Whether for Movember or the hell of it, deciding to grow and maintain a beard is a damn manly thing to do. Here’s how to get ‘er done.It doesn’t matter why you want to grow and maintain a beard. Maybe you’ve decided to grow one just to see how you’d look. Or maybe, like many other men, you want to show your support for men’s cancer awareness month by growing a beard for Movember.
Whatever the reason, you’re not alone. Fall is the time of year when you see beards popping up everywhere. Personally, I decided to grow mine because I just wanted to see what the hell I’d look like. I’m glad I did.
Once it grew out, my life took a big change for the better. And in the process of growing it, I learned a lot about the best ways to help it look great. Here’s what I discovered about growing and maintaining a beard.
7 Tips for How to Grow and Maintain a Beard
1. Be Honest with Yourself
Two of the first things you’ll learn when you grow a beard are acceptance and patience. Being honest with yourself is where the acceptance comes in. Answer with honesty: Can you really grow a beard? I don’t mean some scraggly hairs sticking out here and there. I mean a beard worthy of the name.
It’s important to understand that your ability, or inability, to grow a beard has nothing to do with your manhood, manliness, testosterone levels, how big a stud you are or anything of the sort. It’s just genetics, like hair or eye color. Maybe your father, or one of your grandfathers, had a patchy beard. You can blame him, but don’t try to blame your manhood.
The point is, don’t assume that just because you want to grow a beard, you can grow one. If you’re one of the few guys who just can’t make it happen, don’t bother trying. It will only draw attention to the fact that you can’t. Instead, focus on your attributes and forget the beard.
2. Commit to the Process
Growing a beard is a big commitment. Make sure this is something you want to do, and not something you’re doing for someone else. Like a chick who digs guys with beards. If you’re not 100% in favor of growing a beard, don’t.
So, let’s assume this is your idea and you’re committed to the process. You’ve got the right frame of mind, a cool boss and an even cooler significant other (if applicable).
Now all you have to do is commit to growing out your beard for the next four weeks. You have to make a deal with yourself not to shave it off under any circumstances, no matter what it looks like, for at least one month. If you decide you hate it after that month is gone, then just shave it off. But give it at least four weeks before you decide to love it or leave it.
3. Decide what Style Beard Looks Best on YouIf you’ve got a modest amount of facial hair, consider going with a goatee or a scruffy ten-day growth. Don’t try to climb Mt. Everest. Don’t shoot for a Majestic, Terminal, or other large beard. Think about growing a smaller beard style. Otherwise you risk looking like you’re trying too hard, something a professional beardsman would never do.
But let’s say you’re rocking a pretty decent amount of facial hair. This means you can grow just about any style you want. The trick is to determine what style of beard would look best on your face.
Unless you’ve decided you want to be a beard-daredevil and shoot for an extreme beard like a Terminal, you should go for a beard that makes your face look oval. If you have a wide face, you should grow a beard that adds some length, while keeping the sides short. If you have a long face you don’t want a long beard hanging down underneath it. Go with something shorter and sturdier, like a Garibaldi or a Dutch.
You can also get on the Internet and check out the tons of pictures and information out there on different beard styles. Look at all the Google Images of movie stars and athletes who sport beards. This research will help you decide which style would look best on your own face.
4. Let the Growing BeginNow it’s time to stop shaving and just let the beard happen. Growing a beard is one of the easiest things in the world. You don’t really have to do anything except stand back and let nature do its thing.
You might want to start your beard while you’re away from work, maybe while on vacation. This will help you relax about the process and get into the beard-growing groove. When it starts to grow in, don’t worry about anybody’s reactions. If it looks halfway decent, you’ll get lots of compliments and positive feedback.
When I’ve grown a beard after being clean-shaven for a while, I’m always a little surprised at the positive reactions of friends, family and co-workers. Most people want to be nice. People want to say kind things. If your fledgling beard looks even halfway decent, you’ll get compliments.
The trick is to have patience and not mess with what’s happening on your face. You should just let it grow, without doing a damn thing to it, for at least the first four weeks. A lot of guys get tempted to start trimming it or otherwise messing with it. Don’t do that. As a novice, there’s a chance you’ll screw up your beard and set yourself back.
Why shouldn’t you mess with it? Because if you’re new to beards, you might over-trim it. If that happens with a five or six-week growth, it’s not a big deal. But if it happens with a two or three-week growth, it can be a very big deal. Taking too much off when you don’t have a lot to lose is much harder to correct.
5. Shaping Your BeardAfter one month, you’re ready to consider a little trimming and shaping. But if you don’t feel you have enough growth to cover up a mistake, give it another week or two. Your beard is an investment. It grows and gets better over time. Don’t screw around with your investment, it isn’t worth it. Give it more time if that’s what it needs.
One of the first places to start shaping is to trim your neckline. You’ll probably want to define where your beard ends and your neck begins. Of course, this is a matter of taste. You might decide you want a hairy neckline. I don’t recommend that look, but you’re going to do what you want anyway, so go for it.
If you decide to trim your neckline, you can start by drawing an imaginary line on your beard. It should start from just below your earlobes, curving down under your jawline and chin, and back up to below the other earlobe. There are other techniques you can use to define the neckline of your beard, so you might want to check those out as well.
The cheek line is the upper edge of your beard, between your sideburns and your mustache. I prefer to leave my cheek line natural so I don’t end up with an “over-groomed” looking beard. Another reason I leave it alone is because it’s an easy place to make a mistake and impossible to cover up.
My advice is to leave the cheeks alone, unless you’re rocking some serious Neanderthal genes and your hair is growing up toward your eyeballs. Then by all means stop the madness and trim the damn thing.
If that’s the case, or you just want a more trimmed appearance, you’ll want to choose a cheek line for your beard. The biggest mistake you can make here is trimming the cheek line too low. Use a lot of caution and try your best not to remove too much beard. Again, draw an imaginary line from about the middle of your ear to just above the corner of your mouth.
You may decide that you like the four weeks’ worth of beard and don’t want it to grow any longer. In that case you’ll need to start trimming the length right away. Or you might decide you want to go for a more epic beard. If so, let it grow out to the length you want and keep it trimmed from that point on. Easy, right?
6. Maintaining Your Beard
Maintaining your beard is critical. To get the most out of your beard experience, you should invest in the tools you’ll need to keep your beard trimmed. Here are the grooming tools I recommend.
A good beard trimmer will be the biggest investment you’ll make in caring for your beard. I like this one because it has a vacuum feature that keeps your sink free of little hair clippings. A trimmer is the best way to ensure your beard maintains a uniform length. This will help it look its best.
The size of the beard determines the size of the brush. Here’s an excellent article about choosing the best brush for different beards. I have a heavy beard, so I use this beard brush because it does a good job of taming unruly hair.
Hair trimming scissors
These are great to have handy in case you want to do some precision trimming. For example, you might want to use them around your mouth or other areas where your beard trimmers may be having trouble. I like these scissors because they’re inexpensive and do a great job.
7. Cleaning and Conditioning Your Beard
If you don’t properly clean and condition your beard, you’ll invite trouble into your manly experience. Beard dandruff, rashes, and other problems can result. Remember, beards attract a lot of dust, grime, and bacteria. That’s why you should wash your face and beard at least once a day.
Washing your beard
Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can shampoo your beard with the same stuff you use on your head. Most head shampoos contain harsh detergents and chemicals that can irritate your more delicate facial skin.
Use a shampoo specially formulated for beards instead. You might consider one like Beardsmen Beard Shampoo. I like it because it does the job and lasts a long time.
Conditioning your beard
Most beardsmen apply beard oil at least once a day. A good oil will keep your underlying skin moist while keeping your beard looking soft and shiny. I like Beardsmen Beard Oil because it’s all natural and comes in a larger size than most other oils.
There you have it, my seven tips for how to grow and maintain a beard. I hope this post has been helpful in showing you what’s involved in the beard-growing experience. If you decide to grow one, you will no doubt discover other great ways to grow and groom your beard.
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