How to tame a short beard [The Ultimate Guide]

Just because you have a short beard doesn’t mean that you can’t keep it looking tidy and clean. Having a short beard doesn’t mean that it can’t be impactful and defined just like a longer beard. The issue is that sometimes a short beard is much harder to control than a long beard due to the fact that the hairs are shorter, harder to control, and there are smaller margins of error when trimming or shaping the beard. In this article, we’re going to cover all of the ways that you can tame a short beard to keep your short beard tame and controlled.

Taming a short beard involves a little bit more brute force than a longer beard. Using a product with wax in it such as a beard balm or wax goes a long way. Combination this with trimming uneven hairs and looking after the skin underneath.

Let’s have a look at all of the ways that a short beard can become unruly.

Issues with short beards

Short beards have a number of different issues to long beards. When the hair is shorter you have less ability to control and shape the beard using products and heat treatments. Here are some of the ways which short beards can quickly look untamed and messy:

  • uneven hair lengths – short beards are typically in the early stages of growth and therefore they have a range of different hair lengths. The hair on your chin will tend to grow a little faster than the hair on your cheeks making your chin look fluffier (or more spiky) than cheeks.
  • Patches – if you have a short beard is likely that the hair is not long enough to cover some of the thinner, less densely populated, areas of your face. This can be one of the reasons that people grow out their beard.
  • Undefined lines – short beards tend to look better when the lines of the beard (such as those on your cheek and neck) are trimmed and lined up perfectly. This is very easy to fix with a single blade safety razor.

I think that these three are the top three issues that people with short beards need to overcome to make a beard look less unruly and untamed. Here are all of the ways you can tame your short beard and overcome the majority of short beard issues.

How to tame a short beard – simple steps

Taming a short beard is surprisingly simple as long as you have the right tools and products. In this section we will go through the top ways that you can tackle some of the underlying issues which plague people with short beards.

Let it grow out – just a little bit

Okay, I know you want a short beard but how about letting it grow out just a little bit.

I don’t mean that you have to grow out to a full beard but just give it a month or so to grow out a little bit before trimming it back. This will help you homogenise the length of the beard hairs that are on your face will also give you an idea about the optimum length of your short beard.

The term “short beard” covers quite a range of lengths. To find out about all of the different types of beard styles check out my super comprehensive rundown of all of the foundational beard styles in my article – beard styles [a comprehensive list of foundational beard styles] – click here to be taken to article.

Letting your beard grow out means that you will be able to determine whether your short beard looks better closer to stubble or on the border of a medium length beard.

Growing out could be the best decision that you made even if you decide to trim it back to a shorter beard style. You will never know until you give it a try.

Use a product with wax in it

The hairs on a short beard are not as easy to control as hairs on a long beard stop this is because the hairs on a short beard are “spiky”.

Hairs are made up of three layers which provides them with a relatively high tensile strength and makes it harder for them to bend over short distances. Once a beard hair gets past about an inch in length you are able to control its direction by using heat treatments alone.

Short beards are different.

You will not be able to rely on hairdryers or beard straighteners alone to control your short beard and tame the hairs. You should use a product with a significant amount of beeswax to ensure that the hairs are held in the right orientation throughout the day.

I highly recommend that you trial a number of different commercial beard waxes and balms with varying amounts of organic beeswax in the ingredients. If you are so inclined, I would also highly recommend that you learn to make your own beard balm using my YouTube video, below:

Learning to make your own beard balm means that you are able to vary the amounts of Shea butter and beeswax so that you can create the perfect amount of hold required for your beard. Once I learned how to make my DIY beard balm I have saved hundreds of dollars and been able to perfect my recipe over time.

Control uneven hair lengths

One of the first things that makes a short beard look unkept is an even beard hair length.

Beards do not grow at an even rate across the entirety of the face. Each area of the face contains a different density of hair follicles and also a different growth rate which, over time, will give you a significantly different length of hair. If you do not trim up your beard regularly and consistently you may miss some hairs that will get longer than the rest.

The great thing about short beards is that it is relatively easy to control the length by knowing how to use beard trimmers and scissors properly.

If you are going to maintain your short beard yourself, you should invest in a good quality set of beard trimmers. No beard trimmer will suit everyone, so I have written a series of articles for getting the best beard trimmer for a variety of beard styles and purposes:

In these articles I go through the best beard trimmers for different beard types. You’ll be able to choose a trimmer which is best for you and they can be found at relatively inexpensive price points for good quality and powerful beard trimmers that will easily cut through your fuzzy beard edges.

Keeping your beard homogeneous in length is the number one way that you can make your beard look intentional and as tame as possible.

Embrace the hairdryer

Even though you can’t use heat alone embracing heat treatment either through a hairdryer or a beard straightener will be an important step in your efforts in taming your short beard.

Two properly control hair with heat you must use a medium to high heat on your beard and brush it into shape. The issue is, with a short beard, that the highest heat you can use is dependent on how much heat you can tolerate on your skin from the heat tool.

With a hairdryer – make sure that you use a high heat and a good quality natural bristle brush to hold the hair in place. Afterwards, you should blow dry the hair on a cold setting which will cool down the hair and lock it into place.

With a beard straightener – turn onto the highest heat setting possible and slowly move through your short beard. Your beard will have to be on the longer end of short beard styles for this to work properly but using a beard straightener can be an important tool for controlling and taming your beard.

We have the tendency to over rely on heat tools and excessive heat for controlling all sorts of lengths of beards. I recommend that you do not use high heat very often to tame a short beard as you risk damaging the beard hair as it grows as well as drying out the skin underneath the beard which can result in a significant amount of beard dandruff and flakiness.

That’s why you should look at the skin under the hair.

Look after the skin and hair

With some short beard styles you are still able to see the skin underneath the beard. That is not necessarily a bad thing but you need to be aware that your skin needs to be as well conditioned, hydrated, and well looked after as your beard hair.

Jojoba oil is one of the best things that you can look for in a beard oil or product since it is readily absorbed by the skin and can impart a series of impressive effects onto your skin. Jojoba oil is not as readily absorbed by beard hair so as your beard gets longer that you should look at swapping out your beard oil for one that contains oils which are more readily absorbed by the hair such as coconut oil and Argan oil.

Using a good skin condition and moisturiser as well as products to control and tame your beard hair will help you keep your beard looking as tame as possible.

How can I make my short beard look good?

Keeping your short beard looking the best it can means that your daily routine should be optimised for your growth and goals. Here are the top things that you should do to keep your short beard looking as good as possible throughout the day.

Keep the lines trimmed up!

Short beards look way better when the lines of the beard are trimmed sharply. This is because short beards do not have as much of a density as long beards and so they rely on the contrast between the skin and the hair to provide the shape.

There are two areas where you should trim your short beard – the cheeks and the neckline.

Trim your neckline

The neckline is where your head joins your neck and is more visible on shorter beards. It can be quite challenging as the skin on the neck moves around a lot as you tilt your head up and down.

However, both long and short beards look way better if a couple of key neckline rules are adhered to.

Rule 1: Not TOO high!

This is the fatal mistake that I see a load of beard owners committing. There was a trend in the late ’90s to have your beard follow your jawline. It was said to “define your jaw” and “make you look more manly”. The problem is – it has the opposite effect.

The neckline is a tricky spot and I go into detail in my other post about how to tackle it properly!

A jawline beard line really thins out the depth of the beard and makes it look less substantial.

Rule 2: Find where your head attaches to your neck

Finding where your head attaches to your neck is the only way to discover your perfect neckline for your beard. I do this in two ways.

The first way is to tilt your head forward as far as it will go and push your finger up into the crease. Where the top of the crease it – that’s your neckline!

Another option is to find your Adam’s apple and, when looking up, place two fingers on your neck with the bottom finger resting on the top edge of your Adam’s apple. Where the top finger rests on your neck that is your neckline.

Notice how when my neck is stretched the middle part of the neckline seems to be higher than the line at the jawbones. This is because the skin stretches and it can lead to a bit of confusion. Remember to cut your neckline in

Once you have found your neckline you want to trim along it so that it is symmetrical and follows around the side of your head. If in doubt ask an expert to trim yours in for you – then you can maintain that line for yourself.

Trim up your cheek line

Trimming up your cheek line is relatively easy to do with a single blade safety razor.  The safety razor will have a single blade which allows you to trim up the multi-blade cartridge razor.

I like to use a technique where I blow out my cheeks so that it gives me a larger area to work with and allows me to more accurately trim up the cheek line and define the edge much easier. You can check out this technique in my YouTube video, below:

Trim back to even length

One of the best things that you can do to keep your beard looking good at all times is to trim back to an even length. This doesn’t mean that your beard has to be one length all over but rather that the areas in certain parts of your face are the same length.

If you have poor coverage on certain parts of your face but want to have a short beard you can decide to fade into certain areas of your beard to make the style look intentional. This allows you to work with your beard rather than against it.

If you want to get an idea of how the professionals trim up a beard and fade into different sections head over to your local barber and take careful note of how you they are using the trimmers to create the fade effect on your beard. Typically, after a couple of visits is relatively simple to reproduce what the barber has done at home.

Develop a great beard routine

Keeping a short beard looking awesome all day long is all about trying a range of different products and approaches over the course of six months or so and combining them into a daily routine that leaves your beard looking as good as possible.

My beard routine involves:

  • getting my beard completely wet every morning – every other day I shampoo my beard with a dedicated beard shampoo.
  • Towel drying – using a towel to pat the majority of the moisture out of my beard.
  • Blow drying – using a hairdryer on a medium heat to blow dry the hair into the shape I want it to take for the day.
  • A light oiling – using my DIY beard oil to lock in moisture for the day
  • an optional beard balm step – sometimes I use my DIY beard oil to provide extra style and hold if I have to look particularly well-maintained for the day.

Learning to develop your very own beard routine will take patients and a little bit of time but with the right mindset of experimentation you will definitely be able to hone in on the things that work best for your beard.


Taming a short beard is different to having to tame a long beard. The hairs are not long enough to control solely with heat and so you will need products with a high amount of hold – beeswax – to keep your beard looking well maintained throughout the day.

Trimming and learning to fade your beard will be one of the best tools for you to use to keep your beard looking as tame as possible. Also, trimming up the neckline and the cheeks of your beard will help you maintain your style and provide the extra level of definition to keep your beard looking great.

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 trialling different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!