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What Beard Style Is Right For You?


By Julia Savacool, Men's Journal
Long, short, or just a mustache? There are a wide variety of beard shapes and styles out there, and each one sends its own message about the guy who is sporting it. “More than your clothes, the way you groom the hair on your face is going to tell people what you’re all about,” says Michael O’Malley, a master barber in Boston. Does your facial hair project the image you want? Here’s what popular beard styles tell the world, who they work best for, and how to get them.


Long and Pointy

[post_ads]Sporting this style results in people thinking you're masculine, mature, good-looking, self-confident, courageous, and non-conforming, according to a seminal study done by psychologist Robert J. Pellegrini. In addition, Pellegrini found that “the male beard communicates an heroic image of the independent, sturdy, and resourceful pioneer, ready, willing, and able to do manly things.” Sounds like a guy you know, right?

There’s no magic to growing a long beard, just time and patience. “It can take anywhere from six weeks to six months, depending on the rate of your facial hair growth,” says O’Malley. Regular application of a beard oil or beard moisturizer will help keep the hair healthy as it grows.


Full and Boxy

The neatly maintained lines of this short, thick beard make it acceptable in almost any office environment, and give you a distinct advantage: People think you’re smarter and more successful. In one Canadian study, researchers found that when women compared photos of men with this beard type versus those who were clean shaven, bearded guys were evaluated as commanding greater respect in their community than those without. What’s more, a survey of male academicians at several universities in the U.K. found that full professors were “significantly more heavily bearded” than those with lesser titles.

To create the look, start with at least half an inch of growth. Using a trimmer with a high guard setting, begin in the middle of your chin and work your way toward one ear. “You are going for symmetry,” says O’Malley. “Use the center of your face as the dividing mark, and mirror your shaving line on either side.” Once you achieve the overall length you desire, shape the beard by using a lower guard along the base and a higher one at the sides to achieve a more angular profile.


Scruffy

Working better than any pick-up line you could muster, facial scruff sends all the signals you need about your attractiveness to the opposite sex. A study in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior found that out of a range of bearded and clean-shaven looks, women consistently chose the heavy-stubble style as the one they were most sexually attracted to.
The good news is that there is not a lot of technique involved in acquiring this look. “It’s usually about a week to 10 days out from when you stop shaving,” says O’Malley. The toughest part is making it through days one through five, when the itchiness of new growth will have you second-guessing you decision. Soothe the skin below with a daily moisturizer.
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Goatee

Trendsetter, art lover, motorcycle rider — the mixed associations people have with the goatee are an indication of its versatile, if quirky, appeal. It’s a look that tends to generate a love it or hate it response, so if you’re not into controversy, this isn’t for you. There are those that say this style should have died in the '90s. There are others who say the goatee, with it’s barely-there style, is the ultimate sign of a guy who won’t commit to anything. Regardless, the goatee will always indicate that you are — or would like to be perceived as — slightly cooler than the other kids. And if that’s fine by you, it’s okay with us.
Growing a goatee isn’t hard, but it does require following a few rules. “Never let the hair extend past the creases at the side of your mouth,” says O’Malley. “Also, because the goatee has more defined lines, symmetry is important.” Use your trimmer to cleanly define the edges around your jawline, then step back and take a look in the mirror to make sure you have the same thickness and shape to the hair on either side of the centerline.


Mustache

[post_ads]Encyclopedia-sized books have been written about men and their mustaches. From the Handlebar to the Dali to the Pencil, Selleck, or Chaplin, there are as many styles as there are types of men who wear them. The connotations of the mustache are wide, but they're frequently associated with manliness, sexual prowess, and a bit of a romantic heart. With the popularity of Movember, more men who don’t fit the classic 'stache personality can be seen sporting the look, and with that the associations have been somewhat diluted. “The mustache is one of those styles that really comes in and out of vogue,” says O’Malley. “It’s the guys who stick with the look no matter what’s trendy that really represent the old-school romantic notions of what a mustache is all about.”
To avoid that awkward fuzzy-top-lip stage, grow out all of your facial hair at first. Once you hit the 10-day mark, shave your beard hair and begin styling the mustache that remains. At this point, enlist your barber. “He’ll know what works with your face shape and mouth,” says O’Malley. “Ten times out of ten, if your barber tells you the look won’t work for your face, your barber is right.”


Chinstrap

While this style may look badass, it’s also one of the most challenging to maintain, due to the need for regular upkeep. Expect twice a week trimming sessions and regular visits to your barber to help clean up the lines. “Men who wear this style tend to be into guy things, like cars and lifting weights,” says O’Malley. “But it’s also a sign that they are responsible and can follow a schedule, because otherwise the look won’t work.”
Chinstraps look best on men with angular or wide faces. As a rule, the broader your face, the wider you should make the strap. The strap should fall directly along your jawbone, with equal amounts of hair above and below. Sculpting it is easiest if you begin with a full beard. Using a trimmer with the guard setting on 3 or 4, trim down the beard. Then, using a precision trimmer, work your way from ear to ear, outlining an inch-thick band along the jawline. Use your razor to remove all hair from your cheeks and neckline to leave a long, crisp strip behind.

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