The 5mm beard is also known as “heavy stubble”, and over the last 30 years has made the transition from “lazy man half-beard” to “searingly handsome and rugged”.
There are multiple reasons why the this beard length appears to have soared in popularity in recent years. It’s versatility and masculinity, as well as it’s popularity with women definitely all play a role. Although the beard length does require maintenance to prevent it from looking unkempt, it is relatively simple to groom with a proper routine.
The Philips Norelco Oneblade QP6520/70 is the trimmer we’ve chosen for this 5mm beard guide as it allows for incremental and precise control. You can check it out Amazon by clicking here.
Women seem to love it, and understandably men have taken note of this fascinating market research and want to know more.
You’re about to learn everything you need to know about the 5mm beard. We’ll discuss how long it takes to grow, whether it’s the style for you, and why it’s such a glorious facial hair length.
Then you’ll be learning exactly how to grow, trim and maintain a 5mm beard.
After this, we’ll go through styles you can try out with a 5mm beard. Yes, that’s right. It isn’t just a “let it grow and keep it neat” length. It’s long enough to get creative with.
The “classic” heavy stubble beard is what most people refer to when they think of this beard length, and yes you’ll be learning exactly how to trim this style. But you’ll also be learning about 2 other styles you can easily try out when you’re feeling more adventurous.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
How long does it take to grow a 5mm beard?
A 5mm beard typically takes between 8 and 12 days to grow. It isn’t possible to provide an exact length as the rate of hair growth varies greatly between men.
It’s also called “10-day stubble”, which is a nice way of remembering approximately how long you may be waiting.
Don’t overthink this though. You may take a little longer, or perhaps even shorter. But on average, this is a good rule-of-thumb to follow.
Also, as always, hair grows at varying lengths. You may have some hairs slightly longer than others. This is fine but can look shabby if left unattended.
That’s why it’s so important to keep the beard trimmed to a nice and even 5mm (on average). Ironically, the laid-back feel of heavy stubble is at odds with its need for regular maintenance.
More on that later.
Is the 5mm beard for you?
So how would you know if the heavy stubble beard length is for you? It’s important to ask yourself the following two questions:
1. Can you occasionally allow it to become a “short beard”?
The reason this is an important question to answer first is that the 5mm beard drifts very close to “short beard territory”. In fact, it’s generally used as the cutoff for “stubble”.
Any higher, and you’ve got yourself a short beard, my friend.
The point is, there will almost certainly be times when you may not be able to maintain this length permanently. You may get busy with work, or traveling, etc.
Life can sometimes get in between a man and his trimmer, sadly.
So if you’re willing to see yourself or let others see you with a beard length longer than you’d like at times, this is fine. Be sure to assess whether your workplace would allow this as well.
But if you’re a man that can’t let his facial hair get that long, you may be better off with a 3mm beard or “medium stubble” to give you some slack.
On the other hand, if you’re a man that would religiously trim his beard to 5mm every day, this question is irrelevant. I am envious of your relentless grooming dedication, sir.
2. Are you willing to care for it as though it was a full beard?
A common misconception that men with the 5mm beard have is that it isn’t long enough to groom beyond trimming.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s long enough to clump together, to itch, to look and smell unclean, to look dry and so much more.
It needs a proper washing routine with moisturizing ingredients, combing, as well as essential oils ideally to give it a nice and sleek shine.
A good routine will ensure that the beard looks healthy and happy, with underlying facial skin that’s looked after and not neglected.
If you answered yes to the last two questions, there’s a good chance this may be the length for you. If you’re still uncertain, the following section may change your mind.
3 benefits of the 5mm beard length
The benefits of heavy stubble more than compensate for it’s mildly increased grooming requirements.
There are plenty of reasons why this 5mm beard is so widely adopted and also so irresistibly attractive to women.
1. It’s easier to style than short or medium stubble
This may sound obvious, but if something is easier to see, it’s easier to style. For this reason, the 5mm beard is just easier to shape, to groom and to style than short (1-2mm) or medium (3-4mm) stubble.
People sporting the increasingly popular “permanent 5 o’clock shadow” often have trouble trimming their neckline because it’s harder to see.
Another common misconception people make is that “heavy stubble” refers to a specific style, or rather, a lack of a style.
This is far from the truth. Heavy stubble is simply a length of hair. It’s a length that can be styled in several different ways, as we’ll go on to discuss a bit later.
The classic heavy stubble look is what most people think of, which is simply hair on the cheeks and chin, together with a mustache and a neatly trimmed neckline and cheek line. Nothing special. Simple.
But there’s more.
It’s easier to shape it into that style you wanted to try out than shorter stubble because there’s just more there to work with.
Sure, it isn’t as versatile as a short beard. But it’s definitely a nice compromise.
2. It’s the most masculine length of stubble
As it defines the border between “stubble” and “short beard”, it does have an edge over shorter stubble lengths.
Length isn’t the only determinant of masculinity when it comes to beards, because style, thickness and the accentuation of the jawline all play a role as well.
But length does make a difference. It makes sense, as facial hair growth is testosterone-dependent. Those longer hairs just ooze pheromones guys.
So if you’re looking to level-up the masculinity of your features without compromising too much on length, the 5mm beard could be for you.
But remember to trim and groom it properly, as the border between masculine and shabby is dangerously thin.
Men often justify leaving their beard unkempt by convincing themselves that it adds an air of masculinity. Wrong. Quite the opposite.
Defining borders such as the neckline and cheek line accentuates masculine features. Also, facial grooming suggests to women that you can take care of yourself. That, in itself, is masculine.
3. It can cover up patchiness
Heavy stubble is considered a sweet spot where those frustrating thin patches of your beard often appear less visible. A 5mm beard, is often, the magic number.
Any shorter and those bare patches stand out like a sore thumb.
Any longer and the grown hairs just flop over due to lack of support from surrounding bare areas. This makes patchiness look more obvious.
This alone could be reason enough to adopt heavy stubble as your length of choice. Patchiness is a problem that many men have faced and may have had little luck in fixing.
Maintaining a certain length may be all that’s necessary to make this unfortunate (but common) problem less obvious.
This brings us neatly and swiftly on to the next section. You’ll learn exactly how to craft a 5mm beard for yourself.
The best trimmer for the 5mm beard
Right now I’d say it was the Philips Norelco Oneblade QP6520/70. It comes with 14 length settings between 0.4mm and 10mm. This is perfect for stubble.
If you’re interested, you can buy it on Amazon here.
It has a dual-sided blade that allows you to edge in both directions and is able to follow the contours of the face. Plus it’s waterproof and has impressive battery life.
Most decent beard trimmers are capable of trimming down to 5mm perfectly fine.
It isn’t short enough to make a specific stubble trimmer essential. But if you did want more precise control over length, this would be a good idea.
Stubble trimmers have a wider range of short size settings usually going as low as 0.4mm, allowing for more intricate control. This is also useful for trimming the neck hairs down before going in for a close shave.
But in general, a good electric beard trimmer that’s able to trim down in small increments would be fine too.
Remember, on average the length we’ll want is 5mm. But there may be areas of the beard you might want a millimeter shorter or longer depending on the density of hair.
That’s why size settings allowing for this variation in length is crucial.
Another thing to note is that some specialized stubble trimmers only have size settings going as high as 5mm.
This may not be good enough as you ideally want to have the option of trimming down to 5mm in a graded fashion, as you’ll find out in the next section.
Also, if you want to double up and use the trimmer on your body hair too, you’ll most likely want a trimmer with longer size settings.
Other factors you may want to consider are whether you need it to be corded or cordless, whether it’s waterproof, and the quality of the blades.
Generally, titanium, stainless steel, and chromium blades are the longest lasting and most comfortable on the skin.
For a comprehensive list of the best stubble grooming tools on the market today (including trimmers), check out this article.
How to grow, trim and maintain a 5mm beard
So you’ve decided upon 5mm as your optimal length. Or, you like what you’ve read and you’d like to give it a whirl.
You’re about to learn a step-by-step method to trim the perfect, classic heavy stubble beard.
There are more advanced styles you can craft from 5mm worth of facial hair. We’ll briefly talk about them later in the article. But the classic heavy stubble is the one to master first.
Grow it out or trim it down to 7mm first
As always, if you have a length in mind, it’s best to start trimming from a length of 2-3 mm above this length.
So in this case, we want to start from around 7mm in length.
If your beard is longer than this already, just set your trimmer to 7mm and trim down all over.
If you need to grow it out a little to reach that point, in general, this will take around 2 weeks to grow.
Yes. You may look a little scruffy and untrimmed in this transition phase. But believe me, it’s for a good cause.
The reason we want to start from a slightly longer length is to get a good idea of the form and contours your beard follows. Then, we can start trimming to our optimal length with better insight.
Trim down in small increments
You’re at approximately 7mm. It’s time. But go slow.
Slap on a 6mm size setting and start trimming down all over. This is everything from your cheeks, to your chin, to your neck. Everything.
After this, assess whether any areas seem patchy or thin. The cheeks are often the culprit here.
If your cheeks do look patchier, you may want to leave these areas at 6mm, and trim the rest down to 5mm. This should make your cheeks appear to have denser growth, and is a decision you’ll have to make as you go along.
If you don’t feel this is necessary, set your trimmer to 5mm and trim down all over your beard.
Remember to keep the skin taut and make several passes over your beard if necessary. This should help catch those more elusive hairs that are harder to get.
As always, try trimming with the grain first (in the direction of hair growth). If after this you feel as though you didn’t trim closely or evenly enough, go over it again but against the grain.
We also advise to at least try going with the grain first because there’s less risk of skin irritation.
After this step, you should have a nice, evenly trimmed 5mm beard on you.
But it’s not done just yet.
Define those borders
It’s time to make the neckline and cheek line really pop. The more sharply defined these borders are, the more intentional and less incidental that beard is going to look.
To define these lines you simply need to remove all the hairs outside them. In other words, no hair above the cheek line or below the neckline.
The closer the shave outside these borders, the slicker it’s going to look. So ideally, you wouldn’t want to just use the naked blade of your trimmer to do it (although many do).
A razor (safety, straight or cartridge) or electric shaver would work best.
Determining, and then trimming your neckline is very much an art, and you can read a full tutorial on how to do so here. But the aim of the game is to allow it to follow the angle of your jawline naturally, while not allowing it to extend too high.
The cheek line you choose is partially dependent on face shape. Rounder faces generally suit a straighter cheek line, whereas a more angular or longer face suits a curved cheek line.
A common tactic used is to first visualize a straight line from the bottom corner of the sideburn connected to the corner of the mouth.
Then just shave everything above this line, dipping into the beard a little if you’d like more of a curve.
Remember to moisturize
Trimmed and shaved skin is notoriously angry, dry and irritated. Irritated skin itches, and can also hurt.
There’s nothing more soothing to dry and irritated skin than moisture.
Remembering to moisturize using a thoroughly hydrating moisturizer will provide the skin with much-needed water. This will strengthen the skin barrier as well as reduce the risk of lasting irritation.
Use beard oil
Yes, heavy stubble does silently cry out for nourishment. Beard oils usually contain soothing and nutrient-infused essential oils such as argan and jojoba oils.
These strengthen and soften the shafts, prevent breakages and soothe the underlying skin. It also gives that 5mm beard a sleek shine that’ll make you a beard oil fan for life.
It’s a quick and painless way to give that beard some extra oomph.
3 simple styles for the 5mm beard length
The versatility of this beard length could keep you endlessly occupied, despite it only being 5mm.
Although you can get pretty complex with it, let’s just talk about 3 styles simple enough to trim without getting too technical.
The “Classic” Heavy Stubble
This is what you’ve just learned to trim, and it is glorious.
It’s subtle, simple and effective.
Keep it neatly trimmed and you will turn heads. It will accentuate your finest features and you will feel more confident.
The Circle Beard
This is a goatee variant, and therefore consists of hair on the chin but not on the cheeks. But as the name would suggest, the circle beard encircles the mouth.
It adds an air of sophistication and works very well with a 5mm beard length.
The circle beard is typically completely fine for the workplace. It has the added benefit of looking more intentional and less laid back than the classic heavy stubble look.
The “Stubble Without Mustache” look
This one couldn’t be any easier. It’s essentially the classic heavy stubble look with the mustache shaved off.
So in much the same way that you would shave outside your borders, simply shave that mustache off.
Try and shave with the grain though (downwards) as the skin under your mustache can be quite sensitive.
It’s not to be confused with the chinstrap where the hair is shaved off the cheeks as well.
The style is also generally for the more adventurous man, as it’s quite a bold statement and will draw attention.
It may not be suitable for all workplaces but is an increasingly popular style that is straightforward to achieve.
The 5mm beard is everywhere at the moment. Heavy stubble appears to be here to stay.
As we’ve discussed, it’s versatility does seem to play a huge role in its popularity. When properly groomed, it is sleek, easily styled, masculine and attractive.
As with everything in men’s grooming, facial hair style popularity is cyclical. There was a time when heavy stubble was shunned and frowned upon.
Those days are no more. It may not be the case forever, but if you want to ride the wave of popularity the 5mm beard appears to be having, this guide should serve you well.
Do you have any thoughts on the 5mm beard? Any first-hand experience you could share? If so, be sure to leave them in the comments below!