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New York's Sideburning Man

Blind Barber stylist Rob McMillen explains how to get the facial hair you forget about in shape for fall.


Photo: Getty Images

Rob McMillen has great hair. A hip cut is an occupational hazard when you’re the chief stylist at New York’s most buzzed about haircuttery. Introduced to the snipping business by his father, who cut hair for 34 years in Ohio, McMillen started trimming part-time when he arrived in New York City and transitioned to a full-time gig at Blind Barber after deciding to ditch a gig at NYU. Today, he makes men look like better versions of themselves. This time of year, when men come in with unruly summer cuts that need to be neatened for fall, that means spending a lot of time working around the ears. McMillen has an almost academic approach to sideburn shaping. 

McMillen gave MAXIM some tips on how to get and maintain the perfect sideburns. It’s time to trim your way to glory.

Figure Out Your Face Shape
“With any style, you want to assess your face first: Is it round, square, or oval? Those are the top three. If your face is round then you probably want to keep things really tight to the face and keep things fairly short, because if you have a sideburn that comes down, it will accentuate the roundness of your face a bit too much. If a guy has a square jaw, it may be nice for something to come down and highlight it. If you have an oval face shape, that’s normally the most desired and the easiest to have for any style."

Pick A Style
“When it comes down to picking your style, one of the biggest tips I can give is to consult your local barber or stylist. From there, you have to pick a desired sideburn length: short, medium, or long. You can normally mark them by the ear. If you were to cut the sideburn at the top of the ear, it would be considered short. If you were to cut the sideburn at the center of the ear, the sideburn would be medium, and the bottom of the ear would be considered long.”

Make The Sideburn Proportional to the Cut
“You want to make sure that the sideburns’ width and length correlate with your haircut. If you have a super wide sideburn and then a really short haircut, it may take away from the haircut or the face shape. There’s everything from tapered sideburns, which are nearly faded out and blended into a haircut - what you tend to see with much shorter haircuts – to very thin sideburns, which you normally seen with a short Caesar haircut, work. There aren’t necessarily rules: If I were to have a super short haircut and also have super long sideburns down to the bottom of my face, I could do that. But you see a lot of guys fading out their sideburns. A lot of guys are keeping a shadow so their sideburns are technically blended into their facial hair. It’s all about what you’re going for.”

Keep Up The Grooming
“You want to avoid overgrowth, everywhere. Normally touching up every two weeks is good but it really depends on the growth of your actual facial hair. Let’s say I was to have a sideburn that’s long, and I mark it off at the bottom of my ear. And it’s got some bulk to it. But then I don’t shave for a week and it starts to blend in – I’ve lost the goal of my sideburn. There are a number of great home trimmers on the market or you can of course visit your local barber.” 

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