Your beard says a lot about you. With the huge increase in beard popularity, a man can’t just sport a beard. He needs to choose the proper style and know how to maintain it.
A good beard has plenty of benefits. It can represent your strength, discipline, and virility. A bad beard, on the other hand, tells people you’re unfocused, lazy, or untidy.
Of all the beard styles out there, the chin strap is one of the most divisive. When pulled off well, it’s a statement. It highlights a strong jawbone or a well-groomed face. But when it’s done wrong, it can throw off your features.
No two faces are the same. From bone structure to skin type, you need to pick the chin strap style that’s right for you. Not only that, but once you’ve chosen the perfect look, you need to maintain it. That’s why I wrote this comprehensive style guide. With my help, you won’t make the wrong choices and learn the hard way like I did.
What is a Chin Strap Beard?
The chin strap (or chinstrap) beard is a unique style of facial hair. It runs from one side of your face, down to your chin and up to the other side, connecting at the sideburns. Hence the “strap” in the name chin strap. It literally looks like a strap.
You can combine a chin strap beard with other facial hair styles, like a mustache. Generally, it does not cover the entire chin or jaw, just the edges.
If your beard hair covers your cheeks entirely, it’s known as a full beard. A chin strap style requires moderate to intense grooming, depending on the exact version.
Ever the multi-tasker, the modern man likes to mix things up. Today, we have many unique chin strap variations. Before I get into the different styles, read on to discover the fascinating history of the chin strap beard.
Where the Chin Strap Fits into the History of Beards
In the beginning, beards were likely used by primitive men for practical reasons, like keeping their faces warm. Also, it’s possible length, thickness and size would add to or subtract from a man’s virility and standing in the tribe.
The chin strap beard is fine-tuned. It’s not for the Neanderthal. It takes care and dedication. But it may surprise you to know the history of the chin strap goes back, way back. Although we don’t know for sure, it may have originated in ancient Egypt.
Ancient Egypt is one of the first cultures to use the barber trade. They invented sharp stone blades affixed to wooden handles. Many of their murals depict pharaohs with chin strap beards, which lead to long, decorated goatees.
To the Egyptians, the beard was a divine attribute of the gods. Even wives of the pharaoh wore false beards, tied on with a strap to their headpieces.
Although we are unsure if Ancient Egyptians had chin strap beards, the depictions of the chinstrap in hieroglyphics are one of the origins of the style.
The popularity of beards ebbs and flows through the course of history. The Roman civilization preferred a clean-shaven look. Because of their militaristic attitudes, they often fought against northern barbarian cultures. Such cultures revered facial hair, and the Romans saw facial hair as a sign of barbarity.
Then in the middle ages, beards flourish. There are stained glass depictions of religious icons and great thinkers, all with different styles of beards. To them, the beard was a sign of wisdom and spirit.
In the 1500s, Queen Elizabeth issued a beard tax. She based the fine on how much you made. She thought beards disgusting, and a vile fashion choice that insulted her.
The same tax occurs in Russia one hundred years later. And if you refused to pay, the police would shave off your beard forcefully in the street.
It isn’t until America, the melting pot of the world, that the chin strap beard flourished. During the 1800s, we see the chinstrap beard worn by the great minds of the age.
This was a period of thoughtful insight into the human struggle. A time when leaders and thinkers across the nation expressed freedom for all people. Slavery was abolished. Independence ruled.
Henry David Thoreau, preferred the chin strap beard. He who wrote the famous book Walden that inspired the activist principles of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr, among others.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of America, also grew a chin strap. Although some argue it was a cousin style, the Shenandoah. Either way, his beard style clearly matches the criteria for the chin strap.
I’d argue the chin strap dropped in popularity during the 1900s until the early 2000s. Then celebrities like 50 Cent and Leonardo DiCaprio sported the look. Over a decade later and it’s still going strong.
The chin strap beard maintains a hold on popular facial hair styles. Although not the most popular beard choice, it has its admirers. From Masarri, A.J. McLean of Backstreet Boys fame, and F1 driver Lewis Hamilton, the chin strap seems here to stay.
The Various Styles of Modern Chin Strap Beards
The chin strap beard has evolved dramatically since its popularity in the 1800s. Now, it’s often thinner and combined with different sub-styles. But remember, it’s not a chinstrap without the iconic line leading from your sideburns down to your chin and back around to your other sideburn. If it’s so thick or wide it covers your cheeks, neck, upper lip and chin, you have a Shenandoah, or a regular beard.
Here’s the list of the main chin strap styles popular today.
Pencil Chin Strap
One of the easiest to maintain on the list, the pencil-style chin strap is the closest to having no facial hair at all. The name originates from its pencil-thin trim line, like you drew it on. Keep in mind that the thinner the chin strap, the more oval your head needs to be. If you have a thick, blocky head, you won’t even see this thing with a day’s worth of stubble.
Thick Chin Strap
So long as your beard goes from one side to the other and you clean up the cheeks, it’s a chin strap. Thicker chin straps are great for wider, blocky faces. They also work well if you have a thicker neck as the extra hair below your chin can even out your face. It’s also great for men who can grow bushy neck and sideburn hair, but their mustache refuses to cooperate.
Chinstrap with Freestanding Mustache
With this style, you sport a mustache that doesn’t connect to your chin strap. If you can grow a decent mustache, and don’t mind maintaining it, then seize the opportunity. But if your mustache grows in spotty, or you forget about it easily, I’d stay far away from this one. Also, if you have sharp features, look at other options. It’s highly possible to look like a villain in a children’s story.
Chinstrap with Goatee
The goatee and chin strap combo is a popular option. It’s a pain to trim around your chin and keep your lines even, so men often grow the goatee out. Remember, if you go with this option, keep up on your goatee maintenance. A long goatee and thin chin strap can throw off your face’s proportions, especially if you have a long face.
Chinstrap with Soul Patch
A chin strap combined with a little hair under your bottom lip is a rare sight. Personally, I don’t see the point in it. But if you can’t grow a full beard and have just enough facial hair to manage a soul patch, then this one could be for you.
The All-in-One Chin Strap
Ah yes, the All-in-One. The etch-a-sketch of beards. Here, the chin strap, mustache, and goatee unite. A faint outline on your face, it contains the essence of a beard but without the fullness. This style is great if your facial hair grows in patchy, but you want the shape of a beard.
The Pro Chin Strap
This one is for the barber junkie. The guy who goes to his local barber every week and gets his beard chiseled down to perfection while he talks sports with a guy named Gusto. It costs more, obviously, but out of all the chinstrap beard versions, this one looks the most professional.
The Hybrid Chin Strap
You’re a complicated guy, I get that. And you want a beard style that reflects your dynamic personality. In the hybrid style nothing connects, but you still call it a chin strap. Your mustache doesn’t connect to your goatee and your goatee doesn’t connect to your elongated sideburns. Every aspect of your facial hair is doing its own thing, just like you. This one comes in second only to the Pro style as far as maintenance. You must keep this style up every day or two.
The Ultra Expensive Chin Strap
When money isn’t an option, even your facial hair is designed by a world class artist-turned-barber. You like to fly down to their shop every three days and get your intricate lines re-touched. With zig-zags or swirly loops, no one can copy your beard style. This one needs constant attention. But you don’t care because money isn’t a problem. Looking expensive is the same thing as living expensive, right?
The Waiting Game: Growing a Chin Strap Beard
So, you decided you want the chin strap, and you’ve picked your style from my list of examples. Now you want to know what’s next. Welcome, my facial-haired friend, to the easiest step in the whole guide.
It’s time for you to grow facial hair. It’s better to have too much than not enough, so don’t rush to your bathroom after two sleepless nights. You need enough hair to trim, sculpt, and edge. Otherwise, the next step will be impossible.
Facial hair is like any other hair on your body. It’s made of keratin, a protein manufactured inside your hair follicles. Blood feeds the follicles and pushes the keratin (or hair) up through the skin. As it finds its way to the surface, an oil gland lubricates it. Once the hair reaches the outside world, it’s dead. Yep, it’s true. Every hair on your body is dead.
Considering all that, here are quick tips to think about as you wait around at home, staring in the mirror for your beard hair to grow:
- You need at least a month for your facial hair to grow out enough to style it properly.
- Wash your sprouting beard thoroughly, as the excess oil will itch and dry out your skin
- If it’s your first beard, don’t be shy. Go see a barber for advice with basic maintenance for your skin type.
- Don’t trim your beard! Different areas of your facial hair grow at different speeds, that’s normal. For now, let it all grow out however it wants.
- Buy a beard oil, this is my favorite. Don’t buy a beard balm or utility cream. Short beard styles don’t need wax to stay put. The wax only irritates the skin under your facial hair, chaffing and causing dandruff.
It’s All in The Line: How to Trim Your Chin Strap Beard
Okay, so you waited one long, itchy month and now you’re ready to get trimming.
I won’t lie, the chin strap is a difficult style. Because of its clean, thin lines, proportion is everything. Even some barbers have problems getting it exactly right.
But that’s okay! You’re here to learn, and even if you mess it up once or twice, the best thing about facial hair is that it grows back. So don’t sweat it. Once you learn how to trim a chin strap beard, you’ll have the skills to do many other styles, too.
First up, gather your items:
The key to a perfect chin strap is the trimmer. You need something that can trim your entire beard and fine tune the edges. I recommend this package by Braun. I’ve used it myself and it has everything you need.
The Braun set comes with a trimming comb that’ll evenly cut your entire beard to your desired length. The included razor is a must, too. Because once you’re done trimming, you must shave most of your facial hair.
I suggest a clear shave gel because you can see through it. A white shave foam obstructs your view, and it’s easy to cut more than you want. Like I said, precision is key when it comes to a chin strap beard. Every bit of help at your disposal is vital.
Ready? Here are my six steps to a perfect chin strap beard:
Step 1: Trim Your Entire Beard to Desired Length
Set the trimming comb to the length you want your chin strap to be. You can try different lengths on your cheek or neck hair since you’ll be shaving that all off. I recommend you start with a higher number, then drop the sizes one at a time. That way you don’t cut too much off without realizing it. Also, try to trim as uniform as possible.
Online, I’ve read bad advice about how you should wet your hair before trimming. Don’t. Your hair relaxes when it’s wet and seems longer than it is. You’ll end up cutting more off than you want. Plus, beard trimmers work better with dry hair.
Step 2: Shape your Chin Strap
Remove the comb attachment. Using the blade of the trimmer, roughly outline your chin strap. Start with your jaw line and work your way back to your sideburns. Outline a larger chin strap style at first, then cut down as desired. Trim away from your chin strap, not towards it.
Trim your neck and cheek hair, then decide if you want to keep the mustache. If so, then outline that as well.
Step 3: Soften and Wash Your Skin Prior to a Close Shave
I prefer a facial wash over a shampoo, which can dry out your skin. Preferably, you’ll have a decent beard shampoo on hand. If you have sensitive skin, get the fragrance-free variety. Once you’re done washing, use a warm washcloth to soak your face and beard. Softening your hair this way helps the razor cut and avoids irritation.
Step 4: Shave Away Excess Hair Around Your Chin Strap Beard
Lather the shaving gel on your face and neck, avoiding the chin strap you’ve already outlined. Go slow, fast shaving can lead to razor burn. Also, rinse the razor after every few strokes in hot water. This removes any hair and skin, which effects how well the blades cut.
Step 5: Fine Tune Edges with Trimmer, or Razor Edge Blade
Once you’re done shaving, pat down your face and check your chin strap in the mirror. Using the trimmer or the razor’s edger, eye both sides of your face and even out the hairlines. Remember, less is more. Don’t take too much off at once because you can’t get it back.
Step 6: Rinse and Apply After Shave Cream
You’re done! Rinse your face off with warm water. I like to use the washcloth again with cool water and pat down my face. I recommend an aftershave without alcohol for your face. Something with vitamin D and fragrance free. Those smells do nothing for your face. And although the alcohol feels good, but it dries out your skin.
Chin Strap Beard Essential Maintenance Tips
Now that you’re sporting a new beard style, where do you go from here? Well, if you don’t take care of that finely trimmed marvel it’ll look awful in no time. But it’s okay, I’m here to help.
Because a chin strap is a more labor-intensive facial hair style, you want to trim it every 2 – 3 days. It’s fine to let it grow out into a thicker chin strap if that’s what you decide. The problem is the longer you wait to maintain the style, the harder it is to keep those lines even, and the shape perfect.
As I noted before, avoid beard balms. Stick to beard oil. If you grow your beard out more, or let the chin strap get thicker, then you can invest in a balm. For now, don’t worry about it.
You need to oil your beard after every shower. Refuse the desire to skip an application or two when you’re lazy or in a rush. It doesn’t take long, and an oil-less beard can cause dandruff, or what we in the beard business call, beardruff.
After every shower, dry your face off well. Some guys use a hair dryer, but a second towel works fine. Dig inside your beard with the towel and massage the skin till it’s dry. Because oil and water don’t mix, the extra moisture causes the oil to remain unabsorbed.
With a thin chin strap, take a few drops into your hand and rub your palms together. Then massage the oil into your beard. You want the oil to work its way down to the roots, where skin dries, flakes, and eventually becomes dandruff.
You’ll know if you need to use more oil if you notice dandruff on your face. That’s because the oil isn’t penetrating down to the skin under your facial hair.
Invest in a beard shampoo, too. Especially if you find you’re still getting dandruff. I recommend Professor Fuzzworthy’s. It’s all natural and uses castor oil, which is a great for your skin. Plus, it smells amazing, and the bar is equivalent to two bottles of the leading liquid stuff. One bar lasts me about three to four months.
How To Avoid Bad Beard Days
The honeymoon phase with a new beard style is the best. It smells great and feels good and that makes you feel good, too. Well, to keep that feeling going for weeks and months, you need to avoid the typical beard pitfalls.
The best thing about most chin strap beards is they aren’t very thick, nor are they big. But by avoiding the problems of a large beard, you inherit unique small beard issues. Namely, you’ve got to keep those chin strap lines clean and sharp. To do that, shave every day or two.
If you’re nervous, or your skills wane as the weeks go on, pay the extra money to see a barber. That way, you’re only job is to maintain what he (or she) shapes for you. I’d recommend seeing a barber once a month, just to straighten up the hard to notice spots, like the curve around your jaw. The best way to avoid bad beard days is to eliminate the possibility of them happening.
Your face is unique. Just because you like the way 50 Cent did his chin strap, doesn’t mean you can have the same one. The chin strap that matches its owner’s jawline is the only one that looks good. If you have a round jaw and you do a straight strap, you will look silly. Trust me.
Follow these tips to avoid bad beard day pitfalls:
- Don’t use hair products, like gels and conditioners. Your face is much more sensitive than your scalp.
- A small chin strap is fine with facial soap, but if it gets bigger purchase a beard shampoo.
- Keep your beard trimmer and razor clean and dry while stored away. Otherwise you’ll replace them more often than needed.
- Designate some time in the morning for your beard routine, that way you don’t rush and make mistakes.
- If you end up growing out your beard and want a beard balm, I recommend Honest Amish Balm. It’s all natural and won’t irritate sensitive skin.
Caring for your appearance can be complicated, but it shouldn’t be something you dread. Hopefully, with my ultimate chin strap guide you’ve learned which style is for you and how to maintain it.
There are dozens of awesome beard choices out there. The attention to detail many chin strap styles require can seem like a daunting task. But once you master the chin strap, most other beard styles are no problem.
If you take care of your beard, it’ll take care of you. A beard says a lot about a man. And a well-maintained chin strap that fits your face is a powerful asset. It relays subliminal information to the people you interact with. A perfect chin strap beard says you’re organized, confident, and in control.
Now get out there and be confident.