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What is a Circle Beard and How Do You Style One?

Depending upon the decade, the circle beard has gone under several names. Years ago, it was considered synonymous with a goatee – although that has since changed. Go back to the aughts, and it was occasionally called a T-strap, chinstrap, doorknocker, or a soul patch, depending upon how much hair you sprouted on your chin.

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Although this style fell out of favor during the past 20 years, often associated with guys who lazily groom their facial hair, the circle beard is starting to make a resurgence, fueled partially by celebrities.

"Circle beards are definitely in style, mostly because they add a little edge to any face shape. Round and skinny, long and short heads all benefit from this look. So instead of going completely clean shaven, you can just sport a few whiskers around the mouth that give a polished, gentleman-like appeal."

Ghanima Abdullah | Hair Expert | The Right Hairstyles
hugh jackman circle beard

What is a Circle Beard?

Whatever name you want to give it, the circle beard has a specific design: the mustache directly connects to the beard, which itself is shaved around the edges. The lines can be soft, which may occur when you grow out your beard, or grooming can create more defined edges. Either way, the linking of these two areas of facial hair form this style, often resulting in a ring formation around the mouth and chin.

Circle Beard Styles

Two basic types of circle beards exist:

  • Standard: The mustache grows down into the beard surrounding the chin. Here, the beard doesn’t emerge along the jawline, and the chin is visible. This style can be worn natural, resulting in a bushier yet softer appearance, or it can be cut close and shaved for definition.
  • Extended: This style essentially combines the shape of a circle beard with a strip of hair – commonly known as a soul patch – that extends up the chin to the lip. 
kanye west circle beard

Circle Beard vs. Goatee

Truth be told, a circle beard is a type of goatee – but not all goatees can be defined as circle beards.

To start, circle beards have a clear, distinctive shape, with no break between the mustache and beard. A goatee, meanwhile, doesn’t require this continuity. Instead, a beard style gets classified as a goatee when a patch of hair covers the skin and doesn’t extend up the cheeks or jawbone.

Considering this boundary, a man can shave off this mustache and still have a goatee, keep these two elements separated, or even grow the goatee so that it has some length. 

johnny depp circle beard

Celebrities with Circle Beards

Considering its ebb and flow, the circle beard has regularly been spotted on male stars since the early 2010s. It’s assumed that Brian Cranston’s role as Walter White on Breaking Bad helped spur its more recent popularity, elevating it above its laughable boy band to Nu metal ‘00s roots.

Outside of his iconic role, stars like Kanye West, Idris Elba, Brad Pitt, Jeff Bridges, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Hugh Jackman, Chris Pine, and Viggo Mortensen have all been spotted with one in varying degrees of length and upkeep over the past 10 years.

chris pine circle beard

How to Trim a Circle Beard

To maintain the shape and not have the hair spread along your jaw and neckline, get in the habit of trimming your circle beard. 

"I would argue that having a circle beard is a classic, but managing having one is a whole other story. You need to keep it tidy  and have sufficient enough beard to keep the shape that you aim for.

In my honest opinion, a well groomed longer beard is the style to go for in 2021. It's one of those beards that you go "wow!", when you see it done right."

Rikard | Manager | Turbo Beard

In terms of managing your facial hair, you have a few options. You can let the hair grow – ideal if your own follicles tend to have a patchy or uneven appearance – or you can trim it close. In between, some men keep the mustache portion shorter while letting the beard thicken to camouflage a weaker chin or add more body. 

Typically, most men will have a substantial circle beard within two weeks, and a more natural, thicker effect can be achieved within four.

However, whether you’re in the process of growing out your beard or are giving existing hair a touch up, you’ll want to have the edges defined by a barber, so you know what works with your face shape, and then do periodic maintenance from home to tame stubble and stray hairs.

circle beard man 2

If You’re Starting with a Goatee

If you’re beginning with a goatee, there’s a chance that you’ll need to trim and shave some of your facial hair. To begin:

  • If hair is present along your jaw, cheeks, and neckline, shave it off, until you only have visible growth surrounding your mouth and chin.
  • If your beard has gotten some length, trim it down but not all the way. You’ll still want a touch of length for the moment.
  • To trim the shape of the beard, start from the outside, defining the shape going around your mouth. Aim to have a strip roughly a half-inch in width on both sides of your mouth.
  • Around your neckline, shave the hair at least an inch away from the Adam’s apple. This will be the rounded base of your circle beard. Shave any other hair from your neck to prevent the beard from having a scraggly, unkempt appearance.
  • With the general outline, trim down any bushiness and add gradients to the mustache and beard. 
brad pitt circle beard

Grooming Tips to Maintain Your Beard

Rosalba Mancuso, the Hair Creative Director of, has been a hair and beauty expert for a couple of years and has sound advice on how to groom and maintain your beard.

1. Always keep your beard as wet as possible with water or a grooming oil to avoid looking overly dry and uncomfortable

2. Keep your beard trimmed to maintain the circle shape of the beard

3. Rinse off excess oils from the hair strands of your beard periodically to avoid an oily look

4. A good idea is to use a hairdryer in a cool setting.

5. A little bit of wax can help keep the beard in shape while you go through your day.

6. With a comb or brush, brush down on your sides and upwards at the bottom to add more volume to make them look fuller.

7. Using scissors instead of an electric trimmer can give you more control in creating the shape you like

8. Invest in quality beard oil to avoid dryness and itchiness. Use it at least once or twice daily (especially when you expose yourself to the elements)

9. To help soften the skin around your beard, use some conditioner on your face before washing your hair

Would a Circle Beard Suit You?

A few factors need to be taken into consideration before you can give a definite “yes”:

  1. Age and hair growth: Men find they can achieve a circle beard if they have fuller, more substantial hair growth. As such, this style is ideal when you hit that “sweet spot” – after your teens and before your mid-30s. Yet, it can be a challenge if your beard and mustache tend to grow in patchy. However, even if you find yourself in this predicament, growing out what you have can give you a serviceable circle beard.
  2. How do you prefer to style your beard? If you look at all the grooming advice out there, a long, full, thick beard appears as the end goal. Yet, not everyone wants growth from their earlobes past their chin. The circle beard succeeds in the way an undercut does, in that your hair is concentrated and closely groomed within a specific area.
  3. They accommodate practically all face shapes: Whether your face is wider or long, oval or rectangular, the circle beard works in all contexts, provided you continue to maintain the edges. 

"Circle beards are a great option for men with square faces, as they create a contrast with their rugged lines without hiding their strong cheekbones and jawline.

Despite its name, you don't want the circle beard to actually form a circle, so don't shave the hair below your lip.

I would also highly recommend having an expert trim the beard the first time, so the contours are correct. Keeping the right contours will be easier after that."

Robert van Tongeren | Founder | Restart Your Style

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circle beard


Ivan Yaskey is a Philly-born menswear fashion blogger and copywriter. When not writing about men's style he's also an EDM and synthpop enthusiast.