From the chunky lumber-sexual offering to finely honed goatees, facial hair is now as important as your haircut and every inch an extension of your personal style.
And much like your haircut, care must be taken in its treatment. From choosing the right style to maintenance and aftercare, let us guide you through the prickly subject of beard grooming 101.
Pick A Beard Style That Works For You
Even the best look can be spoiled by the wrong accessories, and that includes your beard. So it pays to get it right, starting with a facial hair style that suits you.
“This is determined by a mixture of face shape, hair growth and lifestyle,” explains Ruffians artistic director Denis Robinson. “If you’ve got a long face, it’s better to grow a bit more hair on the cheeks, so it can fill the face out. Inversely, if you have a round face, you want to reduce the width.”
Whether you opt for a balbo or a beardstache (essentially a beard with extra moustache), it’s all about rebalancing the proportions of your face to achieve the desired effect and disguise features such as a weak chin or cherubic cheeks.
That’s not to say your peach fuzz will always play ball. “You need to be aware of your own hair growth, as you may not be able to achieve the look you want,” adds Robinson, who recommends men with patchy beards opt for stubble instead to make sporadic tufts less noticeable.
Once you have a beard worth looking after, you can then go about the hairy business of looking after it.
How To Look After A Beard
Your crumb-catcher is home to more than just food. Facial hair wicks moisture away from the skin, leaving it drier than a saltine cracker and causing cells to shed – hence beard ‘dandruff’.
To avoid this build-up resulting in irritation, while also clearing away grease and bacteria that can lead to spots, use a daily face wash in addition to a scrub twice weekly for a deeper cleanse and to lift ingrown hairs.
We hate to break it to you, but relying on the shampoo that runs off of your head to keep your beard in good nick is not going to cut it. Not only is facial hair thicker and coarser than what’s up top, regular shampoos usually contain ingredients that can strip your beard hair of its natural oils.
Instead, look for a dedicated beard shampoo formulated with essential oils, vitamins and botanicals to nourish, freshen and protect your facial forestry.
Most men spend a lifetime trying to mop oil off their face, so it might seem counterintuitive to willingly put it back on, but not when it comes to your beard.
Applied to your jaw rather than your forehead, a beard oil softens the bristles and hydrates the skin beneath while leaving the whole lot smelling fresh. It’s not to be confused with beard balm, though, which is a styling aid.
Grass is only as good as the pitch it grows on, and the same weird horticulture analogy applies when it comes to your face and a beard.
A non-greasy moisturiser used daily will not only give you all the usual benefits (brighter skin, slow ageing, less general crusty-ness), it’ll also aid beard growth, producing a thicker, fuller appearance.
How To Maintain A Beard
No man becomes #BeardGoals overnight by accident, it takes dedication and hard work. So no pressure, then.
Keep your beard from becoming an unruly mess while also achieving the desired shape by teasing it. Not by calling it names, but with a beard brush that also helpfully spreads the beard oil you just used (you did use it, right?)
Know How (And When) To Trim
Just as you gotta know when you told ’em and when to fold ’em, it’s important — when it comes to your beard — to know when to trim it and when to bin it.
Done right with a set of quality beard trimmers, a good beard shape can make it look like you were carved by the grooming gods. Follow a few basic principles: use grooming scissors to keep your lips free of any stragglers, avoid creating harsh lines (particularly along the jawline) and absolutely no neckbeards.
Watch Your Mouth
The majority of your beard’s progress will be determined by how you lucked out in the genetic lottery. However, it is possible to help it along by staying healthy.
Vitamin A, B, C, E and biotin are all essential for healthy beard growth, as is keeping your stress levels low; while getting sufficient sleep and drinking plenty of water will keep your skin ticking over.
Visit The Professionals
If you’re new to the world of facial furniture, it’s tough to know exactly what you’re supposed to do with it, and it’s easy to get it wrong.
To avoid a bearded balls-up, get yours shaped by a barber every once in a while as they can often see bits you can’t, and then keep it up in between visits.