How to Perfect the 5 O’Clock Shadow

My step-father is one of only a few men I’ve ever known that can grow an actual 5 o’clock shadow in the truest definition of the term. He could shave with a safety razor first thing in the morning and, by 5 PM, have an outline of a stubble beard.

To put things in perspective, he also could practically grow facial hair all the way up to his eye sockets (that’s the kind of crazy beard-growing genetics we’re talking about).

But for the vast majority of men, having a 5 o’clock shadow eight or nine hours after shaving isn’t realistic. Most of us just don’t grow facial hair at that rate.

So when we talk about the 5 o’clock shadow as a beard style, we’re really talking about a short stubble beard—the kind that takes a few days to form after shaving. And when it’s done right, that tiny bit of stubble can send a powerful message regarding your masculine capabilities (however you choose to define those).

But like time itself, the 5 o’clock shadow is elusive; hard to hold on to. It’s a cycle—you get a small window of stubble perfection before it’s grown too long, and you start looking ragged. Then you shave and begin the process again.

So with that in mind, these five steps will help you perfect the 5 o’clock shadow.

1. FIGURE OUT YOUR PERFECT 5 O’CLOCK SHADOW LENGTH

As mentioned above, most men don’t grow a 5 o’clock shadow in eight hours. Chances are, it’s going to take you anywhere between one and five days to get to your perfect stubble length.

So, how do you determine what your ideal 5 o’clock shadow looks like?

Grab your electric trimmer, remove the guard, and shave (we’ll talk more about why you should use an electric trimmer below).

Next, keep tabs on your stubble over the next week and take note of the days in which it looks the best—not too short, not too long, but just right. This is entirely subjective, but you’ll pretty much know it when you see it. Also, take note of when it starts getting too long and scraggly. You should have a window of two to four days where your stubble is looking its best.

2. GO ELECTRIC

Rocking the 5 o’clock shadow is a perpetual game of your stubble being too short, just right, and too long. When your scruff gets too long, you need to trim it back down. The challenge is that trimming your stubble back to your perfect length is next to impossible. That said, using an electric razor like the Brio Beardscape or Aberlite Trim will help keep you a little closer to peak scruff. In other words, don’t give yourself a handicap by re-starting with a baby-smooth face every few days.

3. GET THE TIMING DOWN

In step one, we talked about determining your ideal stubble length and how long it takes for you to get there after trimming with your electric clippers. Again, this varies from person to person. It might be one day, or it might be three. The important thing is that you figure out what it is for you and use that knowledge to your advantage. For example, if you’ve got a date coming up this weekend or just plan on going out, time up your trim so that you hit your ideal stubble length on the same day as your plans.

4. CLEAN UP YOUR NECK

If you like your 5 o’clock shadow on the shorter side, you can probably skip this step. But if you like to keep it a little longer, or your hair grows beyond your Adam’s apple, you want to make sure to trim your neckline.

Usually, we’d tell you to set your neckline one or two fingers above your Adam’s apple. But because the stubble is so short on a 5 o’clock shadow, you can get away with going a little higher with your neckline. Two or three fingers from your Adam’s apple in this case. Whatever you do, don’t take your neckline all the way up to your jaw. It’s weird, unnatural, and looks a little too 2005ish.

5. SOFTEN UP

Close-up of a jar of Old Money Utility Balm

A stubble beard or scruffy beard is widely considered the most attractive beard length. But there is a downside to it—that stubble can be sharp, prickly, and cause irritation for anyone getting up close and personal with it.

To help soften those razor-sharp hairs, add a versatile beard and skin moisturizer like Beardbrand Utility Balm to your routine. It’s made with natural ingredients—including shea and mango butter—that help to soften stubble, work miracles on dry skin, and a whole lot more.

Learn more about it by reading the top 11 ways to use Utility Balm.

THE WRAP-UP

Have questions about your beard style? Text "STYLE" to 512-879-3297 for a free personalized consultation. We’ll be happy to help you out.

Keep on Growing.

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