Your Guide to a Perfect Beard Trim

The difference between your beard and all those picture-perfect beards you see plastered all over Instagram is learning how to give yourself the perfect beard trim at home—every time.

Most men learn how to trim their beards through trial and error, which means there is a lot of screwing up, shaving, and starting over.

We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

We’ve compiled our collective beard trimming experience—multiple decades worth—into one ultimate beard trim guide. We'll help you avoid the pitfalls as you grow and maintain your beard so you can keep it looking awesome—no matter the length.

Ready to trim your beard into sheer awesomeness?

Let’s get started.

WHAT YOU NEED FOR YOUR BEARD TRIM

First things first—there are a few tools you’re going to need to trim your own beard.

ESSENTIAL BEARD TRIM TOOLS

Beard Brush and Beard Comb
You want to start your beard trim with your beard exactly how you typically wear it. A good Beard Brush will help get all your beard hairs lying down and going in the same direction, allowing you to quickly assess your beard and come up with a game plan.

If your beard is on the shorter side of the spectrum, you can get by with just a Beard Brush.

For medium and long beards, you’re going to want to run a Beard Comb through it to make sure everything is detangled.

Electric clippers
Electric clippers are a must for trimming your beard. At the very least, you'll use them to set your neckline and cheek lines. If you’re in the market, we like the Brio Beardscape.

Beard Trimming Scissors
You can get away with not having these if your beard is short. But for medium and long beards, you’re definitely going to want to have high-quality, sharp Beard Trimming Scissors to snip stray hairs that have grown longer than the rest of your beard hairs.

OTHER HELPFUL BEARD TRIM PRODUCTS

These products aren’t essential, but they help you care for your beard before and after the beard trim.

Beard Wash
You want a clean, natural beard with no product in it when you start your beard trim. Additionally, washing your beard helps it lay more naturally. This enables you to determine exactly where your beard needs work. Why use a Beard Wash over shampoo or soap? Most shampoos and soaps are too drying for your beard, which requires plenty of natural oil (sebum) to keep it healthy. You can learn more by reading Beard Wash & Softener vs. Hair Shampoo & Conditioner: The Difference.

Beard Softener
Anytime you wash your beard, you want to follow up with a Beard Softener or similar beard conditioner.

Utility Balm or Beard Oil
These two are less about helping you during your beard trim but making sure you properly care for your beard afterward. Beard Oil is critical for keeping the skin beneath your beard nourished, which helps your beard flourish. Utility Balm has the same effect, but the thicker texture gives you a little more control over flyaways.

HOW TO TRIM A SHORT BEARD

If your beard is already longer than two inches, skip ahead to the next section on how to trim a medium and long beard.

When we talk about trimming a short beard, we’re talking about a beard that is shorter than one inch in length.

Hair grows at an average rate of one-half inch per month, so this is where you’ll be living for the first two months of growth.

The short beard trim is all about establishing the lines for your beard and essentially creating the boundaries in which your beard will grow.

Don’t worry about trimming any length off at this point, as you don’t really have length to spare. In fact, your beard might still be a little patchy at this point—this is normal. Just keep this trim focussed on the outer lines of your beard.

Warning—The short beard trim can surprisingly be the most tricky. You don’t have much beard to work with, so every cut and line you make will be significantly more noticeable. The good news is that if you make a mistake, your beard is still short enough to quickly recover.

WHEN TO START TRIMMING YOUR BEARD

Typically, our advice is to do nothing with your beard for the first month. Literally, just stop shaving and don’t touch it for a minimum of 30 days.

However, right around the two-week mark, you can start cleaning up your neckline.

Sometime between 30 to 60 days, you can start trimming the cheek lines and mustache.

To recap:
Neckline: start trimming after two weeks.
Cheek lines: start trimming after four weeks.
Mustache: start trimming after four weeks.

Let’s break down how to handle each line.

HOW TO TRIM YOUR NECKLINE

  1. Grab an electric trimmer.
  2. Take your index and middle finger, hold them together, and place them on your neck with the middle finger at the top of your Adam’s Apple. Where your index finger lands is the point where your head connects to your neck. This is going to be where you make your line.
  3. With your electric trimmer, trim the bottom line above the Adam’s Apple. Follow the shape of your jaw.
  4. For the outer edges, trim straight down from the back of the sideburns until you reach the bottom line.
  5. Trim or shave all the hair below the newly formed line.

What not to do when trimming your neckline
We see a lot of men trimming their beards all the way up to their jawline, removing all hair from the neck. Unless you’re going for a chinstrap look—and you probably shouldn’t be unless you were living in 2002—you want to avoid taking that neckline too high.

Ultimately, the bulk of your beard’s shape and length will come from the neck area. If you take your neckline too high, you’re going to end up with wispy cheek curtains that resemble Spanish moss—not a good look.

What to do if you mess up your neckline
Don’t panic. Your beard is still short enough to quickly recover from any trimming mishaps at this stage in the game. It’s not the end of the world if your neckline isn’t perfectly straight or even—and it’s definitely not a reason to shave the whole thing and start from scratch.

Word of advice: keep your neckline lower than you think it needs to be.

HOW TO TRIM YOUR CHEEK LINE

  1. Grab your electric trimmers.
  2. Find the point where your sideburn connects to your beard—this is where your beard starts to naturally curve onto your cheek. Now, imagine a straight line from this point to the corner of your mouth. This is your cheek line.
  3. Grab a Beard Comb and use the flat backside of the comb as your cheek line guide.
  4. Trim everything above the line.

The cheek line is the upper boundary of your beard. How your beard grows will determine how much work you have to do on their cheeks. Some men can get away with a more natural cheek line, whereas some men’s beards will grow all the way up their eyeballs if allowed.

Either way, one thing is for sure—a clean cheek line goes a long way in how presentable your beard looks.

What not to do when trimming your cheek line
Again, unless you’re going for a chinstrap, you want to avoid going too low with the cheek line. Try and keep the shape as close to the natural line as you can.

What to do if you mess up your cheek line
As noted above, your beard is still short enough at this stage to recover. What you don’t want to do is get into a game of over-trimming on each side, resulting in a cheek line that is too low.

Word of advice: We recommend waiting until you have at least a month’s worth of growth before tackling the cheek line. This allows you to have a more pronounced natural line that is easier to follow. Like with the neckline, we always think it’s safer to keep your cheek line higher than you think it needs to be.

HOW TO TRIM YOUR MUSTACHE

The last line to establish is the mustache line, and this one is the simplest. At the 30-day mark, your mustache won’t be that long, but you may have some hair creeping over your top lip. To clean this up, grab your electric trimmers and trim a line right at the upper edge of your top lip. Make sure to follow the natural curve of your mouth.

That’s it—that’s all the beard trimming you want to be doing during the first couple of months of growth.

HOW TO TRIM A MEDIUM AND LONG BEARD

Alright, you’ve made it through several months of growth. Your beard has filled out nicely and thickened up, but maybe now it's a little longer than you want it to be.

Let’s break down how to trim up and clean up a full beard.

There aren’t many differences in the approach to trimming a medium and long beard, so to avoid redundancy, we’ve grouped the steps together.

1. PREPARE FOR THE BEARD TRIM

You don’t have to shower, but you want to start with a clean, natural beard. Moisture helps your beard sit more naturally, so at the very least, give it a solid rinse in the sink before starting your beard trim.

Use a Beard Comb or Beard Brush to shape your beard. Don’t fluff it, just shape it to how you would typically wear it. This helps you assess where your beard needs to be trimmed.

2. REMOVE BULK FROM THE CHEEKS

As your beard gets longer, it starts to grow away from the cheeks, creating too wide of a profile. Remember, you want your beard to accentuate your jawline, not make you look like a chipmunk preparing for winter.

Grab your electric trimmer and all the guards that came with it. The last thing you want to do is accidentally take off too much hair, so start by putting a bigger guard on the clippers than you likely need.

Starting at the sideburn, run the clippers down the side of your face, extending straight down beyond the jawline. Don't curve inward towards your neck.

If the clippers don’t remove any hair, switch to a guard that is one size smaller than what you are currently using. Repeat until you hit the right length.

3. TAKE SOME LENGTH OFF THE BEARD

In this step, you’re going to actually shorten the length of your beard.

Determine where you want the bottom of your beard to be and identify how much length to trim. Grab your electric clippers and make tiny, slow cuts perpendicular to your jaw. Then, work straight back from the front of the beard towards the neck.

If you don’t want to use clippers for this step, you can use scissors, as Greg Berzinsky demonstrates in his Last Beard Trim of the Decade video.

4. CLEAN UP THE EDGES

Once you’ve cut your beard to the desired length, assess how it is looking.

You may find that your beard is more square-shaped than you want. This is your chance to clean up the edges—the points where the back edge of your beard meets the bottom of your beard. This spot is located just below where your jaw hinges.

All you really want to do here is soften up that angle a little bit and create more of a natural, rounded corner on your beard.

5. CLEAN UP THE NECK

Follow the steps listed above under "how to trim your neckline."

One thing to note is that as your beard gets longer, you can let your neckline get a little lower. Aim to have your neckline right at or just above your Adam’s apple.

Once your beard gets long enough to cover your neck, you can stop worrying about the neckline altogether.

6. TRIM THE FLYAWAYS

Grab your Beard Comb or Beard Brush and run it through your beard to remove any stray hairs.

Once you have your beard lying naturally again, take an assessment of any flyaway hairs that noticeably protrude out of your beard.

Use your Beard Trimming Scissors to take care of these overzealous hairs.

You’re not making any significant cuts here, just small snips to any hairs that have grown longer than the majority of your beard hairs. Comb and brush through your beard again, and look for any stragglers you may have missed. Repeat until you are satisfied.

Don't get too crazy with trimming flyaways here because it's easy to get carried away and end up taking off too much.

7. POINT CUT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR BEARD

Trimming your beard creates very blunt, sharp lines along the bottom of your beard, and this can look a bit unnatural and a little too manicured.

To help create a more natural look, use your scissors to point cut along the bottom edge of your beard. Hold the scissors facing straight up towards your chin and make tiny snips with the tip of the scissors.

You're not removing length, just helping soften that bottom edge of your beard. Approach this step like you would approach shading in art class.

8. TRIM THE MUSTACHE

Now that you’ve trimmed the beard, it’s on to the mustache.

Now, how you trim your ‘stache is ultimately up to you, and there are multiple ways to approach this. At the very least, you may want to use your scissors to shorten any mustache hairs that are falling over your mouth. But then again, if you're going full walrus, maybe you don't.

9. BRUSH AND STYLE YOUR BEARD

Apply some Beard Oil or Utility Balm to your beard, and then use your Beard Brush to shape your beard.

This is your chance to assess your handiwork.

If you’re feeling good with how your beard looks, you’re good to go. If not, touch up any glaring spots that you’ve missed.

Once you've finished, we recommend waiting a day to see how you feel about the beard trim. Often, any concerns you have will disappear once you shower and style your beard. This cautious approach helps prevent you from going overboard on your trimming.

Word of advice: Comb and brush your beard frequently throughout the trimming process. Always use tiny conservative movements and err on the side of trimming less.

WEEKLY MAINTENANCE BEARD TRIMS

The less often you do significant beard trims on your own, the less chance there is for you to hack off too much of your beard.

So, once you’ve trimmed your beard to the preferred length and shape, we recommend performing a weekly maintenance beard trim.

On average, beard hair grows at a rate of one-half inch per month. So, to maintain your beard, aim to trim an eighth of an inch once per week.

HOW TO DO A MAINTENANCE BEARD TRIM

  1. Use Beard Trimming Scissors to clean up the bottom edge of your beard, taking off no more than an eighth of an inch.
  2. Trim any flyaways in your beard.
  3. Trim any mustache hairs that have grown into your mouth.
  4. Line up your cheek lines.

THE WRAP UP

You now have all the knowledge you need to give yourself the perfect beard trim at home.

Have questions about your beard or need help with your beard trim? Shoot us a message at [email protected], or 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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