Do beards make you look fatter?

There is no doubt that beards can make you look very different. Changing your beard style, growing facial hair at all, or trimming up certain spots of your beard can dramatically change the shape of your face. If you can master the art of trimming your own beard shaping your beard will give you a power to change the perceived shape of your face as well as drawing attention to or away from problem areas. In this article we are going to have a look at the question: do beards make you look fatter? While also having a look at ways you can trim your beard to change your appearance.

Beards can define your jawline and cheek shape. If you grow your entire beard the same length you will make your beard appear rounder, or fatter, as the sideburns blend into the hair on your head. Trimming in a goatee or growing the beard longer on your chin will have the opposite effect.

Ultimately, making your beard look fatter comes down to the outline of your beard and how it blends in with the rest of your head. Let’s take a look at the important areas of the beard that can have a significant impact on how you look with a beard.

Why do I look fatter with a beard?

There are a couple of places that makes your beard look particularly bulky and could make you look fat. Under the chin and the cheek areas are what will define your face shape more than any other part of the beard.

Under the chin

Leaving a lot of bulk under the chin can make your neck seem much fatter than it is. If there is a lock of hair under the chin and you do not define the neckline the longhairs can push the beard forward making your neck seem fuller then it is.

There are a couple of ways that you can tackle this:

  • squaring off the bottom – by squaring off the bottom of the chin you lose the roundness of the chin and jaw line. This makes the beard line look much more intentional and less like it is following the natural contour of your neck. This will give you a much more defined look whilst also making you seem less chunky in the neck region.
  • Trimming up your neckline – by trimming up your neckline you will also be removing the bulk of the hair that pushes your beard forward and out. When we think about people with a double chin we noticed the under their jawline. By trimming up your neckline you will be removing the extra bulk that we associate with double chins.

Check out my YouTube video where I talk about how to shave a neckline and the important steps that you need to take to do it properly:

When I went to a barber for the first time to get my beard trimmed up the first thing he said was “I’m going to take the weight of the bottom…”. This showed me how important the bottom of your beard is in determining the shape of the beard and hair it is perceived. So, make sure that you pay particular attention to the bit of your beard under your chin and square it off and remove the bulk.

Now, let’s take a look at the next important part of your trimming which is your cheek thickness.

Cheek area

The cheek area of your beard defines round your beard looks. It is common in the early days of growing a beard that you leave this alone and allow it to grow outwards before the weight of the hair pulls the shape of your beard closer to your cheeks.

Once you have grown about 3 inches of hair growth on your cheeks you can start trimming up the sides so that they don’t look bulky. One of the simple tricks that are used to trim my hair is to imagine lines from my sideburns to the bottom of my beard. I then grabbed my tremor and sweep down those lines making sure to trim off any hairs that escape those boundaries that I have set.

If you do this trimming of your cheek area to early, you will end up with thin patches and uneven growth. You have to wait until you have a significant amount of hair on your cheeks before attempting to line it up. If you want to know how I trim up my beard check out my super long tutorial on YouTube:

If you want to know how to often you should trim your beard when it’s growing check out my other article – it has all of the insider tricks – click here.

Removing the bulk of the hair from your cheeks will be one of them easiest ways you can stop your beard from making you look fat. Reducing the bulkiness and trimming in line with the sideburns and the bottom of the beard will be the thing to stop the chunkiness that people associate with that faces.

Training your hair to grow down

Besides the two places where you should trim, above, you can also train your beard to grow in a certain direction so that it doesn’t bush out and cause unnecessary bolt on your cheeks or chin. If you want the full rundown on how you can train your beard to grow down I have got six options in my other article – click here.

You can train your beard to grow down was by using a combination of approaches this includes:

  • Combing – combing your beard is one of the most effective and simple ways that you can train your beard to sit in the direction that you want them to sit in. It’s a little bit more complicated than just breaking through your hair and hoping that they stay there you also need to back it up with heat, products, or some other holding treatment.
  • Pinning – one of the most reliable and easy ways to make sure that your beard is sat in the direction you wanted to be in is to use hair pins to hold the beard in place. This requires that you have long enough hair to pin your hair but put them in after you have showered and use creaseless hair clips while your beard hair is drying to hold it in place.
  • Heat treatment – using a heat tool such as a hairdryer or beard straightener is a common tactic for many men. This is only a temporary solution to creating a change in hair growth but use a hairdryer or beard straightener and you can easily cut out the bulk of your beard.
  • Products – there are a range of products that can make your bulky cheek areas seem slimmer these include: dry texture spray (such as a sea salt spray), beard barn and wax, and you can even use a chemical relaxer to train a particularly pearly beard to lay flat.

In reality, using a combination of approaches such as a good trimming regime as well as the approach is listed above will be the way that you can stop your beard making you look too fat.

Speak to a professional

For some reason we don’t often like to get a professional barber involved in our beard decision-making. This can become an issue if we start tinkering with our own beards and errors build up on errors causing a compound in effect which results in a beard that just doesn’t look right.

Trimming down the sides of your beard will rely on you using your trimmer in a free hand method. This can take a while to get used to and a simple slip of the trimmer can undo many months of growth. So, make sure that you are confident and if in doubt use a beard trimmer guard to limit how close you can get to your skin.

If you are a bigger person and you want your facial hair to slim out your face I would recommend going to see a professional barber that you trust in the early stages of your beard growing journey. They may not be able to do anything right away but their advice will allow you to head in the right direction from the very start.

As a general rule of thumb: if you have any questions go to see a professional!

How to trim your beard to make your face look thinner

If you want to know all about beard styles I have a massive post where I go through a load of different types of beard styles – click here where there is a comprehensive list of foundational beard styles that you can choose from:

beard styles header

Ultimately, if you want to have a beard style that makes your face look thinner you should choose a beard style without the bulk at the size and one that elongates your face.

Leave your chin long

One of the simplest ways to do that is to trim up the sides of your beard completely and just leave a goatee and moustache remaining. Leaving the hair growing on your chin long whilst also shaving the sides down is the most effective ways of elongating your face.

You don’t have to go to the extreme of completely removing the hair on the side of your face but it will help a lot if you keep it skinny. The opposite is also true that if you have a particularly skinny face and you want to bulk it up or give yourself a more defined jaw you can do the opposite and make your chin hairs short while growing out the cheek region of your face.

Choose a beard to match your facial features

Just like every man’s beard is unique the style that will look good on your face will not be the same as anyone else’s. A simple rule of thumb is that your facial hair should complement the shape of your face. Importantly, this doesn’t mean that it should match the shape of your head but rather help you define certain features of your face.

There are very simple ways that you can identify that shape of your head as well as choose a beard style that matches it:

  • if you have a square face – deemphasise the square shape of your face by cutting it shorter on the sides and let it grow more arrange your chin creating a oval shape.
  • If you have a round face – if you have around face you want to create more of a diamond shaped by cutting your beard as short as possible on the cheeks and then letting your facial hair grow longer as you move down toward your jawline and chin.
  • If you have a heart or diamond-shaped face – you can almost get any beard shape as long as you don’t get too close to an extreme square or a bushy cheek style.
  • If you have a pointed chin – you want to keep your beard longer on the size and trim it closer to your skin around the chin. Aim for more of an oval shape. You can also grow out your beard fully to change the shape of your jawline.

If you are not sure that your beard completely complements your facial features you should play about with varying the ratio of length on the cheeks and the chin to test all of the potential styles that could work well for your face. Once again, if you are in doubt speak to a professional.

Conclusion

So, do beards make you look fatter? They absolutely can if you decide to grow out your cheeks and keep the length short. The ultimate determiner of a beard making you look fat or thin is the ratio of length on the cheeks versus on the chin.

Good luck with your beard growing journey and enjoy the process – it is what it is all about!

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!