So, you want to grow a beard. Fantastic. The good news—other than that you’ll probably look great—is that it’s a road well-traveled by countless other men, upon whose collective whiskers… uh, wisdom… you can draw. Or, you can just read our beard grooming tips checklist. We’re going to cover everything you need to know to be your bearded best. Just remember: check it before you wreck it. Ready? Here we go!
Step 1: Be Patient
Unless blessed with dense, even facial hair that grows unbroken from ear to neck—and trust us, many men aren’t—it will take time for your beard to show its true self. The hairs on your face grow at different speeds, and frequent shaving and trimming won’t allow them to meet their fullest potential. Give it time—one to one-and-a-half months. By that point, you should have a good idea of how to proceed.
Step 2: Fight the Itch
Beard itch—you’ll know it when you feel it, your hand rising uncontrollably to scratch at your face. It’s a leading cause of beard abandonment; it’s why men too quickly reach for razors and shavers. Fortunately, a high-quality beard oil does wonders to relieve the itch. Choose an oil made with naturally derived ingredients that soothe, moisturize and nourish. And over time, as your beard grows longer, the wire bristle sensation that often accompanies new growth diminishes. Again, see point number one: patience.
Step 3: Keep it Clean
Chances are, you wouldn’t go a month without washing the hair on your head. The same applies to the hair on your face. Beards are a magnet for food and debris, which, when trapped, can irritate skin. Use a gentle beard soap or shampoo a few times a week, and follow with a conditioner. It’s important to choose products designed for facial hair—regular shampoos and conditioners may be too harsh, stripping your beard of natural oils, or too heavy, weighing it down. Rinse your beard with warm water, and pat it dry.
Step 4: Invest in a Beard Trimmer
Guys, scissors just ain’t gonna cut it. Sure, you can use ‘em to trim the odd hair that grows twice as fast and in half the time as the rest—but to groom properly, you need an electric trimmer. Look for one with with a variety of length settings and combs. Many leading beard trimmers are designed for wet or dry operation, and include precision trimming elements to carve out sections and define lines. Always choose a trimmer from a reputable brand such as Braun, Philips or Wahl.
Step 5: Match Your Beard to Your Face
A bunyanesque beard that suits one face well may threaten to swallow another whole. Every face is unique; choose a beard shape that best matches yours. As a general rule—which you’re free to break—longer faces benefit from shorter beards that create additional width. Allow your beard to fill in at the cheeks, if it grows there. Conversely, men with square faces and angular jaws may consider a longer, softer beard, as short, sharply defined facial hair will serve only to make a squarish face seem blockier.
Do you see a pattern developing? No face is without its imbalances, which is why a style of beard inverse to an individual’s most prominent (but not necessarily most appealing) characteristics is usually recommended. Though that’s all these are: recommendations. There exist more than two shapes of face, and through trial, and hopefully not much error, you’ll find a beard style that suits you best.
Step 6: Drop a Balm
Beard balm—not to be confused with beard oil—moisturizes and nourishes, but is generally less effective at relieving an itchy beard. Due to its thicker consistency, beard balm provides a degree of hold, making it easier to style your facial hair. Which leads us to the next point…
Step 7: Grow in the Right Direction
Facial hair tends to be uncooperative. It lies flat or bristles outward. It grows in divergent directions, and generally misbehaves. When your beard reaches a certain length—nay, before then—acquire a beard brush or comb. If possible, choose a brush with genuine boar bristles, whose stiffness and return make them ideal for taming a beard. If a comb is more your style, look for one with rounded, widely spaced teeth—preferably made from wood, or durable plastic.