Remember when we first could grow facial hair? I know the first thing that I did was grow my side burns OUT! I had the biggest mutton chops a 15-year-old high school teen could sport. There are pictures of them, but they are far too embarrassing to be posted on a public forum – let’s just say that I thought I was Elvis for a year or so. Since then I have learned that there is something to your side burns; they need to be kept in check and not billow away from your face. I was a heavy-set teen, so though I didn’t realize it at the time, my chops didn’t fit my face. They made my cheeks look even chubbier than they already were which granted me a nickname on the long list of them that I had – ‘Cheeks’.
Through the ages, we have seen a variety of styles and fads grow in and out of pop culture in the facial hair department. Early American styles were similar to that of the Amish in that they were often grown out and paid little attention. This is, in fact, where we get the term ‘Sideburn’ itself.
As depicted in our cover photo for ‘Sideburns! What The Fuck Is That On Your Face?’, we have American Civil War General, Ambrose Burnside. His facial hair was controversial, ratty, unruly, and the topic of much egging on amongst his comrades in arms. Really, how could you blame them – he was a Chia-Pet before Chia-Pets were even invented. He became known for these unusual growths on his face, and pretty soon those amongst him, and within an ear shot of gossip, began mimicking this facial fad. Pretty soon this caught on, as one may seen in many photographs of the time, and everyone was doing it… like crocks – present, but not necessarily good.
We talls need to know the history of the side burn, not only for aesthetic purposes, but also, because it is part of our history as well. Ambrose Burnside was a GIANT of his time. Often described as tall and slightly stout, it is no surprise that this GIANT was also a General. Modern statistics show, and we have said this before, that 90% of company heads are above average height with only 3% of them being below 5’7”, so it is no surprise to me that Burnside was not only a General, but a true leader and trendsetter as well – people just listen to we talls; we’re adorable… and will sit on you to get our way.
Down to the advice bit of this feature – how to do sideburns. Similarly to a haircut, sideburns can often be dictated by the shape of your face.
- Bigger guys with rounder faces tend to keep theirs a little bit more on the longer side, keeping the length pretty tight – unlike our cover model – as to slim down their face and accenting the start of their jaw line; a longer and more pronounced version of the ‘mutton chop’ i.e. Elvis Presley.
- The ‘chin-strap’ is one of the more common versions of sideburns/facial hair; starting at the ear line and following the jaw around the chin, wrapping all the way around to the other side to define the outline of the face. Pictured below on the far right is a thicker version of the chin-strap that I usually employ when my weight fluxes up. Usually the first place I notice weight gain is in my face, so a nice thick wrap around tends to fix that until I get the gumption to make it back to the gym.
- An easy way to chisel up your face is by growing your side burn out to about lobe length – ear, not Lisa – about an inch of width (middle photo). This will define the top of your jaw and your cheek bones without going over board.
- My ultimate and most commonly used favorite side burn is what I call the ‘finger tip’ (far left). It is just that – a finger tips length from the start of your ear usually extending to about mid ear. It is a clean, kept side burn that remains appropriate for a proper work place if need be.
Listen guys, women have their make-up bag full of beauty tricks to bend and change the way they look; accenting and hiding little pieces of their shapes ever so slightly. This is one simple way for a man to define and manipulate his face and face shape to have that strong jawline we want or highlight cheeks, chin, and neck. The best part about facial hair and sideburns is that the littlest effort goes a long way, though it won’t look like any work went into it at all. Having side burns, not having side burns – whichever you chose to sport, make sure they are at the very least not a Burnside.