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The Heavy Stubble Guide: Length, Styles, Growth

August 1, 2023
The Heavy Stubble Guide: Length, Styles, Growth

There aren’t many styles you could call both laid-back and intensely masculine at the same time. Once known as the stereotypically “lazy man’s beard”, heavy stubble has made a serious comeback in recent years. 

But there’s a catch. 

Without proper trimming, grooming, and maintenance, heavy stubble will always look untidy and accidental. 

Having a good understanding of what it is, what you can do with it, and how to maintain it is crucial to preventing this from happening. 

That’s what we’re about to run through in spectacular detail. You’re about to learn everything you could possibly need to know about it. 

Let’s get to it. 

How Long Is Heavy Stubble? 

Heavy stubble is approximately 4-5 mm in length. 

If your facial hair is any longer than 5mm it should really be labeled a short beard and not heavy stubble. 

Any shorter than 4mm and it should be called light or medium stubble. 

Knowing this is important because it’ll help you decide what trimmer length to use when maintaining a heavy stubble beard. 

In general, you should set your trimmer length to 4 or 5mm. 

You may want to vary the length slightly for the best outcome. 

Trim the thickest parts of the stubble 0.5-1mm shorter than the thinner and patchier parts. This leads to nice, even-looking facial hair. 

For example, trim patchy cheeks to 5mm and the thicker areas such as the mustache and chin to 4.5 or 4mm. 

It’s something to experiment with, but be sure to gain a good understanding of what lengths work best for you in different areas. 

What Exactly Is A Heavy Stubble Beard? 

A heavy stubble beard is facial hair in any distribution that’s approximately 4-5mm in length. 

It’s incredible how many different ways this length of facial hair can be trimmed and styled. The versatility is a lot more impressive than you might initially think. 

I’ll be running through a few styles you can try out shortly. 

But it’s important to understand that stubble of any length should always be considered a “beard”. 

This is a topic of debate, as purist woodsman-esque beardsmen often take issue with stubble being called an actual beard. 

But calling it a “beard” is the best way to ensure you actually treat it like one. In other words, with attention, care, and proper, effective grooming. 

5 Best Heavy Stubble Styles 

Here are some pics and descriptions of fantastic heavy stubble styles you can easily try out. They’re simple and easy to maintain. 

1. The Classic Heavy Stubble

This one is as timeless as it gets, yet subtle and stylish at the same time. It simply consists of hair on the chin, cheeks, and mustache area. 


That’s it. Very simple. 

But in order to ensure it’s seen as a classic heavy stubble beard and not just accidental facial scruff, groom it properly. 

The neckline and cheek line need to be sharp and well-defined; this is crucial. 

Overall, the style is ideal for men who want the benefits of heavy stubble while not having to do any fancy trimming or shaping. 

2. The Heavy Stubble Goatee 

A goatee consists of hair on the chin but not on the cheeks. There may be hair in the mustache area and this may or may not be connected to the chin beard. 

If the mustache is connected to the chin beard, it’s called a “connected goatee style”. If it’s not connected, it’s called a “disconnected goatee style”.


Getting back to the topic at hand, if the facial hair the goatee is styled from is approximately 4 to 5 mm in length, it should be called a “heavy stubble goatee”. 

The main benefit of this style is that it’s great for men with patchy cheeks. Any style where you don’t need hair on the cheeks at all is a fantastic option here. 

The cheek hair is simply shaved off, leaving behind the typically thicker chin and mustache areas. 

But heavy stubble goatees are also a great way to add prominence and length to the chin. 

Because of this, the style is a good option for men with weak chins or round faces that want to elongate their faces. 

3. The Mustache With Heavy Stubble

This one is also known as the “stache with stubble”. It’s less common than the previous styles but definitely has a uniquely masculine edge. 

It’s a great way to stand out. 

What makes it different is that the mustache is longer than the rest of the facial hair; often a “short beard” length. 

from deposit photos

The cheeks and chin, in contrast, are very much in heavy stubble range – 4 or 5mm. 

The style is obviously great for mustache lovers as this is often where the eyes are first drawn. If you’ve got especially thick growth in this area, it’s a great way to show it off. 

The mustache can be styled however you want, whether it’s a Chevron or a Handlebar. 

The surrounding stubble should, as always, be trimmed and groomed properly to keep this style looking sleek and stylish. 

4. The Extended Heavy Stubble Goatee

This is a goatee style that has a subtle distinguishing feature that makes more of a difference than you might initially think. 

As with any goatee style, there is hair on the chin but not on the cheeks. 

extended goatee example

But with an extended heavy stubble goatee, the bottom edges tail up along the first part of the jawline. 

What this does add just a little more definition to the jawline, which is once again an excellent opportunity for men with weaker chins. 

It doesn’t add much to your trimming requirements and is subtle enough to not draw too much attention. 

Plus, it’s a nice and simple way to make a regular full goatee style just a little bit more interesting. 

5. Heavy Stubble Goatee With Chinstrap

A chinstrap is a strap of facial hair that runs along the jawline from one ear to the other. It can vary in thickness, but the overall effect and impact is the same. 

It’s great for adding definition to the jawline, nicely contouring it from one side to the other. 

goatee with chinstrap example

Chinstraps on their own have gotten a bad rep over the years. They’re generally seen as a little immature in comparison to fuller facial hair styles. 

But combining a chinstrap with a goatee is a great way to add a touch of sophistication and popular appeal. 

The style has the benefit of adding structure and definition to both the chin and the entire jawline. 

When this style is sculpted out of heavy stubble, the outcome is often impressive despite it being fairly simple to maintain. 

How To Grow Heavy Stubble 

Heavy stubble takes approximately 8 to 12 days to grow. 

It can vary from one man to another due to different rates of growth. Some men just sprout that stubble at a faster pace, while other men may take a couple of days longer. 

But in general, this duration of time is a pretty safe bet for most men. 

While growing heavy stubble, you should still make a point to keep the borders neat and neck stubble shaved. 

Don’t wait until your stubble reaches your desired length before neatening it up. You can’t have 2 weeks pass before starting to groom it. 

But do give it around two weeks worth of growth before starting to trim the heavy stubble down to your desired heavy stubble length. 

You’ll want to make sure you give it enough time to grow before doing this. 

How To Trim Heavy Stubble

Growing it out is the easy part. Knowing how to trim it properly isn’t quite as simple, but isn’t rocket science either. 

Once you’ve let your facial hair grow out for around 2 weeks, it’s time to trim it down to a nice, even heavy stubble length (i.e 4-5mm). 

Here’s a stepwise approach you can follow to guarantee excellent results every time. 

1. Adjust Your Trimmer Length Setting

This may mean attaching a separate length guard or simply turning the dial on your trimmer. 

Either way, you’ll want to set it to between 4 and 5mm in length. 

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll want to vary the length a little to get the best results. Some parts of your stubble beard will be thicker than others. 

Cheek hair is notoriously patchy, so consider trimming this down to 5mm instead of 4 or 4.5mm. 

We’re dealing with pretty intricate and short length settings here, so a specific stubble trimmer would be better than a regular beard trimmer. 

Be sure that whatever trimmer you choose is able to trim down to such short length settings. Also try to ensure that you’re really able to adjust the length in small increments of 0.5-1mm if possible. 

2. Start Trimming Down To 5mm

It’s best to trim your entire stubble beard down to 5mm first. That way, you can see which areas seem a bit thicker and trim down a bit shorter here (to 4 or 4.5mm). 

This is often the mustache and chin area. 

If you find that even at a 4mm length setting you aren’t catching any hairs, your stubble most likely isn’t long enough to trim down yet. Give it a few more days and go at it again. 

You’ll want to trim against the grain for the most efficient and even trim; this means going against the direction of hair growth. 

The area immediately under the jawline can be tricky to trim. A tip would be to pull the cheeks gently upward so this area is more visible and easier to trim. 

Once you’re happy that the stubble looks neat and the length looks pretty even and uniform throughout, you’re done with trimming. 

It’s time to shape it. 

How To Shape Heavy Stubble

To shape heavy stubble is to define the edges and the borders. This is crucial for making it look neat and sophisticated as opposed to scruffy.

Once you’ve trimmed it using the routine I outlined above, follow this step-by-step method to shape heavy stubble in the best way possible. 

1. Sharpen Up The Cheek Lines

The cheek lines are the borders between the cheek hair and the cheek skin. 

Some men prefer to keep it looking more natural, but keeping them defined is often a sleeker and neater look. 

Personal preference will play a role here. 

If you’re looking to sharpen them up, it’s a good idea to first visualize the outline of your natural cheek line first. 

Some men have straighter ones, while others have more curved ones. 

If you’ve got a naturally curved cheek line, it’ll look quite odd if you try to shape a straight cheek line. 

It’s best practice to simply sharpen up your existing cheek lines by trimming and shaving any stray hairs that lie above them. 

2. Define A Heavy Stubble Neckline

The neckline is the border between your neck hair and neck skin. It should be well-defined and at the correct height. 

Having too high of a neckline leads to an odd, double-chinned appearance. Having it too low will just look like untidy neck stubble. 

Here’s how to trim a heavy stubble neckline: 

  • Visualize a curved line running from ear-to-ear, with the lowest point being around two-finger widths above the Adam’s Apple. 
  • The line should slant up in either direction, following the angle of the jawline. 
  • Trim this line using the naked blade of your trimmer first, then trim all of the neck stubble that lies beneath it. 
  • Finally, shave under the neckline afterward using a manual razor for the cleanest and sharpest outcome. Be sure to use shaving gel or oil. 
how to trim neckline, before and after

3. Define The Mustache

For our purposes, the “mustache” refers to any hair above the upper lip. 

Don’t worry too much about shaping the upper border of the mustache. The main focus should be trimming or cutting any stray hairs that creep over the border of the top lip. 

This can look untidy and needs to be dealt with. 

You have to be careful not to nick or cut your top lip here, but the edges of any creeping stray hairs can be trimmed using the naked blade of your trimmer. 

Using a small pair of mustache scissors to trim the edges would be even better, but not everyone has access to this. 

Plus, you may find that at heavy stubble length the hairs aren’t quite long enough to get the scissor blades under it in any case. 

How To Maintain Heavy Stubble

It’s easy to let heavy stubble you’ve trimmed and shaped grow untidy over time. This is because people fall into the trap of thinking that people won’t notice. 

Don’t let this be you. Keep your stubble looking intentional and not accidental. 

Here are some tips to help you maintain your heavy stubble: 

  • Trim and shape it regularly – every few days would be a good habit to get into. 
  • Try to shave your neck stubble (beneath the neckline) daily, as even a 5 o’clock shadow here can look untidy. 

How To Improve Patchy Heavy Stubble

Patchy heavy stubble can be the bain of a man’s existence. It’s frustrating because it often feels as though there’s nothing that can be done about it. 

But here are a few tips to make patchy heavy stubble look thicker: 

  • Choose your style wisely. For example, if you notice that your cheeks are particularly patchy, trim a goatee. If you notice that your mustache and chin beard don’t connect properly, trim a disconnected goatee. 
  • Try brushing. It may be a little early to start using a boar bristle beard brush, but you may find that it straightens and flattens stray stubble hairs. This often makes it look fuller and thicker overall. 
  • Keep it clean. Greasy stubble will always look patchier and thinner than clean stubble.

The Bald With Heavy Stubble Look

Heavy stubble is an excellent choice for bald or balding men who aren’t quite willing to commit to a full beard. 

It’s a rugged and masculine, yet subtle aesthetic. 

Being bald and bearded is a fantastic look because the presence of facial hair can add balance to the lack of hair on the scalp. 


The downside of having heavy stubble as opposed to a longer beard is that the chin hair can’t be used to elongate the face as effectively. 

Being bald can sometimes make the shape of the face a little rounder than a man would like. 

Having a longer beard would allow a bald man to use the facial hair to adjust the shape of the face by elongating the chin area, for instance. 

But still, 4-5mm stubble would be a great look. 

Light Stubble Vs Heavy Stubble: How To Choose

Light stubble is a better option than heavy stubble for men who are looking for a subtle shadowing effect as opposed to obvious facial hair. Heavy stubble is less subtle than light stubble, but is still excellent for adding definition to the facial contours. 

Light stubble is defined as facial hair that’s approximately 1-2mm in length. 

example of a 2mm beard
Light Stubble


Interestingly, heavy stubble actually has less of a maintenance requirement than light stubble. 

Maintaining light stubble is actually quite difficult. It’ll need to be done more frequently because an overgrowth of even a millimeter or two is quite obvious. 

With heavy stubble, on the other hand, a little bit of growth isn’t as obvious. As a result, you’ll only need to trim and shape it every few days. 

Heavy stubble does usually add more of a masculine edge than light stubble. That’s something to bear in mind, as it’s one of its most appealing benefits. 

Heavy Stubble Vs Full Beard: How To Choose

Heavy stubble is better suited to men who aren’t willing to commit to the increased maintenance requirements of a full beard,  whether that’s a short beard or a long one. 

Full beards (i.e > 5mm in length) will require brushing using a boar bristle beard brush, or even combing if it’s long enough. 

With heavy stubble, this usually isn’t necessary, although brushing can sometimes make it appear fuller. 

It’s also important to note that a lot of men simply don’t like the feel of a full beard on their faces. 

Short beards, in particular, fall within that awkward phase of growth where itching is a real problem. 

Keeping it within heavy stubble range and not letting it grow longer is a good way to avoid this. 

Other men just prefer the look of heavy stubble compared to a full beard. Although a full beard often looks more masculine, heavy stubble is better for defining and contouring the structure of the face. 

Is Heavy Stubble The Most Attractive Beard Length? 

An Australian study carried out in 2013 deemed heavy stubble to be the most attractive beard length. 

Shorter stubble, fuller beards, and clean-shaven faces were considered equally attractive to each other, but less so than heavy stubble. 

Fascinating, right? 

If you were on the fence about this glorious length of facial hair, this may be the fun little fact to sway your mind. 


Heavy stubble has a whole lot going for it. It’s (relatively) easy to maintain, stylish, and becoming increasingly popular. 

Nurture it, groom it, and maintain it. 

The results are often outstanding.