Classic Van Dyke Beard – Top Styles & Grooming Tips


If you could craft a beard that crosses both old world sophistication and the modern-day hipster, then you probably are picturing the Van Dyke beard.

The Van Dyke beard is a facial hair style that looks like a goatee that doesn’t connect to the mustache. The skin between your chin hair and mustache is smooth. The result is a clean, angular look that continues to be popular even centuries later.

This guide offers a look into how to grow your beard style into the Van Dyke look. In addition, our Johnny Depp beard guide offers variations on the Van Dyke beard that the actor loves so much.

How to Style a Van Dyke Beard

Is a Van Dyke Beard Attractive?

Well, the Rugged Standard said so, but the Van Dyke beard also has a superpower. You can add more angles to your face, change your chin shape, and create a square jaw. Of course, this depends on how you trim the facial hair, but Van Dyke beards accentuate cheekbones and elongate the chin.

Here are some examples of the Van Dyke beard today. Could you see yourself styling your beard this way?

The Van Dyke style definition suggests clean-shaven cheeks. However, I’ve seen Van Dyke variations from light hair to stubble. Remember your style is yours alone so go own it.

David Beckham Van Dyke Beard
David Beckham
Johnny Depp Van Dyke
Johnny Depp
Robert Downey Jr Van Dyke Beard
Robert Downey Jr.
Idris Elba Van Dyke Beard
Idris Elba
Brad Pitt Van Dyke Beard
Brad Pitt
Christian Bale Van Dyke Beard
Christian Bale

You can also see our beard and face shape guide to see what might suit your features best.

A Little History

Wondering how Van Dyke beard style got its name? The trend started with a famous 17th century Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck. His pointed chin beard did not connect to his creative mustache, kicking off a trend of highly stylized facial hair. Notable figures that wore this style:

  • General Custer
  • Vladimir Lenin
  • King Charles I of England
  • even Colonel Sanders

In the original style, the ends of the mustache would often be slightly curled upwards but less common today.

What’s the Difference Between a Goatee and Van Dyke?

The goatee beard style is pretty versatile, and its roots date all the way back to Pan, the half-man, half-goat Greek deity. It was adopted by rebels and misfits in culture. The Van Dyke could be considered a highly stylized goatee with one key style difference (below).

Goatee vs. Van Dyke Beard

A Van Dyke beard is essentially a goatee that doesn’t connect the beard hair to the mustache. About an inch of smooth skin between the ends of your mustache and the sides of your goatee changes the look of a goatee entirely.

It’s this separation of the mustache and chin hair that gives the Van Dyke its unique look and prevents it from looking like a circle beard.

The Van Dyke beard is a unique and sophisticated look
Johnny Depp

How Do You Get a Van Dyke Beard

The good news is that even if you grow hair slowly, you can create the Van Dyke beard. This look is mainly defined by the way you trim the hair around your mouth. While some guides say to start off from a full beard, you can start combing your beard and trimming your mustache in certain areas to get this look.

One of the best representations of the Van Dyke beard is the anchor shape. Here is an example:

Jeremy Renner Van Dyke Beard
Jeremy Renner – Image courtesy of Men’s Journal.

1. Determine Width and Thickness Desired

If you like the goatee style because you can accentuate your chin and give it more length, then you should define the goatee edges to be a little bit wider than the corners of your mouth.

#1 – Thick Van Dyke beards take a while to grow, but you may want to elongate your chin with a thick patch of hair at the end. This could create a ducktail beard, another on-trend facial hairstyle.

#2 – Next, look at the hair between your chin and lower lip AKA the Soul Patch. You may opt for a floating or connected patch.

2. Trim Away Hair Between Beard and Mustache

The Van Dyke look has a gap of smooth skin between the beard hair and mustache. Usually, it’s about a half-inch to a full inch, so take it slow when trimming so you can style create the sharp edges on the sides of your chin and jaw.

Go through your normal beard conditioning routine, then comb your beard and mustache hair downwards. Using a beard trimmer with no guide, slowly trim away and separate the ends of your mustache from your beard.

This may take some time to ensure that your chin hair lines up and remains symmetrical.

3. Shape the Bottom of Your Goatee

With the same trimmer, shape the goatee by trimming down the sides of your mouth to the bottom of your chin and below to your neckline. When finished, you’ll have a patch of chin hair that extends up halfway to your mouth.

Here’s a closer look:

4. Shave the Rest Clean

By now you should have carved out a Van Dyke, but you may have remaining hair on your cheeks, neck, and outer jaw line. A true Van Dyke has a mustache and chin hair only, but other looks such as the Tony Stark beard offer another variation on this look.

The best way to get a clean shave on your cheeks is with shaving cream and a blade razor. I personally like the Gillette Fusion5 razor with my sensitive skin; however, an electric shaver can also suffice.

Here are some finished Van Dyke looks to compare:

Get the Van Dyke Beard Style
Image courtesy of Men’s Journal.
Get Christian Bale Van Dyke Beard
Christian Bale – Image courtesy of Men’s Health Magazine.

5. Clean Up and Fade

If you want to do a clean fade from your chin hair to mustache, you can start trimming towards your gap with a guard #2 or #1. I’d suggest practicing with our faded beard style guide to get this look.

How long does it take to grow a Van Dyke beard?

You can start shaping a Van Dyke when you’ve grown past your stubble. Typically, 1/4 inch is enough hair growth to get started.

Growing your facial hair to the optimal length could take 1-2 weeks depending on how quickly your hair grows. Note that beard growth stages and growth rates are different for everyone.

Many celebrities have rocked the Van Dyke beard like Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr., and Ryan Gosling. With variations on the traditional anchor beard, men can sport this look for any occasion, whether for formal, professional, or artist looks.

You also needn’t grow thick facial hair to achieve this style, as it can be worn with thicker mustaches, stubble, or a smaller patch of chin hair. However you wear this look, the Van Dyke beard attracts a lot of attention because of its ability to accentuate your facial features and elongate your chin.

By Eric Melillo

I'm the co-owner of B&B. I live in Guilford, Connecticut and I've been obsessed with bald & beard styles & trends for over 20 years..