This is a guestpost from our friend Justin of The Beardly Man. He is a beard enthusiast from Lake St. Louis and local entrepreneur owner of The Shop Barber and Bar – so give him your attention! – Ashley
The first step to growing a beard is simply put away your razor and trimmer and wait.
That’s it! Or so most would have you believe.
But the fact remains, there is a lot to learn about beards and if you are into style or you want to have a good looking beard, here’s a guide for first time beardsman who doesn’t know what to expect.
For the seasoned beardsman, most of this may be repetitive, but it never hurts to refresh or maybe even learn a new tip or two.
After reading this, you should have everything you need to wear a beard that makes you proud.
Now since this is going to be a very indepth, maybe even the most comprehensive article on bearding on the internet, I’ll break it up into a few sections for you:
Growing a beard (Physical Game)
Growing a beard (Mental Game)
Styling and Maintaining a Beard (The Real Game)
Why grow a beard?
Well, personally, I have found some awesome friends through beard clubs and groups, recieved tons of compliments from total strangers and their girlfriends, and have had experiences I never thought were even possible. With November right around the corner some first begin by doing it for charity of your choice in “Movember” which can be a great starting point if you feel compelled to explain yourself.
Your results will vary – but I promise that when you grow a beard nothing will ever be the same.
Growing a Beard (Physical Game)
As I mentioned before, the first step to growing a beard is to put throw the razor and build your patience. If you just shelf your razor, you may be tempted to use it. NO! NO! NO!
The most important virtue you’ll gain if you don’t have it already as a beardsman is PATIENCE. A true beardman knows, beards aren’t measured by length, they’re measured by time.
You have the 1 month beard, the 3 month beard, the 6 month beard, the “Yeard” (year long beard), or the most wicked awesome of beards – the lifelong beard (maximum length you genetically can grow).
Each length presents slightly different challenges. From beardless to about 3-4 weeks you may notice that your beard gets pretty itchy, it may be irritating, it may appear patchy and most look a little unkept.
Let’s look at everything here. The reason your beard is itchy is because when you shave, you are basically turning your facial hair into little medieval spears and they are finally getting long enough to bend around and poke your skin. Your neck is very suspect to this because of the angle where the neck meets the head.
Steps to get through it:
- “Beard Up” and just wait. It’s only temporary and will pass shortly.
- Apply ample amounts of beard oil, or other products. Avoid moisturizes with alcohol at all costs. They actually dry out your skin and hair.
- In the early stubble phase (day 1 or 2) use The Beardly Man’s Stubble Softener and Beard Batter. Works great to soften and moisturize.
At this stage, you shouldn’t be using a shampoo as the length is still fairly short. I’d recommend using a natural bar of soap that doesn’t have irritant chemicals in them (like sodium laurth sulfate). Sure there are a lot of soaps out there, but I always recommend The Beardly Man’s Activated Charcoal Soap. All Natural and the activated charcoal keeps toxins and dirt away while the moisturizers leave the skin and hair soft and well hydrated.
Once you get through the itchy phase, you’ll get to the point where your beard will look untidy. To neaten up your look, try trimming the neckline, upper cheeks, and mustache lip. Note: If you are going for the yeard, or natural beard, you should leave your beard untouched.
About right here is where we lose the most amount of beards. Men will typically get a little crazy with their razors or trimmers and cut too much and in frustration shave the entire thing off and basically say “F*** It”. Because of the risk of mistakes, I recommend going to a local barber or at the very least waiting 2 months to trim it if possible.
One detail I want to point out and something I see all the time: Most new beardsmen trim the neckline too high. The ideal location for the line is earlobe to Adam’s apple or another line is where the neck meets the head. In all actuality though there is very little of your beard that you are trimming. You shouldn’t need to look up to trim and aim to shape a nice round curve from one ear to ear.
When trimming the mustache, I always recommend scissors over clippers. Scissors give you a more control and only cuts a few hairs at a time. It may take longer, but the end result is much better and you lessen the risk of a mistake. With the cheek line try to go with your natural line and only trim off the one or two stragglers that are outside that line. If you have a very dense cheek, you should trim no lower than the bottom of your nose.
- For a “euro style, corporate look” I’d go with a 1 day to 2 week look. A nice thick stubble, and trim with clippers on the lowest setting or as needed. Do not trim up the neck line or cheek line since the “natural” stubble look is what you should be aiming for.
- For a “corporate/business beard” I would aim for about 1 to 2 month of length. It will be good to keep everything trimmed and tidy as mentioned above. To keep the length, I’d recommend using scissors instead of clippers. This will help prevent against wrong guard mistakes and gives you more control. Use a comb to pull out hairs to the desired length and trim away.
Now remember, less is more. You can always trim more another day. However, if you trim too much, you start down a slippery slope that usually ends in starting from scratch.
In terms of maintenance I’d recommend rinsing the beard thoroughly everyday in the shower and apply beard oil daily. You can wash the beard with a beard wash anywhere between one and 3 times a week.
If you are one of those growing out your beard, this is where all the fun starts. After about 2 months you should notice your beard does some really funky things. What was once a straight, proper and neat look, becomes wavy, curly and what looks like… wild. Don’t reach for the clippers or scissors! This is natural and you should embrace it. This is your natural beard.
At 3 months and longer, you’ll only want to wash your beard about once at week or as needed. Again, a thorough rinsing daily is also recommended. Apply daily beard oil for moisturizing, and trim only with scissors. Never trim or shave off your beard if you are depressed or under the influence of alcohol.
A general rule of thumb is for every month of growth give it a day to think about before shaving it off. So if you’ve been growing for 6 months, give it a week. This helps with that spur of the moment brash decision.
With longer beards, you may find that using a blow dryer will help your beard look fuller and more kept. To use a blow dryer, I will blow from the neck up which will essentially “poof” out the beard. It is referred to as a “blow out” now and is very popular. If you want to use styling products, I’d recommend applying a beard balm to help any damage from blow drying.
After the beard is dry, use the blow dryer to blow the beard down and into it’s final resting place. You can use a wooden comb or brush to finish it off. I never recommend Metal or Plastic. They both generate static and plastic tends to pull more hairs.
What is really nice about beards is that there are so many styles. So “grow what you got” which means, based on your beards genetics try to grow a style that fits you. If you grow a full thick mustache grow it! If your cheeks are patchy, then go for the goatee. The full beard is timeless, but other styles will come and go into fashion.
Growing a Beard (Physical)
Your genetics and health determine pretty much everything to do with your beard growing potential. That being said, things like stress, bad diet, and physical damage can hurt your full potential. If you want to grow the most epic beard you can, here are some simple tips to make growing a beard faster and better.
- First off, forget the myth that shaving your beard will make your beard grow faster – that’s just an urban legend and anyone who says it makes your beard grow faster doesn’t know the first thing about growing a beard.
- Now, if you have a perfect diet, perfect work out regimen, and perfect stress levels, then this won’t help you – but if you aren’t living the ideal life; they will help your beard grow better.
- First, you can take supplements helping with any deficiencies in your diet. My regimen usually consists of a multi-vitamin, biotin & keratin. Biotin will help your hair and nails grow faster.
- Certainly one factor that will help your beard grow better is a boost in testosterone. To boost testosterone, eat more red meat, avoid soy based products, and maybe pump some iron. Other good foods are: spinach, nuts, avocados, olives, broccoli, and olive oil.
Once the inside is good, you need to focus on the outside to grow a better beard. That means that when growing your beard you’ll need to focus on stroking the beard rather than picking at the beard. Focusing on split ends or single hairs can lead to patches, more split ends and even further damage.
Styling and Maintaining a Beard (The Real Game)
Overall, the biggest thing you need is patience. Beards take time and they will get longer – you just have to wait. Good things come to those who wait. Isn’t that the saying?
If you are new to the beard-growing you may find the most challenging part being how to handle people’s reactions. There will always be the good, the bad and the ugly. Just stay true to you and don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. Afterall, it’s your face not theirs right?
There are a lot of groups on Social Media like Instagram, Facebook Tublr that can provide support if you are having a bad beard day. Don’t be afraid to upload photos of your beard and its progress.
Ultimately, the best advice I can give is just be yourself, grow a beard whatever your style and enjoy life.