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Men's Sideburns: How to Trim, Shape, & Style

Are you looking to improve your style and add a rugged charm to your appearance? Men's sideburns might not get as much attention as a fresh haircut or a well-groomed beard, but they play a crucial role in framing your face.

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In general, having them is a good idea. But specific styles may steal the spotlight from the rest of your facial features. 

We will walk you through tips on how to shape the perfect sideburns and make heads turn. Keep reading to learn more.

This style of facial hair has been around since the days of the legendary mutton chops rocked by the trendiest gentlemen in the 19th century.

19th century man with long sideburns

So are men's sideburns still considered cool and stylish? The answer is a resounding yes. 


You might wonder why we advocate a Victorian-era style in the modern world. 

Well, look at Elvis Presley, who sported long and full sideburns with panache. Or Peter Fonda, whose mutton chops cascaded down his chin, making a memorable statement. Men’s sideburns adapt and change with the times and trends. 

Take a moment to think about iconic figures like football legend George Best or Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes. They both sported the facial hair style and rocked it effortlessly. 

Footballer George Best

With the resurgence of 70s fashion and grooming trends for men, sideburns are returning. They are great for switching things up without growing a full beard.

Who Is It For?

Well, sideburns may not be everyone's cup of tea, but they are versatile for different face shapes. According to Joshua Gibson, a men's grooming expert from Sassoon, the style can work wonders for people with longer faces. 

They can broaden the appearance of the face, which can be a flattering effect. If you are into the classic look, sideburns might be right up your alley. 

Different Types of Sideburn Cuts

Consider the following men's sideburns:

  • Extended: These medium-sized sideburns start from the ears and extend down to the edges of the chin. 
  • Long: This style goes beyond the middle point of your ears, making them perfect for a buzzed beard or a hairstyle with longer hair on top and shorter sides.
  • Thin and Sparse: Thin sideburns are an excellent option for those who struggle with growing facial hair. They work well with man buns or ponytails.
long and pointed sideburns
  • Scruffy: If you are into a more rugged look, consider growing medium-length sideburns that appear scruffier and longer than the hair on your beard. This textured style works well with medium-length hair.
  • Long and Buzzed: This broad and thick style extends along the cheekbones, making them ideal for older men with short haircuts and little to no beard or mustache. They also work well with a shaved head.
  • Curly Hair: Medium-length sideburns can provide a natural and stylish look if you have curly hair. They work particularly well with short, curly hairstyles.
  • Short with Comb Back: For a sleek and sophisticated look, opt for short and sharply shaped sideburns. Comb your hair backward to achieve a style that exudes confidence.
  • Curved: Instead of the traditional straight-line style, you can choose a curved shape with longer buzz cuts.
  • Thin 'Burns with Buzzed Beard: Consider thin sideburns paired with a buzzed beard to strike the perfect balance between thickness and length. This combination works particularly well with longer side-parted hairstyles.
  • Burns Without Beard: Neat and symmetrical medium-thickness sideburns can enhance the features of older men with short hair. This style highlights round or square-shaped faces.

These are just a few of the many sideburn styles available. Other options are also worth exploring:

  • L-shaped 
  • Vintage
  • Dyed
  • James Dean-inspired
  • Rock and roll
  • Thick punk 
  • True mutton chops

The possibilities are vast, so don't be afraid to experiment and find the sideburn style that suits you best.

How to Shape Perfect Sideburns

Now that you have an idea of the types of sideburn cuts out there, it is time to learn how to shape your own.

Step 1: Get Your Combing Game On

The first step is all about combing your sideburns in the right direction.

man shaping his sideburns

Take a fine-toothed comb and gently run it through your facial hair, following the natural flow.

Step 2: Finding the Perfect Clipper Guard

Now that your sideburns are nicely combed and ready to go, it is time to choose the right clipper guard. 

This nifty little attachment determines the length of your facial hair and ensures your sideburns blend seamlessly with the rest of your hair.

Step 3: Clipping With Finesse for Seamless Sideburns

  1. Prepare your clippers and ensure the guard is securely attached.
  2. Position the flat side of the guard just below the sideburns against the back of your upper cheek.
  3. Glide the clippers upward with a steady hand, keeping an eye on the alignment of the guard's teeth. As you approach the top of your ear, angle the trimmer up and away from your face.
  4. Repeat this upward and outward motion a few times to ensure you haven't missed any stray hairs. Take the time to make any necessary touch-ups.
  5. If you have longer hair, adjust your technique when the clippers reach the level of your ear canal. Gracefully pull the trimmer away instead of going to the top of your ear. 
  6. For those with lengthier hairstyles, consider creating specific sections in your hair to focus on when trimming into sideburns. 
  7. Swap to the next lowest-numbered clipper guard if you aim to taper your sideburns or make them shorter than the rest of your hair.

Remember, take your time cautiously when shaping the edges without a guard. Precision is critical to achieving that well-defined appearance. 

By using your fingers as a guide, you can also trim your sideburns to even lengths.

Men’s Sideburns Trimming & Maintenance Tips

Here are a few tips on how to trim sideburns.

  1. Err on the side of “not enough” while trimming; you can always take off a little more if you need to.
  2. Never cut your sideburns higher than the tops of your ears. Trust us; it does not work.
  3. Do not use your ears as a guide while trimming; most people’s ears are not evenly matched, so the final result will be uneven.

Ideal Sideburns Shape & Length

Check out this quick guide on matching your facial hair to your face shape.

  1. Diamond-shaped: A 5 o'clock shadow looks great with this face type. But medium-length sideburns are also a great choice – they should end just above the midpoint of your ear.
  2. Heart-shaped face: Try long, tapered sideburns to narrow the wide jaws. A scruffy beard may add the perfect finishing touch.
  3. Oval-shaped faces: You do not need to use sideburns to balance anything out. Consider keeping it simple and go for a mid-ear length. 
  4. Round faces: Aim for a distance between the tragus (that cartilage flap covering your earhole) and the lobe. Consider not letting them get too bushy.
  5. Square faces: Start with a longer length and gradually trim until it looks right. It is better than going too short and waiting ages for them to grow back.
  6. Rectangle or oblong faces: Shorter sideburns are the way to go. Show off some skin at the sides to divert attention from the vertical length.
  7. Triangle face: If you want to narrow the bottom half of your face, go for longer and more tapered sideburns. But if you want to add width at the top, try going shorter than the average length. 

Final Thoughts: The Magic of Finessing Your Facial Hair

To avoid mishaps and keep your game strong, pamper your skin and facial hair with the right products. Beard oil will keep your sideburns moisturized, soft, and smelling divine. 

men's sideburns

Daily washing will cleanse dirt and oil, preventing unsightly breakouts or irritation. And remember to exfoliate to provide your skin with a refreshing massage, remove dead skin cells, and exhibit a renewed, lively appearance.

Confidence is key, and taking care of your facial hair and the skin beneath it will take your game to a new level. So, trim those sideburns, apply that beard oil, and enjoy the attention you are about to receive.

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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.