Growing your beard is often only half the battle. Shaping a beard can sometimes be even trickier. What do you trim? How short or how long? How best to get the look you want? All of these considerations go into shaping your beard. Today, we’ll look at 21 tips for shaping your beard to bring out the beard within.
#1. Practice Patience
When it comes to beards, slow and steady really is best. Particularly if you’re starting from scratch, you really want to let you beard grow out for 3-6 weeks before attempting any shaping. This ensures that you have a nice, even foundation of facial hair.
#2. Find the Right Beard
Half the battle of growing the perfect beard is choosing the perfect beard. When it comes to shaping your beard, you want to make sure that you have the right beard for your face shape. Your facial structure – cheekbones, neckline, jawline, etc. – affects how different beards will look on your face. In addition, the overall roundness or squareness of your face will play into it. Choose a beard that compliments your face shape. Long, thin face? You may want a fuller, rounder beard. Strong jawline? If you want to show it off, keep your beard short; if you’d rather hide it, grow a longer style of beard. Very round or oval face? Try a long beard with shorter sideburns to give the impression of length. Regardless of shape, choose a style that compliments your facial structure and doesn’t clash with it.
#3. Decide on the Right Length
You’ll also save yourself a headache if you can decide on the right length of your beard beforehand. This will probably change as you go, but in general, you need to have an idea of how long you can or should grow your hair. If there are restrictions on length because of a job, for instance, it’s a good idea to shape your beard to fit those rules. You can plan ahead better if you have an idea going in.
#4. Get a Good Comb and a Pair of Scissors
You’ll use these constantly throughout the process of shaping your beard, particularly for trickier areas and for general maintenance. So invest early in a good, sharp pair of scissors and a good, heavy beard comb.
#5. Consider a Brush
For the rest of these tips, we’ll assume that you have a good brush. A nice beard brush, preferably one made from boar’s hair or an equivalent, is invaluable, particularly when you get to the styling parts further on.
#6. Purchase a Good Beard Trimmer
Now we’re starting to get to the details. While a trimmer is not absolutely necessary to keep a well-shaped beard–men wore beards for centuries before electric trimmers, of course–a good trimmer will make the job much easier. Not only will trimming your beard be quicker and more convenient, it will also make it much easier to keep straight, well-cut lines. And the straighter the lines of your beard, the cleaner and better-shaped it will appear.
#7. Match Your Beard and Head Hair
An overlooked part of shaping your beard is the crucial interface between your sideburns and the hair on your head. Frequently, there is a difference in hair texture and possibly even color between the two; you need to consider how to blend the two seamlessly. You can trim your sideburns extra close to minimize the difference, or you could choose to wear a longer haircut and cover your sideburns entirely.
#8. Trim Carefully
Using your new trimmers will make this job a snap–literally. Use the numbered trim guards included with your trimmer to keep your beard even throughout. If you’re growing different parts of the beard at different lengths, you can change out the guards as needed.
#9. Watch Your Neckline
While sideburns are one potential problem area, another place that can be difficult to shape is your neckline. The tendency here is to cut your neckline too high–perhaps even as high as the jawline. But in reality, for most full beard styles, a lower neckline is better. If you followed Tip #1, shape your neckline lower at first; if you don’t like that look, you can trim it higher as you go. Again, try to keep it even all around.
#10. Check Your Lips
The mouth can be another problem area. Few men can truly pull off a full mustache. If you’re one of the blessed few, then congratulations! But even then, use a good pair of hair scissors to keep the hair from curling down over your upper lip. Beneath your mouth, use the narrow attachment for your trimmer to maintain your soul patch. This is especially critical if you’re growing a style of beard that relies on that area for a distinctive look, like a narrow goatee or a Klingon beard.
#11. Trim Early
A key to shaping your beard is to start trimming early. In other words, you don’t necessarily wait until your beard is full-length before you begin trimming. You want to shape your beard as it grows. Keep the sideburns shorter as you go, keep the mustache close, etc. By keeping everything trimmed evenly and maintaining the proper lines, your beard will look good as it grows. Shaping it will be more a matter of keeping a shape rather than trying to trim an already unruly beard back into proper form. There’s a great video tutorial available here to help coach you through the details of trimming your beard.
#12. Wash Your Beard
Daily washings are crucial, both for your beard’s look and for ease of shaping. Washing your beard with a good beard shampoo will prevent matting and make combing easier. And, of course, there are the added benefits of maintaining good hygiene.
#13. Comb Daily
In the old days, women with long hair were expected to comb it thoroughly every day. If you have a longer beard especially, this is good advice for today as well. Comb frequently. Even consider getting a second comb and keeping it in your car or locker; give your beard a good comb between classes or whenever you’re on break at work. The more you comb your beard, the easier it will be to shape and sculpt.
#14. Use a Beard Oil
This is a close brother to Tip #13 above. Use your beard oil every time you comb if you can, but particularly in the mornings. Apply a little oil to your palms, and work the oil through your beard. Pay close attention to the roots of your hair near the skin; beard oil works not only to nourish your hair but also to prevent your skin from drying out.
#15. Train Your Beard
Frequent combing is part of this process, but you want to work early to train your beard. This means styling it consistently. Get into the habit of shaving, trimming, combing, etc. on a regular basis. As your beard gets longer, use balms and conditioners to help your beard hold its shape.
#16. Use a Good Conditioner
There are several brands of leave-in beard conditioners that help to nourish your hair as well as provide a decent hold. This allows you to do some basic styling, and it will help hold in any stray ends that may have escaped your trimming. Take a look at Honest Amish beard balms and conditioners. Beard balms are often a step up from conditioners, giving increased hold. Frequently, they are beeswax-based rather than oil-based like a normal beard oil or conditioner.
After you’ve applied some beard balm to your beard and worked it thoroughly through the length of your facial hair, use your beard brush to smooth out any rough bits. You won’t need to brush your hair as much as you comb it; beard brushes are typically stiff and used to gently push the beard into shape.
Credit: Can You Handlebar
#18. Don’t Forget to Shave!
These tips focus on your beard, but don’t neglect to shave around it. Particularly if you’re working on a narrower or more sculpted style, you may have more areas that need to be maintained. You don’t want surrounding stubble to take away from the look of your beard, so keep it shaved clean.
#19. Feed Your Face
Protein is your friend. Red meat, fish, and nuts are all healthy sources of proteins and healthy fats that will nourish your skin and hair. Foods that are rich in healthy oils, like fish, will be particularly helpful at giving your hair a healthy shine. You may want to consider a good multivitamin supplement or an extra dose of fish oil. Consider some options like Wiley’s Finest fish oil, available here.
#20. Give the Finishing Touches
After shaving, apply a cooling shave gel to prevent irritation. Keep your beard oil handy–if you’ve got a beard that tends to look dry, you can give a touch-up in the afternoon. Just a dash of oil in your hand and a few strokes of your comb, and your beard will look as sharp as it did in the morning. If you’re experimenting with some unusual styling points, like a curled mustache, pick up a heavy-duty whisker wax. (Check out the Beard Baron’s mustache wax.) Go easy with it, and don’t get discouraged. It can take several weeks before your facial hair gets trained to a new style.
#21. Enjoy Your Look!
All of the tips here are secondary to this last one. Own your beard, and enjoy your look! Whatever steps you are taking to shape your beard, and whatever unusual style you’ve chosen, the final decision on your look lies with you. So embrace it!
These 21 tips for shaping your beard are drawn largely from research and personal experience. Customize them to your own experiences growing facial hair, and adjust as needed. Let us know what you think of this list, and add any tips of your own in the comments section below!