Stay Within the Lines

Well defined lines can make or break your beard

Well defined lines can make or break your beard

If there’s one detail that can make or break your look, it’s poorly drawn hair lines. Unless you’re going all Neanderthal, those ugly, uneven or undefined neck and cheek lines can blow a good look.

If you’re planning to keep some hair of your beard under your chin, it has to be groomed. This is one of the trickiest areas to trim or shave because it has so many angles, and it’s hard to see under there.

Neck Trimming and Shaving

Do your neck a favor and treat it well during shaving.

  • Use plenty of lather. Don’t worry about getting your shirt wet. You shouldn’t be wearing one anyway.
  • Use the hot towel technique on your neck as well as your face.
  • Use only light pressure on the razor. Hold it towards the end of the handle, not near the blade.
  • Watch for in-grown hairs and bumps on your skin. They are particularly hard to see on your neck.
  • Don’t try to flatten the neck area by over-stretching your skin. Instead of tilting your head upwards to get the skin on your neck taut, lean forward and slightly tilt your head back.
  • Use shorter strokes on the razor to groom these angled areas.

Where you position your beard line can make or break a great look. Before you take shaver to neck, outline the area where you’re leaving your beard intact.

  • Look at your neck in total. Try to create a balance between showing that you have both a beard and a neck.
  • Stopped too close to the jawbone, a beard can make you look fussy.
  • Too far down your neck, a beard can look messy.
  • A nice line for most full beards is shaving up to a one-inch band right above your Adam’s apple.

Here’s a neck shaving trick for you. When you’re trimming your neck hair, one very important factor to a good trim (and not slicing your skin) is giving attention the “grain” of your beard, or the direction that the hairs grow.

Neck hair has a mind of its own. It sometimes grows in multiple directions, in circular patterns and even back to the skin. Understanding how the hair grows on your neck is the first step in overcoming shaving problems below your chin.

It might seem a little weird, but take some time to get to know the hair under there. Before you shave that beard you’ve shown such patience in growing have a close look at it.

Use a mirror and your hands to feel the grain in even the smallest of areas. Some guys even document on a “face map” particularly important finds like bumps, whorls and ingrown hairs until they’ve committed them to memory. Show direction of growth with arrows that will guide you in shaving direction. This sounds really goofy, but it has saved a lot of newbies the pain and embarrassment of forgotten toilet paper.

Cheek Trimming

You’ve got a couple of choices in the area of cheek trimming: a natural cheek line shows your wilder side and requires little maintenance. Most guys with a decent amount of facial hair on their cheeks and those with jobs tend to prefer a defined cheek line.

Creating a cheek line that compliments your look is just as important as getting your neck line worked out.

Trim your cheeks by setting your beard trimmer to the “0” setting or using a fresh blade in your wet razor. Rubbing in some shaving oil before you start can help your whiskers stay straight for their trimming. Work in one direction or the other along your smile lines and go with the grain of the hair. Work outwards to your sideburns.

If you’re thinking your neck and cheek lines have to run parallel to one another, take some of the pressure off. Go with the best angle for each. It’s the combination that counts.

We’re not all pros…. If You Screw Up