GROW AN OFFICE BEARD

Executives such as Lloyd Blankfein and Carl Icahn are sporting close-cropped scruff. Here’s how you can, too

By Bill Bradley

Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs

GEORGE FREY/BLOOMBERG

BEARD BASICS

1 / Pick a shape that works for you

Your beard should complement your face. “If your head is round, select a style with a slimming effect,” says Allan Peterkin, co-author of The Bearded Gentleman: The Style Guide to Shaving Face. “If your face is oval, opt for wider growth that adds weight to your cheeks.” Tidiness is paramount. “For an executive, an inch of well-groomed growth is the longest we see guys going,” says Michael Gilman, the founder of Grooming Lounge, a men’s skin-care line and grooming advice website.

2 / Maintain your neckline

Unsightly neck hair will ruin an otherwise office-appropriate beard. Peterkin suggests a tapered look, using an electric razor between the Adam’s apple and chin. Another tactic: the “index finger rule,” says Bret Reichley of New York’s F.S.C. Barber. “Place your finger directly under your chin and shave everything beneath it. When you stare eye-level into the mirror, you should see zero neck hair.”

3 / Clean up your act

The upper cheeks are prime areas for uneven, unwanted patches of growth. “Remember to clean the margins,” Peterkin says. “A lot of guys’ cheeks can look really scruffy.” Also, avoid the “Bernanke,” a severe demarcation line at the jaw.

WILL SHE LIKE IT?

Facial hair attractiveness ratings from a February survey by Australia’s University of New South Wales

Cleanshaven

The 351 female test subjects declared a baby face the “least masculine” look.

Light stubble

A two-day shadow was rated the “least attractive.”

Heavy stubble

The tightly manicured beard was deemed the “most attractive” look of all.

Full beard

The lumberjack was considered “most masculine” and “healthiest.”

PRO TIPS

CONSULT YOUR CALENDAR

“For a proper beard, you have to stop shaving for four to six weeks,” Peterkin says. “So pick your moment and commit. Do it on a vacation, a summer holiday, or, God forbid, a layoff. You will look scraggly for a while.”

CARE MEANS COMFORT

“Men usually think, OK, now that I have a beard I don’t have to worry about my face,” Peterkin says. Wrong. “Every morning you should hydrate and protect your skin. Use moisturizer in your beard to condition it and help with itchiness.”

BRING YOUR BEARD TO WORK DAY

Emotional support from Michael Williams, founder of guy advice blog acontinuouslean.com

A

“Step up your style game when you’re showing off your beard for the first time: Clean up, dress nicely, and be neatly pressed. If not, your boss will think you’re coming off an epic bender. Or, worse, that you’ve totally let yourself go.”

B

“Embrace your new, rugged look with confidence, but be prepared for a stream of endless, unclever ‘mountain man’ references. Remember that beards are dignified — think of all the presidents who wore beards.”

C

“Prepare for repulsed looks from at least one person in your office. Smile at him or her and make a joke about forgetting to shave. If all else fails, remind them it could be worse: It could be a moustache.”

WHEN STUBBLE MEANS TROUBLE

Three looks strictly forbidden in corporate settings

THE BIG LEAGUER

Baseball’s beard trendsetters remain the Boston Red Sox. Unless you can hit like slugger David Ortiz, don’t copy his chin strap.

THE MOODY ACTOR

A little sloppiness is fine, but don’t overdo it. The hobo look will derail your career as quickly as it did Russell Crowe’s.

THE MADCAP CEO

If you wear a skunklike Van Dyke, à la accused murderer and software magnate John McAfee, do everyone a favor and shave.

SHAVING ESSENTIALS

TRIMMER

“The Trimmer Pro has a great vacuum component that sucks a lot of the hair in,” says Gilman of the Grooming Lounge. Philips Norelco QT4070 Trimmer Pro, $59.95; usa.philips.com

FACIAL SCRUB

A gentle exfoliant “that’s strong enough to uproot ingrown hairs,” Gilman says. Kyoku for Men Exfoliating Facial Scrub, $21; kyokuformen.com

MOISTURIZER

A light cream that doesn’t leave hair greasy. Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer, $27; getjackblack.com

BEARD WASH

This face conditioner softens hair and makes it less itchy. Bluebeards Original Beard Wash, $14; bluebeardsoriginal.com

RAZOR

For a smooth neck and cheeks, Peterkin recommends a sturdy, multiblade razor. Equipped with an aloe vera lubricating strip, the Winston replacement blades are Mach 3 quality but cheaper, at $2 each. Harry’s The Winston, $20; harrys.com

SHEARS

You need scissors for those stray hairs that inevitably curl into your mouth. “These have big finger holes for a guy,” Gilman says. Moustache Scissor, $20; theartofshaving.com

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