The beauty of facial hair is the potentially endless stream of choices. That hair you have on your face can be sculpted in more ways than you could ever imagine. But let’s talk about this choice specifically. Which should you choose – goatee vs beard?
When deciding between a goatee and a beard, it’s important to take certain factors into account. For example, goatees suit certain face shapes, whereas a full beard would suit others instead. Goatees are low-cost, low-maintenance, comfortable to grow, and perfect for men who have patchy cheek beards. Having said this, men who hate shaving may not be able to tolerate maintaining one. The choice does depend on which factors you view as most important.
If you were looking for the answer in a nutshell, there it is. But I wanted to get much deeper into this topic.
It’s interesting just how many men are faced with this choice at some point in their grooming journey.
First, I wanted to talk about what the difference is between these two styles. This can be a serious source of confusion.
Then, I’m going to discuss several factors to consider when deciding between the two. These include face shape, hair density, and maintenance requirements.
If you weren’t sure before this article, you will be by the end of it.
Goatee Vs Beard – What’s The Difference?
The key difference is that a goatee consists of hair on the chin but not on the cheeks.
In contrast, a full beard typically consists of hair on the chin as well as the cheeks.
Going a step further, up until the 1990s the term “goatee” referred to a small, pointed beard on the chin only and nowhere else.
But they then started to incorporate mustaches as well, often connected to the chin-beard by some hair.
So currently, the only true difference between the two is the presence or absence of hair on the cheeks.
This is controversial to some people. They refuse to acknowledge styles that include mustaches as “goatees”, preferring the classical, purist definition instead.
But the fact of the matter is, in popular culture today, a “goatee” can indeed include a mustache.
A beard should also only be considered a “beard” if it is more than 5mm long. Anything shorter than that should be considered stubble – be it light, medium, or heavy stubble.
A goatee, on the other hand, could well be “stubble” that is sculpted in the shape of a goatee. In other words, the length of the hair isn’t relevant to its definition. A stubble goatee is most certainly a thing.
There you have it. Now it’s time to choose, my friend.
How To Choose Between A Goatee And A Beard
When it comes to men’s grooming, there really isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
Certain factors are more important to some men than others. For example, some men prioritize looks while others may prioritize comfort.
The best way to determine which of these styles is for you is to compare them in different domains. Here are some important factors to consider before you make your decision.
1. Face shape
At the risk of sounding too dramatic, face shape is everything when it comes to choosing a facial hairstyle.
Wearing a goatee has the effect of adding prominence to the chin. It can add length and strength to the chin, and so can alter face shape as a result.
Here are some face shapes particularly suited to a goatee:
- Men with a round face would benefit from a “triangular” style like the goatee. Having less hair on the cheeks and more on the chin can produce this glorious illusion.
- Having a square face comes with a broad jawline. A style with hair on the cheeks would simply draw attention to this. A goatee would soften the look while still keeping it chiseled.
- Oval-faced men are fortunate – they can pull off most styles. A goatee can look especially impressive on these structurally blessed faces.
If you don’t fall into one of those categories, it doesn’t matter. A goatee is incredibly versatile and those are just examples. It may well suit you too.
But are there any men that should avoid the goatee and opt for a full beard instead?
Well, men with a rectangular face shape have a “longer” face. A goatee would simply make it look longer and pointier. A fuller beard style with hair on the cheeks would give the illusion of a broader jaw and a more balanced appearance overall.
Triangular-faced and diamond-faced men also have “longer” face shapes with pointier chins. The aim here would also be to avoid drawing too much attention to the chin. A full beard style would be wiser than a goatee in these cases.
Having a patchy beard is unfortunately very common. Most bearded men have experienced it at some point. Many are never really able to escape it.
The cheeks are often the culprit, notoriously thin, patchy, and refusing to play ball.
Unfortunately, many manufacturers take advantage of their insecurity by producing “miracle cures” in huge quantities.
There’s one solution to a patchy cheek beard that has the added benefit of not costing you anything extra.
Grow a goatee.
By definition, a goatee cannot consist of any hair on the cheeks. Shaving that hair off when sculpting your goatee is integral to the style.
It’s an easy way to rid yourself of patchy cheeks; simply pick up your razor.
The mustache and chin are often the thickest parts of a beard. A goatee will allow you to showcase these badboys while excluding a weakness. It could be perfect.
In summary, if you’ve got patchy cheeks, seriously consider growing a goatee instead of a beard.
3. Maintenance requirements
Of course, this comparison really depends on the full beard style you choose. There are some which are undoubtedly higher maintenance than a goatee.
In general, the longer your beard, the higher the maintenance requirements will be.
You’ll need to brush, comb, and start using products such as balms, pomades, and waxes.
The style itself could be more complex and require extra effort to achieve the necessary level of hold.
But there are other beard styles which are relatively easy to maintain – even easier than the goatee.
However, there is no denying that a goatee is always easy to maintain.
One reason is that there’s simply less hair to worry about. Not having hair on the cheeks means there’s a huge proportion of your face you don’t have to incessantly groom. All you’d have to do is shave it to keep the style well-sculpted.
You’ll also have to regularly trim the goatee down to your length of choice. However, this is something you’d have to do with any facial hairstyle.
So overall, a goatee is guaranteed to be a low-maintenance style to adopt. If maintenance requirements are important to you, it may be the one for you.
The less facial hair you have, the less you’ll notice it’s there. There’s no denying that although growing a beard can be a phenomenal experience, it can be kind of distracting.
The more hair you’ve got, the higher the likelihood of itching and discomfort. Although there are grooming habits such as brushing, combing, and applying beard oil that can help, it can still cause trouble.
Of course, having a short beard shouldn’t cause too much trouble. But, hopefully, you see my point.
One of the beauties of a goatee is that it’s small. It isn’t heavy or overbearing. You’ll often forget that it’s even there.
It’s restricted to a very specific part of your face, which is why it rarely causes any problems.
Grooming habits such as applying beard oil and even brushing it regularly are still important, but not as crucial to keep it comfortable.
So, if you find that a full beard causes frequent itching, or just feels too overbearing on your face, you could try the relatively light and compact goatee.
Some men hate shaving. In fact, it’s a common reason given for growing a beard in the first place.
They aren’t exactly “beard enthusiasts”, but can’t bear the thought of having to regularly shave.
If you want to properly adopt the goatee style, you’re going to have to shave regularly. It’s the only way to really carve out a neat-looking goatee. The cheeks need to be clear of any hair – nice and clean.
Having said that, it is possible to get away with simply trimming the cheeks with the naked blade of a trimmer. This will keep it as short as possible, but it won’t look as sharp as shaved cheeks would.
Some men hate the thought of having to regularly shave their cheeks or even trim them that short.
This is usually because they don’t like how irritating it is to the skin. Some men have particularly sensitive skin and shaving is a real problem for them.
Growing a full beard and not just a goatee saves you from this hassle.
If you’re against the thought of having to keep those cheeks hair-free, I’d stay away from the goatee.
Goatees are low-cost. You’ll need a trimmer and a razor – that’s about it.
It’s all relative. Contrast this with a longer, fuller beard and you’ll quickly realize why. With a fuller beard, you’ll most likely need to invest in other products and accessories.
Depending on how long your beard is, you’ll need to think about a beard brush, a beard comb, waxes, balms, pomades, oils, etc.
Not all beards will warrant such treatment, but you’d be surprised by just how many do to keep them looking the way you want.
Once again, a goatee is a small, neat, light facial hairstyle restricted to a specific part of the face. It doesn’t cost much to maintain.
Having said that, a full beard can be pretty cheap too if you’re willing to let it go wild. An untidy beard is also going to cost very little to maintain if you know what I mean.
But if you want a simple, neat, and inexpensive style, the goatee would be a very reasonable option.
7. Ease to achieve
As rewarding as it is, growing a beard can be a stressful journey. There are itchy phases, there are patchy phases, and there are awkward phases.
You may trim off too much one day and have to start over. Even worse, your barber may trim off more than you’d have liked.
Parts of your beard may not connect as you’d want them too. Some hairs just won’t stop sticking out.
It can be difficult to grow a beard and get to a point where you can say it looks like what you pictured in your mind.
That’s why so many men give up on their beard prematurely and reach for that razor after 3 or 4 weeks of growth.
A goatee is always going to be easy to achieve. You don’t need any fancy trimming or grooming skills to grow and maintain a solid goatee.
It’s that simplicity which makes it such a popular style worldwide. Anyone can do it, and many men choose to keep it once they’ve tried it once. It’s very much a “universal style” with a low barrier to entry.
I’ll never be able to know what full beard style you have in mind right now, but think about how easy it will be to achieve.
If you think you might want a simpler style that won’t take much effort to achieve at all, the goatee is one to consider.
Hopefully, this didn’t come across as an article promoting one style over another. Some factors may matter more to some men than others.
As you can see, in certain domains, goatees do come out on top. But in others, they fall short.
Breaking it down like this should have given you a much better idea of which style you may want to go for. If you still aren’t sure, there isn’t really any harm in trying them both out. You’ll be more prepared to do so now.
The beauty of facial hair is that if you don’t like something, you can always get rid of it fast. It’s not like a tattoo. Mistakes are easily amended, which gives you so many opportunities for experimentation.
That’s what you should do. Have fun with it.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.