Do beard shapers work? [Full guide and tips]

Every beard grower has seen the beard shaping tools on Amazon and other marketplaces. At first glance they can seem like a very valuable investment as they have the potential to save time and also reduce the amount of error that is inherent when trimming up your beard lines yourself. Using a trimmer and a mirror can often result in a slightly uneven beard trim and line up. I know because I’m always very critical about the symmetry of my beard and sometimes I just miss the mark. Would a beard shaper make it any easier?

Beard shapers work by providing a physical barrier between the razor and the hairs that you want to trim. When used properly they can create a symmetrical beard shape with defined lines. This relatively inexpensive tool could be the thing to take your beard to the next level.

Beard shapers are not part of my “must have” toolkit. Rather, it falls in the “nice to have” bucket.

Beard shapers can be a really great gift for the bearded person in your life or if you just want to treat yourself and purchase something a little bit different. There are a wide variety of beard trimming guides and beard shapers including transparent solid plastic guides, guides with integrated comb, and a flexible plastic band to define your neckline.

Here is everything you need to know to answer the question: do beard shapers work?

How does a beard shaper work?

A beard shaper is a relatively primitive tool in the beard growing world. It is simply a physical barrier between the hairs you want to keep and the trimming device that you are using on your face. They can be used with razor blades – either single blade safety razors or cartridge razors – as well as trimmers.

The tool is only as accurate as you are able to use it. The best way for using the beard tool is to use one hand to hold it up against your face in a secure manner and line up the start and finish point of the plastic edge (typically a smooth curved line) that you are using with the edges of your beard.

You simply then remove all of the hairs that fall on the outside of the plastic beard shaper. You can use a beard shaper on your cheeks, sideburns, moustache, and neckline. Here is a step-by-step on exactly what you need to do in order to use a beard shaper reproducibly and accurately.

Tools

Because it is a very simple tool you only need to use a single blade safety razor, a cartridge razor, or your favourite electric trimmer to use alongside the beard shaper.

My preference is to use a single blade safety razor because it allows me to be more accurate with where it is cutting and it causes a significant amount less irritation than when I have used a cartridge razor.

There is a little bit of a learning curve for using a single blade safety razor but I think the process is well worth it.

All you have to make sure is that the trimmer or blade that you are using is able to cut relatively closely to the shaping tool that you are using. Otherwise, you’re going to have to factor in a margin of error – a couple of millimetres – for the difference in cutting edge.

The type of tool that you choose ultimately depends on the sort of shapes you want to cut into your beard. There are a range of different beard shapes that you can cut in using a beard shaper and template and you just have to make sure that the tool that you use has all of the appropriate angles and curves for your preferred beard shape.

We will talk about the different types of beard shapers, below.

Cheeks

Using the beard shaper on your cheek is one of the most common ways for using a beard shaper.

All you have to do is simply choose the right sweeping line for your beard that you want to use to connect your sideburn to your moustache.

You then have to firmly press the shaping tool applicant shall face making sure that the beginning and end of the shape line up with your moustache and sideburns.

To make sure that the beard shaper doesn’t move around when it is on your beard or face I like to use a little bit of beard balm on the backside of the tool.

The beard balm has got a little bit of wax in it which allows the plastic to stick a little bit to the hairs underneath. Typically, plastic and hairs move against each other with relatively low friction and this helps keep the beard tool in place whilst also nourishing the hairs underneath.

Win-win for everyone.

Neckline

The neckline is another common place where a beard shaper is used to create a symmetrical sweep.

In this instance you are not holding the beard shaper up against the skin but rather that you are using an age of the beard trimmer perpendicular to your neckline to define the shape.

Depending on the type of tool that you have you will either do your entire neckline in one go or do half at a time. My preference is to get a beard tool where you can use a single solid line which helps improve your accuracy and stops you from making small – millimetre – changes which can make a big impact on the way your neckline looks.

The barber pen

Sometimes, the beard shaping tool comes with a barber pen where you draw a line on your skin to indicate where you want to remove hairs.

If you find that the beard shaping tool moves around too much for your liking you can use a barber pen to draw on the line which were then free up your hands for manipulating your cheeks and shaving tools for a much more accurate trimming session.

Types of beard shapers

There are many types of beard shapers which you can use to get the perfect line and angles on your beard. These beard shapers are typically transparent and have a variety of shapes cut into them.

You can get a range of different shapes in one tool which combines angular guides as well as sweeping curves of various depth.

Here is the Aberlite ClearShaper tool with all of the different angles highlighted and annotated for convenience.

Do beard shapers work?

This type of beard shaper has many more different curves than others. If you want a simple style you can choose from the many types which often include only one or two different sweeps and angles to choose from.

Typically, the beard shapers come in three different styles.

Hard plastic guide

The hard plastic guide is relatively large and provides all of the different shapes you need for lining up your beard with accuracy.

They are typically transparent so that you can see the hairs underneath to make sure that you are cutting back to the point of maximum density. The point of maximum density is where you are going to get the most defined line for your beard and, depending on your growth, may be a lot lower than other people’s beards.

You can use a hard plastic guide on its own or you can use a hard plastic guide with a beard pen or eyeliner to show you where the line should be.

Integrated comb

The other type of hard plastic beard shaper includes a comb.

As long as the comb is not moulded plastic it should be fine on your beard that I have a suspicion that a lot of these beard shapers are not machined out of a single piece of plastic that are mould injected which means that the comb is likely to have sharp edges which could potentially damage your beard if used regularly.

The integrated comb can be used for quickly cropping up your beard and combing into shape before defining the lines. It’s handy if you do not have a regular comb that you are using.

Neckline Shaping Template/Strap

The last type of beard shaper is a neckline shaping template and strap.

This is simply a bit of a thin flexible plastic attached to an elastic strap. The elastic strap is stretched up over the top of your head to hold the flexible plastic in place and it helps you create a continuous sweep from one ear to the other passing just above the Adam’s apple.

This tool is not suitable for doing any other part of the beard apart from your neckline so if you want a versatile tool look at the other options, above.

Who beard shapers are for

Because a beard shaper is not a must have tool for people grown beard who exactly are they for? If you find that you fall into any of these categories you may want to spend the small amount of money on one of the best beard shapers on the market – the Aberlite ClearShaper.

People who want defines lines

If you struggle to get defined and clean lines using just your trimmer or your razor blade you should absolutely consider purchasing a beard shaping tool.

Not only will it help improve your accuracy but it will also enable you to have a completely symmetrical beard at all times.

It doesn’t matter if you have a stubble beard or a super long wizard length beard a beard shaping tool is definitely something you should add to your beard tool collection if having a defined cheek line and neckline is something that is important to you.

Short beards

Short beards are particularly hard to maintain since they require ongoing maintenance at a quicker and more frequent rate than longer beards. Quite simply, the margin of error is much smaller between a really well-defined short beard and one that is a little bit fuzzy around the edges and doesn’t look super professional.

If you want to know how to make your short beard look good check out my other article – how you can make you short beard look good – click here to be taken to the article.

Having a short beard means that your neckline is particularly visible. Shaving the neckline is one of the things that can easily go wrong as you try to find the best lines and shape manually with a trimmer or a single blade safety razor.

Finding the perfect neckline requires you to identify where your head attaches to your neck. You can do this by tilting your head forward and pushing your finger up as far as it will go into the crease when the top of the creases – that is your neckline. Another option is to look up and placed two fingers above your Adam’s apple where the line of the top finger lies is also a fantastic place to trim up your neckline.

Busy professionals

There is no doubt that a beard shaping tool can improve the accuracy of your trimming but the addition of an extra tool can actually cause the daily maintenance and trimming to take a little bit longer.

If you are a busy professional you may want to invest in a beard shaping tool because it improves your accuracy over the long run. Sometimes, using a simple razor blade and a trimmer can do the trick but if you want to look particularly impressive for an important meeting or to look well shaped up for a special occasion using a beard shaping tool will enable you to do it quicker than if you were to do it by hand.

Are beard shaping tools worth it?

Beard shaping tools are absolutely worth it if having a well-defined beard shape and defined lines are important for your desired beard style. They are relatively inexpensive from as little as five US dollars. Up to US$15.

A beard shaping tool is worth it if you want an incredibly defined and symmetrical beard style that you can do yourself at home instead of having to go to a barber shop.

How to make beard shaping tool at home

The great news is that if you do not want to spend money on buying a beard shaping tool you can actually make one at home with nothing more than a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, a ruler, a compass, and a rigid plastic material that you can cut with scissors.

This YouTube video gives you a full rundown on how exactly you can make a beard shaping tool at home with these simple tools.

The great thing about making your very own beard grooming tool is that you can play about with the shapes and styles of the tool until you find the perfect sweeping lines for all of the different types of angles and shapes you have in your beard.

There is also no need to have this all combined in one tool. You could have multiple tools – one for your cheeks, one for your cheek line, and one for your moustache and goatee region. The only limit is the limit of your imagination.

Summary

In this article, we have gone over the question: do beard shapers work? Quite simply, they absolutely work if they are used properly and you want to achieve a defined line style beard simply and easily.

They are relatively inexpensive and completely worth it if you put a priority on the symmetry of your facial hair. They are particularly important to use if you have got a very short beard as the lines define a short beard much more than they do a longer beard.

Even though beard shapers are not a must have they are certainly a nice to have tool and if you feel like trying one out I recommend purchasing the Aberlite ClearShaper.

The Author


Andy Stapleton

Andy is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He is an avid beard grower and after many years of growing and trialing different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!