the shape of the beard


When beards go wrong, one of the most common causes is poor shaping.  The most common example is defining the neck line too high.   What’s the problem with a bad neck line definition?  There are many.  Depending on the severity of the error, it may make to the beard look just a bit odd or it may make it look like a disaster.  In a way, the point of growing a beard is to cover the chin with hair.   So why carve out the underside of the chin and jaw, leaving them bare?  Why?  Perhaps not surprisingly, new beard growers have seen someone else do it and mistakenly conclude that must be the way it’s supposed to be done and emulate the misplaced neck line.

A properly shaped beard with a good neck line can usually hide or disguise a double chin.  A poorly-defined neck line, up too high, often does just the opposite: It can accentuate the double chin, often substantially, to the detriment of the beard grower’s appearance.

Defining the neck line too high can give the beard a comical look.  And if the error is sufficiently severe, the beard may almost give the owner the look of a permanent clown face.  Who wants that?  Not even a professional clown.

So please, take care to give your beard the proper shape.  You will be glad you did.  And if you know someone in need of help, send them here: Designing a neck line for your full beard.

Now what about defining that cheek line?  There are pitfalls to be avoided there as well.  That will be the subject of an upcoming post.

6 thoughts on “the shape of the beard”

  1. “A poorly-defined neck line, up too high, often does just the opposite: It can accentuate the double chin, often substantially, to the detriment of the beard grower’s appearance.”

    So true! As I read this one face popped into my head – George Lucas!

  2. Right on!

    Wulffpaul on Jeff F’s Beard Board gives instructions for shaving a low-enough and symmetrical neckline by feel, no mirror necessary.

    It’s also not bad to grow the chin and under-jaw hairs out at least as far as the plane of the neckline, like ginger-bearded Steven, brown-bearded Jason, and I do. That gives a smooth, downward sweep in the side views (spade-shaped in a civilized way when grown past the shaved neckline).

    Jumping in early, I’m in favor of encouraging natural cheeklines unless they are grossly asymmetric. A filled-in circlebeard with a skinny, too-squared-off jaw strap doesn’t look right. I’m even in favor of letting the mustache grow as full as possible in order to balance the proprtions of a full beard.

  3. I have such a problem with my cheekline.
    How high or clean or low should I trim that part of my face? – I have an oval-shape face that does appear longer (my intention) with my beard.
    I am very cautious with growing my beard too long. I am told that I look like OSAMA BIN LADEN with a long beard!

    %Thanks for the advice on trimming my neckline. How could I keep my neckline feeling cooler during the upcoming summer heat without trimming that part of my beard?

  4. Charles, in the absence of a photo, here are my general suggestions, for what they’re worth:

    If your natural cheekline is symmetrical and evenly dense on both sides, it will probably look its best if left alone, whatever its contour is.

    If the contour of your natural cheekline is not to your liking, or your job (or your status as a student) depends on pleasing customers, clients, and administrators whose touchy points of insecurity in matters of personal appearance vary widely, then straighten it, but as little as necessary. I recommend against carving into it.

    If the cheekline is not symmetrical and/or not evenly dense on both sides, shape it into symmetry, but only as little as necessary.

  5. Charles,

    I have an oval face also, and people prefer me with a beard, especially since I let the cheeklines go natural. I can’t say for sure without a photo, but I suspect the Osama Bin Laden remark may just be a slur against beards in general whether you look like him or not.

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