Growing a beard is a journey. You’ll start with the first, faint wisps of hair and progress down the road to something more substantial. There are plenty of interstitial stages, some of which are more attractive than others. At some point, though, you’re going to have to ask a question of yourself.
That question, of course, is whether or not you’ve accidentally started growing a neckbeard.
Believe or not, but this style is something that certain people covet. It’s also become a byword for a certain type of person, so you might not find said neckbeard exactly as charming as some others. What you need, then, is information.
It’s always good to take a look at the various types of beards and to figure out which one really works for you. When it comes to the neck beard, this means taking a look at what a neckbeard is and what it means to the world at large. From there, you can decide if this is a beard style with which you’d like to be associated.
By the time you’re done with this piece, you’ll know a lot more about neckbeards – and you should know whether having one is something worth pursuing.
What Is A Neckbeard?
Before you start your journey towards growing (or maybe shaving off) a neckbeard, it’s probably worth your time to learn a little more about the facial hairstyle. The bad news, of course, is that getting any straight information about this kind of style has been rendered nearly impossible thanks to memes.
Technically speaking, a neckbeard is both a very real and a very intentional type of beard. It’s also exactly what one would expect from the term – a beard that exists entirely below the jaw. In an intentional case, it involves shaving everything above your neck to achieve this dubious look.
As you might imagine, there aren’t a lot of intentional neckbeards floating around these days. What there are, though, are beards that look patchy enough to qualify as neckbeards even if they aren’t quite the type of beards that fit in the definition.
You can see the occasional intentional neckbeard pop up in culture when people want a real throwback style – in most cases, Civil War aficionados or gentlemen who love an intellectual look that dates back to the antebellum era. They’re few and far between, but those who grow these beards on purpose are pretty fastidious about their upkeep.
It is much more common to see something that’s just on the edge of being a true neckbeard. These include more traditional beards that start a little lower than normal and, of course, the kind of stubble that some consider fashionable. It’s not intentional by any stretch of the imagination, but some people will stick with this kind of look.
In short, there are still neckbeards around both purposefully and due to inaction. If you’re looking to sport this kind of look, you can probably get away with it if you have the right attitude about your facial hair.
If you’re like most people who spend time on the internet, you probably don’t immediately associate the neckbeard with a purposeful beard style. No, you associate it with the memes – yes, that meme that’s forever associated with the Fedora Guy, even though the Guy in question doesn’t really have a neckbeard.
In the world of internet meme culture, the neckbeard is synonymous with a very specific type of person. This person is almost always male, probably wears a fedora, and doesn’t have great personal hygiene. The neckbeard isn’t a choice – it’s just the thing that grows in when you don’t shave.
These memes have cropped up because there’s a certain type of overly entitled, somewhat delusion gentlemen that both loves to lurk on the internet and hates to put in anything other than the barest of efforts when it comes to personal style. While the neckbeard might have noble origins, this guy doesn’t really embrace them.
What else does the neckbeard do? Well, he tends to love anime and swords, doesn’t particularly like women, and he definitely has an opinion on everything. He’s the kind of guy who says ‘Um, actually…’ whenever anyone states anything and he’s basically just the worst kind of person.
There are few fates worse for a facial hairstyle than being associated with this type of person or meme. Unfortunately, the neckbeard is now definitely linked with fedoras, mall ninjas, and the world of imageboards.
Recognizable Names Who Once Rocked Neckbeards
While the internet definition of the neckbeard might be a little rough, that doesn’t mean that some cool people haven’t rocked this style from time to time. In fact, the neckbeard has a pretty strong pedigree from throughout history.
If you want to see the neckbeard at its height, you actually need to go all the way back to Ancient Rome. Romans had some pretty strange relationships with facial hair – a full beard could often be considered a barbarian’s look, so a lot of higher-class men kept themselves shaven. Those who were at the top of the food chain, though, had a lot more leeway with how they groomed themselves.
We know from busts that both Claudius and Nero had thing neckbeards. While Nero isn’t exactly an emperor that anyone would want to emulate these days, it’s almost certain that the style was fairly common in the upper levels of the Roman aristocracy.
The neckbeard style fades in and out of history from there, popping up again in with the Amish. Yes, these hardworking farmers and craftsmen have been known to rock their own neckbeards from time to time, though they tend to keep some facial hair on their cheeks as well.
Why did the Amish like this style so much? There are conflicting reports, but some say that the lack of a mustache was a protest move against militarism. Regardless, the neckbeard look has become synonymous with their religion.
If you want to go to a pop culture figure with a neckbeard, Thoreau is the go-to man. Henry David Thoreau wasn’t just a writer – he was a facial hair rebel. He made the somewhat outlandish claim that his neck whiskers helped to protect him from the cold, but realistically he did a lot to popularize the style among other New England intellectuals.
The Modern Neckbeard Styles
If you look back at the neckbeards of guys like Thoreau, you’ll notice that they are incredibly intentional pieces of facial artwork. The modern neckbeard, though, is really no such thing. If you’re looking at the modern version of this phenomenon, you’re largely looking at works in progress.
As a note, there are still people who go for this style purposefully. They might like Thoreau or they might just believe that they can fight off colds more easily, but these people are generally pretty easy to identify by the fact that they have fairly luxurious neckbeards. That’s not the case with most others in this situation.
What you’re really looking at in a modern neckbeard style is a patch beard-in-progress. The beard itself looks like a neckbeard no so much because it’s being grown out they way on purpose, but because it’s the first part of the grower’s facial hair to reach any kind of notable length.
How can you tell if someone is in the middle of growing past this look? Simply put, you take a look at the rest of their face. If you notice that there’s the beginning of facial hair in other places, you’re probably looking at a work in progress. If you notice clean skin or stubble, though, you’re looking at someone who is growing a true neckbeard.
Note that the chinstrap is another version of the neckbeard and that it has its own very specific look. The chinstrap can best be thought of as a thin neckbeard that goes gently under the chin and connects back up at the sideburns. In the cases in which it hits the chin, it’s probably not a technical neckbeard.
In short, it’s rare to see a modern neckbeard as a purposeful work. They’re out there, though, and those that are real are pretty impressive.
Should I Shave My Neck When Growing A Beard
This is one of those really big questions asked by people who are, perhaps reasonably, terrified of being labeled a neckbeard when they are simply trying to grow out their facial hair. The question here really isn’t one of whether or not you should shave your neck – it’s a question of learning how to grow a beard.
The first thing to start with here is the obvious – your beard is going to take time to grow in. You can’t will it into existence, not even if you are the kind of guy who has to shave twice a day to look decent. Your beard is going to come in at the pace that it’s going to come in, and there’s not an awful lot you can do about that.
Now, there are steps you can take to try to avoid the neckbeard stage. If you can start exercising and maintain a good diet, you’ve got a much better chance to bring in healthier, thicker hair that conforms to your jawline. You might not have signed up for a full lifestyle change when growing a beard, but getting in shape does help.
While some do use a beard to hide the natural shape of their face, the truth is that the early stages of a beard are going to accentuate what you already have working for you. Avoiding excessive weight gain during this process is a good way to make sure that even hair on your neck looks good.
Should you actually shave your neck? The answer here is a solid maybe. In some cases, shaving your neck can help because you’re not aiming to grow your beard down that low. It’s especially helpful if you are the kind of person who can only grow facial hair below the jawline when you’re not putting in a concentrated effort.
Be careful with shaving your neck, though, because going too high can ruin the beard that you are trying to grow. It’s generally considered a good idea to stop shaving altogether if you are trying to grow a full beard, but only you know what you can get away with in terms of your personal look.
If you are going to shave your neck, try to exercise some caution. Don’t go quite as high as you think you need to go – this will provide you with a little more wiggle room if you are unhappy with the final product.
It cannot be overstated how important it is that you look at the process of shaving your neck as one of cleaning up strays rather than making a major change to your appearance. You are looking to make as small a change as possible to keep your beard in an ideal condition. If you choose to tear everything down, don’t be surprised if you have to start everything over again.
That’s not all you’re going to have to think about, though. There are a few other problems that tend to crop up in beard growers, including:
- Too much stress over the beard
- Poor hygiene
- Lack of overall patience
The first and the third can best be solved by slowing down and letting nature take its course. Try not to worry so much about whether or not you have a neckbeard – carrying yourself calmly and cooly will help to deflect some of the problems that come with the facial hair choice.
The second, though, does require a little extra work. You may not need to worry about shaving your neck if you are willing to keep your beard area clean and moisturized. You should invest in a good beard shampoo and do what you can to wash your face regularly.
If you can keep clean and neat, shaving your neck won’t be too much of a priority. Feel free to clean up when necessary, but remember that the secret to growing a beard is making the choice not to shave off your facial hair in the first place.
How To Trim Your Neck Beard
If you’ve got a neckbeard and you are going to trim it, you definitely need the right products. Below are some of the tools that you’re going to need as well as the techniques that you’ll want to use.
1. Grab Your Razor
This one is kind of a personal choice, but you’re going to choose either a standard razor or a beard trimmer. The former gives you a little more control, while the latter makes life a lot easier.
2. Find Your Line
You’re going to want to locate your Adam’s Apple for this step. You’ll usually want to start shaving just below the top of your Adam’s Apple if you’re going to get rid of your neckbeard.
3. Follow Your Jaw
Use your razor and follow along with the shape of your jaw, getting rid of everything below that imaginary line.
You’re absolutely going to want to stick to the line or lower – going higher is going to ruin any of the work that you’ve already done on your beard.
Am I A Neckbeard?
After reading all of this, you’re probably feeling a little bit self-conscious about any hair that you’ve got on your neck. You might be growing it out because you think that Ambrose Burnside was a pretty good general or because you’re working on a full beard, but now you might wonder if that neckbeard defines you.
In truth, the fact that you’re asking yourself that question means a lot. If you’re looking at the internet definition of a neckbeard, you are looking at someone who isn’t exactly all that introspective. He thinks he’s great and he doesn’t care what his so-called beard looks like.
Now, there are some other things at which you should be looking if you want to avoid joining those accursed ranks. Are you taking care of yourself? Don’t just look at your beard here – when was the last time you took a shower? Washed your face? Are your clothes clean?
The antithesis of a neckbeard is a man who puts some work into taking care of himself. If you’re growing your beard, that’s great – just remember to wash you face and carry yourself with some confidence at the same time. You’re not a neckbeard, you’re just a man who is growing some great facial hair.
In short, the neckbeard is a very real facial hairstyle as well as a meme. The two tend to overlap, so make sure that your facial hair goals go beyond being a caricature. No matter how you choose to style your facial hair, make sure that you own your style.