Choosing a cheek line for your full beard
The cheek line is another danger zone when it comes to the appearance of your full beard. Like a bad neck line, a bad cheek line has ruined many a full beard. What causes bad cheek lines? The usual culprits are a lack of knowledge as well as the old reliable trap of seeing a bad example, but thinking, "Hey. He must know what he's doing. So I'll make my cheek line like that."
When you grow a full beard, you are expressing yourself. Your full beard is a natural expression of who you are. Your full beard, its configuration, density, color, texture, and other characteristics are all uniquely yours. When it comes to choosing a cheek line for your full beard, a key factor in the decision should be to select a cheek line that optimizes the appearance and uniqueness of your beard.
What's so hard about getting the cheek line right?
Overcoming fear is far too frequently the hardest thing about getting the full beard's cheek line right.
How many men do you see who trim back the hairline atop their heads because it is too far forward? None. They leave their scalp's natural hairline in place. In large part, they do not welcome a receding hairline.
So if the hairline atop your head naturally does not grow too far forward, shouldn't the same be true in that your beard's cheek line does not naturally grow too high? All too often, a cheek line is cut down too low because of a lack of confidence or a lack of courage to grow the full beard out properly. Societal and peer pressures combine to make new and even veteran beard growers too sheepish about growing out their beards to their finest. Add to that a lack of confidence and an exaggerated self-perception that growing the full beard is just pushing the envelope too far, and the result too many times is an unflattering, chopped-down beard.
In today's world, growing a full beard is still seen as doing something out of the ordinary. It will make you stand out in the crowd. If you are going to grow your full beard, be bold and grow it proudly. Don't be scared into doing a stunted effort on growing your beard. You are going to set yourself apart by growing the beard anyway. So make sure you set yourself apart with the full glory of your beard grown right rather than setting yourself apart with an improperly-shaped, yet restrained, beard.
Do not worry. You can have a great cheek line and still maintain a well-groomed, professional appearance. See also:
The case for the natural cheek line.
The natural cheek line for the full beard gives a softer, all-natural look. The natural cheek line may not be the best look for every man. But it works quite well for many, when they actually give it the chance.
Advantages of the natural cheek line include:
- a fuller expression of your beard's unique shape
- a softer look than a crisply-defined cheek line
- the increased confidence that comes from boldly growing your beard your way
- foolproof -- no shaping skill required
- no maintenance required
Drawbacks may include:
- some stray hairs possibly requiring minimal maintenance
- needing more courage and independence than you think you have
For the natural cheek line to gain more acceptance, more men need to be willing to step up and let their cheek lines go natural. This shows others that there is nothing wrong with a natural cheek line, that it is a perfectly-acceptable beard-growing option. Those confident enough to grow a natural cheek line serve as powerful examples to others. They may inspire other men to grow full beards with natural cheek lines as well. These men, in turn, may inspire others.
The case for the defined cheek line.
If the natural cheek line is just not right for you, the next step is to define a proper cheek line for your beard. This cheek line can give your full beard a tight, well-defined look.
Advantages of the well-defined cheek line include:
- creating a crisp, precise look for your full beard
- adding definition to the shape while still optimizing your beard's uniqueness
- drawing less resistance from naysayers
- requiring little maintenance
Drawbacks may include:
- harming your beard's appearance if improperly done
- requiring more than one attempt at getting it right for you
Steps for defining a proper cheek line for your full beard
Every beard is unique. You may have to adapt these guidelines for your own beard-growth pattern.
Step 1: Let your cheek line go natural.
Before you can define a cheek line that's best suited for your own beard, you need to clearly see what you've got. To do this, let your beard's cheek line grow out naturally: no trimming, no cheating. Give it enough time to grow out and fill in enough so that you can really see how it takes shape. I recommend letting it grow out and fill in even more than what you see in the photos for this article. If necessary, do this during a vacation period.
After letting the cheek line go natural to a sufficient degree, if you like what you see, keep it. Otherwise, continue on to the next step.
Step 2: Visualize a line from the sideburns to the mustache.
- Choose a point A in front of the sideburns where the natural cheek line begins.
- Choose a point B where the natural cheek line meets the mustache. If your natural cheek line abruptly drops off just before reaching the mustache, set point B at the spot atop the cheek line just before the drop-off.
- Visualize a straight line from point A to point B.
- Ideally, keep the line as high as possible, with beard growth filling in the space below the line.
- Lower the line, if necessary, but keep it as high as possible.
Step 3: Round off the transition from the sideburns to the proposed cheek line.
- Visualize a curve to round off the transition from the front of the sideburns into the proposed cheek line.
- Optionally, don't round it off for a more angular effect.
- Carefully trim away all beard hair above the visualized cheek line. Use scissors, clippers, or a beard trimmer without the guard. Use great caution to avoid trimming errors that could accidentally take a big part out of your beard.
Perform the above process for both cheeks. Try to keep both sides even, but do not get stressed out by trying too hard to get them perfectly even.
Upon completing your first attempt at the defined cheek line, leave it for several days to get accustomed to the look and to see how you like it. If you see ways to adjust it more to your liking, proceed with caution. Be careful not to take off too much in any adjustment. Otherwise, you may have to start the process over.
What if my cheek line naturally grows fairly low on the cheeks?
You can still apply these guidelines to create a nice line at the maximum height supported by your beard growth pattern. Or you can choose to go with the natural cheek line and not worry about it.
What if I prefer to define my cheek line really low or make it low and horizontal all the way back or try something unconventional?
If that's what you want, then go for it. Just be sure that you are shaping your beard the way that you really want it.
Should my beard's cheek line run parallel to my beard's neck line?
The cheek line and neck line do not have to run parallel to achieve a great look. Go with the best angle for each. The resulting combination is optimized for the uniqueness of your beard.
What if I've already defined my beard's cheek line and I've done it wrong?
You do not have to shave and start over. With time and patience your cheek line is easily repaired. See:
Repairing a neck line or cheek line for your full beard.
Many thanks go to Will for providing great photos for illustrating this article. Be sure to see Will's beard feature.
Also see: Designing a neck line for your full beard.
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