Perfect Scruffy Beard: How To & Style Guide


scruffy beard

Old question – Do women like heavy stubble aka “the scruff beard?” Celebrities like Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt often rock this beard style, even on the red carpet.

A scruffy beard is very desirable, according to one academic study, but not just any scruff will do.

If you want to get a scruffy beard style, there are many ways to make this look work. Whether you want to grow a full beard or not, an unkempt beard is ideal for those who experience slow facial hair growth.

What is a Scruffy Beard?

A scruffy beard is a short beard style that looks slightly unkept and grown a little longer than light stubble. This masculine facial hair is rugged looking, having an outwardly vigorous appeal that’s also attractive and stylish.

The beard scruff is appealing because of its low maintenance and effortless style. Though you’re looking for that unkept look, that doesn’t mean no maintenance. Typically, I’ll use a beard trimmer with short guards to adjust the beard length so it stays semi-neat and well-maintained.

Why have an unkept style?

When styled right, you can wear a scruffy beard any time and any place. However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to create this look.

See more Masculine Short Beard Styles

A Masculine Beard Style

One of the main benefits of growing a beard is that you have a manlier, rugged look. It’s a sign of masculinity, and studies show that men with beard hair appear more confident.

A scruffy beard is a strong sign of masculinity.
Scruff beards are trendy and masculine. They may also be patchy or fuller in style. They typically feature heavy hair around the cheek line, jaw, and neckline.

The scruff beard style adds to the appeal of the beard, making you look tougher even. So growing out your stubble a little bit more adds to your appeal, and when you trim your beard, it’s effortless to maintain heavier style five o’clock shadow.

Easy to Grow

Unlike full beard styles or even bushier facial hair, scruffy beards are slightly minimal. It’s not about thickness or length. Instead, you just shape and style longer stubble to achieve a low-maintenance yet slightly trimmed look. This saves you time and energy with any morning routine before work.

Easy to Maintain

Since scruff is worn short, it’s easy to keep the beard length in check. Invest in a quality beard trimmer with guard attachments.

Good for Patchy Beards

If you have slow beard growth, it’s frustrating to wait for your beard to come in after a shave, especially for those with patchy beards.

You know there are certain areas of your face that simply won’t grow hair as thick as others. This is the perfect growth pattern for a scruffy beard.

A patchy beard looks best with a shorter beard style.
A patchy beard looks best at scruffy length.

You also don’t have to grow a thicker beard with this hairstyle at all. You can simply make some minor tweaks to the shape to maintain the scruff and avoid long neck beards, which can take away from a stylish beard.

Get inspired by Trendy Patchy Beard Styles

Steps to Grow a Scruffy Beard

Before styling a scruffier beard, you should grow out your stubble, even if you notice your patches showing through. This is the perfect starting point. Also keep in mind that it typically takes 2 weeks to grow ¼-inch of hair.

1. Find Inspiration

This is completely up to you. There are many variations of the scruffy beard. Some opt for longer stubble, while others let it grow out a bit more.

Here are some famous scruffy beard looks to inspire your style.

Ryan Gosling

One of the most famous scruffy beard owners is Ryan Gosling. He’s consistently updated his mustache and beard, sometimes growing very thick facial hair, but he always seems to go back to a slightly messy beard.

Ryan Gosling scruffy neck beard looks ultra trendy
Ryan’s classic scruffy neck beard. See more Ryan Gosling beard styles.

Tom Hardy

The Mad Max: Fury Road and Venom star has always rocked facial hair. The Tom Hardy beard even has thousands of fans. His bad boy look often has faded sideburns and undercut hairstyles.

Tom Hardy's crew cut pairs well with a scruff style beard.
Tom Hardy looks sharp with beard scruff.

Brad Pitt

Even the man who made People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” cover twice doesn’t always style his facial hair as perfectly as you’d think. Brad Pitt often rocks a heavy stubble beard or bushy goatee when not on set of films like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Brad Pitt patchy scruff facial with thick sideburns
Brad’s scruffy beard look. See more Brad Pitt beard styles.

Christian Bale

He may have spent hours perfecting the role of the meticulously groomed Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, but the actor Christian Bale often lets his scruff show.

Christian Bale heavy scruffy beard
Christian Bale’s heavy scruff.

Johnny Depp

The famous pirate beard can be attributed to Johnny Depp playing Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, but the actor has always had liked a little bit of scruff around his Van Dyke beard.

Johnny Depp Scruffy Goatee Look
Johnny Depp Scruff Goatee. See more Johnny Depp beard styles.

See our Complete Style Guide for the Best Celebrity Beards

2. Shape and Style

You can use your scruff to create angles and dimension to shape your face naturally. Based on photos above, you may want to have more hair on your chin with slight scruff up your jawline or allow your hair to grow thicker in areas, then blend down with your clippers towards patches.

A beard shaper is the perfect tool to maintain and shape your scruff. Using a higher number guard, go over your scruff to keep it neat and trim.

3. Trim the Neckline

While you want to avoid a neck beard, it’s okay to have some scruff that grows down your jaw. It’s best if you don’t allow your scruff to become unsightly, like a cactus sprouting hair in all directions.

Instead, clean your neckline just up to your Adam’s apple, then allow longer stubble to grow directly under your chin for a look that enhances your jawline.

4. Keep it Groomed

Scruffy beards are already a bit unkempt, so don’t allow your mustache to grow too long and overlap your upper lip. While you don’t want your mustache to look perfectly trim, it should be as short or shorter than the length of your beard.

5. Keep it Healthy

Most guys apply beard oil or a beard balm every day, but doing that can sometimes add too much oil and lead to ingrown hairs. You may even develop acne under your beard.

While scruffy beards still need some moisturization, you can apply a small dab of beard oil or even use a moisturizing beard wash to keep your scruff clean and healthy.

Photo of author


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.