The Best Beard Styles for Different Face Types

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Whether you opt for a full beard or a small goatee, facial hair can flatter or even visually alter the shape of your face -- working, in a way, as men's makeup. Facial whiskers have come in and out of fashion throughout history, from the clean-shaven Romans to the full beards of the mid-19th century, like the one favored by Abraham Lincoln. A bit trickier to style than you may think, beards look fresh and fashionable, but you should be aware of what works with your face's size, shape and features to be sure to pick the right style for you.

Oval Faces

Oval faces are typically considered to be one of the more symmetrical and desirable face shapes, so your facial hair should work to emphasize that positive attribute. Opt for a neatly trimmed goatee or heavy scruff, rather than a full beard. Scruff, or a heavy five-o'clock shadow, looks casual and masculine, echoing styles seen on some of Hollywood's hottest male celebrities. Regular maintenance with a beard trimmer will keep this look managed and stylish, rather than lazy and ungroomed.

Square Faces

Strongly masculine-looking square faces are marked by angles and a firm jawline. Use your whiskers to emphasize your jaw by way of a goatee, a scruff or even a full beard. If you opt for a full beard, keep it neatly trimmed into a square shape, rather than allowing it to become rounded or oval shaped. Keep your goatee neat and short, avoiding extended or extreme goatee styles or odd historical variations, like the pointed and fanciful Van Dyke.

Round Faces

If you have a round face or jawline, your beard can help to visually lengthen your face and create more of an oval shape. Go with a full beard, rather than a goatee or short scruff. Trim your beard to create the visual illusion of an oval-shaped face, keeping the beard shorter through the sides and longer at the chin. Most men grow thicker facial hair along the chin, helping this illusion along. Keep your beard relatively short to avoid letting the full beard go from neat and masculine to mountain-man style.

Receding or Narrow Chin

If you have a receding or narrow chin, a beard can help to create the illusion of a stronger jawline and can camouflage the chin. Opt for a full beard, worn either quite short or somewhat longer, but well maintained and trimmed. If you'd rather not wear a full beard, a goatee can also help to conceal a receding chin. Keep your goatee fairly full, maintaining strips of hair between the mustache and chin for the most flattering look. If it suits your lifestyle, you can wear a playfully styled goatee, waxed into swirls or points at the ends. Avoid the soul patch or similar minimal styles.

Prominent Chins

If you have a diamond-shaped or triangular face, your chin may be quite pointed and prominent. A squared-off, full beard will help to hide a pointed or prominent chin and strengthen the jawline. Maintain some amount of fullness at the cheeks to broaden the lower part of the face. Your beard should look quite traditional, like you could step back into the 19th century with ease.