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27th Aug 2016

The definitive ranking of male facial hair styles

Whatever you do guys, never grow a soul patch.

Rowanne Westhenry

This is a ranking of facial hairstyles for men aged under 50* from worst to best.

Anything inside the top three is good and acceptable in modern society; the top eight at a push could work; but anything below that is objectively a terrible thing for a man to have on his face.

*Guys, if you’re over 50 you have earned the right to do whatever you like with your facial hair, with the exception of growing either of numbers 15 and 14 – those are literally always awful.

15. Soul Patch

soul patch

The soul patch is a small tuft of hair on the area between the lower lip and the chin.

Genuinely the worst thing you can do to your face, including cutting it off. With this hairy abomination to civilised society, you’re essentially saying “hit me right here, I deserve it”. The only possible excuse is that the guy’s razor broke before he finished shaving, although in that case he should just stay at home and order a new one online.

14. Goat Patch


Similar to the Soul Patch, the Goat Patch extends down the chin.

More like WOAT patch.

13. Neckbeard


Hair growth on the neck and underneath the chin which stops at the face.

This is just gross. Sort your life out, fellas.

12. The Chin Strap


A narrow line of hair along the bottom of the chin connecting sideburns.

Is your hair a protective helmet that is liable to fall off? No? Why do you need a chin strap attaching it to your head then?

11. Moustache (thin)

Untitled design (21)

Incorporating the pencil and toothbrush styles, the thin moustache is one where the hair does not extend over the top lip or beyond the corners of the mouth.

Unless you’re 12, a genocidal dictator, or a real life caricature of a 1970s pimp there is no need for this. If it’s your Movember effort, consider donating money instead. There is however an important caveat that we will discuss when we reach “moustache (bushy)”.

10. Horseshoe Moustache/Fu Manchu


A moustache which extends down the sides of the mouth.

Like other moustache styles, the ‘stache that extends down the sides of the mouth has been tainted by association with both terrible racial stereotyping, and a wrestling hero from the ’90s who took steroids and spied on his daughter on reality TV. Guys, if those things are your jam then this may be the style for you, but don’t be surprised if your loved ones stop calling.

9. Goatee


A moustache and chin hair either connected or separate, with or without sideburns. Characterised by a lack of hair on the cheeks.

Essentially the facial hair equivalent of getting the Nike swoosh shaved into the back of your head: looks awesome and sophisticated to a nine year old, but everyone else thinks that you’re so vain that you think this whole paragraph is about you specifically. Trust me George, it’s not about you.

8. Stubble


Short growth of hair measuring mere millimetres in length and resembling a shadow.

There are two reasons for stubble on men:

1. He hasn’t shaved for a couple of days, in which case he needs to either shave or commit to the beard.

2. He shaved this morning but his hair grows back super fast. In this case, he should accept that his face wants to be hairy and embrace the growth.

7. Moustache (bushy)


A thick growth of hair between the nose and the top lip only.

This beats the thin ‘stache on versatility (you can curl up the ends*) and necessitates a moustache comb (which is awesome). However, like its cousin, it loses points for being associated with genocidal dictators.

*If a thin ‘stache is grown long enough for the ends to be twirled a la Salvador Dali then it shall be considered as equal to a bushy ‘stache.

6. Full beard (wizard)


A wizard beard is long enough at the chin to hang down to the torso.

If his beard reaches his torso, then he has officially grown a wizard beard. Congratulations on that. Now he needs to find out what products Christopher Lee used during the LOTR years to avoid looking like a castaway.

5. Chin curtain


Essentially a full beard minus the moustache.

If grown long enough that it can be stroked to a point while he contemplates the wonders of the universe, this is a top choice, whatever those lads in the pub said about it making him look like a pretentious eejit.

4. Muttonchops


Sideburns that extend out across the cheeks and stop at the chin. The ‘Friendly Muttonchops’ are joined together by a moustache. Awww, fwiend.

If he’s the station master of a remote rural railway station, or an eccentric engineer who navigates the country’s waterways on a narrow boat he built by himself out of empty cat food tins and string, this is an acceptable aesthetic. If he choose this aesthetic but work in sales, expect a lot of side eye and whispers when he walks past colleagues.

3. Full beard (bushy)


A full beard is characterised by growth of hair all over the face. A bushy full beard is longer than 3cm all over.

Originally the preserve of lumberjacks and trawlermen, the bushy beard has been brought into the mainstream by hipsters. Not necessarily terrible, but it needs a lot of maintenance to avoid becoming a scruffy snack holder where you store crumbs and other food morsels that it happens to catch. It also seems to be tempting to decorate these beards with seasonal adornments. Don’t do this.

2. Clean shaven


Please tell me that you don’t actually need a definition for this one.

Assuming his facial hair doesn’t grow too fast (see: stubble) and he moisturises, this is a solid choice of facial hair grooming. He never has to worry about getting his face dragged into machinery or having to wear a hairnet on his chin, it shows off his bone structure, and looks tidy in every conceivable social situation.

1. Full beard (trimmed)


A full beard where the hair is between 1-3cm long.

Simple but effective, the neatly trimmed full beard tops the list of things he can grow on his face by virtue of the fact that it shows he has the patience to grow a beard and the wherewithal to keep it neat and tidy. There is a reason that Jeremy Corbyn has won parliamentary beard of the year three times in the UK, and it’s because his trimmed beard makes him appear confident and approachable.

(All images via Creative Commons)


Facial hair,men