Men's hair during the 1850s was generally parted, slicked back, and combed up into a high wave at the center of the forehead. After the mid-50s, the height of the wave decreased, and eventually the hair was merely parted and gently waved back from the face. The back of the hair was usually collar length and the side hair covered the ears by 1857.
The image on the left displays the very high wave of the early 1850s. The image on the right demonstrates the softer wave of the later 50s. The hair falling over the ears of the man on the right was very fashionable for this time.
During the early 1850s, most men were clean shaven. By the mid-50s, fringe appeared around the cheeks and jaw. Many beards were seen by the end of the decade. Notice the soft facial hair around the cheeks and chin in the image on the left, and the full beard in the image on the right.