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The 3mm Stubble Beard: Trimming, Grooming And Styles

July 31, 2023
The 3mm Stubble Beard: Trimming, Grooming And Styles

The 3mm stubble length is interesting. It’s interesting because it’s one of the most widely adopted facial hair lengths on the planet and people don’t even know it. 

This article is going to tell you everything you need to know. But in a nutshell, what’s the big deal with this stubble length?

3mm stubble should be regarded as “medium stubble”. Its versatility and masculinity have long been preferred by the Hollywood elite, and as such has graced the red carpets for generations. Although it isn’t the simplest style to maintain, with a proper routine and technique it is easily done at home. The length also allows for experimenting with numerous styles, some subtle and some more outlandish. Its many benefits have made it an essential men’s grooming asset to master. 

What we’re going to talk about is how you can decide whether 3mm stubble is the length for you. 

Then, we’ll talk about 3 of its core benefits, before going on to an in-depth tutorial on how you can trim, groom and maintain it using a beard trimmer. We’ll finish off by analyzing 3 styles perfect for a 3mm beard that you can try out at home. 

Your excitement is palpable. Let’s do this. 

By the way, if you’re looking for a list of the best stubble grooming products and tools on the market today (including trimmers), check this article out too.

How long does it take to grow 3mm stubble?

Of course, every man grows facial hair at a different rate. There’s no way to determine with certainty what your exact duration would be. 

But in general, 3mm stubble takes around 3 to 4 days to grow. 

It’s also important to remember that not each of the hairs of your face grows at the same rate. This leads to varying hair lengths within your beard itself. 

At times, it does make sense to vary the length of your stubble across the breadth of the beard itself. For example, if you have patchy stubble over the cheeks (a common issue) leaving the hairs very slightly longer here might add a little density. 

But having sporadically longer and shorter hairs clumped together can make an untrimmed beard look very shabby, very quickly. 

A proper trimming routine will ensure that this doesn’t happen. But more on that later. 

How to know if 3mm stubble is for you

The great thing about this hair length is that it suits pretty much any face shape you can think of, ranging from square to oblong. 

Stubble can be used to accentuate angular contours or to soften sharp edges in bone structure. 

So whatever your face shape there is no harm in trying it out. 

If medium stubble is a length you’re considering, it’s likely that you fall within one of the categories I’m about to list. 

1. Men who want a compromise

A man who wishes to denounce his baby face but isn’t willing to go full Garibaldi just yet will gravitate towards stubble

He’s tired of being perpetually ID’d at the liquor store but doesn’t want the grooming headaches and hygiene precautions that having a full beard entails. 

Which stubble length choose he choose? 

He could choose short stubble (0.4mm to 2mm) but the 5 o’clock shadow look just seems too “accidental” and “I just woke up like this”. 

Heavy stubble (4 to 5mm) on the other hand drifts dangerously close to “short beard” territory and he isn’t sure his workplace would approve

The middle path of medium stubble seems like the ideal compromise. Neat, yet intentional and masculine. 

2. Men who love the look

As mentioned above, medium stubble has long been adorned by Hollywood actors and rock stars

They range from George Clooney to George Michael and there’s a whole new generation following suit. 

We’ll discuss what makes 3mm stubble so attractive in more detail a little later. But the fact is, the look spilled over from popular culture into mainstream men’s grooming in the ’80s. 

It hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down since. 

3 benefits of the 3mm stubble beard length

We’ve briefly touched upon some of the advantages of donning this facial hair length. Now it’s time to discuss them in a little more detail to give you a more thorough understanding. 

1. It’s versatile

The fact that not all workplaces embrace bearded men (or even heavily stubbled men) with open arms is no secret. 

They may feel that it doesn’t align with the slick, clean and ultra-professional image their business portrays. Regardless of whether this is fair or just, unfortunately, it’s true. 

Medium stubble is an excellent option for these men. They want to make their facial hair known while being subtle enough to slide into stricter workplaces without drawing second looks.

But that’s the beauty of 3mm stubble. Whether it’s for an interview, a wedding, or a nightclub, it’s just a safe bet

There aren’t many situations or contexts in which it would look appealing. 

It’s also versatile from a fashion and aesthetic perspective. The style would be unlikely to clash with a certain hairstyle or a certain outfit you’ve picked out and want to wear. 

The stubble length is also long enough to style into something you’ve got in mind without being too technical. Not too short and not too long. 

Possibilities, they’re endless. 

2. It’s attractive

An Australian study determined that lightly and heavily stubbled faces were the most attractive beard lengths to women. 

Looking purely from an aesthetic perspective, it beat out both clean-shaven and fully bearded looks

One beard length they didn’t look at however was the mid-range 3mm stubble length.

However, it’s safe to presume that as it falls right in the middle of “stubble range” it would have also garnered glowing reviews. 

A well-groomed 3mm stubble beard is attractive, once again, because it looks intentional. Long enough to not look incidental or accidental, but short enough to look neat

This is attractive. 

3mm stubble is also visible enough to accentuate a man’s jawline and add angular contours to an otherwise round face. 

It’s important to note that shorter stubble may not be long enough to make a noticeable difference to the face’s contours. 

Heavier stubble or beards may mask natural bone structure as opposed to accentuating or highlighting it. 

It’s masculinity also cannot be denied. 

The testosterone-dependent development of facial hair has led to it being a marker of virility in men. Whether or not this is simply a stereotype disseminated by mainstream media is debatable. 

But there’s no denying that wearing 3mm stubble is a surefire way to add a layer of manliness to the face

3. It adds maturity to the face

Believe or not, there are men who refuse to attend an interview without at least a layer of stubble on their faces.

Going one step further, there are men who grow stubble solely for the sake of an interview

This is because it’s one of the easiest ways to lose a babyface. The cherub look of a clean-shaven face can suit a man just fine, but may make him look a lot younger than he’d like. 

This can have implications in both employment as well as relationships. Looking older is often an advantage for men.

Age signifies maturity, which signifies experience. 

The 3mm stubble beard length is again, noticeable enough to make a difference in this respect. 

Medium stubble will make you look older

How to grow, trim and maintain 3mm stubble

If you still aren’t sure whether 3mm stubble is the perfect beard length for you, it may be worth reading this to determine your optimal length. 

But if you’re sure a 3mm beard is what you want, let’s talk through how to achieve it in spectacular fashion. 

Grow it out or trim it down to 5mm first 

We want to get to approximately 5mm stubble length before we start trimming down. This is to get a better idea of the form and contours your beard follows at a slightly longer length before shaping it. 

Although there’s no universal rule, in general, this amounts to around 7-10 days of growth from a clean-shaven face. 

If you’re a fully-bearded man, just take your clipper or trimmer, set it to 5mm and go to town. 

Trim down in increments 

Then, using a specialized stubble trimmer, select a 4mm size setting and trim down your entire beard. My favorite stubble trimmer is the Philips Norelco Oneblade QP6520/70 – check it out on Amazon here

You can go down in 0.5mm increments if you’d like more control and your trimmer allows for it. A dedicated stubble trimmer works best for this as it allows for more intricate control over length. A regular beard trimmer wont allow for such tight variation.

The reason to not go directly to 3mm is that you may want a slightly longer length in areas that seem patchy

The cheek stubble is often thin, and so leaving the length slightly longer here may make it appear denser. 

If this isn’t what you’d prefer or what you need, select that magical 3mm size guard and trim it all down. 

You may need to make several passes to make sure you catch the more elusive hairs. Keeping the skin taut also helps. 

Try trimming with the grain first (in the direction of hair growth). If you’d like a closer or more even trim after this, try going against the grain accepting the increased risk of skin irritation. 

Define the borders

Using the naked blade of your trimmer, or ideally a razor (cartridge, safety or straight), define the cheek line and neckline

Remember to use shaving cream or gel and to keep the skin taut. 

For a full tutorial on how to trim a solid neckline with or without a fade, check out this article. But the idea is to ensure it follows the angle of your jawline naturally without being too low or even worse, too high.

The “perfect cheek line” really depends on your face shape.

A common technique is to draw a straight line from the bottom corner of the sideburn to the corner of the mouth. 

Shave everything above this line using either an electric shaver or manual razor. Dip into the beard a little to give it a curve if you’d like. 

A commonly cited rule-of-thumb is that a more curved cheek line better suits a longer, more angular face. A rounder face, on the other hand, is more suited to a straighter cheek line. 


As with any trim or shave, moisturizing is the key to healthy underlying skin, with no irritation, razor burn or razor bumps. 

Ensuring you finish each trim and shave with a nice, hydrating moisturizer will serve you very well in the long run. 

Use beard oil

3mm stubble is long enough to warrant the use of beard oil. It usually contains nourishing ingredients such as argan oils and jojoba oils that strengthen the hair shafts, soften the stubble and give it a very slick shine. 

A common misconception is that men with stubble and short beards don’t need beard oil and that it’s only necessary for longer beards. But this is wrong

People are often surprised by just how attractive it can make their beard look and feel, regardless of length. 

3 styles for the 3mm stubble beard length

It’s long enough to have fun with. Although all of these styles may not suit your particular face shape or your personal preference, consider trying them out. 

The Classic Medium Stubble

Nothing fancy here. Just a neatly trimmed stubble beard with a mustache as well as hair on the chin and cheeks. The neckline and cheek line should be neatly defined, however. 

It’s always a safe bet. 

A beautifully sculpted “classic” medium stubble beard

The Stubble Anchor 

As the name would suggest, this refers to a facial hair style where the beard is shaped like a nautical anchor. It definitely works with the 3mm stubble beard length. 

It consists of a partial chinstrap connected to a soul patch beneath the bottom lip, and sometimes a disconnected mustache

Once you learn how to trim it, it can definitely give you a sophisticated look. 

The Stubble Extended Goatee

Unsurprisingly, this is a goatee variant. As always, “goatee” refers to having hair on the chin but not on the cheeks.

In this style, there is also a mustache that extends into the beard, as well as a partial or full chinstrapBut remember, no hair on the cheeks.

The connection between the mustache and the goatee is one differentiating feature between this and the Stubble Anchor Beard

From 123RF


It really is hard to fault the 3mm stubble length. We’ve discussed its appeal, it’s versatility and its masculinity. 

The choice of stubble you choose is really a matter of experimenting, finding that optimal length and maintaining it. 

Do you have any tips or experiences you could share about 3mm stubble beards? If so, leave your comments down below!