How to Trim a Beard like a Modern Barber


Best Facial Hair Styles

The beards that get the most compliments are those that are well groomed. When thinking of how to trim a beard, men often go right to the razor, but there’s actually more to it if you want to maintain a neat, high-quality mug rug.

To trim your beard properly, it’s best to start cutting the longer hairs first and grading it gradually. Set the trimmer to the highest length setting and trim towards the direction of hair growth for best results. Lower the trim setting and repeat as needed until you get the perfect length.

This handy guide gives you some insights into the tools, steps, and styles that you can achieve just by trimming your beard on your own. Learn all the tricks below.

Beard Trimming and Grooming Basics

The cut and lines of your beard show off a certain style, and if done well, you’ll probably get a lot of looks.

While a barber has to be able to trim up beards in all kinds of fades and lengths, the latest trend is for a mid-length beard that’s trimmed up uniquely to enhance the jaw line and cheek bones. Even if you don’t mind going to the barber once or twice a week, you should learn the tricks to trimming your beard the way you like it.

So, if you want to grow out a beard, then the first step is trimming and grooming your hair so it grows the way you want it to. With that in mind, you need a few tools and beard care products to ensure that you get the beard shape you want at each stage of growth.

The tools in most beard grooming kits include:

  • Beard comb
  • Pair of beard scissors
  • Beard trimmer with multiple guards
  • Beard oil

These are your basic needs if you want to trim your beard yourself. If you haven’t ever had your beard trimmed by a professional, you may want to start out with a barber to get an idea of the look you want to maintain. There are also face shape and beard guides online that can help you choose the right length and custom style.

Quick Tips for Your First Beard Cut

  1. Not sure what length to trim your beard? You can use a higher guard to start with on your trimmer. As you get more comfortable, you’ll find the right size.
  2. A brush or comb such as a sandalwood beard comb helps to guide hair in the right direction. As you coach your hair to grow the way you want, you should trim any strays that stick out or hang over your lip.
  3. Use facial hair scissors to trim your mustache and strays.
  4. Does your beard trimmer come with different guards? Some trimmers have different guard lengths, and a “1” may actually mean 1mm for a beard trimmer. In other cases, it could mean 1/4″ in length.
  5. Beard trimmers work best when the hair is dry after you’ve conditioned it.

These are just quick general tips to help you improve. The full guide to your first trim is below.

How to Trim Your Beard Like a Barber

Before you go into this guide, you should already have showered, conditioned your beard, and let it dry. You can use a beard shampoo to improve hair growth and then use a conditioner to soften up your facial hairs.

Beard Trimming DIY
Trim your own beard like a pro barber.

1. Grow some length

Growing a little length is optional, though I found that practicing on longer hair is a lot easier than beard stubble. However, you also don’t need a full beard to master your trim skills either.

2. Get clean and Dry

Your beard should be free of debris. So, start with a face wash or shower then be completely dry before you start to clip and trim. This is the best way to see what your beard will look like in real time as you trim back strays and clip up the sides.

You can use a face shape guide or a beard shaper tool to help you style your beard and get the shape you want.

3. Brush It Out

I like to use a beard comb or bristle brush to tidy up and brush out beard hair to see the areas that need the most attention. You should brush it in the direction that you want hair to grow. If you have knots or patches, you should use your comb to guide hair over the areas where you have thinner hair.

4. Shape with a Beard Trimmer

You can use your beard trimmer and beard shaper to guide your hand starting with the longest hair first. These beard shaping tools allow you to get crisp, clean lines and clean up your beard as you want. You should pull your skin taut as you trim and cut back beard hair along the jaw to the thickness that you want. You should generally use sweeping moves that move away from your face as you trim.

Longer guides are the best to start with so that you can gradually trim back or fade your beard hair. You may also want to look at beards that are shorter on the cheeks and cleaner around the neck.

5. Use the Guide Comb to Trim Your Mustache

First, you’ll brush down your mustache to see how the hair falls over your lip. You can use your hair scissors or a guide comb to trim down your mustache hair and keep it neat. See a full list of Hot Mustache Styles.

6. Clean Up the Lines and Strays

Most guys like clean lines when trimming their beards. However, you may get a stray here from time to time. You can remove these quickly so that they don’t mess up your profile.

The neckline is also one of the trickiest parts to trim. If you cut it too close to your jawline, you could wind up with what looks like a double chin. Depending on your growth stage, if your beard grows too far down your neck, it could look quite unruly.

Starting at the Adam’s Apple

The safest way to trim this area is to start below your Adam’s apple. Knowing where you want to draw the line depends on your own style. That’s why it’s best to get your first beard groom done by a barber so you can start to maintain your beard with a professional opinion.

However, you should be able to go a little below or above the Adam’s apple to get the best neck trim. You can use a soft “U” curve shape from your neck to your jawbone to trim the rest.

6. Apply Beard Oil

Once finished, you can apply a beard oil to keep your face moisturized and your hair soft. These are lightweight carrier oils that maintain beard hair and make it easier to grow thick facial hair.

More Beard Trimming Tips

These are some other things to do if you want to get the best beard style on your own.

How to Fade a Beard

You can actually use your beard trimmer to get a stunning beard fade at home. A professional barber breaks it down below:

  1. Set the guard to 3 on your trimmer and go over your entire beard to get an even cut.
  2. Then clean your lower neck by switching the guard to 1 and buzzing, starting at your Adam’s apple or two inches below your jaw.
  3. To get the fade, switch the guard to a 2 and buzz the remaining two-inch area between your Adam’s apple and jaw.
  4. Remove guard so that your trimmer is on 0 and then buzz underneath your Adam’s apple to get rid of strays.

Shaping Your Neckline

The neckline is the most important part to figuring out your face shape and beard style. If you want a higher neckline, then you might shave higher up the neckline and jaw. However, you can use this trick to get the best look and avoid a neck beard.

  1. Place two fingers above your Adam’s apple.
  2. Think about a U-shape that connects to the back of each ear and meets in the center at the base of the U. Now you want to shave everything below the curve of the U.
  3. You can use an actual razor or trimmer with no guard to get this shape.

Avoid Making a Mess with Your Beard

Do you always get the side-eye when you haven’t cleaned up the sink? Beard trimming can be easy and requires a little prep if you want to take away the annoying cleanup. You can use a handheld vacuum or trim your beard over a disposable towel if you want to avoid clogged drains.

New vacuum trimmers are designed to collect all the stray hairs. It also saves you a ton of time in the bathroom, and you’ll have much less cleanup.

How to Avoid Beard Itch and Ingrown Hairs

Did you know that beard oils are essential for avoiding beard itch? If you constantly find yourself scratching at your beard, then you may already have dry skin under your beard. You can refresh this skin with a decent beard oil that hydrates the skin underneath your hair.

In addition, exfoliate and cleanse at least once a week to get rid of dead skin and avoid ingrown hairs where you’re still shaping your beard. In addition, you should shave with the grain to avoid further irritating your skin.

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I'm the founder of Bald & Beards, an amateur barber and I've been obsessed with men's grooming, styles, and trends for over 20 years.