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How To Shape Stubble: Trimmer Choice, Technique, Guide

May 26, 2022 · Dilshan
How To Shape Stubble: Trimmer Choice, Technique, Guide

You’re about to learn how to shape stubble like a consummate professional, all from the comfort of your own home. 

It isn’t difficult. That’s why stubble is so great – there isn’t much pruning or preening. You don’t need to spend hours in front of the mirror to make it look presentable. 

A man could quite comfortably fit what you’re about to learn into his morning routine and still be on time for work

You may be reading this for one of several reasons. Perhaps your “neckbeard” is getting out of control. Or, perhaps your cheek hairs are creeping up towards your eyeballs. 

Whatever it may be, this guide will teach you exactly how to shape the “classic” stubble beard. It’s sleek, versatile, professional and ever so attractive

The ConairMAN Super Stubble is the trimmer we’ve chosen for this guide. The specialized stubble trimmer will allow for exceptionally precise control over very short beard lengths. But more on that later. 

What’s the “classic” stubble style you’re about to learn?

The “classic” stubble style is usually the first style that comes to mind when the word “stubble” is used. 

Just to clarify from the outset, “stubble” simply refers to a very short facial hair length. Specifically, a length between 0.4mm and 5mm

Stubble can be styled in many different ways. For example, the goatee styles, chin straps, the stubble n ‘stache and so on. 

The “classic” stubble style is the most popular, most recognizable, and arguably most versatile. It’s seen everywhere from the red carpets of Hollywood to the everyday workplace. 

The style simply refers to a mustache, hair on the cheeks, chin and upper neck, plus or minus a soul patch. Of course, trimmed down to a traditional stubble length (0.4 – 5mm) and with carefully defined borders

If it isn’t groomed and shaped properly however, it can quickly be construed as messy and unkempt

Fortunately, you’ll never have that problem. Not after reading this guide on exactly how to shape this style with no trouble. 

The classic stubble style is pure perfection when shaped correctly

How to shape a classic stubble beard step-by-step

Shaping stubble is easiest to explain broken down into its core components. Over time these steps will become second nature and will easily be integrated into your morning routine. 

Step 1: Grow it out or trim it down

The specifics of this step are determined by the length of stubble you’d like to end up with.

The objective is to get your facial hair to approximately 2mm longer than the stubble length you want, before starting to shape it. 

We want the facial hair at a workable length before trimming and neatening it up. It’ll also allow us to assess the contours your facial hair follows in its longer form. 

If you aren’t sure of how long this is, don’t worry. You will learn over time. For now, just grow it without trimming it for around 12 – 14 days. This should give most men approximately 6mm of growth, although of course, it does vary between men. 

If you’re rocking a longer beard, that’s simple. Just grab your electric beard trimmer and trim down to 2mm longer than the length you want, or alternatively, to 6mm. 

Your stubble beard will now be primed for perfecting. The stage is set.  

Step 2: Exfoliate

This is what separates the amateurs from the professionals. Men often shudder at the thought of having to do it, despite it taking 30 seconds to do. 

Rubbing an exfoliating face wash or face scrub over the face and neck before your trim and shave will transform your results. 

What it does is remove any oil, dirt or dead skin cells from the top layer of your skin. These can “mattify” or clog up the bases of the hairs, leading to friction during the trim and shave. 

Less friction means a closer shave and better-looking results, It also means less chance of irritation, ingrown hairs, and razor burn

It’s particularly important for the areas you will shave over, as they are particularly susceptible to irritation. In other words, it’s crucial for the skin beneath your neckline and above your cheek line

Step 3: Trim the entire beard

Now that your facial hair is at a workable length, it’s time to trim it down to the stubble length you want

The reason we chose the cordless and waterproof ConairMAN Super Stubble is because it comes with 15 length settings ranging from 0.4mm to 5mm. This allows for very precise control over very short stubble lengths. It also has a unique, flexible head that glides easily across the contours of your face. 

If you need settings longer than 5mm, The Brio Beardscape is an exceptional alternative. It’s cordless, waterproof, and comes with dream-like, premium ceramic blades. 

Grab your stubble trimmer or beard trimmer and set it to the size setting you want.

When determining exactly how to shape stubble the way you want, you need to find your optimal stubble length. In other words, the length which suits your face best. 

It’s useful to differentiate stubble into light (1-2mm), medium (3mm) and heavy (4-5mm). 

This may be determined by factors other than aesthetics. For instance, some workplaces may not allow heavy stubble, but light stubble may be considered perfectly professional

If you aren’t sure what your magical, optimal stubble length is, trim down slowly in 0.5 – 1mm increments. Trust me, once you find the right length for you, you’ll know it. 

Trim your entire beard. Everything you can see. 

Variating the length slightly by 0.5 – 1mm is very commonly done to compensate for less thick areas.

For example, the cheeks are often patchier than the chin and mustache. Leaving the stubble 0.5 – 1mm longer here may make this less noticeable. 

Beard hairs are notorious for growing in all sorts of directions. It is often necessary to vary the angle at which you hold the trimmer in order to catch the more elusive hairs.

Keeping the skin taut while you do so is also often useful. 

Trimming against the grain (against the direction of hair growth) will give you a closer and more even trim. However, it does slightly increase the risk of skin irritation. 

Step 4: Define the neckline

The neckline is simply the border between your beard and your neck skin. The dreaded “neckbeard” refers to an untamed layer of hair that grows when a neckline is left to stray. It looks scruffy, shabby and unkempt. 

A well-defined neckline that wraps nicely under the jaw can give the jawline an excellent definition. It makes a stubble beard look a lot sharper. When learning how to shape stubble, this should be a priority

The way to find and trim your “perfect neckline” is as follows: 

  1. First, tilt your head up to see your whole neck in the mirror. 
  2. Place your second and third fingers horizontally above your Adam’s apple. This should give you a point “two finger-widths” above your Adam’s apple, which will form the lowest point of the neckline. 
  3. Now visualize a U-shaped curve that runs from earlobe to earlobe, passing through this point above your Adam’s apple. Allow the curve to slant upwards in each direction, almost following the angle of the bottom jaw. Be careful not to allow it to become too “V-shaped” though.  
  4. Using the naked blade of your beard trimmer, outline this line and trim everything beneath it as short as it can go.

What you’ve just visualized and trimmed, my friend, is your neckline.

Using this method, you’ll ensure that your neckline isn’t positioned too high leading to a jarring double-chin effect.

This is particularly evident when you open your mouth wide. If your neckline is above your jawline, you’ve done something wrong. 

Don’t worry, we’ll be shaving everything beneath the neckline later on to give it a crisp, sharp edge.

You may want to “fade” the neckline, so the transition between the beard and your neck skin isn’t as sharp. To do this, trim over the very edge of the neckline using a size guard approximately a millimeter less than the rest of your beard. 

Step 5: Shape the cheek line

Moving swiftly on to the equally important cheek line. The cheek line is the border between your beard and your cheek skin. In other words, the northern border of your stubble beard. 

Although this tutorial is on how to shape stubble, it’s important to bear in mind that the cheek line can be left natural. A crisp, sharp cheek line isn’t everyone’s personal preference. Some prefer a few scraggly hairs as it looks more “laid back”. If this is you, not a problem. The advantage is that it requires less upkeep. 

But if you did want to define that cheek line, follow these general steps to ensure you don’t set a foot wrong. Remember, it’s usually best to follow the contour of your natural cheek line, and just accentuate it.

  1. Visualize a line leading from the bottom corner of your sideburn (i.e where it meets your beard) to the corner of your mouth. This is an outline for your cheek line. 
  2. Using the naked blade of your trimmer, trim all of the stray hairs above this line. This in itself would be a perfectly acceptable cheek line. 
  3. Your natural cheek line may have a curve to it and so won’t be a perfectly straight line. That’s fine. Just trim any strays above this curve. 
  4. Straight cheek lines generally suit rounder faces, whereas curved cheek lines tend to suit more angular faces. 

Step 6: Fade the sideburns if necessary

Your sideburns play an important role as the intermediary between your head hair and your stubble beard. 

If the sideburns consist of hairs significantly longer than the stubble hairs, it can create quite a jarring transition between the two. The sharp ends of the sideburns can look odd as they transition into the stubble. 

A solution would be to fade the sideburns so that they gradually get shorter in length as they approach the stubble beard.

This is a more advanced step. If you aren’t comfortable with doing it, it may be best to leave it until you’re more experienced with the trimmer. Alternatively, you could ask your barber to show you how to do it. 

  1. Using the same size guard you used for your stubble, trim the bottom edge of your sideburn. 
  2. Then, going up in 1mm size increments, trim up to around the middle of your sideburn very gradually. Be careful not to go too high up. 
  3. The objective is to get a very smooth transition from your sideburns into your stubble. It’s not to trim down your entire sideburns to match your stubble!

Step 7: Line up the sides

A hallmark of an intricately groomed beard is a well-established gap between the ears and the sides of your stubble beard. 

In other words, sharpen up the backline. 

Again, try to follow the natural contour and simply trim the strays using the naked blade of your trimmer. 

Step 8: Shape under the bottom lip

The soul patch is the little tuft of hair beneath the lower lip. There are usually small bare patches either side of it. 

Removing any little stray hairs in these bare patches can neaten things up. It can add even more definition to the soul patch, as well as the neighboring chin stubble and mustache ends. 

These areas are small, and trimming within them can be tricky. Tilt your beard trimmer and use the edge of the naked blade to do it.

Be careful not to accidentally trim any of your soul patch or chin stubble. 

Step 9: Shape the mustache

By mustache, we mean any hair that you have above your upper lip

As you know, the mustache is a complex beast and can be styled in many different ways. However, when wondering how to shape stubble beards, keeping it simple is the key. 

To keep it looking sophisticated, start by trimming any scraggly mustache hairs that hang over the upper lip. It’s an essential, yet often forgotten part of the trimming regimen. 

Mustache hairs are usually best trimmed using a small pair of scissors. But the naked blade of your trimmer is fine for this too. Just be careful not to trim into the body of the mustache itself. 

It’s just to keep the upper lip looking clean. 

After that, it’s time to focus on the upper border of the mustache. There isn’t usually much to be done here.

Occasionally, however, the mustache hairs can get way too close to the nostrils. So close that it actually looks like an extension of the nose hair. 

Not a great look. 

But making very slight trims just beneath the nostrils can provide the small amount of separation necessary to fix this. 

Step 10: Shave outside the borders

Some men leave it at that. They’ve trimmed their beard down to their stubble length of choice, neatened up the borders, and trimmed down everywhere else using the naked blade. 

Sure, this might be enough. 

But to really take the look to ultra-debonair heights, it’s extremely important to shave outside the borders. In other words, beneath the neckline, and above the cheek line. 

Getting a smooth, slick shave in areas outside the beard lets people know without a shadow of a doubt that this stubble is intentional

The shaving device of choice is down to personal preference. It’s possible to get a close shave with either a manual razor (cartridge, safety or straight) or an electric shaver (foil or rotary). Technique is more important than the device itself. 

Use shaving gel or foam to nicely lubricate the skin and facilitate as frictionless a shave as possible.

Keep the skin gently taut and try to shave with the grain to prevent skin irritation. 

Step 11: Moisturize

The trimming and shaving are done. You’ve learned how to shape stubble and sculpt it to perfection

Ladies, form an orderly queue. 

But wait. Before we celebrate, it’s important not to forget the equally important skin that lies underneath. The skin you’ve shaved over is likely to be particularly irritated

Irritated skin, razor burn, and razor bumps are not only unhealthy, but also unsightly. Post-shaven skin is dry, angry, and in desperate need of moisture

Using a thoroughly hydrating moisturizer on the face and neck after your shave will ensure the skin is taken care of. 

A meticulously crafted stubble beard is great. But couple it with glowing skin and you become an unstoppable, irresistible force


An artist doesn’t just master his technique. He ensures that he sources the best tools, and primes his canvas. Learning how to shape stubble is a multi-faceted art. It’s simple to do but difficult to master. 

We’re confident that what you’ve learned in this blog post has given you the knowledge necessary to take back control of your facial hair. 

Do you have any stubble tips or tricks you can share? If so, drop them in the comments down below!