Here’s the thing about a good five-o’clock shadow, it’s at once classic and rebellious. It’s always in style because it’s universally agreed that it makes a man more handsome. Sure, a clean shaven face always looks presentable, but the right amount of scruff never looks bad. But there’s a big difference between simply stopping shaving and having the perfect stubble. It’s not as easy as letting your facial hair grow. There are some expert tips, which we’ve garnered from the pros, that will help you look your best. And best of all, it can all be done in about 10 minutes in your bathroom. It takes a little time to master, sure—but the juice often outweighs the squeeze.
Choose Your Fighter
You’ll need a tool to mow down your whiskers—be it every morning or every couple of days, depending on how fast your facial hair grows. If your hair is finer, or you want a short five o’clock shadow you could likely get away with a simple electric razor like the Fusion stick from Gilette. If you have a fuller beard or want a slightly longer, darker scruff, then you’ll need a trimmer with guards.
Fusion 3-in-1 styler,
$26.99 / $18.99 by Gillette
King C. Gillette cordless trimmer,
$29.99 / $20.05 by Braun
Find Your Length(s)
Here’s what separates average scruff from leading-man stubble. Celebrity groomers have told us that the optimal facial hair length is often a range of lengths. Now we’re not talking about full haircuts on your face, but some contrast among your whiskers can look really nice. For instance, some guys appreciate the angularity that slightly longer hair around the chin provides. Others, who want to experiment with a mustache can let their upper lip grow out slightly while maintaining a steady 5 o’clock shadow. If this is your first time experimenting with facial hair, consider growing out your beard and then trimming it down to your desired lengths.
Meanwhile, you may need to do some blending around the edges. Choose the next shorter setting and gently trim the edges of your stubble, towards your sideburns and bottom line at your neck. This will give the hair a more graduated look so that it looks more natural and less rigidly defined.
Clean Up the Edges
Once you’re happy with your overall facial hair, now it’s time to finish it off and make sure there are not stragglers outside of your designed scruff lines. That means keeping your upper cheeks and neck line clean. These borders will also help define the facial hair, which is what helps give angles and contours to your face (and why so many men think they look more handsome with a little scruff).
For this, you can use your electric shaver without a guard or just a regular razor with shaving cream. You want to target any errant hairs above your beard and then below so your stubble ends about an inch above your Adam’s apple. Anything below that? Clear it away.
Repeat to Maintain
Every day or third, depending on how fast the hair grows, you’ll need to repeat these steps. Or perhaps you’ll only need to clean up the edges and your neck. The key is to maintain the scruff so it looks kempt and intentional. Not simply like you didn’t have time to shave.