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How to Trim a Beard: A Hirsute Man’s Tutorial in 5 Steps

How to Trim a Beard: A Hirsute Man’s Tutorial in 5 Steps

Is your beard always unkempt and growing wild on your face? It’s time to tame that hair! Read on to learn how to trim a beard and step up your grooming game.

Jason Momoa, Idris Elba, and Chris Hemsworth all know how to do it right. They top the list of Hollywood’s hottest bearded men, sporting perfectly sculpted facial hair. It’s no wonder a well-trimmed beard is a feature that women find most attractive in the opposite sex.

A good gentleman knows the right grooming techniques. From subtle stubble to full-on facial hair, it’s important to know how to keep a beautiful beard. Here’s how to trim your beard, the right way.

How to Trim a Beard in 5 Easy Steps

There’s a bit of prep work that goes into mastering the art of a well-trimmed beard.

1. Before the Trim

Historical beards got used to create a sense of intimidation and keep faces warm in winter. Adding a beard to any man’s face makes them appear more masculine and gives the look of a larger jawline. Beards have served as symbols of power and wisdom for as long as they have existed. Ancient civilizations valued long beards to show a man’s honor. Beards would get cut only to punish a man for wrongdoing.

Trimming beards became the norm when men got sent off to battle. Yet it was the Romans who adopted the practice of grooming a beard to encourage better hygiene. Nowadays, the beard has evolved as a cool factor that adds character to a man’s style. For some, the beard evokes a sense of power and masculinity. Others sport a beard for the simple reason of not wanting to shave every day.

Whatever your reason for rocking a beard, we stand behind your decision. But there’s much to learn before you start growing and pruning your facial hair.

Select Your Beard Style

Short and stubbly? Or long and lumberjack-esque? It’s best to confirm your beard style before you grab those clippers. A beard should be a reflection of your own personal style. Much like a haircut or color, it’s a piece of your personality. Yet, it’s important to also consider your reasons behind wanting to grow a beard.


The larger the beard, the more protection you’ll have from the elements. Big furry beards protect from sun exposure and cold weather. Yet, a simple short beard may be best for those who work in an office setting. The longer the beard, the more upkeep it will need. Men with coarse hair may need more product to keep their style in place.

Your face’s shape should also dictate the style of beard you plan to grow. Square faces fare best with short sides and full chins. A round face gets complemented with a longer bottom beard. 3 to 5mm is the most common beard length. But there’s no rule that says you can’t sport a chin strap, circle beard, or Balbo style. Here’s more on the most popular beard styles.

What to Know Before You Grow

The average guy has between 10,000 to 20,000 hair follicles on his face. So most men have a decent chance of being able to sport a full beard. If growing a beard is new to you, you may want to consider shaving your face clean. Then wait 4 to 6 weeks to achieve full beard growth. From there you can begin to trim to desired length and shape.

There is often an “ugly phase” associated with growing out your beard. It may appear uneven and patchy. It often takes about 2 weeks for your beard to take on a normal growth pattern. Beards can become itchy when growing in. Try to avoid scratching or rubbing at the hair. Let your beard do its thing until its time to trim.

Even when growing your beard out, you’ll still need to trim here and there. The difference in how to trim a long beard vs. how to trim a short beard is the tools you use. You can use scissors or the longest guard setting on your trimmer.

2. Pick the Right Tool for the Job

Most bearded men own a beard trimming kit. This is separate from any haircutting tools and clippers they may own. Same goes for those manscaping tools. Most importantly, you’ll need a quality beard trimmer. This provides an even trim and gets the job done quick and efficient. The Philips Norelco 5100 is a favorite for its long-lasting and durable qualities.


Some trimmers have a vacuum attachment to keep little hairs from going all over. Your significant other will appreciate this more than you know. Other models are waterproof for making it easy to shave in the shower. Some people want to know how to trim a beard with scissors vs. how to trim a beard with clippers. There’s no wrong way to do it, but using scissors is going to require a bit more skill (but is ideal for some beard styles).

Get to Know Your Guard Settings

Your beard trimmer will likely come with different guard settings. This helps control the length of the cut. In standard sizing, the #3 or #2 is most likely the length you’ll need. The #1 size results in more of a stubble look. Size 0 is also referred to having no guard. This provides the closest shave right to your scalp.

3. Prepare Your Beard

Start by taking a shower. This will hydrate your beard hair and make it easy to trim. You’ll also remove dirt and skin cells that can get in the way. You can even use a special beard shampoo and conditioner. This will help soften the hair and get it smelling nice.

Your beard hair should be dry before trimming. A wet beard can be deceiving and cause you to cut off too much. Use a towel to remove any excess water before trimming. You’ll also want to use a beard brush to smooth hair and remove any knots. Comb the entire beard in the same downward direction.

4. Groom & Style Your Beard


You’ll want to start with a long length setting first. This will prevent any mistakes that lead to bad beard days. You can always go back through and re-trim afterward. The #3 setting is the standard trim choice. Or go with #2 for a shorter look.

Place the flat surface of the comb against your skin. Then sweep the trimmer upwards, away from your face. Most people go against the grain. Then you can make a side to side swipe to catch hair growing in different directions.

Be sure to get your entire beard, and the neck area. The proper way on how to trim a beard neckline is a little tricky. It helps to stretch your skin out to get into any nooks and crannies around the neck area. This allows a smoother and closer trim. Pay special attention to the neck area and Adam’s apple. You may need a shorter guard for this or no guard at all. Take the hair off little by little until it becomes tidy and smooth.

Framing Your Face

Trim your beard around your cheeks to help frame your face. A well-defined cheek line will result in a more refined look (think chiseled cheekbones). Or you can grow the hair up to the top of your cheeks for a more unkempt feel. It’s best not to use a guard for the cheek area. Move your trimmer in a slow downward motion. Be sure both sides of the face are symmetrical when finished.

The Fading Technique

This technique uses different lengths for the chin, neck, and cheeks. The neck and cheeks get trimmed a bit shorter than the rest of the face. Use a setting that is one or two sizes lower to achieve the look. The chin hair should remain a little longer than the neck and cheeks. This creates dimension and defines the shape of the beard. It also keeps the beard balanced and adds contrast.

Don’t Forget the Mustache

You’ll first want to run your trimmer through your mustache. Then you’ll need to remove the guard to touch up the rest. Hair should get trimmed so it sits above your lip. Trimming to a longer length will help keep the mustache staying flat against your face. A good mustache wax will also help with this. You can also go back over your mustache with a pair of scissors to get any leftover hairs. This works as a natural way of detailing.

5. Maintaining a Healthy Beard

Genetics and age often come into play for how well your beard grows in. Some men can’t grow a full beard until they reach their 40’s. But there are lifestyle choices you can make to promote healthy beard growth. Invest in a good beard oil. It will keep the hair soft and well-moisturized between trimmings. Beard wax will hold your style in place and help with frizzing. Learn how to properly trim a beard and it will be kind to your face in return.


Over time your beard can become lackluster due to build-up, split ends, and dandruff. Try a hot oil treatment for beards. It will help deep condition and prevent further breakage. Proper skin hygiene is also important. You’ll want to exfoliate on a regular basis to stimulate hair growth. Wash your face with a mild cleanser to unclog pores and reduce ingrown hairs. Be sure to catch enough zzz’s. It’s shown that sleep deprivation slows down beard growth. The same goes for stress, which can halt hair growth.

Caring for Your Styling Tools

You’ll want to keep your beard trimmer well-oiled. You can use a special oil, or go with WD40 when in a pinch. Place a few drops on the trimmer before using it. Clean your trimmer by removing any hair from inside. Plastic guards can get cleaned with soap and warm water.

Learning how to trim a beard is a man’s right of passage. And you my friend have successfully passed.

Further Reading

Most popular beard styles
Most Popular Beard Styles
Best Beard Waxes
Best Beard Wax
best beard grooming kits
Best Beard Grooming Kits
grooming tips for men
Grooming Tips for Men