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5 O’Clock Shadow Beard: What it is & How to Maintain it

When I first came across the term “5 o’clock shadow” I thought it was some shadow that appeared on the ground at 5 pm every day. But little did I know it was related to men’s facial hair.

This beard is one look men have tried their best to avoid. Imagine shaving and feeling fly, only to see when it’s late afternoon a stubble of beard that just wouldn’t leave. Frustrating, right?

a white man with curly hair showing his 5 o'clock shadow beard

But instead of fighting your five o’clock beard and trying to get rid of it every now and then, how about you make it work for you instead? Yes, that can work. And it involves maintaining the beard and other things you’ll learn in this article.

Does that interest you? Great. Let’s get right into it.

What’s a 5 O’Clock Shadow?

a man smiling and showing off his 5 o'clock shadow beard

This term refers to a faint stubble or a small quantity of prickly hair that appears on a man’s face some hours after shaving. It mostly comes in the late afternoon if he shaved in the morning or when it’s been a whole day since he last shaved.

This beard used to be seen as a bad consequence of shaving every morning. But thanks to the celebrities who have rocked the look, its perception has changed. It’s now considered a stylish and rugged facial hair easy to achieve and maintain on your own.

If you prefer a fresh, shaven look, you may still regard a 5 o’clock shadow as a nuisance. But if you don’t care about looking completely shaven, you won’t mind this beard. In fact, if you manage it properly, it’ll add some kind of rugged details to your face.

Why am I Getting a Five O’clock Shadow?

a man in suit and tie showing his beard

You may have a five-o’clock shadow for any of these reasons:

Using Multiple Blades

Some people believe that the more blades you use, the closer your shave. But this isn’t true. You don’t have to use a razor with multiple blades before you get your desired close shave. As the skincare brand, Jack Black, noted on its blog:

“The reality is more blades do not equal a closer shave. A larger quantity of blades can cause more irritation because it becomes easier to push hairs (and buildup) deep into the skin, leading to common shaving problems such as razor bumps, ingrown hairs, and severe razor burn. However, at the end of the day, when it comes to achieving a clean and polished result, it all comes down to technique, investing in a quality razor, and using the correct shaving products.”

Jack Black

Multiple blades may be the reason for your five o’clock shadow. So if you want to get rid of this beard, stop using multiple blades and focus on the razor quality, technique, and shaving products instead.

Not Getting a Close Shave

Perhaps, you may be scared of bruising your skin while shaving. And this may cause you to be extra careful instead of confidently shaving at skin level.

When this happens, there’ll surely be leftover hair around the shaven area which can grow back later in the day, thereby causing 5 o’clock stubble. 

So, to avoid this, quit worrying about getting a cut while shaving and just shave closely. But if a cut happens, remember nobody has ever died from a cut while shaving. Neither will you.

Fast Hair Growth

This is another reason you see this prickly hair hours after shaving. It’s not your fault your hair grows fast. It could be your genes, age, and hormones, and they all are completely out of your control. 

Is a 5 O’Clock Shadow Attractive?

a black guy with blue eyes and 5 o'clock shadow

Yes, this beard is attractive. But there’s a clause: just like beauty, the attractiveness of a shadow beard depends on you and the beholder.

Say you or your woman love your face cleanly shaven at all times, this beard may not be attractive to you both. But if the reverse were the case, you’d definitely love the look.

The same applies to professional settings. Minimal facial hair is more acceptable in the corporate world than full beard looks. It’s safer and doesn’t give room for side comments, unnecessary labeling, or negative stereotypes.

How to Get the Perfect Five O’Clock Shadow

5 o'clock shadow bearded cute guy

The easiest way to get this beard is to let your hair grow for a day or two after shaving. But if your beard is bushier and you want to turn it into a 5 o’clock shadow immediately, here’s what to do:

Exfoliate Your Face

You need to exfoliate before any facial hair care to reduce skin irritation. Wash your face with an exfoliating scrub and hot water. You can either use a chemical exfoliant or a DIY exfoliant with sugar and olive/coconut oil. 

While exfoliating will remove dead skin cells, hot water will open up your pores and soften your facial hair for a smooth trim.

Trim Your Facial Hair

Comb out your beard then trim it with a beard trimmer. When trimming, don’t push too hard. Hold the trimmer lightly while pursing your lips together to flatten out your mustache area. Also, try to keep your mustache the same length as your beard hair.

Shape Your Beard

Shape the edges of your beard to achieve that neat five o’clock shadow. If there’s still hair around the shaped edges, use a precision trimmer to cut them off.

Discard Your Neck Beard

Regardless of your stubble length or style, keeping a neck beard will diminish the rugged look of your 5 o’clock shadow. So, shave it off to create that neat, rugged shadow beard.

Shape Your Cheek Lines 

The 5 o’clock shadow is mostly on the cheeks and chin. And to give it a perfect look, you have to shave off any hair above your cheek line. So, shape your cheek lines with your free hand or use a beard-shaping tool to get that precise, intentional look.

Maintain the Look with an Aftershave Routine

Wash off leftover shaving gel with hot water then splash your face and neck with warm water to remove tiny hairs. Afterward, rinse off with cold water to tighten up your pores. Then apply your preferred aftershave balm, moisturizing spray, or lotion to moisturize your skin and keep it smooth for a clean 5 o’clock shadow. 

How to Maintain the Five O’Clock Shadow Beard

a white man keeping a straight face while looking into the camera and showing his 5 o'clock shadow

Once you’ve achieved this shadow beard, maintain it by following these tips:

Keep Your Skin Healthy

Exfoliate your face at least three times a week and moisturize with beard oil or conditioner to keep your skin healthy. This will elevate your 5 o’clock shadow and make it look dapper and professional.

Trim Every Few Days

Trim your beard down to a shadow every few days with an electric trimmer. Allow the beard to grow out a bit before you trim it again. Do this if you find out your beard is uneven and as time goes by, the patches will fill in.

Touch up Two to Three Days

When you notice your five o’clock beard is beginning to grow too long or messy, trim it and shape it again the same way you did to achieve it. If your hair grows fast, trim every one or two days, and if it grows slowly, trimming three to four days works.

But what if you get tired of this beard and want to get rid of it? How do you do so? You’ll find the answer below:

How to Get Rid of 5 O’Clock Shadow Beard

a guy with grey hair and 5 o'clock shadow beard

The best way to get rid of this beard is to let it grow to a stubble of about 1/4 inch then follow with a proper wet shaving routine using a straight-edge razor. This will help prevent it from growing again.

Notwithstanding, this beard has become a norm. So, rather than fret when you spot that prickly stubble on your face, use what you’ve learned to either rock it with finesse or get rid of it. You’ll look good regardless.


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Victoria B. Willie

Writing has always been a part of me. From writing stories as a young child to studying Communication Arts in the university, it has always been more than a medium of expression to me.

And then one day, I found myself toeing the path of an entrepreneur and becoming a fashion enthusiast. This made me develop an interest in content marketing and copywriting which I've been chasing alongside my fashion career.

That aside, when I'm not sharing style articles, selling with stories, or creating fashion-forward pieces for Ria Kosher, you'll find me telling wild stories that always come with a twist.

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