Let’s Hear It For Medium-Length Beards!

Here’s some serious beard game that isn’t hard to maintain.

by Bryan Levandowski
Originally Published: 
Full-profiled Jamie Dornan and his medium-length beard

The medium-length beard is like the Goldilocks of facial hair: it complements virtually every face shape, helps define the angles and lines of the face, and it’s a great way to show off your grooming skills. Thus, its popularity comes down to its ability to deliver the perfect illusion. “Having a full medium beard can cover uneven skin tone or texture,” explains celebrity men’s groomer Marissa Machado. “It can also create a desirable jawline and stronger chin.”

Thing is, while a medium beard may look effortless, it happens to be one of the most difficult lengths to get right. “Although the maintenance is less than scruff, a medium beard can start to look unkempt quickly,” she says. We sat down together to get the skinny on the medium-length beard, from why it’s such a hit to how to get the look at home. After that, we invite you to take some beard inspiration from our gallery of the best medium-length celebrity beards hitting the scene at the moment.

What’s Considered A Medium-Length Beard?

The term “medium length” has less to do with just length, rather the term encompasses the overall style. Machado explains that a beard is considered “medium-length” when its length surpasses both a few days’ post-shave scruff and what she called the “itchy phase,” a length that “keeps you in that middle area before hitting biker beard and/or a long beard,” she adds. To be safe, think of it as half an inch and beyond.

Then there’s shape to think about, as a typical medium-length beard is not one-size-fits-all. Just like a haircut, Machado says face shape plays a role in getting a medium-length beard just right, and it may take some time to figure out what looks ideal on your face. She recommends just that: committing to growing the beard, then figuring out where you could trim in order to get the shape that best complements your face. Whether that means leaving the chin area a bit bushier to elongate the face, or allowing for extra growth around sparse areas, let your beard come into its own. If you’re thinking of doing this at home, Machado recommends seeing a barber for the first time to make sure you get all the details right. “A barber can show you where to line it up in proportion to your face and what to trim in between appointments.”

How To Keep A Medium-Length Beard Well-Groomed

After you’ve got the ideal medium-length beard, keeping it well-groomed takes a few products and some old-fashioned dedication.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Beard comb: While it may seem excessive to those who are new to the beyond-scruff beard world, a quality beard comb is essential to keeping your beard neat and tidy. Try a traditional wooden comb, like the Peachwood Beard Comb by Velvet Noir, to keep your beard fresh, clean, and aerated. It’s also great for helping to evenly distribute products like beard oil or balm, and its small size is easy to tuck away.
  • Beard wash: For most guys, your normal beard wash will suit you just fine, but for those with sensitive and/or reactive skin, your new beard may cause some unplanned-for irritation. In that case, opt for a beard cleanser that also conditions, like the Frederick Benjamin Beard Wash to keep skin clean, calm, and irritation-free.
  • Beard oil: Beard oil is one of those must-have, multi-use products. Once you start using a quality beard oil, like Pacific Shaving Company’s Natural Beard Oil, you’ll be hooked.
  • Trimmer: As we said, it takes some dedication to keep a medium-length beard looking its best, so choose a trimmer you’re comfortable using and get to know it well because you’ll be using it a few times each week. There are several options to choose from.

Grooming tip: To ensure your beard is looking its best at all times — and to prevent that sudden realization that it’s out of control, which could lead to impulsive over-trimming — it’s a good idea to start each day by combing out your beard. This helps fluff the hair up so you can take stock of what areas need a little trim and what can be left alone. Also, start with a trimmer guard that’s longer than you think you need. You can always take more hair off, but you can’t put it back on.

Now that you’re closer to being a medium-length beard pro, let’s look at some of today’s hottest beard styles, as worn by the celebs who wear them best.

Jake Gyllenhaal

Daniele Venturelli / Getty Images

Here’s a perfect example of customizing the beard to match your face shape. Machado points out the overall fullness of Gyllenhaal’s beard that’s been tapered around the sides, creating a look that perfectly suits his face shape.

Donald Glover

Valerie Macon / Getty Images

Glover just let his beard grow freely and it looks great, especially with the touch of salt-and-pepper action around the chin. However, if he wanted to go for a slightly more refined look, Machado suggests that all it would take is a cleanup of the cheek area and a slight taper along the cheekbones for extra definition.

David Beckham

Eduardo Parra / Stringer / Getty Images

Many guys choose to beard it like Beckham, opting for this medium-to-long length that nicely frames his face. Machado explains this longer length lends itself to guys with longer face shapes.

Kevin Hart

Angela Weiss / Getty Images

From the defined lines to the perfect fade, Kevin Hart’s uber-groomed beard is a sure sign he sees his barber often. Machado also points out how keeping the sides tight and goatee a bit longer creates a more squared-off jawline.

John Krasinski

Kevin Mazur / Contributor

The perfect example of how to go from office geek to on-fleek, Krasinski’s beard is spot on, and the speckle of gray adds dimension. He also proves that a scruffy beard look can work for all occasions.

Chris Evans

Amanda Edwards / Stringer / Getty Images

Chris Evans’ well-maintained beard combines several different hues including red, dark brown, and a touch of gray. Evan’s jawline is defined by his neatly trimmed beard. This can be achieved with a trimmer or a pair of barber scissors.

Idris Elba

Paras Griffin / Getty Images

“I love a man with salt and pepper. It’s so distinguished and feels knowledgeable,” Machado said of this Idris Elba beard moment. The tight jawline is flattering to his face shape and the length of the goatee says “I like to have a good time.” It’s just the right amount of scruffiness.

Jamie Dornan

Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

Here, Jamie Dornan rocks the kind of left-alone weekend style beard a lot of guys fall into after a leisurely vacation. This doesn’t require a lot to maintain. A little trimming and shaping is all it needs to live up to its full beard potential.

Anthony Mackie

Erika Goldring / Getty Images

Like the guy who sports it, Anthony Mackie’s beard is carefree and goes with the flow — the perfect low-maintenance style. You’ll want to keep it combed out and be sure to make use of that beard oil.

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