What is it with facial hair that people just attach certain labels to someone who has it? If you’re not some hipster sporting a handlebar mustache, you’re a cybergeek hiding out in a basement with a full-on, unkempt beard. Think Kevin Smith’s character in “Live Free or Die Hard.” But no other bearded fella has taken such a beating on pop culture than the neckbeard guy.
Who (or What) is the Neckbeard Guy?
If you don’t know it yet, you qualify as a “neckbeard” when you’ve got facial hair also growing all along your neck. This in-your-face hair growth has created a distinct persona that’s none too flattering for any guy. And Hollywood has latched on to this persona, relegating actors who have neck beards, are fat and appear like the hacker type that’s always losing out with the ladies, to such roles.
The most popular reference to the neck beard guy is Jerry Messing, an actor whose photo tipping off a fedora hat has been used countless times as a meme called “The Fedora Guy.” Unfortunately, Jerry’s meme has been related to negative types, from MRAs (men’s rights advocates) to trolls — and yes, neckbeards. This facial hair has gotten such a bad rap that a satirical band is using it to wield its message through: “fedora crushing black metal.” Called Neckbeard Deathcamp, the band’s written heartwarming songs, like “White Nationalism is for Basement Dwelling Losers” and dick pic paean “Please Respond (I Show You My Penis).” Classic.
But like most stereotypes, neckbeard associations tend to be misguided.
Just because you’ve got massive hair growth on your face and down your neck doesn’t mean you live a lonely existence, spending your time hacking into federal websites or exploring the dark web and living like a slob. Like Plague in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
Some dudes with neckbeards are just regular dudes who happen to want a full-on beard, from face to neck. There’s a way to highlight the majesty of your beard and make people forget pop culture references.
How to Go from Slob Neckbeard to Suave Neckbeard
Beard trimming is necessary for this kind of facial hair. You’ll want to tidy it up, especially if the growth is unruly and patchy. You don’t special tools or learn some fancy technique; cleaning up your neckbeard will typically follow the same process as how you trim any beard.
- Beard comb
- Mirrors (one that’s hand-held, and one that’s fixed)
Where do you start? Shave your neckbeard about an inch above the Adam’s Apple. You’ll want to trim this section and shave any hair growing below it. If you want to keep your neckbeard longer, trim it beyond the Adam’s Apple. This will require some steady hands because you need to trim it to a neat edge. Get those stray hair strands.
Next, work on the cheeks and the sides. Shape your sides with the trimmer, creating a straight line from the ear down to your jawline. Again, tidy up those edges to keep your neckbeard neat; more modern nerd, less sketchy troll.
Then, focus on the volume. Don’t want a heavy beard? Trim those bulky tufts. Once you’ve trimmed the beard down for weight, check out the bottom. How do you want it? Round? Squared? Trim according to your preference.
Finally, style and maintain your neat neckbeard with balms and oils to moisturize it.
If you’re not confident about your beard trimming skills, get a barber to do it. This way, you’re sure that every line and edge runs smooth and straight.
Live Free, Grow a Neck Beard
You should be able to rock whatever kind of facial hair you want without getting heckled online or being used for memes. The trick is to keep your majestic beard trimmed, dress up once in a while instead of schlepping around in your bulky flannel shirts — and maybe get out more. Don’t spend too much time in the basement, playing “Magic the Gathering.”
Any beard is a big commitment. So grooming is necessary. If you think you can rock the neckbeard, not mind the negative associations like Jerry Messing and want to just grow it balls out, then let the hair growth fall where they may. Live free, brother. Live free.