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5 O’Clock Shadow | How to Get One & Styling It

5 O’Clock Shadow | How to Get One & Styling It

You don’t need to sport a full beard to highlight your facial hair. Most of the time, a simple yet well-maintained 5 o’clock shadow does the trick. Read on to learn all you need to know.

What Is the 5 O’Clock Shadow?

The 5 o’clock shadow beard may sound hard to achieve, but it’s not as complex as you think. The 5 o’clock shadow is one of the most common and recognizable beard styles in the world.

A 5 o’clock shadow is simply the growth of stubble that occurs later in the day, which makes it look like a shadow.

Although this style was traditionally linked with being lazy, it has transformed itself since the 1980s when it was the style of choice of celebrities and rockstars.

From Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, Keanu Reeves, to Chris Hemsworth – almost all A-listers – have had the 5 o’clock shadow at some point.

Not only is it ideal for various face shapes, but the 5 o’clock shadow has also become the go-to beard style of countless men because it looks good on almost everyone.

This beard is not too clean nor too long. It’s more of a stubble than a particular length. To grow this beard, you need to grow your stubble for a few days, but this also depends on how fast your beard grows.

How to Get the Best 5 O’Clock Shadow

Man with a 5 O'Clock Shadow and a hat

Manny DaCunha/Shutterstock

The 5 o’clock shadow is an easy yet very cool beard style. One of its ultimate upsides is that it doesn’t involve too much maintenance. Generally, all you have to do is just ensure the cheek and neckline remains clean. So how can you get a good 5 o’clock shadow?

Can You Grow a Beard?

The truth is, some people were born to grow a 5 o’clock shadow like Ryan Gosling, while some are meant to have a smooth face that is free of hair. Early on, you should establish which group you fall into.

When it comes to having a 5 o’clock shadow, your goal should be to work with as much hair as possible before you can style it according to your face shape. Think of it as like pruning a hedge. You should not style it before it gets to its proper size.

Grow Your Beard

You first need a beard on your face if you want to have a 5 o’clock shadow. Allow your beard or stubble to grow depending on your hair growth. Most people can get to the needed hair length within one to two days, while some need more time. 

Trim it

When your beard has finally grown, it’s time to trim it. Do not leave anything beyond the line of your 5 o’clock shadow if you want it to look neat.

It is also recommended to use a good quality trimmer. Simply set the guard so the ideal 1/8 inch hair length can be achieved. 

Double-check the Line

Your 5 o’clock shadow beard should only be on your chin and cheek. Considering this, clean anything that goes above your cheek line, as well as the hair below your neckline. When these areas have been cleaned, you’re finally ready to sport your 5 o’clock shadow. 

How to Groom Your 5 O’Clock Shadow

Guy grooming his 5 o'clock shadow in the mirror


Growing your 5 o’clock shadow is not enough. When you don’t take care of it very well, it may just turn into an unkempt beard. Here are ways to groom your 5 o’clock shadow.

When Should You Maintain Your 5 o’clock Shadow?

You have to establish a maintenance routine if you want to keep a neat 5 o’clock shadow. It is recommended to groom it every 2-3 days to make the line look sharper. 

Prepping Your Skin

Do not forget to exfoliate your skin and use shaving oil to prep the area before trimming it. You also need to invest in a trimmer to create a uniform length on your 5 o’clock shadow. Having an aftershave is also important so your skin can be free from irritation.

Getting Rid of Ingrown Hair

It is common for men who have a 5 o’clock shadow to deal with ingrown hairs even if they keep their hair short. Unfortunately, ingrown hair causes pain, especially for those with naturally curly hair.

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To prevent this, you can use a facial scrub daily. This will remove dead skin buildup and allow the hair to grow better since there won’t be anything that will be blocking its path.

Get the Right Tools

The 5 o’clock shadow may be low maintenance, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to take care of it. If you are serious about sporting a 5 o’clock shadow every day, one of the most important tools you need is a trimmer.

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This will help you keep your desired stubble length in just minutes. When choosing a trimmer, go for a product that will enable you to trim your hair in tiny increments, preferably 1mm.

This way, you can have more control over your 5 o’clock shadow. Then, take the guard off and use the trimmer to define the edges of your 5 o’clock shadow.

Experiment with Your 5 o’clock Shadow

The best way to know which style and length of 5 o’clock shadow suit you best is to experiment. Try to grow it between one to three days and see which length looks best on your face.

For example, if you have light-colored hair, you may need to grow it longer so it can be more noticeable. 

How to Style Your 5 O’Clock Shadow Based on Your Face Shape

Men's face shapes to determine whether or not to rock a 5 o'clock shadow


The truth is, not everyone looks good with facial hair. This is why being mindful of what works best for your face is important. For others, a full beard looks best on them, while for some, a 5 o’clock shadow enhances their whole look. 

Know your Face Shape

Before you make any major grooming decision, you first need to know your face shape. It can be any of the following face shapes:

  • Oval
  • Rectangle
  • Triangle
  • Round
  • Heart
  • Square
  • Diamond 


If you have an oval or square face, it’s easy to get away with any beard style, including the 5 o’clock shadow. However, it is recommended to keep your 5 o’clock shadow squared at your jaw and maintain clean lines on your cheek. 


For those who have a rectangular face shape, you need to style your 5 o’clock shadow in a way that it won’t look triangular and pointy towards your chin area. 

Your focus should be to make your cheeks look fuller so you can look as if you have a wider jaw instead of bringing focus on the length of your face. 


This face shape is the opposite of the heart face shape. With your 5 o’clock shadow, your goal is to take attention away from your chin.

Considering this, avoid a 5 o’clock shadow that looks full on your cheek. Keeping it near your jawline and squaring it off near the bottom is better.


If you have a round face, your 5 o’clock shadow should follow a triangular shape. Do not cultivate a large area of 5 o’clock shadow because this can only make your face look fuller. Instead, it should be angled towards your chin to look more flattering.


For those with a heart-shaped face, one of the major concerns is their chin. Opt for a short stubble on the sides of your face. You can grow the chin and mustache hair to be longer than the 5 o’clock shadow on your cheek. This will add more depth to your face. 


If you have a square-shaped face, you should not have sharp lines and right angles on your 5 o’clock shadow because it won’t look good on your jawline. 

A more complementary look is a triangular or rounded 5 o’clock shadow. You can also lengthen the beard on your chin area to make you look more chiseled.


If you have this face shape, it means you have a wide cheekbone, and narrow jawline and forehead. 

Your 5 o’clock shadow should be squared off near your chin to make your bone structure look more balanced. You can also have a wider 5 o’clock shadow on your cheeks on the edge of your jawbone.  

Frequently Asked Questions About 5 O’clock Shadow

Guy with a 5 O'Clock Shadow looking at the camera without smiling

Cabeca de Marmore/Shutterstock

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the 5 o’clock shadow. 

How to get rid of the 5 o’clock shadow?

For some people, even if they have trimmed their beards, there are still remnants of their 5 o’clock shadow. 

One of the most common ways to get rid of this is through shaving. First, prepare your skin and use a brush to apply some shaving cream to the area. Then, pull your skin back and use short strokes. 

Do not forget to rinse the blade in between each pass. The next step is to apply another layer of shaving cream, but as you shave for the second time, go against the grain. 

Another way to get rid of your 5 o’clock shadow is through waxing. However, this can be a painful process since you are ripping the roots of your beard to get rid of the shadow. Despite being painful, the follicles will grow thinner and less often. 

The final way to remove the 5 o’clock shadow is through laser hair treatment. This is more long-lasting compared to the other ways to remove the 5 o’clock shadow, but it can be expensive. Although it’s not as painful as waxing, it can still be uncomfortable for many people.

Why is it called the 5 o’clock shadow?

The term was first used in the 1930s. It was coined by the Gem Safety Razor Company when they marketed their razor that eliminated the five o’clock shadow – the traditional time when men leave the office at the end of their workday. 

Because it grows during the day, after a morning shave, it’s still not long enough to be called a beard. However, it looks like a shadow on a man’s face.

What is the ideal length for a 5 o’clock shadow?

Although it differs from person to person, the best length for a 5 o’clock shadow is around 1/8 of an inch, or 3mm. If you trim it shorter, it will give you a more clean-shaven look. On the other hand, growing it longer would make it look like a beard. 

What is the 5 o’clock shadow makeup?

It’s normal to have a 5 o’clock shadow, and this can easily be concealed through makeup. The best way to do this is to use an orange color corrector or orange lipstick on the area. When it dries, cover it with a full coverage foundation.

Similarly, some want to create a 5 o’clock shadow through the use of makeup. To get the makeup to look like hair on your chin and cheeks, you need a stipple sponge or brush and brown eyebrow cream.

First, dab your sponge or brush on the makeup pot, and then get rid of the extra product by blotting it on the back of your hand. Then, dab it on your face. 

When you’re satisfied by the amount of “hair” you have created, use a puff to powder the area. Do it gently and be careful not to rub.

Is the 5 o’clock shadow an attractive look?

A lot of men look better with a 5 o’clock shadow. This is because the amount of facial hair is enough to highlight your features, especially for those who have a structured jawline.

When you have a 5 o’clock shadow, you may look more masculine. And the best part is that you don’t need to spend very much time on maintenance.

So, What Is 5 O’Clock Shadow?

When it comes to the most appealing beard styles for men, the 5 o’clock shadow reigns supreme. It is relatively easy maintenance and a great looking style that just about anyone can pull off.

This effortless look can easily be achieved through regular maintenance. All you need is to get to a workable length that is usually two or three days’ worth of beard growth. More than that, the skin underneath the beard should also stay moisturized.