Alright, Men. You’ve decided to grow a beard. Or, you’ve been on a tropical/skiing/hiking/fishing/hunting trip, and apathy, sloth, and the great outdoors have decided you’ll grow a beard.
Whatever your reason for taking the facial hair plunge, we’re here to make sure the annoying beard growth stage doesn’t get the best of you. We want to help you survive the shag, skin issues, itches (the itches! Yes, it’s a thing), and grooming do’s and don’ts for ultimate chin swagger.
Today, we’re breaking down the four stages of beard growth, and how to sport whiskers any ZZ Top fan would be proud to wear.
You can skate by on your rugged stubble charm for the first weeks of grow-out. However, if you’re serious about a beard that attracts attention for all the right reasons, you’ve got some work to do.
At North American Beard Alliance, we’ve got your hookup for a champion facial hair and manscaping game. Tune in regularly for product reviews and how-to’s to keep your man-mane in check, on point, and magnetic, if you know what we mean.
Step One: Growth
Right. You’re a week into your beard, and you’re getting some information. You may notice some patchy areas on your face. Hair growth appears to be slow in these areas, and you’re becoming all too aware of skin irritation and itching on your neck.
The beginning is arguably the toughest part of facial hair grow-out, and you’ll have to man-up if you’re going to make it to the next stage.
To help you survive without scratching your whole face off, here’s what we recommend:
- Start defining the shape of your beard by shaving your neck and cheekbone area. A scruffy neck makes you look like Sasquatch. And, unless it’s Halloween and you’re planning to rock a legit Grizzly Adams costume, you need to clean up the edges. Using a standard, high-quality razor or clippers, trim your neck up to your jawline from one ear to the other. Then, shave down on each cheekbone, creating a smooth line of demarcation where your hair stops and your skin starts.
- Use a refreshing skin conditioner. In challenging times, we all need a little support. The first 2-3 weeks of beard growth are the hardest, so arm yourself with the proper tools. Check out my product review of Northern Fir Beard Oil. I love this one because the main ingredient, Jojoba oil, conditioned my skin, stopped the itch, and left me feeling soothed without any grease stains on my t-shirt (or my girlfriend.)
- Borrow your best girl’s exfoliant (and then get your own.) Yep, scrubbing away dead skin cells is not just for women. You’ll need to scrub your beard and skin a few times a week with a gritty wash to keep dead skin cells (i.e., beard dandruff) under control. Choose a cleanser with noticeable grit, but not so course it feels like sandpaper. Lather it with water and your fingertips into your beard and skin. Be sure to rinse your beard thoroughly, so you’re not licking up little crunchy surprises for the remainder of the day.
Step Two: Trimming
Whew. After three or so weeks, the hardest part of beard growth is over. Before you give yourself a Medal of Honor, though, you’ve got to add to your beard maintenance arsenal.
Tune your blades for the task with quality razors and trimmers. If your beard feels like a whole other person camped on your face, you’re gonna need a lot of battery power and a bunch of back-up blades to uphold your beard boundaries.
If your grow-out is patchier, you’ll need regular trims to keep things looking as even as possible, and you can explore “accelerator” products to fertilize any shady patches of face-lawn. (Dollar Shave has one–you can read my Dollar Shave article here.)
Keep adjusting your trim lines to fit your aesthetic desires. There are several styles you can try:
- The Balbo: clean-shaven cheeks with a bush of greatness extending below the jawline, a well-chosen neck border, and a full-blown mustache, with more subtle sideburns.
- Full Beard: all hair, all the time, with a long mustache and lots of bush below the chin and jaw. Not for the faint of heart or follicle, this one takes time and patience to perfect.
- The Ducktail: a full beard whittled to a point at the chin. This one shows off your spectacular chin pelt without completely bragging about it.
Whatever shape you choose to adopt, once you’re there, you’ll move into maintenance mode. Enter the next step.
Step Three: Grooming
If your ultimate goal is long chin locks that win contests, then up your grooming game, my friend. Remember that beard oil we mentioned in the annoying grow-out phase? Yeah, you need to keep using it as your beard gets more established.
Your weekly beard care should include:
- Shampoo–just a couple times per week. Beard hair is coarser and drier than head hair. A good lather on, say, Tuesday and Saturday will keep your whiskers clean and happy. That being said, you should still wash your face twice per day, but after the rinse, give your beard a smooth wipe-down with a towel, and you’re good. (I just reviewed Professor Edward J. Fuzzworthy Beard Shampoo. I liked it.)
- Condition–And, we’re back to the beard oil. Remember, first wash face. Then, oil beard. (Manly grunt of satisfaction.) Yeah, after the cleanse must come the moisture. A quick beard rub-down with a drop or two of beard oil gets you through the day. However, at night, be a little more generous with your application. Nighttime is the right time for deep oil absorption while you sleep for a shiny, sleek beard in the morning. One of my favorites is Bluebeard’s Revenge in Cuban Blend. Makes me feel like I just stepped into a humidor next to the beach.
- Brush–A good beard brush is a delight to hold and completes your beard bravado. When your beard is fully grown out, a good brushing in the morning helps you shape and control your hair as well as feeling good on your face and loosening and releasing dead skin. When choosing a brush, go for natural boar bristles for minimal hair damage and maximum shaping control.
Step Four: Shape
So, we discussed the initial shape of your beard and a few choices. Now that you’re further along in your whisker savvy, you can start to change up your game now and then.
Of course, I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a clean, well-groomed Full Beard. However, we all need a change once in a while. Remember that hair grows, so if you choose a beard style that you or the ladies don’t love, you can always grow it out again.
If you’re going long, long, and longer, a beard wax can help you define and tame your mustache, or keep a pointed style sharp. Choose one that won’t build-up or dry your chin pelt, and fold that step into your already established grooming routine.
Okay, it’s time to stop with the beard talk today. You probably noticed at least a half-inch of growth since you started reading. Keep North American Beard Alliance in your favorites, and we’ll keep you neck-deep in tips and product reviews worth reading.