The Definitive Guide to Goatee Styles

The goatee has officially replaced the mustache as the most divisive facial hair style. The prevailing attitude seems to be that goatees are better off left in the 1990s—along with shoulder-padded suit jackets and wide neckties.

While it’s no secret that chin beards have waned in popularity, guys like Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kanye West are still wearing them—so they can’t be completely uncool, right?

Style magazines might tell you that the goatee is a bad look, but we think there are still ways to make it work. So, we pulled together some tips on how to wear a goatee in the 2020s—and get away with it.

But first, let’s cover some basics.

WHAT IS A GOATEE?

The goatee is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a short, sometimes pointed beard, that is named after its resemblance to the tuft of hair on a goat's chin.

Beardbrand takes it a step further and defines a goatee as facial hair that grows just from the chin. The chin is one of 5 regions that facial hair grows, with the others being the mustache, soul patch, cheeks or mutton chops, and neck.

The goatee is often combined with the mustache and soul patch to form a circle beard, which is often mislabeled as a Van Dyke.

Goatee vs Van Dyke

We’ll provide a breakdown of each goatee style in the next section, but there’s a lot of confusion out there, so we want to clear this one up first.

You’ll often hear a goatee referred to as a Van Dyke, but there is a difference between the two.

The standard goatee doesn’t include the mustache. It's the circle beard—another style of goatee—that is most often mislabeled as a Van Dyke. The circle beard incorporates the mustache and forms a—you guessed it—circle around the mouth.

The Van Dyke does include the mustache as well but isn't connected on the sides of the mouth. The Van Dyke has more of a T shape opposed to a circular shape.

GOATEE STYLES

We’ve broken down the goatee into seven distinctive styles.

GOATEE

A colorful graphic of a goatee, and bullet point highlights of this goatee style.

A standard goatee is just grown from the chin and soul patch but does not include the mustache. This is Fred Durst at the height of Limp Bizkit’s popularity, and baseball players—a lot of baseball players. It’s generally kept shorter in length, around a half-inch to one inch. We weren’t at Woodstock ‘99, but we imagine it was rife with goatees.

Famous goatees: Fred Durst, Maynard G. Krebs, Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, Chipper Jones, Kyle Schwarber, Eric Gagne. Yeah, ballplayers like this style.

CHIN PUFF

A colorful graphic of a chin puff goatee, and bullet point highlights of this goatee style.

The chin puff bears the closest resemblance to an actual goat. Similar to the standard goatee, the chin puff doesn’t include a mustache. It’s a standard goatee that is grown longer from the chin and soul patch—at least two inches long. The chin puff can be as wide as the mouth, forming a more rounded shape, or kept narrower into more of a teardrop or diamond shape.

Famous chin puffs: Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian

CIRCLE BEARD

A colorful graphic of a circle beard goatee, and bullet point highlights of this goatee style.

The circle beard is the most common goatee style. The goatee connects to the mustache forming a circular shape around the mouth. It’s worn both short and long, with the lengthier version often referred to as a long goatee. Kanye West, Idris Elba, The Rock, Brad Pitt, Brad Paisley, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Common have all worn circle beards—so does Guy Fieri.

Famous circle beards: Guy Fieri, Kanye West, Idris Elba, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Frederick Douglass, Common, Manny Pacquiao, Brad Pitt, Brad Paisley, Jim Rome, etc.

DISCONNECTED GOATEE

A colorful graphic of a disconnected goatee, and bullet point highlights of this goatee style.

Another standard goatee style, the disconnected goatee, is similar to the circle beard, but the mustache and goatee don’t connect along the sides of the mouth. It’s the easiest goatee style to grow, especially for younger men. The goatee portion of hair can be worn wide or kept smaller—think Johnny Depp.

Famous disconnected goatees: Johnny Depp, Tupac, Adam Driver, John Paul White, Michael B. Jordan

VAN DYKE GOATEE

A colorful graphic of a van dyke goatee, and bullet point highlights of this goatee style.

Named after the 17th-century painter, Anthony van Dyck, the Van Dyke goatee combines a chin puff and mustache (typically a handlebar mustache). Circle beards are sometimes mislabeled as a Van Dyke, but the Van Dyke has more of a T shape and usually does not have a connection point with the mustache. The focus of the goatee here is really on the soul patch like it is with a chin puff. Think of the Guy Fawkes mask, and that’s a pretty good idea of the shape of a Van Dyke.

Famous Van Dykes: Anthony Van Dyck, Wild Buffalo Bill Cody, Charles I, Pierce Brosnan

ANCHOR BEARD

A colorful graphic of an anchor beard goatee, and bullet point highlights of this goatee style.

The anchor beard is similar to the Van Dyke, except instead of combining a mustache with a chin puff, you have a disconnected goatee that extends outwards along the jawline. The goatee should be wider than the mustache so that when you combine the shape of the mustache, soul patch, and goatee, it resembles a ship’s anchor.

Famous Anchor Beards: David Beckham, Tony Stark

SCRUFFY GOAT

A colorful graphic of a scruffy goat goatee, and bullet point highlights of this goatee style.

The scruffy goat features a full, thick circle beard combined with one to two weeks of scruff grown on the cheeks and neck. The goatee is prominent, but the stubble on the cheeks creates a nice amount of contrast. The scruffy goat is our personal favorite goatee style.

Famous Scruffy Goats: Tom Hardy, Chris Millington

HOW TO TRIM A GOATEE

Goatees require a fair amount of grooming to keep their shape and length. We recommend using an electric trimmer like the Brio Beardscape to trim your goatee, or at least to set the outline of it. Having a high-quality pair of Beard Trimming Scissors is essential for more complex goatee styles like the Van Dyke. Scissors give you more control and precision than an electric trimmer. For an in-depth look at the difference, check out our blog on clippers vs. scissors.

Here’s how to trim a goatee:

  1. Start by using a Boar’s Hair Brush to shape your facial hair in a uniform direction. This will help prevent you from cutting hair that you didn’t actually want to trim.
  2. Use the trimmer to carve the edges and shape of the goatee. Be careful not to trim the bottom of the chin too high unless you are keeping the goatee really short. If you’re planning on growing a long goatee, you’ll want to keep that hair under the chin and on the neck as well. For a shorter goatee, place a finger on the underside of your chin. That’s about as far as you want the hair to extend under the chin.
  3. Remove any hair that you don’t want to incorporate into your goatee.
  4. Use the guards that come with your electric trimmer to maintain the length of your goatee.
  5. Use Beard Trimming Scissors to prune any stray hairs. Apply Beard Oil or Utility Balm to keep the hair and skin adequately hydrated and conditioned. For longer goatees, you can add Styling Balm to help maintain the goatee’s shape.

HOW TO TRIM A LONG GOATEE

If you’re going with a long goatee, circle beard, or chin puff that is more than a couple inches in length, you’re going to want to use Beard Trimming Scissors over an electric razor. Most of your maintenance is going to revolve around trimming stray hairs and maintaining length and shape at the bottom of the goatee.

As noted above, scissors give you much more control than electric clippers and allow you to create a more natural-looking goatee.

Here’s how to trim a long goatee:

  1. Grab a Beard Comb and comb your facial hair out against the grain. This will help you spot any hairs that aren’t uniform in length. Clip those away with Beard Trimming Scissors. Focus on just the ends of the hair.
  2. With your scissors, trim the bottom of your goatee to the desired length. Follow the shape of your chin to create a natural curve.
  3. Use the scissors to point cut the underside of your goatee. Point cutting helps keep the goatee looking more natural than if you cut horizontally.
  4. Apply Beard Oil or Utility Balm to keep the hair and skin adequately hydrated and conditioned. You can add Styling Balm or Sea Salt Spray to help maintain the goatee’s shape.

Check out the video of Eric using scissors to trim his beard. It’s not quite a long goatee or circle beard, but the technique is the same.

HOW TO GROW A GOATEE AND GET AWAY WITH IT

We’ll be honest, the goatee is challenging to pull off right now unless you’re Brad Pitt, Tom Hardy, or Idris Elba—and well, most of us are not. That said, if you’re committed to a goatee, we have some tips on how to wear one and get away with it.

Of course, if you’re growing a goatee in the 2020’s you may be the type of guy that isn’t concerned with trends or what’s considered stylish. If you’re the kind of man that likes to just do his own thing, disregard the following and well, keep doing your thing.

Go for the scruffy goat

The scruffy goat is our pick for the coolest goatee style. Like with most facial hair styles, the starker the contrast, the harder they tend to be to pull off. It’s like the mustache—adding stubble helps create a smoother contrast and adds definition to the face.

The current trend is to be well-groomed without looking too well-groomed. You want to opt for natural-looking styles over ones that are highly manscaped. Both Tom Hardy and Chris Millington have worn the scruffy goat, and it looks pretty badass.

Go long

If you’re going with a circle beard, grow it long. Unless you look like one of the A-listers noted above, the short circle beard will more likely push you into Michael Scott territory. Of course, if you're going for Michael Scott, have at it (that's what she said?).

If not, let the circle beard grow big. Similar to growing a full beard, a lot of the bulk and length will be coming from the neck. It may be easier to start by growing a beard and then trimming away the sideburns and cheeks. You can also go with a long scruffy goat by keeping some stubble on the sides.

Take advantage of a patchy beard

If your beard comes in patchy and you’re not able to grow a thick, full beard, you’re in luck. A disconnected goatee paired with a little bit of patchiness on the cheeks is one of our favorite goatee styles.

Think Johnny Depp, John Paul White (who happens to look a hell of a lot like Johnny Depp), and Michael B. Jordan. Keep the goatee on the shorter side. Just enough length to add some definition to the face is good.

Van Dyke

Not everyone is going to be able to pull off the Van Dyke, but if you’ve got the genetics for it, it’s hard to argue that it’s not a badass style. We think it looks best when there is a little gray in the hair, creating a distinguished look.

You want to aim for more of a Pierce Brosnan Van Dyke over the absurd Mel Gibson version.

HISTORY OF THE GOATEE: THE DEVIL, BEATNIKS, AND CONFORMITY

The history of the goatee is rather strange, and it differs from other facial hair styles in that its origins are traced back to an animal.

So then, how did goatees go from goats to your uncle? Let’s take a look.

In Greek Mythology, the deity Pan is generally depicted as having something akin to a goatee. Pan, of course, was half-man and half-goat. In the earliest renderings, Pan had the head of a goat, so the goatee was par for the course.

Over time, the likeness of Pan took on more and more human elements, but the goatee and horns stuck.

With the expansion of Christianity came the rise—we suppose the fall would be more appropriate—of Satan. Following a grand marketing campaign to dissuade the worship of other Gods, deities like Pan were presented as having demonic qualities. The goatee then came to be associated with evil. It is, after all, the facial hair of choice for the Devil, who bears a resemblance to Pan.

It wasn't really until the 17th century that the goatee began to latch onto human chins when Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck began painting selfies showing off his not-yet-named Van Dyke goatee. His pal, Charles I of England, sported a similar goatee, and the style had a very brief moment of popularity in the early 1600s.

As facial hair began its drastic decline, the goatee faded. Aside from sporadic appearances on the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte, Wild Buffalo Bill Cody, and a short-lived surge of longer circle beards in the 19th century, the goatee mostly clung to its folklore roots.

Goatees didn’t really begin to appear again until the 1950s.

Beatniks and the modern goatee

The end of World War II gave way to counter-culture movements across America, including the beat movement. In a nutshell, the beat movement was America’s first literary cold war.

It was anti-establishment and anti-capitalism and gaining traction. By 1960, J. Edgar Hoover was pronouncing beatniks as one of the three greatest threats to America along with communists and eggheads.

By this time, the goatee had become the face of the beat movement, and Maynard G. Krebs became its archetype. Krebs was the stereotypical beatnik sidekick for protagonist Dobie Gillis on the hit show “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.”

Krebs was lazy, unmotivated, unintelligent, and used words like “like” and “daddy-o.” He wore a goatee with no mustache, and he was an example of what you didn’t want to be.

The goatee, as it historically did, went on to become a way to identify the bad guy in movies—think Hugo Drax in Moonraker. It became the bizarro counterpart to the baby-faced good guy.

Interestingly, none of the three writers widely accepted as the most influential of the beat generation (Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs) ever wore goatees. Ginsberg wore a full beard, but Kerouac and Burroughs were always completely shaven.

It seems likely that the goatee was never really a staple of the beat movement, but was probably adopted by latecomers who viewed the stereotyped goatee as an essential part of the beatnik look.

By the end of the 60s, the beat movement had dissolved into other counter-culter groups, and the goatee faded again—at least on white men.

The goatee, especially the circle beard, found a home with black men. From Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael to Julius Erving, the circle beard became a de facto facial hair style for black men in the 60s and beyond. Of course, Frederick Douglass had worn a lengthy circle beard some hundred years earlier.

The 1990s and the tipping point

The late 1980s brought two things that changed the landscape of facial hair: the rise of hip hop, and MTV. By 1990, hip hop was firmly entrenched as more than a passing fad and was expanding its reach further and further into suburbia.

MTV brought hip hop to the masses, and with it came the goatee-chinned pioneers of rap including, but not limited to, the likes of Big Daddy Kane, Ice-T, Biz Markie, Ice Cube, Easy-E, Erik B & Rakim, Digital Underground, and Tupac.

The addition of goatees to grunge rockers like Chris Cornell, Kurt Cobain, and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic made it more accessible to white teenagers and college students. A mini-resurgence of the beat movement began to take place in the early 90s, and goatees came back hard.

They crept onto the faces of actors like Johnny Depp, Will Smith, and Denzel Washington. Even Bruce Springsteen went through a circle beard phase. A tipping point had been reached, and goatees hit universal levels.

For many men, beards were still discouraged in the workplace, but the goatee was accepted.

By the end of the century, the once symbol of rebellion had become the cornerstone of male conformity.

The goatee in the 21st century

The goatee reached its peak popularity during the early 2000s. Everyone from rappers, boy band singers, actors, and your math teacher had one. The goatee was what you grew if you wanted to fit in, not if you wanted to stand out, and it once again began to fade.

But, like all things that reach mass levels of popularity, they linger far beyond the apex of coolness. Esquire credits Ricky Gervais with officially killing the goatee when The Office premiered in England.

If Gervais’ character killed it, then Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott goatee in the American version nailed the coffin shut.

As full beards began their comeback, the goatee once again began its descent into oblivion, hanging onto a thread held by the Guy Fieris and Kanye Wests of the world.

Will the goatee ever return to its peak popularity? Hey, if mullets can make a comeback, we think goatees can come full circle, too.

Want to talk goatees, have questions, or need some grooming and style advice? Drop a comment below, use the live chat feature on our website, or shoot us a message at [email protected], and we’ll be happy to help you out.

TL;DR

Definition of a goatee
Beardbrand defines a goatee as facial hair that grows just from the chin. The goatee is often combined with the mustache and soul patch to form a circle beard.

At Beardbrand, we identify seven distinct goatee styles. These are noted below.

Goatee

A standard goatee is grown from just the chin and soul patch but does not include the mustache.

Chin Puff

It’s a standard goatee that is grown longer from the chin and soul patch—two inches or more.

Circle Beard

The circle beard is the most common goatee style. The goatee connects to the mustache forming a circular shape around the mouth.

Disconnected Goatee

The disconnected goatee is similar to the circle beard, but the mustache and goatee don’t connect.

Van Dyke Goatee

Named after the 17th-century painter, Anthony van Dyck, the Van Dyke goatee combines a chin puff and mustache (typically a handlebar mustache).

Anchor Beard

The anchor beard is similar to the Van Dyke except instead of combining a mustache with a chin puff, you have a goatee that is disconnected outwards along the jawline.

Scruffy Goat

The scruffy goat features a full, thick circle beard combined with one to two weeks of scruff grown on the cheeks and neck.

Check out the above sections for tips on trimming and how to pull off a goatee in 2020.

Want to talk goatees, have questions, or need some grooming and style advice? Drop a comment below, use the live chat feature on our website, or shoot us a message at [email protected], and we’ll be happy to help you out.

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