I’m back with another post on men’s styling and this week we are going to take a look at 2016’s hottest beard trends. A beard can be a formidable accessory, and is traditionally to men what makeup is to women. The slightest changes in facial hair can completely transform your look, so if you’re interested in spicing things up a bit, take a look at the biggest beard trends for 2016.
#1 The Balbo
The Balbo is a major hit amongst beard-loving men, undoubtedly made more so by Hollywood superstar Robert Downey, Jr. When you’ve got an undeniably stylish man sporting a suave look such as this one, it’s only a matter of time before it really catches on.
This particular style is similar to a goatee, except that there’s a sliver of clean-shaven skin between the moustache and the beard on either end at the corners of the mouth. The chin is also sculpted to leave a small inch-long section clean on either side under the bottom lip, while letting a median patch run down the chin and up on either side.
The Balbo is great if your personal style lands between casual chic and comfortable formals. It’s a look that wears well at any given point, from the beach to the boardroom, so you don’t really have to worry about going overboard with it. This style of beard is best suited for men with a narrow chin, since it adds more width to the area and celebrates the triangular shape without actually emphasizing it.
Achieving the Balbo requires first letting your beard grow out so that you have enough facial hair to be able to shape the look properly. Wait at least a month before you decide to shape the beard, or more, depending on how long it takes for you to achieve a full beard. The Balbo also involves growing a moustache. Trimming the beard/ moustache and shaving the required areas requires a fair bit of precision, but it’s a fairly easy look to achieve and wear on the whole. you can also sport a second-day stubble up the jawline/ cheeks for a more rugged take on the look if you like.
#2 The Bandholz
If you’re the sort who lives by the maxim ‘go big or go home,’ the Bandholz is your kind of beard. Credited to Eric Bandholz, the founding father of Beardbrand, this is a beard that is, in a word, major. It’s not an easy look to achieve or pull off but if you get there, it’s one that will keep you hooked for a long, long time. This particular beard style is for serious beard lovers and grooming enthusiasts only, which is a community that has been growing rapidly over the last few seasons.
The beard is thick, bushy and long. Growing the beard out will usually take between 6 and 8 months, and it can be a trying time because you will need to let it all grow out before you can start trimming the hair to give it shape. This means you have to be prepared to look a little unkempt and all over the place for the first couple of months. It is worth noting that even though this is a massive beard, it’s not necessarily a messy one. Sure, you can keep it au natural if you like, but a little bit of shaping and styling can mean the difference between Captain Haddock and Captain Crazy.
The Bandholz beard is best suited for oval, diamond, oblong, triangle and inverted triangle shaped faces. Apart from matching the beard to your facial structure, you must also match it to your lifestyle. This isn’t a beard that you can just forget about: it requires care, patience, maintenance and constant effort. We’re not only looking at months of waiting for it to grow but also daily grooming, finding and using the right products and sculpting tools and staying on top of your beard care regimen. Now, none of that is intended to scare you: it’s a great look and you should do it justice if you decide to sport it.
#3 The Classic
We’re talking about the full beard here- a universal favorite through the ages. Shorter and more restrained than the Bandholz, but no less striking. This is the good old no-frills, no-fuss beard for men who like a thick, full beard but don’t want to go all out with it either.
If you enjoy a bushy beard but just cannot maintain the hipster beard that became an international craze following Movember or are sick of the look and don’t want to be confused for a god-man, the classic short-long beard is just what you need. It’s sexy and it’s a strong style statement but it is also relatively more muted.
The essence of this look is in following the natural contours of the face/ jaw. You want to let the beard grow out fully and take shape naturally, which can take a couple of months. To finish off the look, make sure that the beard lines on the cheek are sharp and meticulously carved out: this creates a strong contrast to the growth underneath. The longest part of the beard, under the chin, should ideally not exceed 2 inches. The entire look is about celebrating natural looks, but with a spot of grooming.
This kind of beard works well on most face shapes, but is especially good with diamond, triangle and inverted triangle shapes. You will want to tread carefully with markedly longer faces. If you want to add length to your face or emphasize angles and planes, keep the length concentrated under the chin. This can also help conceal a pointed chin or double chins. But if you have a very angular face or an extremely long one and you want to round things off but still enjoy a thick bear, keep a more uniform length/ thickness throughout.
The full beard is all about the body and this is made up of the hair at the chin/ under the chin and around the neck. That’s what adds to the bushiness of the look, which is why you must allow it all to grow out properly before you start trimming.
#4 The Stubble
For those of you who enjoy sporting some facial hair but don’t want to put a whole lot of thought and effort into it, there’s nothing quite as effective or as easy as the stubble. The shortest of beard styles, it’s super simple to achieve and really all you have to do is let it grow on its own and trim it down every now and then to keep it from transforming into a full beard style. There’s really nothing else that you have to do and you can sport a sexy look at all times without looking untidy or overly styled. 2016 is going to be the year of fashion that’s all about individualism and effortless styling, and the stubble checks both those boxes perfectly.
Now, the stubble is probably the most versatile beard we’ve got on this list purely because there are a number of different iterations of the look- based on the length you’re most comfortable with. We’re talking short stubbles for that barely-there scruffy sexiness (no shaving for a day or two), the medium stubble (between 3 and 5mm) for a somewhat more pronounced bad boy appeal and then the long stubble (6mm) for striking just the right balance between lovable rake and super-groomed sea pirate.
#5 The Van Dyke
If you want to rock a flamboyant beard, albeit with less hair and care than the Bandholz, the Van Dyke is just the thing you need. This is a beard that’s all about turning heads and making statements, so don't be surprised if you get more than a few looks and questions. This style has been immortalized on and off the screen by Johnny Depp, but has also been adapted by other actors such as Brad Pitt and even Pierce Brosnan. Named after 17th century Flemish painter Anthony Van Dyke, the beard combines trademark elements of the goatee with a mustache and has a distinctive shape.
Prep work for this particular beard style involves growing a long stubble and then trimming and shaving the beard to achieve the unique pattern that makes the Van Dyke. The look also involves growing a moustache. Once you have a long stubble going, start shaving the chin region to create the trademark inverted T: an inverted soul patch slowly graduating into a bearded chin. You don’t have to do anything to the moustache, though ideally we do want it to turn downwards at the mouth, much like it would in a French beard. After you’ve got the basic shape styled, allow the beard at the chin to grow out a bit (around 2 inches) and then trim it into the V shape that completes the look.
There are tons of great beard styles to pick from, and at the end of the day all that matters is what you’re comfortable with. Beard grooming is becoming a major industry unto itself and there are so many great styling and care products available now in the market- if you’ve always wanted to grow a formidable beard, now’s the time to do so!