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The 0.5mm Beard: Trimmer Choice, Technique And Styling

July 31, 2023
The 0.5mm Beard: Trimmer Choice, Technique And Styling

The 0.5mm beard look is just about as subtle and precise as it gets. This stubble style isn’t the easiest to maintain, as a day of growth can easily take you beyond this magical length. 

It’s also known as “the 5 o’clock shadow”. The length is approximately the same as the average stubble length a man will grow by 5 pm after shaving first thing in the morning.

It’s enough to give the face a tint or a shadow

This subtlety makes it very versatile, as there are no contexts in which this length would be unsuitable. But left untamed, it can look “accidental” and not intentional. 

You’re about to learn everything you need to know about this facial hair length. You’ll learn whether it’s the length for you, why you should consider it, as well as how to grow and maintain it. 

The Philips Norelco Oneblade QP6520/70 is the trimmer I’ve chosen for this 0.5mm beard guide. Click here to check it out on Amazon.

Also, to check out a list of my most recommended stubble trimming and grooming products of the year, click here.

But now, let’s get to it. 

How long does it take to grow a 0.5mm beard?

It varies from one man to another. But in general, it will take less than 1 day to grow this stubble length. In other words, no time at all. 

Growing it is by far the easiest and quickest part. It’s styling and maintaining it that takes patience. 

An important point to note is that it’s generally easier to trim down to 0.5mm from a more workable length the first time you do it. 

Generally, I advise that you trim down from a length around 2mm longer than the one you want. So in this instance, trim down to 0.5mm from 2mm or 2.5mm. It will take the average man around 2 to 3 days to grow 2mm stubble. 

This is especially important the first time you do it, as it will give you a better idea of the way your stubble grows at a slightly longer length. 

After your first time, you can just trim down to 0.5mm daily

Is 0.5mm stubble for you?

Determining your optimal stubble length is more of a journey than an on-the-spot decision. It takes time and some experimentation. That’s part of the fun, and we’re here to help. 

When considering the 0.5mm beard as your stubble length, there are two questions you should ask yourself before taking the leap. 

1. Would you be willing to maintain it? 

Maintaining this beard length takes some effort. It does require a daily trim, as well as some shaving in certain areas including the neck. 

Shaving is necessary in these areas because not doing so can quickly give off an unkempt vibe. 

The shadowy appearance the 0.5mm beard can give to the lower portions of the face can look sleek, and slimming.

But not removing the layer of fur across the neck, as well as above the cheek line can make you look like an “accidental beardsman”

It may take a little more time than simply shaving it all off, but the look is phenomenal. Whether you’re willing to work to maintain it is a question you’ll need to ask yourself. 

2. Does your partner mind the feeling of short stubble?

Short stubble is notoriously prickly. The first person to tell you this is usually your partner, be it girlfriend, wife, or significant other. 

Stubble rash around the lips and on the cheeks of your partner can be pretty frustrating for them to deal with. It can lead to tension, as it does somewhat interfere with your stubble aspirations. 

We’ve talked about ways of minimizing the risk of stubble rash before.

But if these aren’t successful or acceptable, then a different facial hair length may be advisable. 

If you aren’t sure, test it out. It may not be an issue at all, but it’s something to consider before pressing forward with the 0.5mm beard length. 

Remember to ask your partner, because they may be keeping quiet and suffering in silence. 

3 benefits of the 0.5mm beard length

If you still aren’t sure whether the look is for you, here are three commonly cited benefits of adopting this beard length. 

1. It can look slimming

The shadowy appearance that 0.5mm of facial hair gives the lower portions of the face can be beneficial in several ways. 

It can contour the face very nicely often making the cheeks look more drawn in. The cheekbones can also look more prominent and the jawline can be given phenomenal definition

The outcome varies from one man to another, but overall a neatly groomed 5 o’clock shadow can have a very slimming effect on the face. 

Better yet, this effect is usually so subtle that a lot of people won’t even realize why you look different. They are just aware of the fact that you do

2. It’s less irritating to your own skin

We’ve talked about the impact that prickly skin can have on a disgruntled partner. But when looking at it from your perspective, trimming is less irritating than shaving. 

You may be reading this guide because you’re don’t wish to be clean-shaven every day. This could be because you just don’t like the babyfaced, cherub look.

Or it could be because you hate having irritated, angry, freshly-shaven skin every single morning. 

Nicks, cuts, razor burn – you’re done with it all. 

But you also might not want to grow a longer stubble beard. You feel short beards (>5mm) are out of the question,  and heavy (4-5mm) or medium (3mm) stubble is just too long

The 0.5mm beard could be the ideal medium for you. It doesn’t carry the irritation of shaving clean, and also isn’t long enough to be out of your comfort zone. 

3. It’s extremely versatile

We’ve talked about why stubble is so attractive a lot before. You may be sick of it, but it’s true. 

However, there are certain contexts where some forms of stubble are treated with less admiration. For example, certain corporate workplaces may prefer their employees to be clean-shaven. In other words, the professionalism of stubble needs to be considered sometimes. 

But whether you’re going for an interview, to a wedding, or going grocery shopping, the 0.5mm beard will work

Its subtlety cannot be denied. There are very few contexts in which it wouldn’t be considered acceptable. So few that I actually can’t think of any right now. 

It’s incredibly versatile for this reason. So if you’re unsure of how appropriate facial hair may be for a certain event or occasion, 0.5mm stubble is always a safe bet. 

The 0.5mm stubble beard can give a very subtle shadowing to the lower face

The trimmer you’ll need for the 0.5mm beard

When dealing with facial hair lengths this short, it’s essential to have a specialized stubble trimmer to hand. 

What you need is an adjustable length stubble trimmer that will allow you to trim as short as 0.5mm. A lot of normal beard trimmers only go as short as 1mm. 

The cordless and waterproof Philips Norelco Oneblade QP6520/70 will give you extremely precise control, with adjustable lengths ranging from 0.4mm to 10mm.

It’s very easy to use and guarantees phenomenal resultsAgain, if you’re interested, take a deeper look at it on Amazon by clicking here.

You’ll want very intricate control because in certain parts of your stubble beard you may want very slight variation. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to trim all of the stubble down to 0.5mm and have it looking it’s best. 

What I mean by this is that certain parts of the beard are going to be denser than others. The cheeks are notoriously often thinner than the mustache and chin, for instance. You may want to leave the hair on the cheeks 0.2 – 0.4mm longer to account for this and make it look denser. 

Keeping the hairs a little longer is a good way of making patchy stubble less noticeable.

This will make the stubble beard look more evenly distributed while maintaining an average length of around 0.5mm. 

How to grow, trim and maintain a 0.5mm beard

We’re about to walk through a step-by-step guide on how to meticulously craft the glorious 0.5mm stubble beard. 

You’ll learn how to grow, trim and maintain it with no issues whatsoever. 

1. Grow it out or trim it down to around 2mm first

We’ve touched upon this point already. It’s important to grow it out to a workable length before trimming it down to 0.5mm. In this circumstance, to around 2 or 2.5mm

This should take a man approximately 2 to 3 days to grow out. 

If you’re reading this as a long-bearded man, it’s even simpler. Grab your trimmer and trim down to 2 or 2.5mm

By allowing it to grow out like this you’ll be able to see the borders and contours your natural beard follows before trimming down to 0.5mm. 

The stage is now set. Your canvas is ready.

2. Trim down in small increments

You’ve grown it out or trimmed it down to 2 or 2.5mm now. Time to get to work. 

Using your stubble trimmer, gradually trim your entire beard down in 0.5mm increments. The reason we do this is so you can see what your stubble looks like at different lengths. 

It’s not uncommon for men to decide to keep a longer stubble length because they like the look. Trimming down gradually would give you the option

Also, you may want to keep the thinner parts of your beard a little longer. Again, trimming down gradually as opposed to going straight down to 0.5mm will give you this option. 

You’ll get a good idea of what the different parts of your stubble beard look like at different lengths. Once you achieve this, you most likely won’t have to do this in future trims. You can just go straight to the lengths you want. 

Keep the skin taut while you trim so you can catch the more elusive hairs.

The area immediately under the chin can be quite hard to trim. Pulling the lower cheeks upwards gently will bring these hairs into view and make them easier to trim. 

Trimming against the grain is the most efficient way and is likely to give the most even trim. However, beard hairs grow in different directions, so vary the angle of your trimmer and go up, down, left and right. It’s the most effective way of catching as many hairs as you can. 

3. Define the neckline

Now it’s time to define the borders. By borders, I mean the neckline, backline and cheek line

The neckline refers to the border between the neck hair and the neck skin. Neck stubble is important to remove because it can look very unkempt.

With the 0.5mm beard, not removing neck hair can make it seem like you just forgot to shave one morning. 

That’s why it’s important for the neckline to be crisp and sharp. We’ve discussed how to craft the perfect neckline in detail here, but let’s talk through it in a nutshell. 

  1. Tilt your head up so you can see your whole neck. 
  2. Find your Adam’s apple
  3. Put your second and third fingers horizontally above your Adam’s apple. Mark out the point immediately above the top finger either in your head or with a pen. This point will be the lowest point of your neckline. 
  4. Visualize a U-shaped curve running from earlobe to earlobe, passing through the lowest point you just plotted out. Let the curve slant upwards a little in each direction so it roughly follows the angle of your jawline. Keep it looking natural, however. 
  5. Using a manual razor (cartridge, safety or straight) or an electric shaver (foil or rotary), outline this neckline you’ve just visualized. 
  6. Then, shave everything underneath it. 

Notice that we can shave everything off immediately without trimming it using the naked blade of the trimmer first. This is because the stubble length is so short already. 

When shaving, keep the skin taut, and shave with the grain to minimize skin irritation. Of course, never shave dry. Lather up with a moisturizing shaving gel or shaving foam first. 

Congratulations. You’ve just defined your neckline. 

4. Define the cheek line

Time for the cheek line. The cheek line refers to the border between your cheek hair and cheek skin. Scraggly hairs above this line or cross over this line can also look unkempt. Not the look we’re going for. 

When determining what cheek line to have, consider your face shape. Straighter cheek lines tend to suit people with rounder faces. Curved cheek lines tend to suit people with more angular faces. 

A good starting point would be to visualize a line running from the bottom corner of your sideburn to the corner of your mouth. This straight line could be a perfectly acceptable cheek line for you. 

Or, you may be able to see your natural cheek line already. Perhaps it has a slight curve to it and that’s perfectly fine. All you have to do is accentuate it by shaving any stray hairs crossing this line or above this line. 

Shave these hairs using the same technique you used for your neckline in Step 3. 

5. Define the backline

You want a well-established gap between your ears and the sides of your stubble beard. The backline runs down from the back of your sideburns to the edge of your neckline

This line needs to be sharp. Shave any stray hairs behind your backline using the same shaving method outlined above. 

6. Moisturize

Trimming so short and shaving outside the borders is likely to make the underlying skin irritated and angry

The entire process leaves the skin feeling quite dry. Irritated skin can lead to razor burn and can be quite unsightly. This can ruin the look you’ve crafted and is particularly noticeable at such short facial hair lengths. 

Irritated skin needs moisture more than anything. Because of this, be sure to moisturize using a thoroughly hydrating moisturizer. 

Glowing skin together with a meticulously crafted 0.5mm beard is an irresistible combination. 


The 0.5mm stubble beard is simple, sleek, and debonair. It shouldn’t ever be underestimated. Since George Michael popularized short stubble in the 1980s, it has become increasingly popular

This stubble length is what you make of it. The way it tints the features ever so slightly can be incredibly powerful yet subtle at the same time. 

We’ve talked through some important points regarding the 0.5mm beard, as well as how to maintain one yourself if you’d like to. 

Hopefully, you’ve found this resource very helpful. If you can think of any other tips or tricks regarding this stubble length, please do leave them down below!

Thanks for sticking it out to the end.