Updated: Jan 18
It's the big bushy beard thing. No problem. For centuries, a lustrous chin wig served as a symbol of masculinity, virility, and even wisdom; a hairy badge of honor, if you will. Jason Momoa, Brian Blessed, Zeus, Gandalf...the list goes on.
As manly as they may seem, massive beards don't exactly scream 'excellent grooming habits. This is why, apart from being a hallmark of badassery, they're also heavily associated with chronic shower dodging. If only there were a beard style that made its wearer look more polished, not less.
A faded beard enters the picture. The finely crafted taste preserver straddles the line between masculine and manicured. I have the kind of facial hair that says, "Yeah, I iron my shirts.". That doesn't mean I can't choke a grizzly bear if the need arises. If that's not the message you want your chin to convey, you're beyond help.
WHAT DOES A FADED BEARD LOOK LIKE?
The fade has become an important element of modern barbering. This involves creating a smooth transition between hair lengths. On the head, this means blending long hair on the top with short hair on the back and sides. The idea is to fade the chin hairs into cheek hairs and the cheek hairs into sideburns.
It pairs nicely with similarly just-so haircuts, like a slick back or pompadour when done correctly. A faded beard looks more impressive. It's more like a conscious choice as opposed to something that just grew out of your face while you were sitting in a darkened room playing Xbox.
A FADED BEARD IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Although faded beards have many advantages, they also have some disadvantages. Yes, you'll look better, but that requires time, money, and maintenance. Keeping your fades looking fresh requires regular trips to the barber as well as a few tools at home. You might not like the fade if you prefer Call of Duty binges to... well, anything else.
It also requires a fairly consistent growth pattern across your face. There is no barber in the world who will be able to fade patchy facial hair.
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR ME TO DO IT MYSELF?
Yes, you can. However, you will need a steady hand and the right tools to trim your beard this well. Still, don't expect it to be as sharp as it would be at your local barbershop.
Adjustable clippers & trimmer
Your beard should be clean, fresh, and free of cornflakes first. To do this, wash it with some beard shampoo, apply a little beard oil, and blow dry while combing it to get rid of any knots or nasties.
"Next, use your clippers without a grade to create a perimeter parallel to your jawline under your chin," explains Tom Chapman, founder of the Lions Barber Collective and official ambassador for The Bluebeards Revenge.
You should use grade 2 (6mm) clippers to remove any excess hair from your face from the ears to the chin, moving away from the face as you approach the jawline. You should do this all around the edge of your beard, removing any excess fuzz."
Now it's time to fade. "Using your clippers with a 0 (no grade), make your shortest guide about 10 mm from where the ear attaches to the head to the middle of the ear," explains Chapman. Repeat this on the other side of your head.
"Then create a second and third guide above and below 0 with a grade 1 (3mm) about 10mm on each side," he says. "Now open up the blades on the clipper to 1.5 (4.5mm) to blend the lines between grades 1 and 2. Open the blades to 0.5 (1.5mm) and blend between 0 and 1 on both sides."
After that, you just need to use your razor to neaten up the edges.
MEN'S BEST FADED BEARD STYLES
If, after reading the above instructions, you decide you'd rather leave your fade to an experienced barber than try it yourself, no one could blame you. Here are the things you need to know if that's the case.
LONG FADED BEARD
It is still possible to go full Gandalf without looking unkempt. Combining a precision fade with a long beard is the best way to go.
"Ask your barber to fade your beard into your hair while keeping the length and thickness," advises Chapman. "Having a clear image of what you want is the best way to avoid confusion and get the right result."
Once that's done, it's just a matter of keeping things in order at home. By giving your cheeks a little touch-up every day, you can keep your beard looking sharp, says Chapman. "Don't underestimate the power of beard oil, a round brush, and a hairdryer."
FADED MID-LENGTH BEARD
When not kept in pristine shape, mid-length beards tend to look scruffy. A clean fade and a little scissor work can help here.
Jaymz Duncan is the owner of Silk Barbers in Bentleigh East. The beard should have clean lines and fade into the beard. Make sure your barber works the beard shape into your hair so there are no hard lines." Again, Jaymz recommends taking a picture along with you, so you're sure you get exactly what you're looking for.
Then there is the matter of maintenance. Don't think it's just once a month, get it trimmed regularly says Jaymz. "You can leave it for a while, but it won't hold its shape, so every couple of weeks would be ideal. When you have a decent clipper, you can maintain it between trims but be careful. "Once you cut it, it's gone."
BEARD IS SHORT AND FADED
Beards aren't for everyone.
If you prefer to keep things short, cropped, and neat, a short faded beard will do the trick, blending from a skin fade into longer stubble.
For a strong lineup, ask your barber for a heavy fade, taking the 0 to the bottom of your ear and blending from there, advises Chapman. "This is great for those who don't have a lot of growth on their cheeks.
A picture of what you want is always the best way to achieve what you want."
Being a shorter style, it can take a little effort to keep it sharp.
The best way to keep your neckline and cheeks nice and clean is to use a beard trimmer and a razor," says Chapman. Aside from that, you should visit your barber every week or so for a touch-up.