Light stubble beard – The FULL guide

Growing out your beard for the first time is always a little bit daunting. But did you know that the light stubble beard is one of the first places you can achieve on your beard growing journey that can significantly change your appearance? The light stubble beard can be achieved in as little as a couple of weeks and is perfect for professionals who want a little bit more than the 5 o’clock shadow look or for people with a high and even hair density on their cheeks and chin. Keeping a light stubble beard tamed takes daily maintenance – but it doesn’t take too long. In this article we are going to go over everything you need to know about a light stubble beard and what you can do to keep it looking sharp.

A light stubble beard can be anywhere from 1 mm to 3 mm of growth. This can be achieved in as little as one week and can significantly change your look. Simple tools like a trimmer and a single-blade safety razor will be your best options for keeping it looking sharp and tidy.

In my other article – the 5 mm beard – I discuss all of the insider tricks for a 5 mm beard. The great thing is that you do not need to wait for your beard to get to this length. It can take approximately 3 to 4 weeks to get a little bit past the 5 mm length so that you can trim it back to an even length all over.

If you want more than the 5 o’clock shadow but do not want to commit to a months worth of growth – light stubble beard may be the perfect option for you.

What is a light stubble beard?

A light stubble beard is a full coverage short beard style where the hair is approximately 1 to 3 mm in length. This means that you can achieve a light stubble beard in as little as one week. Beard hair grows approximately at 0.38 mm per day which means that after only 7 to 8 days you will be able to achieve a 3 mm beard.

How long should a stubble beard be?

For each person, what they consider a light stubble beard, differs. However, I think the cut-off for a light stubble beard versus a short beard is when you hit the 5 mm mark.

Here are a few examples of what a light stubble beard may look like. Use these as a guide and inspiration for styling and lining up your light stubble beard.

You may also decide not to do a completely even length all over your light stubble beard stop in this case you should invest in trimmers that have a wide range of guards in the 0 to 3 mm length so that you can achieve a good fade from shorter parts of your beard to the longer stubble lengths.

It may be worth noting that fading in and out of problem areas is a great way to emphasise the good parts of your beard (where the density is higher) and minimising the effect of patchiness in other areas.

You can also hide problem areas on the cheeks and chin by choosing your lines very carefully.

Who is a light stubble beard for?

A light stubble beard is perfect for those who want to change their appearance quickly, aren’t afraid of a little bit of daily maintenance, and do not want to push through the uncomfortable and awkward beard phases that come with growing a longer beard.

Also, it may be that the person’s workplace does not allow them to have a full beard – this could be due to health and hygiene reasons or through the workplace dress codes.

There are also plenty of people who are in relationships with others who do not like a full beard. Having a full beard comes with difficulties in intimate kissing and can definitely cause issues if the partner is not informed about your intention of growing a long beard. A light stubble beard is perfect for people who are married or in a relationship with someone who is not a fan of being intimate with a big bushy beard.

Professionals

Some professional workplaces do not allow for their employees to have a long beard. Having a light stubble beard means that you get around all of the issues with the human resources rules whilst also still being able to sport a relatively trendy beard.

Before you start growing a beard I highly recommend that, if you are in full-time employment, that you double check with your workplaces dress codes about facial hair.

I’m not a big fan of following rules at the best of times and my approach would be to grow it out and wait for people to tell you you can’t do it. If this causes you to much anxiety simply check. I always think that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

People with a good density

If you have a particularly high density of hair follicles on your face you may be able to grow a light stubble beard that looks very impressive very quickly. A good hair density is typically found in people with middle eastern Heritage and can quickly turn 5 o’clock shadow – i.e. one day’s worth of growth – into a continuous looking beard.

If you have particularly good density you may be able to grow a light stubble beard in under one week. This is a perfect way quickly change your appearance and rock a new style on the weekend!

People who get razor bumps easily

Growing a light stubble beard is perfect for people who do not want to grow a full beard but very quickly get pseudofolliculitis barbae and other inflammatory conditions wash growing a beard.

Did you know that the act of growing out a beard can really help with inflammatory conditions associated with shaving?

These are called “razor bumps” but can also be called barbers itch, pseudofolliculitis barbae and folliculitis barbae traumatica. The symptoms are very common for many men and these include:

  • Pain
  • Redness and darkening of the skin
  • small solid bumps on the surface of the skin
  • Puss-filled blister like lesions on the surface of the skin

None of these some great, right?

These symptoms can occur anywhere on the body that has been shaved but are most likely to occur on the face in the chin, neck and lower cheek areas. The cause of these small bumps is when the curly beard hairs get stuck inside the hair follicles.

Although this issue can be seen across the whole spectrum of beard growers it is most common in people of African decent. A 2013, study showed that there are several skin conditions that are more common in skin of colour and “Altering shaving techniques helps prevent lesions from recurring“.

Obviously, if you are growing a beard you remove the need for shaving altogether putting a stop to this inflamation. However, many men choose to shave the neck area of their beard so treatment can include steroids, antibiotics, and retinoids to prevent progression.

How do you get light stubble?

Getting a light stubble beard relies on waiting for approximately one week without shaving. Everyone’s growth pattern is different and, therefore, it may not be the best option for people who have a low beard hair density.

Alternatively, and maybe the best option, is to grow out your facial hair for at least 2 to 3 weeks and then use a good set of trimmers to trim the entire facial hair region back to approximately 2 mm in length. This will cut the hairs back or to the same length.

If you simply allow your beard hair to grow out you will see that there are some areas of your face where the hair grows faster. This means that your cheek region or chain region can very quickly look as if there isn’t as much hair due to the contrast in length of faster growing areas.

I recommend that if you want to get a light stubble beard you should grow it out past the length that you want and then use trimmers to shape it back to the length you require.

After this initial trimming you should only need to trim up your beard once a week to keep it looking fresh and defined. Let’s take a look at how you care for a light stubble beard daily and weekly.

How to care for a light stubble beard

Having a light stubble beard is actually a little more work than you may think. The thing that actually makes a light stubble beard look great is the contrast between the skin and the hair which is growing on your cheeks, chin, moustache, and neck area. Because you do not have length to provide that contrast you must shave your lines to the skin as often as possible. For most people, especially those with light hair or low follicle density, this will need to be daily to provide the maximum contrast.

Then, your attention should turn to moisturising the skin and the stubble.

Daily

A daily beard grooming routine for your light stubble beard will be the thing that keeps it looking sharp throughout the day. You do not have to spend hours grooming but a good focused 10 minutes will pay off if you do it every single morning.

Here are the things that you should consider doing every day to keep your light stubble beard looking sharp and as defined as possible.

Shave cheek lines

When people look at your beard one of the first things they see are the cheek lines. Because you are not relying on the length of the hair to keep the cheek lines defined you must shave these as soon as there is any growth above the cheek line.

Simply use a single blade safety razor to remove the hairs above your desired cheek line. My recommendation is that you choose a cheek line which closely follows the areas of maximum density on your cheeks.

If you have particularly sparse cheek hairs you your cheek line can be dipped lower in order to achieve maximum contrast between your skin and the stubble.

The neckline is also an important feature of a very short beard but it is less obvious to the people you are talking to. Therefore, you only need to do once every week – or a couple times a week maximum.

Add beard oil

Not a lot of people are aware of the fact that you can use beard oil as soon as you start growing stubble.

Beard oil is a fantastic product as it is able to impart a load of really important qualities to your stubble beard. For example, it can help fight acne depending on the essential oils included. It stops beard dandruff, it smells nice, and it can help you get rid of the annoying beard itch which can happen even the light stubble stage.

If you want to know more about what beard oil does check out my other article what does beard will do – click here – or watch my YouTube video, below.

Applying beard oil to stubble is very simple:

  • Place one or two drops of beard oil into your palms
  • rub your hands together so that you evenly distribute the beard oil
  • use the palms of your hands to brush the beard oil all over the stubble
  • distributed evenly across your beard and moustache.

It’s as simple as that!

If you have a short beard I highly recommend getting a beard oil contains jojoba oil. Jojoba oil isn’t readily absorbed by hair but it is readily absorbed by the skin. Because a light stubble beard is short enough to be able to see the skin underneath you should consider using beard oil to provide a healthy shine to your skin.

Use a skin moisturiser

In the early stages of growing a beard I highly recommend using a skin moisturiser to ensure that your hair follicles and the skin around it – with all of the beneficial capillaries bringing the nutrients to the hair root – is well looked after.

Here are some of my favourite skin soothing products that will be sure to help keep your stubble and skin soft and well hydrated.

Banyan Botanicals Soothing Skin Balm$22/4 ozLink to product
CW Beggs and Sons Sensitive Skin Moisturizer for Men$24/2.5 ozLink to product
Liz Claiborne Curve for Men Skin Soother  $25/4.2 ozLink to product

Simply use the skin moisturiser whenever you feel like your skin is dry or irritated for a complete solution to most light stubble beard problems.

Weekly

Your light stubble beard is going to benefit mostly from your daily trimming activities. However, once a week you should pass a good quality trimmer over the entire surface of your face.

Trim up all over

You should trim up at least once a week using a trimming guard that enables you to get your beard the same length all over. If you are fading into the less dense and poorer growing areas of your beard you need to make sure that you have the guards to be able to do this. Alternatively, you can go and see your trusted barber for a weekly or fortnightly tidy up.

Because your beard is short you may have to go over the same areas in a number of different directions to catch all of the hairs efficiently and accurately. For example, while I am trimming up my stubble beard I need to go over the areas which are very angular such as the jawline and chin upwards, downwards, and sideways, to capture all of the hairs.

Learning how your beard grows will be one of the easiest ways to speed up this process.

Reline neck

realigning the cheek lines, as we’ve talked about above, should be done nearly every day. However, your neckline is not as sensitive to the changes that occur throughout the week. That means that you only need to reline your neckline once every week or so.

If you want to maintain a really well-defined neckline you should consider doing it a couple times a week.

Typically, the neckline is an area that tend to get wrong. The line should be a sweeping line from behind your ear that hits just above your Adam’s apple – approximately two fingers width above your Adam’s apple.

Trimming to high will make your beard look less substantial and mean that you are not showing off the depth of your beard to its full potential.

No, let’s take a quick look at some of the best tools that you can buy for a light stubble beard.

Best tools for a light stubble beard

The great thing about a light stubble beard is that you actually don’t need many tools to keep it looking great. A simple trimmer that is suitable for detailing, a single blade safety razor, a soft bristle brush for distribution of oils, and a stubble softening pad is all you really need.

Trimmer

If you’re only going to use or purchase one thing from this list lets it be a trimmer which is perfect for detailing your beard. For a full rundown on the different sorts of trimmers that are suitable for detailing a light stubble beard check out my other article – click here.

Wahl T-Styler Pro

4.2 out of 5 Stars

This stylish trimmer comes with all of the accessories that you need to get your beard lines looking sharp. This is the first in our T-blade recommendations. The -blade overhang allows you to get nice sharp edges to your beard and also allow you to get the cutting edge really close to your lines.

  • Edging – Get crisp clean lines & sharp edges with Wahl’s zero overlap blades; Blades are 0.2 mm and leave a crisp ash line for excellent line definition with the power of a full-size clipper in a easy to hold compact trimmer unit
  • Bump-Free Dry Trimming – Edge Pro’s zero overlap precision ground T-blade provides a super close, clean shave without causing razor bumps; High-torque rotary motor & precision machines drive components allow for professional quality shaving at home
  • 12 Individual Blade Guards – Edge Pro allows for 12 cutting lengths with included guide combs. Featuring 12 guide combs for haircuts and trims; Included attachment combs range from short (1/8”) to long (1”)
  • Durable Wahl Blades – Our high carbon precision ground blades are durable and stay sharp longer than other blades. The high-quality trimmer, clipper, & detailer blades provide smooth hair clipping, beard trimming, beard & neckline detailing, and total body grooming
  • The Brand Used by Professionals – Wahl clippers and trimmers have been used by professionals in the salon & barber industry since 1919. With self-sharpening precision blades Wahl clippers, shavers & trimmers deliver a smooth shave

Pros

+ Low skin irritation

+ Sharp lines

+ Long cord

Cons

~ A little bit buzzy

~ No switch to adjust blade cutting height like the pro

Not all beard trimmers are made the same. If you want to line up your beard you may want a beard trimmer for detailing. For more information about different beard trimmer types check out my articles below:

Selecting the best beard trimmer for your hair type and what you want to do will make the job much easier.

Single blade safety razor

A single blade safety razor will be the one way that you can keep all of the lines looking sharp.

Unlike a cartridge based razor, a single blade safety razor will enable you to cut precisely where you wanted to cut. After I my cartridge razor blade to a single blade safety razor I have never looked back.

They can be picked up relatively inexpensively online and I recommend that you purchase one as soon as you start growing a beard.

Not all razor blades for single blade safety razors are suitable for everyone. One of the first things I did was buy a multi-pack and a sample pack from a couple of safety blade sellers which enabled me to work out which one was best for my skin.

Soft bristle brush

A soft bristle brush with a label you to stimulate the follicles in your facial area whilst also allowing you to distribute beard oil and moisturiser evenly throughout your stubble beard. It is also really good for removing any dead skin cells or dirt and debris that can accumulate around the base of the hairs.

Personally, I use my soft bristle brush more than any other tool in my beard growing toolbox and I highly recommend that you invest in one. They are very inexpensive and can provide a much better look and feel to your beard.

Stubble softening pad

Stubble can also be tamed by using a product to rub off the sharp ends of your hairs.

There is a product called The Soft Goat which is a hypoallergenic pad which, when rubbed on stubble, dulls sharp edges from trimming and shaving. It is the first stubble softener that doesn’t rely on absorption of a product into the stubble.

The concept is very simple – it is quickly and easily removing the sharp ends of your hair through mechanical action. It is a small and lightly textured pad that you gently rub in a circular motion over your daily growth for about a minute or two depending on your results.

Each pad lasts about two months and comes in a box of three – so that is six months of super soft stubble!

The benefits of a light stubble beard

There are many benefits to growing a light stubble beard. I like the fact that light stubble beard is very easy to grow, it is relatively easy to maintain with a fewer number of products. However, the thing that keeps a light stubble beard looking professional and sharp is the crispness of the lines on the cheek and the neck.

Here are some of the reasons why you may want to consider growing a light stubble beard rather than a really big bushy beard.

Quick to grow

A light stubble beard is incredibly quick to grow. It only takes approximately 7 to 8 days of average growth to achieve a 3 mm length stubble beard. This means that you are able to start growing your beard only one week before you want it to look its best.

If you want to grow out your beard to longer lengths you have to wait considerably longer times. For example, a 5 mm beard will require that you grow your facial hair for between 4 to 5 weeks. Sometimes, the impatience that people feel whilst growing a beard can cause them to stop growing altogether.

With a light stubble beard you will see the improvements every single day which can keep the enthusiasm up for growing a stubble beard.

Easy to maintain

A light stubble beard is very easy to maintain. All you need to purchase our a good set of trimmers, a single blade safety razor, and one or two products which moisturise the skin and the beard hair.A light stubble beard, once trimmed up and lined up on the cheeks and the neckline, is very easy to maintain.

The daily maintenance of a light stubble beard is very simple since the beard is not long enough to require regular oiling or the use of style controlling products such as beard balm and beard wax.

You can also use a small amount of beard oil with jojoba oil as the main component as this will moisturise the skin underneath.

If you also look for a beard oil, or make your own beard oil, which contains Almond oil and Argan oil will have the best combination of oils for your skin and your beard hair.

The weekly trim up is also easy as long as you have a good set of trimmers which cut reproducibly and evenly across your entire face. You’ll need to have multiple passages at different angles on some of the more angular parts of your face but this technique is easy to learn with a little bit of trial and error.

The use of a trimmer with a good quality (i.e. not flimsy plastic) guard means that it is incredibly easy to cut your beard to the same length all over. That guard means that it is almost foolproof and you cannot over cut your beard like you can if you are using scissors or freehand styling a longer beard.

Less polarising

There is no doubt that a beard can cause a fair amount of controversy for people who dislike facial hair. I have found with my beard that some people love it and some people hate it. I have been told “your facial hair looks hideous” in exactly the same day “that someone also said your beard hair is simply glorious”. There is no pleasing everyone and everyone seems to have an opinion on beards.

A light stubble beard, on the other hand, causes less strong reactions from people. This is simply because there are many people that are rocking a beard which is approximately one week old. Many people assume that a light stubble beard will be shaved off soon.

No matter what your beard length, I highly recommend that you simply ignore everyone else’s opinion about your beard. Everyone will have an opinion and it is your job to ignore them and simply be happy with your own facial creation. It is no one else’s business but yours.

Less product range required

When you have a light stubble beard you need a smaller array of products to keep it looking sharp. In fact, the less you use on your beard at this time the better.

Even though it isn’t ideal you can even get away with using products for your hair such as regular hair shampoo and regular hair conditioner.

I recommend that you purchase a beard oil that contains jojoba oil as jojoba oil is much better for the skin than any other type of beard oil ingredient.

You also do not need any beard wax or beard balm for a beard which is only 5 mm in length. You can choose a beard balm if you wish however an oil is all you will need to help keep your beard soft and moisturised.

Even though there are considerable upsides to having a light stubble beard there are some reasons why you may not want to grow a light stubble beard. Let’s take a quick look at these, below.

The downsides of a light stubble beard

There are some downsides to a light stubble beard that you need to be aware of. The good thing is that it doesn’t take long for the light stubble beard to grow so if you don’t like it, simply shave it off or grow out.

Unable to cover/hide problem areas

One of the first issues with a light stubble beard is that is unable to cover a problem areas. When you are growing a beard you can cover some of the lease good part of your beard simply by growing out the hairs and hiding the problem. However, with a light stubble beard you are unable to do that.

In order to cover up problem areas with a light stubble beard your only option is to completely remove them back to freshly shaved skin.

Need to line more often

As we talked about, above, a shorter beard requires you to line up the cheeks more often than other longer beards.

If you are in a rush in the mornings or you struggle to set aside 10 minutes after your shower may be a longer beard will be easier to manage since it will be able to be left for a few days before needing a good old-fashioned trim up.

No protection from the cold or UV rays

Having a big, bushy, beard means that you have an extra layer of protection against both UV rays and cold wind.

If you have a short stubble beard you will still need to apply sunscreen if you are in a country that has a significant UV rating. Also, you will not notice any particular advantage during winter in keeping your face warm. So you’re still going to have to wear that scarf!

Summary

In this article, we have gone over everything you need to know about light stubble beards from who they are for, what they are, and the best ways to look after them. A light stubble beard is perfect for anyone who is looking to grow a beard quickly to change the style and add that extra little bit of interest to their face. It is perfect for professionals and with as little as 10 minutes maintenance every single day you are able to keep it looking sharp and fresh!

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!