Beard Grooming: So You Want To Grow a Beard
Beard Grooming: So You Want To Grow A Beard
“You’re not planning on keeping that thing, are you?” If you’ve ever had the experience of growing a beard, somebody in your life has probably said this to you! It could be your wife, your boss, or even your dear old mom. Well guess what, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life! But, before you go about cutting all of these important people out of your life completely, let me offer an alternate solution in beard grooming.
You see, when your loved ones say that they don’t like your beard, what they really mean is that they don’t like your beard as presently constituted. Maybe it’s not even necessarily your new beard. It might remind them of their creepy Uncle Carl, or maybe that weirdo Steve who works in accounting and knows just a few too many factoids about famous serial killers.
So, let me offer this simple beard grooming solution: You must take care of your beard! What do I mean by that? Basically it boils down to three simple things: 1) KEEP IT CLEAN, 2) KEEP IT TRIMMED, and 3) KEEP IT SOFT.
There are any number of reasons that you may have started growing a beard. It might be you didn’t shave while out on a long weekend with the fellas, and decided that you liked it. It could have been for ‘Movember’ to raise awareness for prostate cancer, and decided that you liked it.
You woke up one day and saw your baby face in the mirror and decided that it was time to embrace your birthright as a male member of the human race, and decided that you liked it. Or, maybe you just got tired of subjecting yourself to societal norms and really wanna stick it to your overly-conservative boss, and decided that you liked it.
I’m going to level with you, almost any man that grows his beard initially goes through a bit of an awkward phase. It most likely will grow in a little patchy at first. Your beard most certainly grow in unevenly, with random curls and stray hairs that don’t yet know how to handle their newly found freedom.
But don’t despair, time will cure these ills. Everybody’s beard is different– density, coarseness, color, and rate of growth are all factors that determine the beard growing process. I usually tell my clients that it takes about 90 days of growth until you really know what you’re working with. Does that mean you just need to let that thing run wild for the first three months? NO! When it comes to beard grooming, your friendly neighborhood barber will spell it out for you.
The first thing that you need to understand is that hair is part of your skin (technically, it’s an accessory organ, but we don’t need an anatomy lesson here). What does this mean to you? Healthy skin = healthy hair. Stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep, and never ever drink bottom shelf whiskey. Oh yeah, and most importantly KEEP IT CLEAN.
Everybody’s skin (and, therefore hair) is different. People with oily skin will likely need to wash their face every day. Those of you with dry skin may need to wash your face sparingly, or never. The point is this: as the skin goes, so do the whiskers. If you have oily skin, chances are that you’ll need to wash your beard on a regular basis.
When the whiskers are short enough that you can clearly see the skin through them, you should be fine cleaning it with your normal soap, shower gel, or face wash of choice. As your beard gets longer and fuller, you may find the need to start shampooing it. Now, there are all kinds of fancy beard washes popping up on the market, it’s all a gimmick.
That being said, if you’re just dying to try one out, and have the financial means to wash a portion of your hard-earned cash straight down the drain; don’t let me stop you. You just need to realize that in beard grooming it’s wholly unnecessary. I feel that if you find yourself hesitant to use your regular shampoo on your beard, that probably says more about the quality of the shampoo your using, and should reconsider your purchasing decisions.
If you fall into the dry skin category, not only do you need to wash your beard less frequently, you most likely will need to moisturize it. But, that’s the subject for another paragraph– and, don’t you dare skip ahead!
So, now your beard is growing in nice and healthy. You find yourself glimpsing in the mirror a little more frequently, and you notice women gently biting their bottom lip during face to face encounters with you. Then it happens; about three or four weeks later, you steal a quick glimpse of your reflection in a window or blank computer screen– you’re starting to look like a marooned pirate, stranded on a desert island!
It’s time to confront our second principle of beard grooming: KEEP IT TRIMMED. I would recommend going to your barber at this point, and laying the foundation for whatever future beard style you intend on cultivating. As for beard styles, it’s too exhaustive of a topic to address in a concise literary treatise, such as this. But, fear not, a short consultation with Google or your local chapter of Civil War reenactors will supply you with more information about facial hair shapes and styles than you ever really cared to know.
I know there are those of you out there that will refuse to pay a barber to trim your beard at this early stage. I will begrudgingly offer you some advice. At this stage your primary concerns are cultivating length, and filling out density. This means that at this juncture you do not want to remove any bulk from the beard, only concern yourself with the silhouette of said beard.
Choose to do this at a time before you’ve had anything to drink, it requires a clear mind and even clearer vision. Invest in a decent quality pair of haircutting shears, don’t you dare reach for your kindergartners safety scissors! Look at yourself straight-on in the mirror, and clean up only the straggling whiskers that clearly break up the silhouette of your beard. Turn your head about 45 degrees in both directions, and repeat the process. Remember: less is more!
Eventually it will come time to shape your beard into the style that you ultimately want to walk around with on your face 24/7. This part should absolutely be performed by a skilled barber. You do not want all the time you spent initially growing your beard to go to waste.
On this subject, I offer a few bits of advice. Come in to your beard grooming consultation with the barber with realistic expectations, and be open to accepting their advice. If you find yourself reluctant to follow the admonitions of your barber, it means two things: either you’re an overbearing control freak, or you’re seeing the wrong barber. Whether the issue is one or both of these things, I recommend that you resolve it quickly. Trust me, your life will be much better for it.
At any point during this entire beard grooming process, you may feel your face becoming itchy. Your significant other may mention that your whiskers are irritating their skin too. And it usually comes at the most inconvenient times– namely, in the throws of passion.
This brings us to our final point: KEEP IT SOFT.
Beard conditioning products generally fall into two main categories, oils and balms. Some people are confused as which is better for them.
I generally give this advice: beard oils typically moisturize the skin under the beard as well as the whiskers, whereas balms mostly affect the whiskers themselves.
Balms also offer the added benefit of providing some control to curly or otherwise unruly whiskers. Again, I would encourage you to have a beard grooming consultation with your trusted barber concerning the many variables that go into selecting the right product for you.
Growing your beard is a process. Many view it as only something to be endured, a necessary evil along the road to redemption. But I promise you that if you follow the tips that are laid out in this article, you can and will enjoy the process.
So, take control of your face, and thereby your life; show the world that you’re a classic man of patience, control, and timeless style. By all means, grow that beard! Just do it the right way.