Not so long ago, showing up to any “occasion” with a 5 o’clock shadow was the social equivalent of rolling up to a wedding wearing ripped jeans. Nowadays, however, a touch of stubble is coveted, a look that’s slightly rugged while sleek and refined. A good 5 o’clock shadow can help accentuate your face’s contours for an effortless, sexy, and masculine look. Case-in-point is actor Oscar Isaac, whose approach to a well-groomed look (which includes a very tidy 5 o’clock shadow) is as finely nuanced as his award-winning craft.

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Why It Works

  • The keyword here is tidy. Notice the clean edge where scruff meets skin on his cheeks, creating a groomed, refined look.
  • The closely trimmed length gives it just enough scruff without looking unkempt.
  • Isaac’s natural salt and pepper beard lend a unique hue that’s soft and subtle on the bold contours of his face.

How You Can Make It Work

There’s a fine line between great 5 o’clock shadow and the “I didn’t bother to shave” look. Most 5 o’clock shadow requires at least two days of stubble to really show up, but in the meantime take a razor (or electric trimmer) to your cheeks in the morning to create that clean edge. If you’re a guy with a particularly hairy neck, do the same below. To make the look permanent, instead of shaving and waiting for it to grow back, use a beard trimmer on the lowest setting–usually 1 or 2 works–and trim every few days.

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