Throughout history, sideburns have helped men to visually express their philosophies of life through the medium of facial hair. While the moustache has drifted in and out of fashion, sideburns have stayed, and the popularity of various sizes and shapes evolve with time. If you feel it’s time to try them out, the success of your sideburns will depend on a few important factors; the thickness of your facial hair, your skills with a good razor, and understanding what message you want to send to the world. So, get the razor primed, and have a look at the ideas for shaping and sculpting your sideburns into masterpieces below.
If sideburns are new for you, ease your way in with straight, moderate-length sideburns that end just above your earlobes. Before shaping the burns with a good sharp razor, comb the facial hair flat and apply beard oil or a moisturising product recommended as by your stylist. Pull the razor straight down, and make sure the length is equal on each side. Be wary, if you have one ear higher than the other (many people do!), then you’ll need to adjust the sideburn length accordingly. With perfectly trimmed edges, a standard sideburn will look great with a suit and collared shirt.
The Beatles sported sideburns in tribute to the historic romantic poets, who penned their love poems by lamplight. After growing out your facial hair for a few weeks, carve your sideburns thick and long, modeling them into a steampunk or ’70s style. John Lennon’s sideburns often ended at the jaw, whereas the Scottish writer Robert Burns angled his thick sideburns forward, scooping them just under the cheekbone. Dress up your retro look with a velvet blazer and faded jeans, and take your notebook to the park for a songwriting session.
Instead of long and thick, go thin and neat. Strappy sideburns follow the natural angles of the face, are usually tightly clipped, and sometimes end on a curve or sharp angle. As the most modern take on sideburns, strappy burns are the quickest style to achieve because they require only a few days of hair growth. Why not show them off at the weekend with a patterned shirt and denim jacket. If the look works, experiment further by blending them into a short beard. Add a little wax to keep every hair in place.
Make it a “Miami Vice” look with shaggy sideburns that are barely distinguishable from the rest of your facial hair. Although shaggy burns express a casual style, their subtlety might be a challenge to maintain. Use a good razor with loose, relaxed strokes on the surrounding hair to subtly shave the burns into the length and width you want, combing the hair in place and using wax or oil as needed. Shaggy sideburns can keep you warm in the winter and look good with a plaid flannel shirt.
If you’re bold and – more importantly – have the beard to carry it off, shape your sideburns into mutton chops and declare rebellion against the status quo! An effective mutton chop should cover a good portion of the cheek area, emphasise your jawbone, and end near the corners of your lips. Finish the look with a graphic T-shirt or vintage sweater. Your mutton chops will require daily maintenance — clipping, shaping and combing are necessary to keep them looking good.
Sideburns can be created with a sharp razor, an electric razor or a combination of both. Once you have some experience shaping and shaving them, experiment with more styles and try blending them into a beard or moustache. Soon enough, you’ll be identified as “that chap with sideburns,” and that’s nothing but cool.