For many aspiring beardsmen, the longer the better. But there are those who walk a different path. Those who choose to trim down as short as humanly possible. Let’s talk about light stubble.
It’s about as subtle as facial hair gets, but the difference a layer of light stubble can make to a face can be pretty incredible. Don’t ever underestimate it.
It can add a soft shadowing effect to the lower half of the face, defining the jawline and contouring the cheekbones.
But it isn’t all easy. In fact, maintaining light stubble is quite the opposite. It takes patience, as well as commitment.
I’m about to talk you through everything you need to know about it. How long it is, how long it takes to grow, what you can do with it, how to maintain it, and more.
Let’s get to it.
What Is A Light Stubble Length?
Light stubble is facial hair that’s less than 2mm in length. It’s also called “short stubble” for this very reason.
The shortest “light stubble” length that would actually be visible to the human eye from a reasonable distance is around 0.4mm.
Anything less than that might as well be called clean-shaven.
0.4mm is also usually as short as a regular beard or stubble trimmer would actually be able to trim down to.
This would be achieved using the naked blade – in other words, with no length guard attached.
Stubble that’s less than 1mm in length could actually be called very short stubble.
Beyond the 2mm mark, you would technically have to call it medium stubble. When it gets to 4mm it should be called heavy stubble.
Beyond 5mm it should no longer be called stubble – it’s officially in “short beard territory”.
Who doesn’t love definitions? Right?
What Does Light Stubble Look Like?
It’s important to appreciate just how different stubble can look even within this length range.
The aesthetic differences between a 0.5mm beard, a 1mm beard, and a 2mm beard is significant.
But broadly speaking, any of these short stubble lengths would benefit a face. Here are a couple of ways how:
- They have a gentle shadowing effect on the lower portion of the face. This tint often looks very masculine and also has a slimming effect.
- They contour the face. The stubble defines the jawline, particularly when the stubble neckline is neatly trimmed.
If you aren’t sure what light stubble length to choose, experiment. Each of them is so short that you can literally try them all out within the space of a few days.
That’s the beauty of it.
Speaking of which, let’s get more specific with growth rates.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Light Stubble
Light stubble usually takes up to 3 days to grow.
Very short stubble (<1mm) usually grows within a day.
It’s one of the reasons the 0.5mm beard could also be called the “5 o’clock shadow”
Most men will reach the 2mm mark by day 3, although this is definitely variable among men.
Some men will grow stubble faster, while some men will grow it slower.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t take long.
This is both a gift and a curse. On the one hand, experimentation is easy because you can trim down or even shave and know you’ll be back at the 2mm mark after just a few days.
But on the other hand, this makes maintenance a little more intense.
If you want to maintain light stubble, you’ll have to trim down every couple of days or you will outgrow your desired length range.
Let’s discuss exactly how you do this.
How To Grow And Maintain Light Stubble
Having a step-by-step routine to follow is key.
That’s exactly what I’m about to teach you – a routine for growing and maintaining a classic light stubble beard with hair on the chin, cheeks, and mustache.
You’ll get a feel for exactly how often you need to do this routine with experience. But it’ll most likely be at least every few days, depending on how short you trim it.
1. Grow It Out
It may go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway.
Before you trim it down to your glorious, desired light stubble length of choice, you’ll need to grow it out a little longer first.
4 days should be more than enough time to let it grow out to beyond a light stubble length (i.e >2mm), but not too long.
Once it’s ready, it’s time to select your length of choice and trim down.
2. Trim It All Down
This is the point where you’ll need to grab your electric trimmer.
I recommend getting yourself a stubble trimmer as opposed to a regular beard trimmer. As you’d expect, stubble trimmers are designed to work with much shorter facial hair lengths.
The length settings usually don’t go past 10mm and increase in very small increments of 0.5 to 1mm.
A regular beard trimmer may well be fine, but just make sure it’s able to trim down as short as you want.
For our purposes, you’ll want to make sure you can trim shorter than 2mm to keep that stubble nice and short.
Once you’ve selected your length, set your trimmer to it, and trim it all down. The cheeks, chin, and mustache.
You’ll most likely want to vary the length ever so slightly for the best results. For example, trim the thicker areas (usually the chin and mustache) 0.5-1mm shorter than thinner areas (usually the cheeks).
For example, 1mm for the chin and mustache area, but 0.5mm for the cheeks.
This will lead to very neat and even looking light stubble. However, it’ll only be possible if your trimmer’s length settings increase and decrease in small enough increments to allow for this.
Keep the skin gently taut as you trim so you catch those trickier hairs. It’ll also reduce nicks and cuts.
3. Define The Borders
The stubble borders are the neckline and cheek line. Maintaining them is so important for keeping the stubble looking suave and sophisticated.
Leaving them untidy is never acceptable and is a major reason why stubble can sometimes get a bad rep.
The light stubble neckline is the border where the neck hair meets the neck skin.
Keeping it at the correct height is an art that must be mastered. A neckline that’s too high leads to an awkward, chubby double-chin appearance.
A neckline that’s too low leads to a layer of shabby-looking stubble covering your neck.
To trim the perfect neckline, visualize a line that runs from ear-to-ear. The line should be curved and the midpoint should pass through the Adam’s Apple.
It should roughly follow the angle of the jawline upwards to either side. This is how a light stubble neckline can really add definition to the jaw.
The cheek line can be considered the upper border of the light stubble beard. It’s the border between the stubble and the cheek skin.
Once again, it usually looks better when sharp and well-defined. Having said that, some men do prefer to keep it natural.
Keep it simple and just neaten up your existing cheek line. For some men, it’ll be straight, while for others it’ll be curved.
Trim any excess or stray hair above the cheek line using the naked blade of your trimmer.
4. Shave Outside The Borders
For the best and neatest results, you’ll need to shave outside the borders. In other words, shave above the cheek line and below the neckline.
Even if you were to use the naked blade of your electric trimmer to try and neaten up here, you’d still be left with very short stubble in these areas.
Ideally, you want it nice and smooth outside the borders. No hair at all.
An electric trimmer can only trim so short. You’ll need to shave.
You could use an electric shaver if you wanted, but using a manual razor will usually give you better control.
You’ll have more control over the blade and can use it to further define the borders.
Lather on some shaving gel, oil, or cream below your defined neckline and cheek line, and shave any stubble or excess, stray hairs that lie outside them.
Finally – moisturize with purpose and intent.
It’s very important when you’re dealing with facial hair this short. Trimming short stubble and shaving is a recipe for irritation if it’s not done carefully.
You’re cutting the hair strands so close to the skin, so soreness is a risk.
Moisturizing afterward is a great way to ensure you’re giving the skin a soothing and nourishing end to the process.
3 Great Light Stubble Styles
Here are some fantastic light stubble styles you can try out for yourself. They’re very simple and great to start out with.
1. The Light Stubble Goatee
The light stubble goatee is a goatee style where the facial hair is less than 2mm long.
As with any goatee, there’s hair on the chin but not on the cheeks.
A traditional, “classic” light stubble goatee consists of light stubble on the chin and nowhere else.
A “Full” light stubble goatee consists of hair on the chin, but this hair is connected to a mustache.
Either style would be a good option if you’ve got patchy stubble on the cheeks. The beauty of any goatee style is that the hair on the cheeks is either trimmed or shaved completely.
Plus, it really draws attention to and adds prominence and structure to the chin.
2. The 5 O’Clock Shadow
This is probably the most well-known light stubble style around.
But the term “5 o’clock shadow” is often used incorrectly. It’s important to realize that it should only refer to facial hair that’s around 0.5mm in length.
In other words, very short stubble.
A 2mm, for instance, is not a 5 o’clock shadow and is simply “light stubble”.
The style is named as such because it’s around the same length of hair you’d expect to have grown at the end of the working day.
But a 5 o’clock shadow can also be actively maintained. It doesn’t necessarily have to be “accidental”, as the common belief would suggest.
Stubble trimmers are definitely capable of trimming this short. It’s a good option if you’re a man that hates shaving but still wants a nearly clean-shaven looking face.
Plus, as the name would suggest, it gives you a very subtle and gentle shadowing effect which can look very attractive indeed.
3. The Classic Light Stubble
I wanted to talk more about the style you just learned to trim in the step-by-step tutorial above.
The commonest way to wear light stubble is in the form of a classic stubble beard. It’s simple, straightforward, and consists of hair on the chin, cheeks, and mustache.
It’s a style you really can’t go wrong with – a perfect choice if you want the benefits of light stubble (shadowing, definition) without drawing much attention to yourself.
Plus, it’s easy.
There’s no fancy stubble shaping necessary. You just need to trim it down, define the borders, and moisturize.
Is Light Stubble Attractive?
Interestingly, men with light stubble have been proven to be more attractive than fully-bearded men, as well as clean-shaven men.
An Australian study conducted in 2016 presented 8500 women with images of men that had varying amounts of facial hair.
Some were clean-shaven, some had light stubble, some had heavy stubble, and some had full beards.
Men with light stubble and heavy stubble were found to be the most attractive groups.
Having said that, men with full beards were found to be more masculine, with better potential as long-term partners.
Can’t have it all, right?
Sometimes, less really is more.
Keeping your stubble short and sweet isn’t as easy as it might first seem, but the effort sure does pay off.
It’s subtle, it’s elegant, and it’s stylish.
Now you know exactly what you need to do to rock it in the most effective way possible.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.