Goatees Vs Beards: Pros & Cons Of Both Styles Revealed!


Goatees Vs Beards

One of the exciting things about being a beardsman today is the countless alternatives you have for facial hair configurations. From lumberjack pelts to orderly goatees, you can go as primal or as subdued as you like. It can be hard to determine whether you should go the beard or the goatee direction. Lucky for you, we can provide some guidance!

The terms goatee and beard both describe facial hairstyles. Simply put, a beard can be any facial hair configuration larger than a mustache, but a goatee is a specific type of beard. Goatees cover your chin but not your jawline and cheeks, similar chin-hair found on some mountain goats.

Full beards and goatees both have their positive and negative attributes. So, let’s dig into some pros and cons to figure out which facial hairstyle is best for you.

Goatee Vs Beard – What’s the Difference?

Firstly, let’s be clear about our terminology. The only thing differentiating a beard from a goatee is hair in the cheek. If your facial hair goes all the way from your chin to your sideburns, you have a beard. If it terminated before reaching your cheeks, you got yourself a goatee.

Origins of the Goatee

The goatee has a surprisingly distinguished history. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the term goatee refers to the tuft of long hair under the jaw of the billie goat. According to Atlas Obscura, some of the earliest depictions of the goatee are in artist imaginings of the goat-legged Greek god Pan. This humanized version of a goat’s chin-ruff doesn’t reflect the style of the time, though. Ancient men didn’t go for isolated chin hair.

The goatee’s real-world emergence occurred in the 17th century. To understand how the manicured facial hairstyles evolved, you need only look at the portraits of Dutch masters – particularly Andrew Van Dyke’s celebrated renderings of English king Charles I. Pointed chin hair and a waxed mustache were the order of the day.

What do we call this configuration of hair around the mouth today? Ah yes … the Van Dyke!

Popularity over Centuries

The goatee remained popular in the West throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Many prominent Civil War figures and West Wild gunslingers sported the look. However, by the 20th century, the goatee became synonymous with dads and low-end celebrities (think: Fred Durst). At the 1990s transitioned to the new millennium, full-beardedness became a signifier of coolness, rebellion, and urbanity in a way it hadn’t for generations.

If there has been a cultural silver lining for this facial hairstyle, it is the goatee’s popularity with prominent black men. Will Smith, Idris Elbra, Ice Cube, Steph Curry – all these guys have rocked the goatee in recent years.  So, there’s nothing inherently uncool about this configuration.

Even so, it would be best to consider multiple factors to decide whether a full beard vs. a goatee is best for you.

With that, we will begin our systematic assessment:

#1 – Consider Your Face Shape 

In total, there are seven types of face shapes. You can determine which face shape you have by measuring:

  • Your forehead (distance between the peaks of your eyebrows)
  • Your cheeks (distance from the outermost point of one eye to the outermost point of the other)
  • Your jawline (distance from the center of your chin to just below your ear)
  • Your face length (distance from your hairline to your chin)

With these metrics, you can determine which face shape you have:

  • Diamond: Your face is longer than any other measurement, but your cheeks are wider than both your forehead and your jawline. 
  • Heart – Your forehead is wider than your cheeks and jawline. There is a point to your jaw.
  • Oval – Your face is longer than your cheek-width. Your forehead is wider than your jawline.
  • Rectangular – Your face is longer than your forehead, cheeks, and jaw, all of which are of comparable width. 
  • Round – Your cheeks are about the same withs as your face length, and they are wider than your forehead and jawline. Your chin is more rounded.
  • Square – Jawline, cheeks, forehead, and face length are all about the same. You have a sharp jawline.
  • Triangular – Your jawline is wider than your cheeks, which, in turn, are wider than your forehead.

Once you have determined your face shape, it’s relatively simple to decide which style of facial hair will look best:

Face Shape Optimal Facial Hair
Diamond A mid-length beard can even out your pointed chin and sloping jawline. Just be sure to keep it neat.
Heart Heart-shaped faces can suffer from “weak chin” scenarios. A long goatee will fill out the tip of your jaw.
Oval This shape is the most adaptable. Both a goatee and a short, well-maintained beard will look great with it.
Rectangular A full beard with hair high on your cheeks will create a thinning effect on the lower half of your face.
Round Creating a bit more tapering at the lower half of your face will help. A pointed goatee is excellent for this!
Square A strong jawline is attractive, but a full beard can make it look too squared. This face type can benefit from a short goatee.
Triangular To avoid making your face look overly broad at the jaw, leave your cheeks bare with a goatee.

#2 – Look Out for Patchiness

No two guys are the same, and neither are their facial hair. Some guys may have wild, unruly manes on their faces. Others might struggle to fill in a beard even after weeks of growth.

We have touched on the tactics beardsmen can use to fill in a patchy beard. It can be maddening trying to get full coverage from cheek to jawline. To this, we politely suggest that an elegant solution for persistent patchiness might be a goatee.

Look Out for Beard Patchiness

Much of facial hair growth is determined by biology and genetics. Not all faces have the same number of follicle roots. Not all follicles get the same amount of blood flow. Many beardsmen find that their mustaches and jawline hair grow more thoroughly than their cheeks.

While minoxidil has shown some success in promoting better growth, there is no “miracle cure” for patchiness. If you’re not succeeding in filling in your cheeks, why not play to your strengths and grow a majestic Van Dyke?

Here are some pros and cons involving concerns of patchiness:

Beards

Pros Cons
  • You need to pay attention to the patch spots to keep them trimmed.

Goatees

Pros Cons
  • It’s super easy to trim your face to a goatee and mustache.
  • Most men’s chins and upper lip grow faster and fuller than their cheeks
  • This style won’t help you if your chin comes in patchy.  

#3 – Decide What’s Easiest to Achieve

Let’s face it: growing in a beard can be a pain in the … face. The itchy stubble, the awkward early see-through phase, the risk of over-trimming, and needing to start over – it’s enough to put you off the whole idea of facial hair.

Understanding your face can inform which facial hairstyle you should choose. After all, depending on your beard’s growth speed, fullness, and texture, one style might work better than the other.

Here are some potential pros and cons to consider:

Beards

Pros Cons
  • If your facial hair comes in quickly, you can probably bypass any awkward phase over a long weekend.
  • You can do a stubble look for a while and grow it longer when you have more time.
  • Patchiness is more noticeable at the beginning of beard growth.
  • If your beard hair is particularly springy, you could have trouble controlling it in the early stages.

Goatees

Pros Cons
  • Goatees look cleaner coming in.
  • You reduce quite a bit of itchiness and irritation by shaving your cheeks.
  • Growing a goatee requires continuous shaving during the process.
  • A half-formed goatee and mustache can have a reasonably high creep factor.  

#4 – Know the Cost

A naïve beardsman believes that not shaving costs nothing. An experienced beardsman knows the true price of inaction.

That’s our attempt at philosophical profundity.

Seriously, though: growing a beard can be pretty expensive if you aren’t careful. We’ve written extensively about the many cleaning, grooming, styling, and shaping products you can need for your beard kit.

A thick, long beard requires dedicated shampoos and conditioners. You need to hydrate and enrich it with beard oil or balms. The longer a beard is, the more product will be involved in taming and styling it, and you will have to purchase tools like a beard brush and comb.

While a short goatee and mustache will not require all this accouterment, you will have to continue buying razors, shaving cream, and face balms to keep your cheeks and neck smooth. Additionally, if you want a more dramatic goatee and mustache, you will probably have to invest in styling cream or wax.

In total, here are the cost pros and cons:

Beards

Pros Cons
  • No, or at least very few, shaving products or tools.
  • Lots of other stuff, including beard shampoo, conditioner, oil, and styling product.
  • Beard equipment like a brush and comb is also required.

Goatees

Pros Cons
  • No styling products for short to mid-length goatees.
  • Minimal styling tools beyond a trimmer.
  • You will still need all the shaving tools and products of a clean-shaven guy.
  • Longer goatees will require styling product.  

#5 – Consider the Time Commitment

Consider the Time Commitment for Beard Care

Having facial hair is more than an aesthetic choice. In many ways, it is a lifestyle.

We don’t want to oversell the importance of facial hair, but it is central to how the world views a guy and how he views himself. Every time you look in the mirror, the hair on your face is front and center. We assume that if you choose to grow a beard and take the time to read our thoughts on the matter, you will dedicate some time to caring for the hair on your face.

The men’s grooming company Bluebeard’s Revenge recently determined that, on average, men spend 45 days of their lives shaving. We know that we spend at least as much time on our facial hair as we would shaving. So it’s safe to say that any facial hair you have will take time to shape and style.

Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Beards

Pros Cons
  • You will spend very little time shaving your face.
  • Beards cover up many skin flaws, which will save you time getting ready to hit the town.
  • It takes time and careful planning to keep a full beard well-shaped and clean.
  • All the time you save not shaving will be used washing, moisturizing, trimming, and styling your beard.

Goatees

Pros Cons
  • Goatees take much less time to clean and style than beards.
  • Many goatees can be trimmed with a number-set trimmer in under a minute.
  • You will still need to shave regularly.
  • If you want to look like Doc Holiday, you will need to take time to wax and style your mustache and goatee.

#6 – Value Your Comfort

Facial hair is something you need to be comfortable with. It will be with you all day. If you don’t like the way it feels, your might feel miserable.

Discomfort with facial hair can involve many culprits: ingrown hairs, sharp stubble, allergies to new products, skin blemishes around follicles. Some of these issues can be avoided; others are just par for the course.

The good news is that you, as a beardsman, have choices about your face. You can go with a big, bushy beard or a compact frame of hair around your mouth. All that matters is determining which facial hair option will be easiest on your face.

Let’s break out some good and bad points regarding your facial hair choices.

Beards

Pros Cons
  • Once your beard is fully grown, it will generally be soft on your face and unlikely to become irritated.
  • Beard oil, beard balm, and regular brushing are all excellent means to keep your face hydrated and comfortable.
  • For what it’s worth, beards warm your face in cold weather!
  • Growing hair on your face can, and often does, lead to blemishes, acne, redness, and ingrown hairs.
  • Beard hair is naturally coarse.
  • Huge beards can get tangled or matted if not properly maintained. 
  • For what it’s worth, beards can get pretty hot and sweaty in the summer.

Goatees

Pros Cons
  • Goatees cover very little space on your face, reducing possible irritation.
  • You can mainly continue a clean-shaven guy’s moisturizing regimen.
  • Shorter facial hair can be the itchiest and uncomfortable.
  • Continuous shaving and trimming can cause abrasions and blemishes on your face.

#7 – Reflect on Your Lifestyle

As with all facial hair choices, lifestyle can play a significant role. Your environment, family, and employer can all affect whether you should have a voluptuous pelt or a contained bit of chin stubble.

Lifestyle covers a lot of ground. We want to break out the advantages of beards vs goatees as deliberatively as possible. With that in mind, let’s consider the following:

  Bearded Advantages Goateed Advantages
Environment Beards and rustic environments go together for a reason. A strong breeze or a crisp morning feel great on a beard. Plus, masculine facial hair is a winner in traditionally masculine environs.

 

On the other hand, hot climates or cultures with a tradition of fresh-faced men aren’t great fits for large beards. 

Goatees work best in warmer, more cosmopolitan environments. Limiting facial hair to the center of your face allows your skin to breathe well.

 

As we’ve mentioned already, you can accomplish a clean-yet-funky look with a styled goatee and mustache. This can fit well in a variety of cultural spaces. 

Family We speak from personal experience when we say that kids love playing with beards. So do cats, for that matter.

 

Not all your loved ones will love your beard, though. Your significant other might prefer a less wooly face to cuddle next to, and your child might mistake you for one of the Wild Things.

If you’ve always been bare-faced but want to grow some scruff on your face, a goatee can be a good midpoint option. You kid won’t freak out about your new facial hair, and your partner will still have a clean cheek to smooch.

 

Be aware, though: short hair can be scratchy. It might meet some resistance. 

Work Perhaps the most repressive part of a beardsman’s existence is his place of work. Some employers are cool with a hirsute employee. Others want their workers clean-cut. Depending on your workplace, a full beard might be a nonstarter. A goatee might be a satisfactory compromise for a workplace that doesn’t accommodate large beards. It will probably need to be short and cleaned up daily.

The Bottom Line 

The choice of a goatee vs a beard is not minor. The answer is not the same for every guy. If you think carefully about all the variables discussed above, you can make an informed decision for your face.

We talked about beards and goatees quite a bit in this article. But what about beards without mustaches? Check out our debate on that controversial topic.

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Roland

Hi, my name is Roland. I started Beard Guidance so I can share the knowledge I’ve acquired from years of beard-having experience in easy-to-read but informative and practical articles.

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