All products featured on GQ are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Everybody with a full face of whiskers should know how to trim a beard. You can’t rely solely on your barber to keep you looking orderly, you certainly shouldn’t grow it out without ever manicuring it into a sculpted and flattering shape.
It’s also necessary to trim it often, even if you’re in for the long haul. Trimming a beard prevents flyaways, split ends, dryness, and dishevelment. It ensures that your beard complements your face each and every day, especially if it’s working well with its shape.
A beard trim will never slow growth progress, either. In fact, trimming is an indicator of progress, because it shows that your beard is growing full enough to require coaching and pruning. Doing so keeps the beard in bounds, and keeps you looking your best.
Convinced? Here’s how to do it, with all the tips and products you need to get the job done well.
Get the Right Tools
These products are essential for any beard-trimming kit.
A beard brush
Beardbrand boar-bristle beard brush, $28 at Beardbrand
Before trimming, run the brush against the grain of your beard hairs, to make them easier to trim, and to highlight any inconsistencies in length.
A beard comb
Zeus beard comb, $9 at Amazon
While a beard comb is good for distributing nourishing oils and conditioners, it’s equally helpful for styling the beard back into place, post-trim. You will also use it to comb mustache hairs down over the lip prior to trimming.
Facial hair scissors
Wahl beard trimmer, $60 at Amazon
These will snip any standalone beard strays, and trim the mustache hairs that fall atop the upper lip.
Tweezerman facial hair scissors, $17 at Amazon
This is obvious, but you’ll need clippers to maintain an even, desired length once the beard is grown. This will also help you fade the beard neckline.
GilletteLabs heated razor, $200 at Gillette
Don’t part with the blade just yet. You’ll still need to shave everything below your beard neckline, or clean up your cheek lines.
Badger beard balm, $14 at Amazon
A beard balm, oil, or leave-in conditioner will help you shape the beard at the end of the process, in addition to keeping it soft and nourished. Once the beard is styled, check back to see if there are any lingering stray hairs to snip away.
How to Trim Your Beard
Here are the core steps to trimming your beard. If you want to maintain any certain length, do this general routine once every 7-10 days.
- Wash and dry your beard: Always work with a fresh, clean canvas.
- Brush it out: Run the brush against the grain of your beard, so that the hairs stand up and out.
- Use your clippers and scissors: Either spot-check the strays, or trim everything to an even length. (It’s best to start with a bigger guard to prevent accidentally cutting everything too short.)
- Address the mustache: To trim the mustache, you can run a shorter guard over your upper lip, but your nose will obstruct anything much longer. Instead, comb all of the hairs down over the upper lip, and use the bare clippers or mustache scissors to snip away anything that covers the lip.
- Comb it into place: Now, coach everything back into place, so that it resembles the way you will actually wear your beard.
- Spot-check again: Snip away any remaining strays.
- Wash or rinse: Flush away the clippings.
- Style the beard: After drying your beard, style it once more, this time using your product (a balm, oil, or conditioner). You now have a look at the finished product.
- Snip any final strays: You may notice one or two remaining stray hairs. Snip them with your facial hair scissors, and you’re done.
How to Trim Your Beard Neckline
The biggest way to compromise your beard is to ignore your neckline, or to trim it too high or too low. It’s quite easy to get right, however.
- Take two fingers and place them above your Adam’s apple. Imagine a point that sits atop your fingers at this spot.
- Now, draw an imaginary line from behind each ear; the lines will curve down to this point, creating a “U” shape.
- Shave everything below this spot. Yes, everything—the neckbeard must go. Do not shave anything above this line; the hair should still wrap around the jawbone and underside of the chin.
How to Fade Your Beard
Some guys like having a “hard stop” on their beard neckline, meaning they don’t want to fade the hair gradually from this neckline and up into the full beard. But if you want to fade your beard from the neck or the sideburns, follow these steps.
- Adjust your clippers to a setting that is half the length of your beard length in that area.
- Using this shorter clip, trim up from the neckline approximately one inch around the entire base of the beard. (Or down from the sideburns and buzz fade.)
- If you want a more gradual fade, then lengthen the initial fade so that it more closely matches the full beard itself. (If the beard is a 4, then start with a 3 on the fade.) Fade a full inch with that setting, then shorten the guard and trim halfway into this inch from the perimeter of the neckline or sideburns. (So, in the example above, you would then trim halfway into the “3” territory with a “2”.)
If that’s confusing, just use logic: Fading requires gradually longer lengths, starting from the bare skin and ending with the full beard. Keep in mind that you don’t want to fade it any more than an inch away from the neckline. And If you’re nervous, just stick with a hard-stop neckline and ask a barber to show you how to fade it.