Maybe you’ve decided to grow a beard for the first time, or maybe you’ve had a beard since you were twelve but need some inspiration to spruce up your look. Whether you’re an old hand with a proper kung fu beard or you’re looking to sport a debonair goatee, here are some simple grooming tips for any beard enthusiast.
1. Let your beard grow!
This may be the hardest tip on the list. Particularly if you’ve never tried a full beard before, letting your beard make it past the “stubble” stage can be a real trial. Be patient; it is very important that you resist the urge to shave for at least a few weeks. This will let you get enough length on your beard to be able to begin to determine your natural beard shape.
It’ll also let you see any patchiness to your beard and how your facial hair grows once it gets longer than an inch or so. Wiry hair may smooth out, or you may discover a wave or curliness to your beard that you never knew about when you kept it cut short. Give it a few weeks, and then you’ll be able to begin the process of choosing a beard style. Which leads us to the next step . . .
2. Choose your best beard.
This is not an entirely simple prospect. Every man, and every man’s face, is different; part of the trick is to find your best beard. You can do this in two steps:
- Find the beard that fits your facial hair best
- Shape your beard to fit your face.
To start with the first step, your facial hair may lend itself to different styles of beards.
Do you have coarse, wiry hair? It may be better to grow a longer, fuller beard, using the length to smooth out the look of your beard. Check out this great post for further instructions. For thin hair, it may be better to embrace a close-cropped look. You can even match the style of beard to the areas where your facial hair grows best–wearing a goatee, for instance, if your cheeks and sideburns are not as thick.
For the second point, remember that different styles can be used to compliment the shape of your face. Thin faces are the hardest to fit to a beard; consult a professional barber and be sure to factor in the hair on top of your head as well. Round faces may do better with a longer beard, but remember to keep the sideburns shorter to add the illusion of length with the beard. Do you have an oval face? You’re in luck because most beard styles compliment an oval face. If you’re a bit more square-jawed, remember that the mustache is your friend; it will help focus interest on the center of your face, rather than the outline. For more tips on fitting your beard to your face, check out a tutorial here.
Remember, while you may have picked out a particular beard style before you began growing your beard, the beard that suits you the best may not be the one that looks the best on your friends. Fit your beard to you, not to anyone else; you won’t look your best without the best beard choice for you.
3. Keep a well-defined beard.
Once you’ve chosen the best beard for yourself, be sure to keep it cleanly cut. In other words, once you choose your beard style, groom to that style. Are you rocking a chinstrap beard? Keep everything else clean-shaven. Going Amish? Be sure to shave the upper lip! There are exceptions, of course; a full-on, mountain-man style beard may not require much trimming or shaving at all. But for most men, one of the differences between a run-of-the-mill bunch of facial hair and a truly striking beard is the sharpness of the beard. Keep your beard looking sharp by consistently shaving anything that’s not part of your beard style, maintaining well-defined shave lines.
4. Use proper shaving techniques.
It can be a temptation, if you’re wearing a beard, to rush through your morning shave and hope your beard will hide any flaws. Don’t give in! Remember our previous tip about keeping a well-defined beard and try to keep in mind these additional shaving tips:
- Keep your razor sharp! Ever wondered about the recent renewal of interest in safety razors and straight razors? There’s a reason those old-fashioned shaving tools have become popular at the same time that beards are making a comeback. A good, sharp razor is vital even for a full-bearded man, and few razors are sharper than an old-fashioned safety razor. If you use a disposable razor, be sure to change blades often. Your shaves will be cleaner and easier on your face, leading to a sharper-looking beard and less irritation.
- Moisturize after your shave. This might seem like an extra step, but it’s worth taking the time. You can’t directly moisturize the skin beneath your beard–trust your beard oil and a healthy diet to handle that task for you (more on these later). But anywhere you’ve shaved, use a moisturizer to soothe the skin and prevent unnecessary drying and aging. An especially critical area is your neck. Lots of men are prone to razor burn along their neckline, and a good aftershave and moisturizer can go a long way to soothing any irritation.
5. Trim your beard.
Too many men treat facial hair like head hair–they grow a beard or get a haircut and then go day after day without spending any time on it. And sure enough, after awhile, they start to look like this . . .
Now, the “Castaway” look is not particularly attractive. I suppose it might work for a handful of people, but the odds are that you’re going to want a more attractive, well-apportioned beard. If you’ve kept a well-defined beard from the previous step, then this step is a little easier. Trimming is all about keeping your chosen beard shape. You can trim a beard much like you’d cut your hair. Use a set of trimmers to keep your beard at an even length and scissors to control strays.
With facial hair, you just have the added steps of trimming your mustache if you wear one and of fading the sideburns. For myself, monthly trims keep my beard on the right track with biweekly “spot checks” with the scissors; you may need to trim more often if your beard is fast-growing. If you’re looking for how-to videos, there are a number of excellent tutorials on how to trim your beard easily and evenly; check out the Beard Baron’s guides on trimming your mustache and trimming your beard.
6. Establish a style routine.
Everyone has a different routine to their day; make sure your beard is part of your routine. Put in your contacts, brush your teeth, and oil your beard. Prepare your beard for the day, just like you prepare the rest of your wardrobe. Remember, you do “wear” a beard–and like the rest of your outfit, it needs care. This is where your extra beard care products will come in handy. Use your beard oil, beard balm, and whisker wax to style your beard, and incorporate that styling into your morning routine. This keeps your grooming consistent, so your beard won’t look unkempt one day and perfect the next.
7. Consider your diet.
We often think of the link between our diet and our general well-being, but you may not have thought about the link between your diet and the condition of your beard. A number of studies and articles have examined the connection, and the results are surprising. Your facial hair requires lots of vitamins; a diet high in vitamins–especially vitamins A, C, E, and the B vitamins–can help you literally eat your way to a better beard. Protein is also helpful, so be sure to include lots of lean meats, eggs, and so on. Fish is a good beard-building food as well because it contains omega fatty acids to give your beard a healthy sheen.
Real-life beard experts back up these studies. An interview in Birchbox with Jack Passion, two-time winner of the World Beard and Mustache Championships, takes the advice even further. Passion advocates more organic and healthy fats. As Passion states, “Hair, even though it’s dead, it’s basically protein wrapped in fat. It’s like little bacon-wrapped hot dogs. So lots of protein is very important.” He continues to warn against sugar, noting that sugar makes for weaker hair. Cut out the sweets and keep the healthy fats and proteins to both boost your beard-growing capabilities and improve the condition of your beard.
Exercise, like your diet, is a lifestyle choice with direct influence on your beard. The health of your hair is directly tied to the health of your body–so keeping your body in shape leads back to a beard that will look better and be easier to manage. One way in which exercise helps your beard is through increased blood flow, which helps with growth rates and conditioning. Exercise also increases testosterone, which in turn triggers facial hair growth. Finally, regular exercise and personal fitness will boost your own self confidence. This leads us to our final grooming tip . . .
Diet and exercise is one part of the equation and supplements are the other. If, and it’s a big if, you eat the absolute proper diet you don’t need supplements EVER! However, if you are anything like us, your diet while better than most is still lacking.
We here at Rugged Rebels use the supplements available from the Legendary Beard Company. They have really done their research on the vitamins and minerals that your beard hair, and your body in general, need. Their price point is on par with other quality supplements and they run discount pricing quite often as well.
Bonus: Own your beard
Your beard is your own personal work of art. Don’t be content to simply imitate a picture you found on the internet. Use the steps listed in this article, and in the process of growing a beard, get to know your own distinct style. Whatever kind of beard you end up wearing, know that it is YOUR beard.
Once you grow your beard, wear it with confidence. Even an unusual beard, worn by a confident man, seems much more normal. Make your beard a reflection of your own personality. As an example, remember the story of Ambrose Burnside, the Civil War general. He was not a particularly skilled tactician, but he wore a unusual beard so well that it eventually took on his name and became part of our modern beard vocabulary. We have General Burnside, and his crazy (but confident) beard style, to thank for giving us the word “sideburns.”
I hope you found these beard grooming tips helpful! If you have any other secret hints or tips, include them in the comments below, and let us know how they worked for you. And of course, if you’re on the verge of inventing a new beard style, be sure to let us know the name of it.