Half way between clean shaven and slightly scruffy, the 5 o’clock shadow is a short stubble beard that creates a smart, masculine look – that’s “in”.
It’s the new “designer stubble” sported by celebrities and fashion icons like George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
But stubble wasn’t always looked at as stylish or attractive – unshaven-ness was once considered inauspicious and unattractive.
Real, respectable men, were expected to be clean shaven, or to have a clean, well maintained beard.
The 5 o’clock shadow got its name from the regrowth of a man’s facial hair seen at the end of a hard workday, after the long 9 – 5 grind.
Today, it’s a different story.
In fact, a recent study – stubble vs clean shaven – found that women find some hair growth more attractive than smooth, hairless cheeks.
That’s right, it’s scientifically proven that women prefer a man to have at least a little facial hair.
Here’s how to get, and maintain the 5 o’clock shadow:
Step 1: Get the Right Beard Trimmer
You’re going to need a good beard or stubble trimmer, obviously.
But I just need to emphasise the fact that it should be at least “good” – because a crap, low quality trimmer is going to cause problems, and could make the whole experience a nightmare.
Low quality beard trimmers have poor motor power, which can cause the cutting blades to jam and get stuck in your beard – not cool!
The guard comb length could be inaccurate, and the brittle plastic teeth are prone to breaking off.
Bottom line – it’s wise to invest in a tool with sharp blades, and the reliability and cutting power to get the job done properly.
We recommend the BaByliss iStubble or Philips Series BT7202 Vacuum Beard Trimmer as good options.
Step 2: Make Sure Your Hair is an Adequate Starting Length
You need a workable hair length.
If you’re currently clean shaven – you’ll need to wait until your beard has grown in to an adequate length for cutting.
Generally, 3 – 5 days of growth will be enough, if you’re hair grows slower, you’re looking at waiting 1 week before starting to trim down to create your five o’clock shadow.
If you’re already rocking a beard then you’re ready to get started.
Step 3: Start Trimming
Ok, you’ve got some facial hair to work with, and it’s clean and dry.
Let’s do this!
If you’re cutting down from a long beard, use a number 2 or 3 guard comb, and start taking some length off your beard.
Next, set you trimmer to 1mm for the final cut – this is the optimal length in mm to create the best 5 o’clock shadow.
Use upward strokes, always going against the grain of hair growth. When using a hair clipper or trimmer, you need to make sure you’re going against the direct of hair growth, to ensure an even and accurate finish.
Don’t press down too hard against this skin, as you could cause cuts – moderate pressure will work.
Run over the same area multiple times, and in different direction to make sure every hair is cut.
Pull lips inward to stretch your skin and make cutting moustache hairs easier.
At this point you should have trimmed all of your face and neck hair down to around 1mm in length.
It’s Time to Tidy
Trim your neck hair down with a slightly shorter setting 0.5 (or as low as your trimmer will allow) as this will help accentuate the jawline and chin, and really bring out the defined, shadow look.
Use an electric razor (optional) to completely shave off your neck hair for a smooth, hair free finish.
The goal is to have your facial hair down to 1mm of stubble, and your neck hair should be even shorter, or completely clean shaven.
To achieve a sharp jawline and tidy cut, use just above your Adams apple, or where the bottom of your chin meets your neck as a guide.
Anything above your Adams apple should be 1mm, and below that reference point, the hair should be shorter, or clean shaven.
To maintain your new designer stubble, trim it down every other day (trim 1 – 3 days apart) so that your beard growth doesn’t get much longer than 1mm.
Here’s a handy video to help with the process: