Van Dyke Beard – Best Styles & Grooming Tips

One beard style that has made a come back recently is the Van Dyke beard. While this screams of an old style, the modern day hipster has made this beard style more prevalent and popular. This beard style has been around for a very long time, and we have seen its popularity explode. This facial hair style was prevalent in the 1990’s, and it still is even to this day.

The Van Dyke beard facial hair style is a goatee where the mustache does not connect to the chin hair. This beard style is different than a traditional goatee because the mustache hair does not reach the goatee. This provides an angular look that works great on men with round faces.

Our guide will demonstrate how to style your facial hair for the Van Dyke look. We will look at different variations of the Van Dyke beard so that you can find which one works best for your face.

Is The Van Dyke Beard Popular?

The Van Dyke beard has become more popular due to several celebrities who have this facial hair style. They not only keep this beard style for the characters they play in the movies, but they sometimes style their facial hair this way off the screen. When celebrities style their hair, beard, or clothes a certain way, then people tend to copy them. We have seen this with actors like Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. The iconic beard style from Robert Downey Jr. who played Tony Stark in Ironman and other Marvel blockbuster hits is one example of a take on the van dyke.

The traditional Van Dyke style uses clean-shaven cheeks, but you can vary that a bit based on your on style and follicle growth.

These are some celebrity examples of the Van Dyke beard style.

Robert Downey Van Dyke beard
Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Johnny Depp Van Dyke beard
Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Bradd Pitt Van Dyke beard style
Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Christian Bale with Van Dyke beard
Asim Bharwani, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Pierce Brosnan van dyke and goatee beard
Sheksays, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Ludacris rapper goatee van dyke beard styel
Toglenn, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

History Of The Van Dyke Beard

Anthony van dyck
Self Portrait of Anthony van Dyck

The Van Dyke Beard style got its name from a Flemish painter named Anthony van Dyck. Other names for this famous facial hair style are Vandyke, Van Dyck or “Charlies.” The first two are obvious, but how does Charlie fit into this? The Flemish painter once painted a portrait of King Charles I of England who wore this style of beard.

This Van Dyke style of beard was very popular in the 17th century, and many notable figures in history have sported this including:

  • King Charles I of England
  • Vladimir Lenin
  • Colonel Sanders
  • Buffalo Bill

These gentlemen each had a unique style to how they wore this popular van dyke beard.

How Is A Van Dyke Different Than A Goatee?

Van Dyke beard vs goatee

A goatee is facial hair on your chin and mustache, and the mustache must connect to the beard hair on your chin. The van dyke will have no connection between the two which is what sets them apart from one another.

The key distinction is the separation of the two which prevents you from having a circle beard. If you can draw a circle on your facial hair where it connects, then you have a goatee.

Of course, there are certain variations in each style. Technically, the van dyke style means that you must have a clean shaven face at your cheeks. But, you can certainly grow some thick stubble on your cheeks, and people will still be able to tell what style you have.

How To Grow A Van Dyke Beard

The first that you need to do for obtaining a Van Dyke beard is to stop shaving your mustache and chin as this is basically the only stubble that you need to grow out. You can still let your full beard grow out, and when you are ready, then you can shave off the facial hair on your cheeks. This is a popular style for men who have a patchy beard. When guys cannot grow thick full beards, it is usually around the jaw lines and cheeks. Keanu Reeves is a classic example of a guy with this problem, except he styles his beard the correct way to work with what he has.

1. Determine Which Style You Want To Grow

The first step in growing out a Van Dyke beard is knowing which style you want to have. You don’t need to have the exact one, but it is definitely a great idea to have some idea of which way you will trim your facial hair down. The main focus of this beard style is the goatee and mustache have to be there, and they cannot connect.

You need to determine which face shape you have as well as what beard style matches your hairline. Understanding how your face, hairline, and facial hair work together is an important step in determining which look suits you best.

There are so many variations and styles that you can make with the facial hair on your chin. You can have a small soul patch, or you can have a thick, bushy and full beard on your chin. You can trail your mustache down, you can have a pencil moustache, or you can grow a thick full mustache.

The best thing that you can do, is to follow your genetics. Once your stubble grows in thick, you should be able to tell how to shape and style. You may can grow a killer mustache, but you chin follicles may leave a bit to be desired. Find you an example, and go for that.

2. Grow Out Your Beard

The second step is an obvious one, and that is to grow out your beard (if you don’t already have one.) We recommend growing to at least the heavy stubble phase all over until you start shaving hair off. This will allow you to understand how your follicles grow and where the thick parts of your beard are.

If you need some help during the growth stage, we recommend a top of the line beard oil to condition your beard. This will help a lot when your beard starts to get past the stubble phase when you get into the itchy beard phase.

It’s your face, so you can certainly shave it down whenever you feel like, and you don’t necessarily need to grow the full thing out. You can keep everything clean shaven except your mustache and goatee areas.

3. Shave Off Your Facial Hair (Except Mustache And Chin Hair)

Now that your beard has grown out, you should be able to trim down to your desired look. You will need a quality beard trimmer if you don’t have one. We recommend this beard trimmer for something like this. It is affordable, and it has all the attachments and guards that you need to make pretty make any van dyke beard style. We like the small grooming tool that comes with it that allows you to shape tight spaces.

If you are going for the clean shaven cheeks, go ahead and shave your facial hair off there. This way, you will be able to gauge how to trim your chin and lip area. You are getting closer to the Van Dyke Beard, and there is only a couple more steps to achieve this look.

4. Shape Your Mustache And Chin

Find a picture of the style of mustache that you want to have, and with the correct guard attachment, you should be able to clean this area up first and thin it out. Next, use the small mustache trimmer, and carve out the shape that you would like to have.

Finally, take a look at a picture of a van dyke beard chin style that you identified earlier. You will need to use the smaller attachments and grooming tools to get into your chin. Make sure to get the lines tight if your look calls for that. Remember, the guards will help you trim your beard down to a certain length. A 1mm guard is the shortest one for a close shave. You can use the beard trimmer with no guard which will leave you with a stubble beard.

Should You Grow A Van Dyke Beard?

thin stubble van dyke

If you see this style on other people, and you like it, then yes, you should grow this beard style. The reasons are fairly simple. The Van Dyke beard can be shaped in almost any way to match your face and style. Here are some ways that give you confidence that it will fit your style:

  • It can be classy like Pierce Brosnan
  • You can be edgy like Robert Downey Jr.
  • Your style can be modern and easy to maintain like Ludacris
  • You can look rugged like Norman Reedus

This beard style will allow you to have almost any style that you want. This is a very versatile look that any man can achieve, as long as they can grow a mustache and chin hair.

Featured Image via Paul Bird, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

About James Woods

Hi, I am James Woods, the founder of Beardedblade. I have extensive experience working in the men's grooming industry. I have worked in the beard care and shaving industries, so I have first hand experience working with products in those areas. I also enjoy all things outdoors and topics related to men's lifestyle. I am an avid camper, hiker, biker, and all around outdoor enthusiast.

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