Growing a beard is simple: You put down the razor. Thanks for visiting!
That’s one way to go about it, but that plan is going to leave you with a scraggly mess that’s itchy, uncomfortable, unappealing, and will bring you nothing but looks of derision from the truly and happily bearded. A real hedge takes dedication from the word go, and it requires constant upkeep. The same way the hair on your head needs a little work to keep it natty, your beard needs love, and since it’s more wiry than the hair on your head, it’s going to take added effort, particularly if you want to have a quaffed countenance that looks good on dates and job interviews.
Before you even decide to take the thatch challenge, consider the advice below and decide if you can commit to being beautiful in the most rugged of ways, or if you need to do what us shaved-headed do and that’s keep hair to the bare and bald minimum. These will work for whatever beard style you pick, though note that the more bristles you have on your neck brush, the more energy it’s going to require.
Get Good Beard Trimmers
Your hair is going to grow at different rates all over your face, which means that you’re going to need to keep it trimmed to a universal length. Don’t scrimp on how you handle your cutting, as bad beard trimmers pull and tug and tear and hurt like a sum-bitch, so follow recommendations from professionals – like your barber – to find a set of trimmers that work smoothly. Then make sure you know how to use and maintain them, since rusty clippers used badly are worse than cheap ones.
This part sucks. You want your beard to look good and you want it now. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to shape it and mold it until you know what you’re working with. During the first month of beard growth, you should use your sexy new trimmers to keep the hair looking clean, but don’t do any molding or shaping yet. Give it a full month and then you know what you’ve got.
If you’re among the truly manly who can accidentally grow a beard between lunch and dinner, you might be able to jump in earlier, but so long as you’re working the trimmer game, you shouldn’t need to alter the timetable.
Beards are messy if you don’t care for them. Stuff you eat, particles in the air, dead skin cells that you sluff off, and all manner of creepy crawly nonsense can go on at the microscopic level inside a man’s shrubbery. Get a conditioning shampoo, a cleansing conditioner, or simply use a little baking soda in the shower to keep it clean. Washing it when you wash your scalp is usually a good rule for keeping it clean. Avoid shampoos with sulfates or anything that will dry your hair out. The sensitive skin on your face hates those and will make you pay with itching and burning if you aren’t nice to it.
A beard itches like a nasty bastard right at first, so you’ll want to keep the hair soft. Hitting it with conditioner, beard softener, beard oil, beard wax, and anything else can help this. Also condition the skin underneath your whiskers, as that needs a lot of love too, since it’s losing oils to the hair. This is going to take trial and error of products, but your face and the face of anyone you plan to kiss will thank you for working to keep your skin so soft.
Your follicles can be trained to grow in a particular direction, but you have to take them by the hand to do it. A regular hairbrush works fine, or a beard comb. If you go the comb route, get teeth that are made for your facial hair’s needs. Fine, wispy hair can handle fine-toothed combs, while bristles that catch and snag need wider teeth or a soft hairbrush. Even if you use a brush, a comb will be necessary later for spreading beard oils and treatments along the hair, so know what feels good on your whiskers and have it ready for action.
From early on your face is going to be spiky, but putting the barest bit of beard oil or even baby oil onto it and then brushing it down to lay flat will keep it from causing issues in your personal life, and will give it a more intentional, uniform appearance. This is how you prevent ragged or ratty beard looks that scream Homeless Chic.
Let It Grow
Don’t do pencil beards or anything that looks like it was drawn onto your face. A beard is supposed to add volume and softness to your look. Think cuddly teddy bear, not weird matador. You want your hair to stick out about an inch or more from your skin. Adjust your trimmers accordingly.
A beard that suddenly stops without gradually thinning out looks pasted on and isn’t a hot look. Your beard trimmers should either have different settings, or different guards to be placed onto it. Use these to fade your beard away as it starts to move down your neck. It should go under the chin a little bit, but not actually hit your throat. Then you’re wearing a neckbeard and aren’t worth the bullet it would take to put you down.
After a month of washing, brushing, primping, trimming, and waiting, you should be geared up and ready to style your beard how you see fit. Start by selecting a beard style that suits your face. If you have a round mug, mold it to give you a defined jawline. If you’re carrying around a double chin, fluff the bottom and let it get some more volume to hide that away. Our guide to beard styles should help you pick a look that works for your face, but you should also go with what you like, since you’re the one living with it.
Stuff caught in your beard is a no-go, which means having a travel comb you can run through it to get the gobs of gunk out. Never be far from a grooming appliance and don’t be shy about using it. This is what separates the pros from the amateurs: upkeep.
Don’t be the person who thinks their beard is bitchin’ and won’t hear anything else. The people who look at you can help you mold your beard, and if they won’t do it, get into a beard group. There’s loads of beard forums for advice, input, and help with doing right by your chin wig. Talk to them and figure out how to create a shape that you love and can live with.
Keep It Up
You should always be improving as a human being, but since that’s hard work, it’s better to just maintain a beard. It’s your daily companion and needs a little help all the time. You get out of your beard what you put into it, so give it the best you can.