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Medium Stubble: Length, Styles, Maintenance

July 31, 2023
Medium Stubble: Length, Styles, Maintenance

It can sometimes be difficult to figure out what stubble length is best for you. Having a good understanding of what each of them can offer is crucial. So, what exactly is medium stubble? 

It’s facial hair that’s 3mm in length and takes approximately 5 days to grow from a clean-shaven face. Its benefits include being long enough to shape and style effectively, as well as being at a length where “beard itch” isn’t particularly bad. 

Sometimes, taking the middle road is the ideal option. 

Heavy stubble might be too much, but a 5 o’clock shadow just doesn’t pop quite hard enough. If this is you, medium stubble may be your very best bet. 

Although it’s relatively easy to maintain, as with any length of stubble, keeping it neat is crucial. 

I’ll be teaching you exactly how to do this later on, as well as some great styles you can shape out of this stubble length

But first, it’s important to know exactly what it looks like. 

Let’s get to it. 

What Does Medium Stubble Look Like? 

As you can see, medium stubble is subtle but very noticeable. That’s one of the main benefits it has over light stubble

Light stubble refers to stubble that’s equal to or less than 2mm in length. A 0.5mm, 1mm, or 2mm beard will have its own benefits. Shadowing and contouring are the main ones to know about. 

long stubble

But one of the downsides of light stubble is that it’s more likely to be perceived as accidental. In other words, like you’ve just forgotten to shave. 

As a proudly stubbled man, that is not the look you’re going for. 

A 3mm beard (medium stubble), on the other hand, is long enough to (usually) be perceived as intentional. But this does depend on effective and regular trimming, as well as neatly-defined borders. 

You’ll learn more about this soon. 

Another great thing about this length is that it’s long enough to shape the stubble easily. 

A common problem with light stubble is that there’s just not much hair there to work with. 

You’ll find it more difficult to define the stubble borders, for instance, the shorter the hair is. 

The more visible and obvious the hair is, the easier it is to shape and sculpt as you please. 

This makes styling it so much more effective. 

If you want to keep it simple, go for a classic medium stubble beard like the one in the picture above. I’ll be going through a few styles you can shape with this length a bit later on as well. 

How To Trim And Maintain Medium Stubble

Here’s a step-by-step routine you can follow to maintain this length. It isn’t quite as simple as growing it out for 5 days and hoping for the best. 

It needs to look intentional. 

1. Grow It Out To A Workable Length

It may sound obvious, but you’ll need to grow it out to longer than 3mm before trimming it down to a neat and even 3mm. 

The best option would be to grow it out to around 5mm before trimming it down. For the average man, this should take approximately 10 days to achieve. 

Some men will be a little quicker while others will be a little slower. 

You’ll quickly realize you haven’t grown it long enough when you set your trimmer to 3mm and don’t catch any hairs. It probably just needs a couple more days of growth. 

2. Trim It All Down To Medium Stubble

Once you’ve grown it out for around 10 days (or a couple of days more), it’s time to trim it down. 

You’ll need an electric trimmer – preferably a “stubble trimmer” capable of working with these short lengths. 

Ultimately, if your trimmer is able to trim down to 3mm you’ll be fine. But a stubble trimmer will be more intricate and will allow you to vary the length very slightly in certain areas for the best and most even-looking results. 

Set your trimmer to 3mm and have at it. 

Trim all of it. The chin, the cheeks, and the mustache. The style we’re trimming here is a simple, “classic” stubble beard. 

If you’ve got a proper stubble trimmer, you should be able to trim the thicker areas (typically the chin and the mustache) a tiny bit shorter than the thinner cheek hair. 

Even just a difference of 0.5mm can make a difference and make it look more even and impressive overall. 

3. Trim The Neckline And Cheek Line

Trimming a proper medium stubble neckline is very important. It’s how you prevent the stubble from taking over your entire neck, keeping it neat and presentable at all times. 

The neckline is the lower stubble border. In other words, where the stubble beard meets the neck skin. 

It’s important not to make it too high or too low. A neckline at jawline level or higher, for instance, will always look odd. 

It can produce a double-chin appearance, particularly when the mouth is open. 

The lowest point of the neckline should be two finger-widths above the Adam’s Apple. The line itself should run from ear-to-ear and roughly follow the angle of the jawline. 

After visualizing this line, trim it using the blade of your trimmer (with no length guard attached) and everything beneath it. 

The cheek lines are the upper borders of your medium stubble beard. They mark the border between the cheek hair and the cheek skin. 

Neaten them up by simply trimming any excess hair above your natural cheek lines. The aim is to define and sharpen your existing cheek lines and not to trim entirely new ones. 

4. Shave The Neck

After defining your neckline and trimming everything beneath it, you’ll probably notice that you’ve still got very short stubble left beneath the neckline

Neck stubble isn’t acceptable, no matter how short it is. It should be nice and clean beneath the neckline. This leads to very desirable and intentional-looking stubble. 

Apply some shaving oil, gel, or cream beneath your neckline and shave it using a manual razor. 

Use this as an opportunity to define your neckline further. The blade can be used to neaten and sharpen it up while shaving everything lower than it. 

After you’ve done this, wash off any excess and gently towel-dry. 

Shaving will always lead to some skin irritation, so be sure to moisturize after each session. 

You should now be left with a meticulously sculpted medium stubble beard. Step back and admire your work. 

3 Fantastic Medium Stubble Styles 

You just learned how to trim a classic medium stubble beard. It’s a great one if your aim is simplicity. 

There are a few others you should be aware of if you’re looking for something to stand out a little. Just the right amount of unique to turn some heads, while still remaining subtle. 

1. The Anchor

extended goatee example
This is more like heavy stubble, but a medium stubble length would be perfect too


The anchor beard is a great option when you’re working with a medium stubble length because there’s just enough length for it to be obvious. 

It’s a goatee variant – in other words, a style where there’s hair on the chin but none on the cheeks. 

The style is formed by shaping the chin beard in such a way that the edges tail upward along the first part of the jawline on either side. 

The soul patch is the tiny patch of hair immediately beneath the lower lip. It should be allowed to blend downward into the goatee. 

What you’re left with is an interesting shape that closely resembles an anchor. 

It’s quite uncommon – a relatively simple way to stand out from a crowd of standard stubble beards. 

The style does have an increased maintenance requirement, however. This is simply because it does require slightly more intricate stubble shaping

You need a bit of artistic flair to get it right. 

But it usually pays off. Give it a try. 

2. The Full Goatee

If you’re looking for something slightly easier to trim, a Full Goatee might be a better option. 


It simply consists of a connected mustache and chin beard – that’s it. 

As with any goatee style, there’s no hair on the cheeks. 

The secret is to get it nice and symmetrical. A common mistake is to shape the goatee too narrow. The sides should have a natural curve and shouldn’t be too vertical. 

Any goatee style would be a great option for men who want a medium stubble length but have patchy cheek hair. Styling a goatee would men shaving the cheek hair off, so it doesn’t really matter how thin or patchy the stubble is here. 

3. The Goatee With Chinstrap

This is a hybrid style. It consists of a Full Goatee (as described above) combined with a chinstrap. 

Goatee and chinstrap combo
This is also more like a heavy stubble length, but would work perfectly fine with medium stubble too


A chinstrap is a strip of hair that runs from ear-to-ear along the jawline. 

It’s a great way to add some contouring and definition to the jaw. It’s relatively uncommon but a style that’s quickly increasing in popularity. 


Sometimes, the middle path is the best one to take. 

Medium stubble is the Goldilocks-style “just right” length of facial hair that rarely disappoints. 

You’ve learned what it looks like, how to maintain it, and how to style it like a champ. 

Experiment and have a whole bunch of fun with it.