Growing 5 O’clock Shadow aka Stubble Beard Is Easy But There Is A Catch

As one of the most popular beards and the shortest possible facial hair style, the 5 o’clock shadow looks epic on any man’s face.

It looks sexy and compatible with all face shapes and the fact that it’s effortless to grow makes it even more appealing.

That’s why Clint Eastwood, Don Johnson and Harrison Ford wear it with pride.

Have we mentioned it also attracts girls and guys like the honey attracts the bees?

The trick: it requires regular maintenance and trimming to look good.

That’s where the most guys fail since they’re unsure which tools to use and how to properly trim it so it stays in shape.

Usually, this ends in complete shaving.

As you know, we’re all for preventing shaving, which is why we bring you a detailed guide on how to grow, trim and maintain the 5 o’clock shadow with ease and minimum efforts.

What Is a 5 O’Clock Shadow Beard

The term 5 o’clock shadow beard may sound complex, but the beard style is anything but. It’s a type of beard that is not too long or too clean. In essence, it’s more of a stubble.

To grow a 5 o’clock shadow beard, you need to give your stubble time to grow, which most of the time means two to three days, but this depends on how fast your beard grows.

Most Popular Styles

Originally used as a pejorative, the shadow is hailed as one of the essential short beard styles for any face shape.
The 5 o’clock shadow beard, while it may appear like a lazy man’s beard, has been made popular by various celebrities.

The shadow today can be seen worn by actors like George Clooney and has become synonymous with debonair.
The 5 o’clock shadow beard allows men to have a seasoned charm about them without having to grow a thicker beard.

Men who frequently deal with ingrown hair should allow their facial hair to grow out and always leave a little stubble to prevent future infections related to ingrown hairs. Men looking for a sophisticated look should consider the shadow.

Ben Affleck’s Beard Style

Ben Affleck’s Beard Style

Photo from: popularImages/

The Batman actor won the hearts of many through his acting skills, but the shadow beard is a striking look on him. 
He has neatly trimmed the cheek lines while leaving the neck hairs to look unkempt, which gives him a mature appearance.

Chris Hemsworth’s Light Stubble

Chris Hemsworth’s Light Stubble

Photo from: photoworksmedia/

He has one of the most admired beard looks, which results in a well-groomed and well-polished look which, combined with a comb-over hairstyle, makes him look more dashing.

David Beckham’s Beard

David Beckham’s Beard

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Beckham is a style icon known for his remarkable football skills and has always been a trendsetter when it comes to beard and hairstyles. The man bun and his wild 5 o’clock shadow beard have been a fashion statement for a long time now.

George Clooney’s Shadow Beard

George Clooney’s Shadow Beard

Photo from: DenisMakarenko/

George Clooney is the pioneer of this beard style in modern times and a celebrity who embraces the beard as a style and has been doing so for years.

Paul Walker’s Beard Style

Paul Walker’s Beard Style

Photo from: s_bukley/

He was an amazing actor and his role in Fast and Furious made the movies all the more interesting. Besides that, Paul was known for rocking a 5 o’clock shadow beard in a variety of events.

If you have such a face, you can always go with a heavy stubble to make a face squarer by keeping the sides well-trimmed. 

George Michael’s Beard

George Michael’s Beard

Photo from: Sodel Vladyslav/

One of the men who first introduced the shadow was the singer/songwriter George Michael. With naturally thicker facial hair, Michael was able to pull off the look with great appeal.

Don Johnson’s Stubble

Don Johnson’s Stubble

Photo from: Jean_Nelson/

You couldn’t have Miami Vice or Nash Bridges without Don Johnson and, you also couldn’t see him without the 5 o’clock shadow.

First appearing on his face in 1986, the shadow quickly became yet another style of fashionable beards and not just an obvious sign of laziness.

Seann William Scott Beard

Photo from: s_bukley/

Jake Gyllenhal's Beard Style

Photo from: popularImages/

Bredley Cooper's Three Days Beard

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What Are The Benefits

One of the most famous beard styles is the 5 o’clock shadow beard. It’s an easy style to pull off but one that requires more maintenance. 

If you are thinking about rocking the 5 o’clock beard, here are a few benefits of this beard style that you need to be aware of:

Popular Trend

It is one of the most recognized beard styles and while it was traditionally associated with delirium and laziness, the trend became popular in the 1980s. Today, celebrities like Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds and George Clooney have made the style popular.

Goes Well With Any Face Shape

The 5 o’clock shadow beard is one of the simplest styles to pull off and to make things even better, it goes well with any face shape.

Prevents Infections

If you are the kind that develops ingrown hairs, you need to allow your beard to grow out and rocking a 5 o’clock shadow beard makes this possible, which helps to prevent infections.

Seasoned Look

The 5 o’clock shadow beard style makes it possible to have a seasoned charm without having to grow a thick beard.

Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons of Growing a 5 O’clock Shadow


  • The stubble is a great look which women find more attractive than a clean-shaven face.
  • It’s a solid look for anyone who doesn’t want to have a clean-shaven face.
  • The 5 o’clock shadow beard helps to maculate you and not to mention you look more mature.
  • It’s an easy look to pull off because all you need is to allow the stubble to grow and then clean it a little bit.


  • The 5 o’clock shadow beard can be difficult to maintain for some men, especially those who have patchy beards.
  • A 5 o’clock shadow beard may appear messy because it requires frequent upkeep.

Different Face Shapes

While a stubble works well with any face shape, it comes with caveats that take into account specific measurements.

It can be used to redistribute the proportions of your face, but mostly it derives strength from how it hardens, emphasizes as well as softens the facial features. You need to identify your face shape before you begin trimming your stubble.

Heart Face Shape

Heart-shaped faces suffer a lot from baby face features, which is why the 5 o’clock shadow beard is perfect since it creates a sense of maturity. The result is a texture that denotes experience while retaining the hallmarks of a youthful complexion.

Oblong Face Shape

Men who have oblong face shapes can benefit from a light coat that provides texture and adds emphasis to the jawline.
However, a heavier stubble can be used to reduce the length of the face when you trim short below the jawline.

Oval Face Shape

Men with oval shape faces can experiment with light as well as heavy stubble with little restraint since it is highly unlikely that it will affect the proportions of the face. With that in mind, avoid soft finishes and go for more angular contours since this will make your face appear squarer.

Square Face Shape

Square face shapes go well with light stubble. This tends to populate the already pronounced features without overemphasizing them.
Longer beard growth can be used to soften the face, but you need to keep the finishes neat to avoid blowing the features out of proportion.

Triangle Face Shape

Triangle face shapes fairly well with light stubble since the added texture tends to retain the angularity while flaunting the strong jawline with overemphasizing it. Longer growth will soften the traits if they are too strong.

Diamond Face Shape

Normally, men with diamond face shapes will struggle to wear a stubble.
This is because the short hair can exaggerate the angular features and may appear scruffy.

In such a case, a heavy stubble would be ideal, but it would be more effective if you could grow a fuller beard.

Round Face Shape

The use of stubble is usually more complex for round face shapes. While a light stubble can be exploited to help break the monotony of the absent features it doesn’t do much to redistribute the structure.

Tools Needed to Grow

Tools Needed to Grow 5 O’Clock Shadow

Before you can think about rocking a 5 o’clock shadow beard, you need to familiarize yourself with the tools that you will need.

Electric Clippers

Once you get some stubble, you need to get yourself some electric clippers to help maintain the look.
When it comes to clippers, get one that has various attachments so that you can achieve the desired stubble level.

Safety Razor

While clippers come in handy in shaping the beard you need a safety razor to help tidy up the neck area.

The neck area is usually difficult to handle mainly because the skin is rougher and hair tends to grow in various directions, hence the reason why you need a safety razor.


Regardless of how good you think your stubble looks, it’s nothing if the skin underneath is not only dry but irritated.
As such, you need to invest in a moisturizer to keep the skin healthy and hydrated.

The moisturizer will also help to soothe inflamed skin and heal cuts that may result from shaving.

How to Grow It

The 5 o’clock shadow may seem like a simple style, but achieving it requires dedication, time, and, most of all precision.
A successful shadow requires fine edges and careful knowledge of how to trim a beard.

The stubble on the face and chin needs to be distinctly different from that on the beard neckline.
In most cases the neckline should be completely clean-shaven.

Here are some steps and tips for achieving the shadow beard style:

Step 1 – Let that beard grow

While the look you are trying to achieve is shorter than most beards letting the hair grow out for a day or two may not be enough.
Some follicles take longer than others to grow hair.

How to Grow 5 O’Clock Shadow

Since the shadow and stubble styles look best with greater follicle coverage, it is best to allow more follicles to catch up – even if it means that the beard gets thicker before it gets shorter.

Step 2 – Clean the neckline

The key to great looking shadow is that chiseled look, even if you do not necessarily have a much facial definition.
Shave everything under your neckline in order to achieve a better definition.

Hair below the neckline contributes to a messy look and will ruin the appeal.
Men with good chin and neck definition may style a beard fade down the neckline.

This requires starting the fade at the neckline and leaving a majority of the gradient under the chin.
By the time the fade is at the visible part of the neck it should look almost completely shaved.

Step 3 – Trimming

A high-quality electric trimmer is required for this style. As a general guide for stubble beard trimmers, the trimmer should be able to adjust somewhere between 1/8” and 1/16”. It is recommended that you start with 1/8” until you find the length that works for you.


Ensure that you trim the edges to your liking before trimming the length of the stubble.
It may be harder to see where the edges are when there is a little difference between the stubble and the clean-shaven areas.

Step 4 – Maintenance

This is very important. Again, the stubble seems simple, but maintaining those precise edges is the trick.
It is suggested that you invest in a decent beard grooming kit or in a beard shaping tool in order to maintain the desired look.

Before you massage the oil on your face, make sure to wash your beard with either beard wash or a beard soap to keep it deep cleansed and ready for the oil or balm application.

How to Trim a 5 O’Clock Shadow 

Step 1 – Allow the hair to grow

The first step to rocking a 5 o’clock shadow beard is to allow your facial hair to grow.
Depending on your genetic makeup, it may take two to three days.

Step 2 – Trim the beard

Trim the length away in increments ensuring that you don’t trim too much. After that, you need to decide on the length of stubble that you want, which will depend on the density of your hair follicles.

Step 3 – Play with the length

To create contours and gradients, play with the length of the beard being mindful of the color since light beards take too much effort to be noticed.

Step 4 – Trim in multiple passes

Trim in multiple passes until you arrive at the desired length for consistency.
You can then use a shavette to contour the neck and cheek lines.

Step 5 – Fade the neckline

Fade the neckline by decreasing the guard number as well as the pressure of every pass if that is something you want to try out.

How to Maintain This Beard Style

Step 1 – Grooming

To maintain a 5 o’clock shadow beard, you need to keep trimming your stubble every week, depending on how fast your hair grows.
If your stubble grows faster, you will need to trim it every day or every two days if the growth is not that fast.

Step 2 – Moisturize

You need to moisturize your stubble every day with good quality beard oil.
This will help prevent itching and will give your beard a glossy shine.

Step 3 – Conditioning

Wash your beard with quality beard soap and apply conditioner and then wash again.
This will give your stubble an extra smooth as well as soft texture.

5 O’Clock Shadow vs Stubble

The stubble beard is different from the 5 o’clock shadow beard in that it can be thicker and appears more deliberate.
The stubble beard can be hard to achieve for some men, especially those who have patchy beards.

For example, men who typically deal with a patchy beard will have a hard time achieving this style.
The key to maintaining a good stubble is ensuring frequent upkeep such that it doesn’t appear messy.

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Do plan ahead by allowing your stubble to grow for a day or two so that you can have a workable length.
  • Do ensure that you shave and trim below the neckline to have a well-defined 5 o’clock shadow beard.
  • Do trim down the stubble to the desired length by using an electric razor.
  • Do blend it in by trimming the edges of the stubble to give your hair a graduated look such that your neckline isn’t so defined.
  • Do ensure that you maintain the look by trimming your stubble every day or after three days.


Don’t forget to use beard oil for your stubble to prevent itching and to give your beard a glossy shiny.


Does a 5 o’clock shadow look good?

Various studies have pointed to the fact that women find men who have a light stubble to be more attractive and they prefer such men for short and long term relationships. The fact that the beard style gives you a mature appearance makes it attractive.

What length is a 5 o’clock shadow?

The best length for a shadow beard is a 1/8 of an inch or 3mm. Ensure that you don’t grow the beard longer or lesser than this, because trimming it less than 3 mm will give you a clean-shaven look. If your stubble ends up being longer than 3mm, it will result in a heavy stubble.

How to hide the beard shadow?

Hiding a shadow beard involves a variety of makeup techniques. Apply an orange or red blush on the beard zone and then blend thoroughly. Apply a concealer and then blend it with foundation using a makeup sponge or brush.

After that, apply face powder and then blend again before spraying the beard for a long-lasting effect.


When executed well, the 5 o’clock shadow beard is the hallmark of any well-groomed gentleman.
Every man who has donned the shadow beard knows that it takes time as well as precision to maintain the look.

As such, ensure that you are ready for trimming every day or after two days if you are going for this look.
You also need to keep in mind that the skin underneath the stubble will always be visible.

Therefore, you need to invest in good beard products such as beard oil and have a good care routine.
A daily wash, moisturizing as well as regular exfoliating will go a long way in maintaining a good looking shadow beard.

Jay - Barber

About the author: Jay – Barber

Jay is one of the members of the Beardoholic writers team and NFL, celebrity barber. As a master barber with years of experience, Jay can make your beard look any way you envision. Jay’s specialty is black men’s hair and beard styles, but he also has deep knowledge on how to create a perfect neck and cheek line, short or long beard and virtually any beard and hair shape and style.

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