So, you have a beard. Mazel tov! Maybe you’ve grown it because you like the way your cheeks look covered in a fine carpet or maybe you’ve done so because you’re just sick and tired of trimming every day. Likely, it’s a little bit of column A and column B. Either way, that doesn’t mean you get to just ignore your facial hair. Yes, there are some things you need to do to keep your fur from rubbing your family the wrong way; but there’s also something you need to do that most guys never consider, an essential step that saves you from committing beard growing blasphemy: pay attention to your damn neckline
Just as overgrown hairs on the rear of the neck indicate needing a haircut, these front-neck hairs will prevent your beard from looking intentional and professional. If you want a grade-A beard, the most important thing you can do is to clean up the neck. Here then are six rules that will help you stay ahead of the curve.
1. It’s called facial hair for a reason.
The easiest rule of thumb is this: If it grows from your face, keep it. This includes the underside of your chin, and really anything on your head. (Excluding any errant cheek hairs that need taming.) So, everything on the neck needs to go.
2. Know Where To Draw The (Neck)line
OK, but where should you actually start trimming the neckline? It’s not like there’s a 90-degree angle where the neck meets the chin.
Stick your pointer and middle finger together, and place them directly above your Adam’s apple. Imagine a dot at this point, just above the two fingers. Then, draw a U-shaped line connecting to the back of each ear. Its middle point is this dot you imagined, roughly 1¼ or 1½ inches above your Adam’s apple. Shave everything below this line, and keep everything above it.
3. Be Your Own Clean Up Crew
Depending on how fast your hair grows, or how long your beard is, you need to shave the neck every few days. The key is to keep high contrast between the neck and beard. For example, four days’ stubble won’t look as scraggly on a guy with a two-month beard, whereas it will look messier on a guy with two-week scruff.
4. Electric Razors Are A-Okay
No need to uphold a shaving routine when you’re growing out a beard. After all, not shaving is one of the biggest benefits of having a beard. Instead, just use your beard trimmer, on its shortest setting, to clean up the neck. This will help you avoid irritation to the neck’s sensitive skin. It’s also easier to see this beard neckline if it isn’t covered in shaving cream. (Here are some Fatherly approved beard trimmers)
5. Don’t Forget To Taper Your Neckline…
Instead of having a hard stop at the point where no hair meets lots of hair, you can graduate the beard neckline so that it fades ever so subtly into the longer beard hairs. And it’s easier than you might think. Let’s say your beard, even with some curls in it, sticks out roughly half an inch. Set the electric clippers on this length, and clean up the neckline so it’s all a uniform length. Then, lower the trimmer to the halfway point (in this case, a quarter inch), and trim half an inch into the neckline. More simply: You’re graduating down in length slightly lower towards the neckline’s sharp drop-off point. So, if your beard is a half inch in length, the neckline is now a quarter-inch in length. Then, you can halve that once more, in this case to an eighth of an inch, and trim halfway into the existing taper, so that it ads one more layer of steady graduation towards the dropoff point. By now, you’re close enough to the bare neck that you should have a nicely tapered, seemingly-trimmed-by-a-professional beard. Once the beard gets too long, though, you can start ignoring the taper line, since it will be obscured by the beard itself.
6. ….But You Can Let Your Neck Grow Out
That is, if your beard is long enough to cover parts of the neck. If that’s the case then don’t strain yourself to keep the neckline trim. At some point, it all blends together. But, on the way to this point, however, you should keep any visible parts of the neck clear of hair. Only when it’s so big and bushy that it droops below your Adam’s apple is it OK to ignore the rest of this advice.