A beard isn’t just a beard. It can be a man’s pride and joy as well as a great way for guys to express their personality. Growing a beard has always been popular during the cold winter months to help men keep their faces cosy and warm, but now more and more men are hopping on the facial hair bandwagon.
Whatever your motive for growing a beard, it needs to be groomed and well kept – if you treat your beard well it will treat you well too and keep you looking stylish. Growing and maintaining a beard is not easy though, so you’ll need some helpful hints to point you in the right direction.
From growing your beard to general maintenance and styling, this beard care guide has it all.
Growing a Beard
Growing a beard is all about patience – a beard is not necessarily defined by its length but by the amount of time that it takes to grow. The general milestones when growing a beard are:
Month one – during the first two weeks your beard will be itchy – this is due to years of constant shaving which has left the ends of your hairs razor sharp. By week two the hair is now long enough to reach back around and irritate your face and neck.
Three months – your beard is definitely taking shape.
- A year – by now you’ve probably forgotten what your face looked like without a beard.
- Terminal beard – this is the longest that your beard will naturally be able to get.
Before you can even start growing a beard there are a few key steps that need to be taken – and taking your prep seriously will help you achieve the best results. It’s better to start growing a beard with a clean slate, so have a proper shave to leave your skin feeling fresh.
Before you start shaving, wash your face with a cleansing facial wash that will exfoliate skin to remove dirt and oil residue. Gently pat dry your face with a towel and use a pre-shave oil to deeply nourish your skin, before applying shaving cream. Use a razor for a close, clean shave.
Up to Three Months
Your beard will still be fairly short at this point, so avoid shampoo – a natural bar of soap is better as it won’t irritate your skin. Your beard can be itchy for up to a month but be persistent – it’ll be worth it. Your beard may also start to look a little untidy and this is when a beard comb will come in handy. These will straighten out the hairs and remove any knots.
If you want to tidy your beard with a trimmer, only trim the neckline, upper cheek and moustache lip – unless you are going for a year-long or terminal beard. In that case leave it untouched.
Over Three Months
Once you get past the three month period you may be tempted to give it a little cut – don’t get too carried away and trim too much off. Cutting too much off will normally lead to shaving it off and having to start again, undoing all your hard work and not to mention you’ll have to go through the itchy stage again!
A common mistake when trimming is to cut the neckline too high. The ideal location is where your neck meets your head. There probably won’t be much of your beard that you need to trim but that’s ok – you shouldn’t need to.
Beard Styling and Maintenance
When it comes to styling your beard there are a few things to remember. If you want to trim your moustache it’s better to use a pair of scissors over clippers as this will give you far more control and only cuts a few hairs at a time.
Scissors work with facial hair that is slightly shorter. If you’d like to go for short stubble then trim using clippers on the lowest setting. If you’d like to opt for a more corporate look then about one to two months growth should be enough. Use scissors and a beard comb instead of clippers, comb out the hairs to the necessary length and then trim to neaten.
To maintain a beard at this length rinse it thoroughly in the shower daily and apply beard oil. As it grows longer your might notice the hair starting to take on a mind of its own, or that the hairs become wavy or curly – this is completely normal. After three months, only wash your beard once a month or when needed. At this length a blow dryer will help make your beard look fuller and tidier.
Throughout the entire process use a moisturiser such as beard oil – this helps to soften the hair and keep the hair and skin underneath healthy. Beard oils also come in a variety of scents to keep you smelling sweet.
Depending on the length of your beard you should use a different amount of oil, in the early stages a few drops will be enough but as your beard grows use around 5-6 drops daily just after showering to keep it pristine.
To use beard oil, simply pour a few drops into your hands and rub them together before gently working the oil into your skin and down towards your beard.
Another important thing to consider when growing a beard is your current diet and state of health. If you’re struggling to grow facial hair, it could be a sign of deficiencies in your diet, so think about taking supplements to help give your beard a boost.
Vitamins and minerals such as biotin, fish oil, zinc and vitamin B all help you grow a longer, fuller, stronger beard. Other foods that you should also include in your diet are nuts, avocados, spinach and olive oil.
Beards to Suit Your Face Shape
No matter how long you may want your beard, ultimately it’s your face shape that decides what will suit you. For many men, a square face shape is more desirable than an oval face shape, so facial hair is often designed to reflect this and give off a more masculine appearance.
The most common types of face shape are:
- Small Face: If you have a small face then it might be best to go clean shaven, a beard will make your face look even smaller. Sorry…
- Large Face: Grow a full beard that can be styled to make your face look smaller
- Square: A scruffy beard or a short beard with hard lines will only add to and accentuate your chiselled jawline.
- Oval: Almost any style will suit your face so take your pick and feel free to be a little experimental.
- No Chin: If you can grow a beard, which you surely can, keep it full and shaped to create a strong jawline and pronounced chin.
How to Dye Your Beard
Beard dyes are a great way to keep the hair on your head and the colour of your beard the same. Sometimes facial hair naturally grows a different colour, or a few grey hairs may have crept in that you’d like to disguise, so here are a few simple steps to dyeing your beard:
1. Choose which colour you want. Beard dyes are available in black, white, grey, blue (and most other colours you can think of) and are likely to be semi-permanent. This means that your beard dye will wash out after taking several showers.
A key thing to remember is that beard hair is much coarser and drier than the hair on your head, making it less absorbent. To get the best match, either choose a darker colour but apply it for less than the recommended time, or choose a dark brown dye that will flatter your face more easily.
2. To prepare your beard, first do a small patch test on the inside of your arm. If your skin turns red or becomes itchy, consider using a different type such as natural beard dye. Never apply shampoo or conditioner to your beard the night before as these products can block colour absorption, leading to an unwanted patch job.
3. Start by putting on rubber gloves to prevent dye from getting on your fingers and hands. Next, use your application brush, or if one wasn’t supplied with your dyeing kit then a toothbrush will do.
Brush the colour directly onto your hair but not your skin – it’s at this point you need to make sure that it’s the exact colour you wanted. For lighter dyes, reapply and remove as per the instructions.
For darker options, apply the dye to a small moist paper towel and check the colour. Once you are happy with the colour, rinse your beard until the water becomes clear. If it’s too dark, it can be removed with a clarifying shampoo.
Natural Beard Dye
If you have sensitive skin then a natural beard dye may be a good option. These are plant based and contain henna, so no chemicals are needed. The application is the same as a chemical-based dye – prepare the powder with warm water with a mixture of two parts powder to one part water. When the dye is applied, allow it to soak in for about an hour – it should last for 4-8 weeks.
If you’re only looking for a quick touch-up, a great alternative is a tinted moustache wax. These are normally henna-based and applied just like a hair product. Rub the product in your hands allowing it to warm up and apply to your beard. Afterwards, use a beard comb or brush to neaten and shape your facial hair.