In August of 2014, I began growing my beard out in order to get a jump-start on “No-Shave November.” I wanted to make sure that when the time arrived, I wasn’t “stubbling along” like many of my friends would be after committing to the blade less month. When November came to pass, I realized that I was very fond of my new growth. I had developed a very personal relationship with my beard. It was something that I enjoyed. I knew I was in for the long and glorious haul.
I desired to have the “epic beard” that I saw in the pictures, but had questions. How did they get that way? What is the real difference between those beards and the wiry hair on my face? I began to look in the most obvious place I knew of to get answers. That’s right – Google! I began researching and watched every YouTube video I could find on beard care. I followed forums, investigated products, and joined various beard groups looking for the answers to my questions. Most importantly, I wanted to know, “As a new beardsman, what should I be doing to create the epic beard that suits me?” As a result of my inquiries, I have compiled a list of the 5 most important things I’ve learned in my quest for bearded awesomeness.
1. Beard Oil/Balm
My first purchase was beard oil and balm. This stuff was a game changer! From the very first time I ran the stuff through my beard, I felt like a true beardsman. The oil and balms smell great and gave me a boost of confidence. The beard oil and balm give each hair the nutrients, body, and shine that I saw on the other beards that I admired. The oil adds shine and softens the hairs. The balm does the same, but also adds texture that helps tame wild hairs and makes shaping easier. My results were immediate. There’s not a lot of instant gratification in beard growing, however, applying beard oil and balm is the happy exception. An added benefit is that the oil keeps the skin under the beard healthy and moisturized, which prevents beard dandruff. I would venture to say that my lack of even a single flake of dandruff is due to my use of oil early on when it was easily moved through the hairs all the way to the skin. A boar’s bristle brush is also a good tool that is used to evenly distribute the oil through the beard. I suggest you get some oil and balm early on and learn how to use it.
It’s important to start combing your beard as soon as possible. This is necessary in order to start training your beard hair to fall how you would like it. Before you grab that plastic toothed thing that came with your trimmer set, I encourage you to reconsider. Invest in a decent beard comb! Running that cheap thing through your beard is a terrible idea. In between the teeth of the machine-molded and mass-produced combs is an edge (from the mold “seam”) that will be slicing precious layers of oil off of your hairs with every stroke (promoting split ends and tugging hairs out). Do yourself a favor and get a comb specifically made for beard/mustache cultivation. There are many available in wood, bone, metal, and other materials. Go get a beard comb and put it to work!
Keeping a clean beard is critical. However, as important as oil is to support body, shine, and the skin under the beard, you don’t want to continuously strip precious oils away by washing daily and conditioning with the stuff your girlfriend has sitting on the edge of the tub. These commonly bought conditioners and shampoos have harsh chemicals that essentially strip each hair down to its center. Find a natural shampoo and conditioner that uses essential oils to care for your beard. Once you select a shampoo, there’s no need to over-do it. 2-3 washes weekly are enough to keep your beard healthy and retain natural oil and moisture (unless you have a job that requires you to shampoo more often, in which case it would be practical to shampoo and condition as needed). (Editor’s Note: Check out Beardbrand’s Beard Wash & Softener.)
No one cares as much about your beard as you do, so learn to maintain it. Set a commitment before you step in front of your mirror and do not exceed it. For instance, set a limit on how many cuts you will make. Start with 50 hairs/cuts. When you get to the mirror, make sure your hair is dry and well combed and brushed. Then, proceed to find the 50 most obviously long hairs or clusters and clip them. When finished, walk away. You can do the same thing in a day or two. This technique will prevent you from going overboard and regret cutting too much off. The entire bearding experience is a process. No need to rush it! After 2 months of clipping 30-50 hairs 1 to 2 times a week, you’ll be surprised at how well your beard comes along.
5. Invest in your beard (routine)
Obviously, having an amazing beard doesn’t happen on its own. It requires patience, commitment, time, and perseverance. Develop a routine using the steps listed above and be faithful to it. There is a bond that is forged when you spend time nurturing your beard, a relationship quite like no other. Your beard is yours and it deserves the best! Learn as much as you can about beard hair, products, and grooming necessities. Ask other beardsmen their routines and try what they do. Don’t be afraid to invest the extra dollar for shears and a comb that are specifically designed for magnificent bearding. It’s not necessary to break the bank, but in many cases, you do get what you pay for.
These are some of the things that have been absolutely vital to the success of my beard. It’s a beautiful thing to look around and realize that you no longer look simply “unshaven,” but in fact look like a well-groomed member of an elite society of beardsmen. Your beard commands respect. I hope these tips are helpful and save first time bearders some time and effort in their quest for the epic beard! With love and respect, I encourage you to beard-on brothers!