5 O’Clock Beard Style – How To Grow It, Trim It, & Make It Look Good!

If you’re considering growing a beard, style is everything. Before you take the leap, you should consider which type of beard will suit you best.

There once was a time when a 5 o’clock shadow was considered unkempt or the inevitable aftermath of an early morning. Thanks to some of the hottest celebrities, rocking immaculately trimmed stubble is now acceptable. To look your best, keep the facial hair trimmed to about 1/8 of an inch and neatly shaped – and don’t forget to shave your neck!

Read on to learn if this style will suit your facial features, how long it will take to get the look, and how to rock your 5 o’clock shadow style. 

What is a 5 o’clock shadow beard?

Once upon a time, a 5 o’clock shadow was a sign that you were lazy or haggard. While this was never actually true (some men have a 5 o’clock shadow by noon!), the stubble wasn’t considered professional, much less desirable.

These days, a 5 o’clock shadow beard is an intentionally short beard that can be both professional and sexy. It will usually take about two days to grow, but it’s not just untamed stubble – this style must be meticulously groomed.

Since a 5 o’clock shadow beard is the stubble that begins to grow in the evening after a morning shave, it will give you a natural-looking appearance. You will be able to look mysterious as well as suit-and-tie ready in a couple of days.

If you already have a beard, you can easily trim it until you reach your desired 5 o’clock shadow beard.

Celebrities with 5 o’clock shadow beards

Still not sure if a 5 o’clock shadow beard is for you?

Here are some popular celebrities that are able to do the 5 o’clock shadow style justice:

  • Idris Elba
  • Oscar Isaac
  • Chris Hemsworth
  • George Clooney

Chances are you already know who these guys are – three of them have been People’s Sexiest Man Alive (and Hemsworth was on the cover with his 5 o’clock shadow beard!) – but let’s discuss how exactly this style elevates their looks.

Idris Elba

Idris Elba with a Van Dyke and stubbled cheeks.

This handsome English actor can make just about anything look good!

Typically known for playing tough, often strung-out characters, Elba’s signature look is a Van Dyke with grown-out cheeks.

I recommend checking out the British series Luther if you want to see this look in action. If you make it through all five seasons, you’ll also be rewarded with a truly impressive salt-and-pepper beard (not to mention a great show!).

Oscar Isaac

Oscar Isaac with a relaxed 5 o'clock shadow.

If you don’t know Oscar Isaac’s name, you’ve almost certainly seen his face. In the last several years, he’s been in several Star Wars movies, a Marvel tv series, and Dune.

While his working look varies, his day-to-day preference seems to be either a relaxed 5 o’clock shadow or a thick, full beard.

Fun fact: Oscar Isaac nearly had to shave his magnificent beard for Dune since the character was originally conceived as being clean-shaven.

Chris Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth with his signature off-duty 5 o'clock shadow beard.

Chris Hemsworth is often seen with a five o’clock shadow like his best-known character.

Hemsworth’s easy-going Australian image is intensified by his go-to look: shaggy surfer hair and a casual beard that just screams, “I had better things to do this morning than shave.”

The 5 o’clock shadow style is so much a part of his look that it’s a common feature of his characters as well, including Thor, the god of thunder himself, and the huntsman in Snow White and the Huntsman.

George Clooney

George Clooney with a dignified salt-and-pepper 5 o'clock shadow beard.

It’s probably no surprise that George Clooney has been named People’s Sexist Man Alive twice – what may be surprising is that both of them came before he started rocking his now-signature 5 o’clock shadow regularly.

He’s certainly embraced his salt ‘n’ pepper hair, no matter what part of his head it’s growing from!

George Clooney and his well-trimmed stubble most recently appeared in 2022’s Ticket to Paradise.

5 o’clock shadow beards vs stubble

Before we go any further, we need to draw the figurative line between a 5 o’clock shadow beard and good ol’ fashioned stubble.

Despite what you might think from its name, a 5 o’clock shadow isn’t actually the growth you can see after shaving. Anything between clean-shaven and 3mm is stubble, while anything longer than about 3mm is at least a short beard. A 5 o’clock shadow beard lives at that perfect 3mm length.

Keep reading for more about how to properly name your beard style.

5 o’clock shadow beard

Let’s be brutally honest: most of us can’t grow a 5 o’clock beard during a single workday. For most people, it’s going to take a day or two of growth to cultivate the look.

A 5 o’clock shadow beard is 3mm or ⅛ of an inch of facial hair. Anything shorter than that means you’re clean-shaven and anything longer is a full-on beard.

A 5 o’clock shadow beard is a low-maintenance way to define your facial features and jawline. It is much easier to maintain than a full beard and will give you a rugged look.


A stubble beard is the stage right before the 5 o’clock shadow beard stage. It ranges in length from 1 to 3 mm.

Since this is the beginning stage of your shadow beard, you don’t need to worry about shaping your stubble beard. Focus on trimming your facial hair to the same length. 

When you trim your stubble, make sure to trim evenly so there are no thin or bald patches. 

Both a stubble beard and a 5 o’clock shadow beard aid in masking skin imperfections and scars and are much easier to maintain than a full beard.

How to get a 5 o’clock shadow beard to look good

There’s more to a good-looking 5 o’clock shadow than just letting it grow!

To keep your 5 o’clock shadow beard looking its best, you should:

  • Let your facial hair grow for about two to three days (longer is better).
  • Trim your facial hair to 3mm or ⅛ of an inch.
  • Shape your 5 o’clock shadow beard taking extra time to neatly trim your facial hair.
  • Shave your neckline.
Check out this video for a demonstration of how to trim your 5 o’clock shadow to perfection.

As with any type of facial care, you must ensure you properly wash, exfoliate, and moisturize to keep your face and beard looking their best.

 Best face shape for a 5 o’clock shadow beard

I see it that every guy can rock pretty much any style of facial hair, but I’m willing to admit that some might work better on others.

If you have a triangle face shape, the 5 o’clock shadow beard is a great option for you.

The key here is that the shadow will help soften the angles and keep your jaw from appearing too broad or wide.

Do’s and don’ts of a 5 o’clock shadow beard

If you’re thinking about rocking a 5 o’clock shadow beard, you need to keep several important things in mind, primarily that you’re deciding on a cultivated style, not giving yourself permission not to shave.

5 o’clock shadow beard do’s:

  • Trim your stubble to 3mm or ⅛ of an inch.
  • Determine how far down you want your 5 o’clock shadow beard to go.
  • Exfoliate, wash, and moisturize your facial hair and skin.
  • Invest in a good set of clippers.

Remember to keep your 5 o’clock shadow beard neatly trimmed. Since you don’t have to shave every day, it can easily get away from you.

5 o’clock shadow beard don’ts: 

  • Don’t neglect to trim your 5 o’clock shadow beard.
  • Don’t forget your skincare routine
  • Don’t get rid of your razor. You still have to maintain your neck and cheeks.

How to grow a 5 o’clock shadow beard

I hate to break it to you, but there’s a little more to growing a 5 o’clock shadow beard than simply not shaving. It’s not cultivating a handlebar mustache or maintaining a Hunger-Games-esque beard, but it’s not as simple as rolling out of bed and looking great either. (Even if that’s the vibe you’re going for!)

If you want to grow a 5 o’clock shadow beard, you show:

  1. Let your stubble grow. If you’re clean-shaven, skip the shave for a couple of days. 
  2. Trim your facial hair. If you let it grow a bit longer, you’ll have more to work with.
  3. Shave your neck. Decide how far down you want your 5 o’clock shadow beard to go and shave the rest.
  4. Shape. Shape. Shape. Neaten up those untidy hairs. 
  5. Maintain an after-shave care routine. 

There is no wrong way to wear a 5 o’clock shadow beard, so make it your own.

How to trim a 5 o’clock shadow beard

You will definitely need to trim your 5 o’clock shadow beard. How much and how often will depend on how fast your hair grows. In other words, you can’t simply let your facial hair go.

To trim your 5 o’clock shadow beard:

  1. Wash and comb your beard.
  2. Trim to the desired length.
  3. Follow-up with shaping and contouring to ensure a neat and tidy appearance.
  4. Make sure you wash, exfoliate, and moisturize your face and facial hair.
  5. Apply beard oil to keep hairs lubricated.

You must trim your shadow beard every two to four days – which is much less than maintaining a clean-shaven face!

How to maintain a 5 o’clock shadow beard

Once you’ve found the 5 o’clock shadow beard style that suits you, you must maintain it to ensure you look good.

To maintain your shadow beard, you should:

  • Make sure you wash, exfoliate, and moisturize your facial hair and skin.
  • Shave your neck.
  • Shape your 5 o’clock shadow beard to give it some character.
  • Blend your 5 o’clock shadow beard for a more natural look. 

The most important thing to remember about a 5 o’clock shadow beard is even though it doesn’t require as much maintenance as a full beard, you will have to do some upkeep. 

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