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5 O'Clock Shadow Beard 101: Is It the Right Look for You?

Also referred to as stubble, a 5 o'clock shadow can be a welcome sight or something to avoid. Some may see a 5 o'clock shadow and view you as lazy and unkempt - but others see it as a valid and attractive style. 

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Whether you want one or not all depends on the situation. Whether you’re going on a date, to an interview, giving a speech, or a presentation at work, we’ll go over all you need to know to prep your face.

What Is a 5 O'Clock Shadow?

A 5 o'clock shadow refers to the facial hair that grows in soon after a shave. Some men find it grows back within a few hours, and some, by the next day. Depending on your personal hair growth rate, it can also be in slightly varying 5 o’clock shadow lengths.

man with 5 o clock shadow beard

Some of us will find that a 5 o'clock shadow beard is entirely unavoidable. If you’re one of these men, own up to the look! Stubble is a wholly natural process that most of us experience.

Is a 5 O'Clock Shadow Attractive?

As with all fashion trends, what’s “in” changes often. In the past, stubble was seen as unattractive and completely unprofessional. In the 1980s and again in the early 2000s, pop stars and A-list actors such as Tom Cruise popularized “designer stubble” or a purposeful 5 o'clock shadow.

While there are always variances in what women find attractive, studies show that most find facial hair, including that 5 o'clock shadow, more appealing than a smooth face

Stubble also has a few more advantages over a full, long beard. For instance, the same study found that many women find longer beards to make men look more aggressive. With stubble, we have the bonus of a more masculine look with less of an aggressive, unapproachable look. 

To fully decide if a 5 o'clock shadow is best for you, let's consider the situation you find yourself in.


Whether actively dating our partner or looking for a new one, we want to look our best. As stated before, everyone has different standards for what is or isn’t attractive, but most women lean towards preferring some type of beard. 

stubble beard

Our best course of action is to get to know our partner’s preferences and consider them when getting ready. However, if you don’t know what they prefer, the next best bet is to leave the stubble! You can still clean up the edges for a cleaner look while remaining low maintenance and casual.

At Work

Not that we necessarily want our bosses to find us sexy; we still want to be attractive and appropriate on the job. Fashion standards tend to be much different in a professional setting than on the dating scene, and looks very much still matter on the job.

While the dating scene has more wiggle room, we find the professional setting to be a bit more rigid. As a general rule of thumb, a clean-shaven look lends itself to the most professional appearance as a general rule of thumb. Many studies find that you have a better chance of being hired if you’re rocking the clean look.

professional with well-shaped stubble beard

If you work in a slightly more laid-back environment, stubble can be a professional look as long as the neck is stubble-free. Additionally, shaping up the cheeks can improve the look of stubble and lend itself to a more professional setting.

If we’re playing it safe, we recommend going for a clean, stubble-free look on the job, especially during the hiring process.

How To Get a 5 O'Clock Shadow

Whether you’re on the dating scene or on the job, you may have decided that the stubble look is right for you. Here, we’ll go over how to maintain and rock the stubble!

The easiest way to get a 5 o'clock shadow is to let it grow back after shaving. However, this technique may not be the way to go, depending on how your facial hair grows.

man with stubble beard

The edges may be messy, or you might produce too much neck hair. Or if you have a 5 o’clock shadow as a black man, your hair may be thicker. Don’t worry - we’ve got the solution!

Step One: Shave It Down

Shaving it down doesn’t mean shaving it down to a smooth finish. If your hair is grown out too much, take a 1/16 inch guard - usually a #1 - and shave all over.

Step Two: Shape It up

Next, take a guard that’s the next step down (a # 0.5 or 0). Fade out the edges of the stubble on your cheeks and down your neck for a more natural appearance. 

Take a blade and shape the cheeks and neck as you usually would with a longer beard if you want a sharper look. 

Step Three: Aftercare

After shaving any beard style, there are steps to take to avoid razor bumps or dry skin.

Wash away any stuck-on hair or shaving cream with warm water. Next, splash your face and neck with cold water to tighten and refresh the skin. Last, moisturize your skin.

How To Be 5 O'Clock Shadow-Free 

Just as you would while maintaining a 5 o’clock shadow, avoiding stubble depends a lot on our shaving techniques and the products we use.

Before you even shave, exfoliate! Exfoliating removes dead skin cells and leftover products, leaving your pores fresh and lending to a cleaner shave. It also helps prevent razor bumps.

man exfoliating face

Make sure your shaving technique is on point.

Shave with the grain of your hair, pull the skin tight, and always rinse your razor in between each stroke. Additionally, we’ve found that shaving with a blade gets a closer cut when compared to an electric 5 o’clock shadow shaver or buzzer. 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, there is no easy answer to whether a 5 o’clock shadow is for you! To find what’s best, we urge you to consider your situation - professional setting, dating scene, etc. - and to go from there. 

Consider how you want to shape your stubble to make it more professional, or if you’d instead go with a casual look. Ultimately, shaving it clean or leaving the stubble, your confidence is key to rocking whatever style you go with. 

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5 o'clock shadow beard 101

Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.