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7 Bad Beards and Better Facial Hair Styles You Can Try Instead
Dr Barry Abdelrahimsai (GMC)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Barry Abdelrahimsai (GMC)
Updated on May 21, 2024

A clean, healthy, well-groomed beard is, in most cases, a beautiful one. However, since 54% of British men are now sporting some kind of facial hair [1], aesthetic standards have risen and stylists have started talking increasingly about bad beards.

Anything from a sparse, patchy beard, to a poorly groomed, uneven or simply uninspired one can become a fashion faux-pas. And since your beard says a lot about you, it is good to know the facial hair styles and practices to avoid in order to maintain your dignified, appealing look.

The good news is that even if your beard is bad, there are always ways to make it better. A patchy beard can be fixed, an unkempt one can be trimmed and an unflattering style can be traded for one that highlights the best aspects of your face. There are also treatments and therapies available for men who can’t naturally grow a fuller, healthier beard.

This article will tell you more about:

  • What bad beards are and what they might look like
  • Some of the worst beard styles that you may want to avoid
  • More suitable facial hair styles to trade your bad beard in for
  • The most efficient ways to grow a fuller, better beard
Table of Contents

What is a bad beard?

First and foremost, a bad beard is one that is not properly cared for. Diligent beard grooming practices are essential for the man who takes pride in his facial hair. Thus, regardless of the way you have chosen to style it, your beard might be bad if:

  • It is not washed and brushed at least daily, which can make it greasy and allow it to trap dirt and food in its strands. This is not only unsightly, it is also unsanitary, as it can lead to acne and beard folliculitis (a similar condition to scalp folliculitis). It can also trigger or worsen dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis (yeast infections of the scalp, which can also extend to your beard).
  • It is not trimmed regularly, allowing it to fall out of shape and grow uneven. Moreover, an untrimmed beard can develop split ends, giving it a frizzy, scruffy look.
  • It is too sparse or patchy for your chosen style, making it look incomplete. Regardless of the causes of your beard hair loss, there are many styles to choose from to help you mask your thinning areas while emphasising the fuller ones. 
  • It seems to be trying too hard. Whether the style is excessively elaborate, too busy or too cartoonish, you are usually better off replacing it with a more dignified look. 
Man with a neck beard

1. The neckbeard

This style involves growing a beard predominantly or exclusively on your neck while your face is clean-shaved or (even worse) covered in stubble. 

Why is it bad?

The place of a beard is normally on your face. It does not have to cover the entire bottom half of your visage, but it should involve at least a part of it. A neckbeard looks less like facial hair and more like a scarf. Moreover, in the past years, the term “neckbeard” has gained negative connotations, as a hairy neck is associated with being unkempt and possessing poor personal grooming skills.    

Try this instead: The Brett beard

Man with a Brett beard

If you have trouble growing facial hair above your jawline or simply enjoy the idea of wearing your beard lower on your face, try a Brett style. It involves a thin band of hair that follows your jawline, which still keeps your cheeks and most of your chin clean, avoiding any problem areas.

Man with a solitary soul patch

2. The solitary soul patch

One of the easiest beard styles to achieve, it only involves leaving a small triangle of short hair under your upper lip. The rest of the face is shaved clean. 

Why is it bad?
The soul patch accompanied by no other facial hair is not a beard per se. It is just a few short hairs stranded in the centre of your chin. At the same time, you are not clean-shaven either. It can look like the worst of both worlds and if the patch is too small, it can resemble a smudge on your face rather than a beard.

It may be tempting to wear it if you can only grow very sparse or patchy pilosity on the rest of your face, but it may not do you justice. 

Try this instead: The circle beard

Man with a circle beard

A short circle beard can be almost as forgiving as a soul patch in terms of masking bald spots. However, it is a trendy style that can give you a fresh and youthful look. You can choose to wear it with or without a soul patch, depending on your preference, facial features and beard growth properties. 

Man with a sparse, patchy beard

3. The sparse, patchy beard

This is not a style in itself, and it is a failed attempt to grow a full beard that covers the cheeks and chin. It can happen due to your young age or because of genetic or hormonal reasons. 

Why is it bad?

While the style you have chosen might suit you and compliment your face, the sparseness of your pilosity and balding areas ruin the effect and make it an unfortunate choice. It is always better to wear a more diminutive beard style that highlights your fuller facial hair areas than a more extensive one which only draws attention to the thinning spots.  

Try this instead: The goatee

Man with a goatee

If your chin is well covered, a goatee would be an elegant, masculine solution to your sparse cheekbeard problem. There is significant variety to choose from in terms of length and you can wear it with a moustache, to create the appearance of even greater facial hair fullness. This style is very popular and can be worn well by men with most facial shapes and constitutions. 

Man with a thin, braided beard

4. The thin, braided beard

The facial hair is allowed to grow several centimetres in length, starting from the chin, and then it is braided all the way up in one or several very thin, tight braids.

Why is it bad? 

There are two main reasons why there are better choices than this beard style. The first one is aesthetic – while thick beard braids can give you a Viking vibe, a thin one leaves an impression of scarcity. Its limp appearance lacks vitality and virility, diminishing your facial hair instead of showcasing it. 

The second reason is a practical one: tying your beard too tightly can trigger a condition called traction alopecia. This type of alopecia can occur on your scalp, causing hair shedding or in your beard, giving you bald spots. It develops when excessive tension is applied to your hair follicles for extended periods of time. Tight styles such as braids or ponytails can cause hair loss, and similarly,  knots and braids in your beard can damage your hair follicles, making your strands fall out. 

Try this instead: A ducktail beard

Man with a ducktail beard

If you enjoy letting your beard hang longer below your chin, a ducktail style can give it a neat, pointy, arrow-like appearance. It works with sparser facial hair as well as with a fuller one and brings a classier, still daring, yet more mature note to your look. 

Man with a scruffy, unkempt beard

5. The scruffy, unkempt beard

You don’t need to do anything to get this sort of beard, simply let it grow out without trimming or grooming it regularly. If you have good facial hair growth, in a few months, it will end up wild and bushy.  

Why is it bad?

A scruffy beard may, in theory, contribute to an unconventional, bad-boy look. However, it more often looks dishevelled and unhygienic. Furthermore, depending on your skin qualities, the lack of grooming can make your beard area greasy and expose it to skin problems (in the same way you can get common scalp problems if you wash your hair too rarely) or it can make your beard strands dry and brittle, with split ends.

Try this instead: The Garibaldi beard

Man with a Garibaldi beard

The Garibaldi is a long, very full, and masculine beard style that showcases thick facial hair well. It presents the same advantages in terms of appearance, but it is neat and elegant, with rounded edges and a well-groomed look. Learn here how to trim your bread for professional results.

However, if the reason you were growing a scruffy beard is that you didn’t have time or disposition to groom your beard regularly, you may be better off simply sticking with stubble. It gives off a rebel, unruly vibe and requires no particular care except trimming it every few days when it grows too long.   

Man with a sparse, uneven long beard

6. The sparse, uneven long beard

This is a type of beard sported by someone who would like to grow long facial hair but lacks the fullness to do so. The result is a thin, see-through beard with strands of different lengths and densities.

Why is it bad?

A sparse, uneven, see-through beard merely highlights the limits of your facial hair instead of harnessing its strength. Moreover, the unintentional asymmetrical appearance gives it an ungroomed vibe. Long styles are excellent for men with full beards, but you are better off avoiding them if yours tends to be sparser. 

Try this instead: The French fork beard

Man with a French fork beard

If you would really like to grow your beard out but it grows uneven and its fullness is lacking, you can always try a French fork style. It involves using brushing and light beard products to create two equally thick prongs in your facial hair, which you make sure to trim to the same length. This solves your problems if your beard grows shorter or thinner in the centre and gives you a better-groomed, trendier look.  

Two men with conceptual beards

7. The conceptual beard

A conceptual beard is any facial hair shaped to reproduce a symbol, image, or intricate geometrical pattern. Sometimes, the trimming process is painstaking, and it often requires significant maintenance to preserve the desired appearance.

Why is it bad?

While the intention is likely to make a statement or create an original, out-of-the-box look, in most cases it just looks immature and cartoonish. Normally, beards invite elegance and a sense of dignified masculinity, which this style often defeats. Although there is nothing wrong with a more whimsical beard, treating your face like a canvas can backfire in aesthetical terms. 

Try this instead: Wearing beard jewellery

Man wearing beard jewellery

Adorning your facial hair with beard beads, rings or lacers can allow you increased freedom of artistic expression both when it comes to selecting the accessories themselves and styling them in. This usually looks better with a longer beard, but it provides a variety of options for tying, parting or braiding it in such ways that could disguise thinning areas. Just be sure to opt for tasteful accessories that fit your look in terms of number, size, and style.

Man checking his bad beard disapprovingly

What if you need more help to fix your bad beard?

You may really want to grow facial hair but realise your beard is too patchy for any of the styles that would suit you. That could happen for a number of reasons, from a young age to hormonal imbalances [2], genetics or alopecia barbae (the bearded variety of alopecia areata) [3]. But worry not, as there are treatment options available to help you fix the bald spots in your beard, increase its density and make it healthier and happier.

However, it is not a good idea to self-medicate, as some popular and efficient hair loss treatments such as Dutasteride or Finasteride can hinder your beard growth. That is because they work by lowering your dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels, and while this male hormone can produce male pattern baldness, it also stimulates facial hair growth [2].  

The best thing you can do is get the advice of a trichologist (a beard and hair specialist).  They will diagnose the cause of your beard hair loss and recommend the most effective treatment, which may be:

  • Minoxidil Minoxidil works for beard growth by dilating the blood vessels in your beard area to increase blood flow to your facial hair follicles [4]. This provides them with a better supply of oxygen and nutrients, giving your beard resources to grow.
  • Corticosteroids – Certain conditions that cause bald patches in your facial hair such as alopecia barbae or psoriasis may require steroid creams (or, in more complicated cases, steroid injections) to reduce inflammation and lead to symptom improvement. 
  • Platelet-rich plasma therapy – while PRP hair treatment has proven results for hair growth, injecting your beard area with platelet-rich plasma may be effective as well [5]. That is because it contains growth factors which help follicles and their nourishing blood vessels develop. 
  • Beard rollersDerma rolling for hair growth has been demonstrated to be as effective as topical Minoxidil. And using Minoxidil together with a derma roller can boost both their effects. However, more research is needed to show whether this applies to beard rollers as well. 
  • Low-level laser therapy [6] Also known as red light therapy for hair growth, this therapy can help increase the density and thickness of the hair on your head as well as your beard. It works by stimulating your mitochondrial activity so more energy can reach your hair and beard follicles. 
  • A beard transplant –  The popularity of beard transplant surgery has been rising consistently in recent years, as more and more men opt for this simple, painless, outpatient surgery. It involves harvesting healthy beard follicles from your head or places on your face where they grow denser and reinserting them in your sparse areas. The major advantage of this procedure is that just like a hair transplant is permanent you can enjoy the results of facial hair restoration forever. And since beard transplants look natural, nobody will even know you had one if you decide not to share this information. 

If you feel that you might be at the best age to get a beard transplant, don’t hesitate to book a consultation with one of our top-tier surgeons. They will tell you everything to know about this procedure, answer all of your questions and determine whether you would make a good candidate for successful facial hair restoration.

7 Bad Beards and Better Facial Hair Styles You Can Try Instead, Wimpole Clinic

Dr Barry Abdelrahimsai (GMC)
Medically reviewed by Dr Barry Abdelrahimsai (GMC)Updated on May 21, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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