable, stick with the scissors) and start to shape your chin hairs. Classically, the Van Dyke beard is somewhat pointed. Next, disconnect your mustache from your chin beard but leave the skin around your soul patch, only if one grows there, completely smooth. Lastly, trim your mustache using your cutting utensil of choice. Measure it out and know that like the chin beard of the Van Dyke, the mustache is pointed as well and neat.