So, you’ve got your beard grown in and you’re starting to work with some volume and length - awesome. Getting through the awkward and itchy phases of beard growth is actually the hardest part because it’s testing your resolve and patience (which most of us lack!).
Once you’ve got some growth to work with, you can style it to have the best beard for your look that you can get. But first things first - Styling? Isn't that just grooming?
Beard Grooming Vs. Beard Styling
Beard grooming and beard styling can be considered two different things. Beard grooming is the maintenance end of things. Keeping the beard clean, trimming away dead ends, and exfoliating your skin under the beard are all considered grooming techniques to keep your beard “in shape”.
Beard styling is taking your beard to the next level using specific techniques and products to achieve a certain look. This can include shaping with styling balm, blow drying, training your beard growth, or using different hacks for different climates to keep your look fresh and on point.
Beard Hacks - Advanced Level
We’ve put together 9 advanced beard hacks to help you style your beard more effectively and try out different looks. In exploring these you’ll be able to try out different textures, appearances, and shapes in your facial hair that you haven’t tried before. So let’s keep on growing!
Train Your Beard
Everyone’s got different beard textures and beard shapes based on their own genetics, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. You gotta train it to do what you want!
You might be wondering what that means. Quite simply, you can condition your beard to grow a certain direction to help you achieve the beard style you want - it just takes adding a step to your daily routine.
After you shower and dry off your beard, you’ll want to brush your beard in the direction you want it to grow. Using a Boar’s Hair Brush is your best bet here - the texture of the bristles gives a stronger brush stroke, and also cleans the beard of extra dust and oil while you train it. You don't need to do 100 brush strokes on each side like Marcia Brady - just spend a minute or two a day and you'll be set.
The more you train your beard as it grows in, the easier it'll be to style. This isn’t going to straighten your beard by any means, but it’ll allow you to control the growth as it comes in. Adding some light heat with a hair dryer while you brush will help you even more, but be sure to oil your beard properly beforehand and keep the heat brief. Check out this video from Beardbrander Mahesh Hayward on some quick tips if you’re using a hair dryer.
Amp Up Your Beard Volume
Once your beard has grown in, you’ll know whether or not you’re comfortable with its size. A lot of guys don’t have a naturally dense or big beard due to their genetic makeup, but we have a couple rad tricks up our sleeve to give your beard more volume and presence. You’ll need a brush (preferably a round brush), beard oil, and a hair dryer.
When you’re fresh out of the shower, towel dry your beard and apply a couple drops of beard oil as usual, and brush or comb in the generally desired direction.
Once you’ve done that, use your round brush to brush your beard *out* away from your face, and down, while applying heat with your hair dryer. Take a look at Greg’s technique here:
Once you’ve done that with one side of your beard, apply cool air to lock it in place. Then repeat with the front of your beard, and the other side.
There are a couple hacks you can add to this that’ll help you pump up the volume, too. You can apply Sea Salt Spray to your beard before brushing and blow drying it - that’ll add texture and volume to your mane. You can also add a touch of Styling Balm to help the beard hold this extra volume for a longer stretch of time.
Get Beard Definition
Alright - so you’ve got a beard grown in, but maybe it’s changing the shape of your face in a way that you don’t dig. That’s totally normal! Growing your beard can sometimes surprise you and change your face in unexpected ways. One of the common things we hear is that men feel like their epic beards round out their face more than they'd like.
This happens most often when the beard grows directly out from your face because it’s coarse or curly. There are a couple ways around this - the first and foremost being training your beard (see above) to be more cooperative. If you train your beard down your jaw and towards your chin, over time it will grow and style in this direction.
The other option is to trim more on the sides of your beard than in the goatee area. The trick is to trim off enough to make a noticeable difference, but not so much that someone looks at your beard and says “Wow, the sides are shorter than the chin."
If you’ve never done this before, we recommend going to a barber! It can be pretty difficult to get right on the first try, and we don’t want you to have to trim down your beard significantly from a beginner’s mistake.
If you’re having trouble visualizing how to do this, take a look at this video:
You can see how the beard is trimmed significantly to give the chin more definition, but it’s at an appropriate length to keep the beard balanced.
Another popular way to add definition to a beard is to get a heavy beard trim all around, but leave the mustache full. This dramatic, less common look will definitely stand out from the crowd no matter where you are.
Own Your Patchy Beard
A “patch” in your beard is a section of your beard that either doesn’t grow as fully or doesn’t grow at all. Believe it or not, most men have at least one or two patches in their beard. Surprised? Well, it's true - many of us have just learned how to hide them. Even the fullest beards can be hiding a patch or two - it’s just a matter of identifying the best way to handle them.
Let’s get something straight - patchy beards aren’t bad - they just are. Some dudes end up with patchy beards, others less so. There are a few important realities about patchy beards that you’ll want to acknowledge before you try to style with them - you can read those here.
That being said, there are a couple techniques you can give a shot if you’re hell-bent on covering them up. To each their own!
Just like you can comb your hair to hide thinning spots on your head, you can comb spots of your beard in place to minimize the visual impact of your patches. Once you’re out of the shower, towel dry and brush or comb your beard as usual. Once you’re ready, use a touch of styling balm or mustache wax and apply it to the hair closest to the patch you’re working with.
From there, you just comb your beard over the patch - comb the hair just behind the patch forward, and the hair just in front of the patch backward. This tends to be more effective with fuller beards, so if you have a shorter beard this trick may not work for you. Here’s a video to help you visualize the technique:
If you’re not going to grow out a fuller beard to cover your patches, lean into them more prominently! Shorter beards with some patches actually add a lot of character - the shorter length provides a more polished beard, and the patches make it your own.
Clean Up Your Sideburns and Edges
This is a beard tip that lots of guys don’t even know they need. When you’re trying to max out the length and density of your beard, dudes don’t often stop to think “Hey, I should trim my beard some more”. This gap in knowledge is what leads to messy, uneven beards (here is some info on why trimming beards is important).
The messiest parts that pop up quickly are the outer edges of the beard and the sideburns. You’ll notice stray super-hairs growing out of the jawline and the corners of your beard, and if your beard is even remotely curly, your sideburns are going to puff out prominently from the sides of your face.
The truth of the matter is that different parts of your beard are going to grow at different rates, and in many cases, the sideburns grow faster than the rest of the beard - meaning you’ll have to clean them up more often to keep your beard optimal. Using a comb and clippers, comb out and trim the tips of your sideburn hairs - a fraction of an inch at a time - until they’re a more appealing length.
PRO TIP: If you have a wavy or curly beard, you’ll want to leave enough hair to show some curls and texture. If you trim it too short, it’ll look like your beard starts at the bottom of your ears.
Here’s a diagram of Yours Truly to help you conceptualize - you can see that my sideburn hairs (denoted with yellow) are significantly shorter than my beard hairs (denoted with green). However, enough of the sideburn is left to give it the same texture and curl as the rest of my beard.
Keep Your Beard Soft
Not everyone loves a thick, coarse beard. Even though having an epic beard often means growing out a tough mane, the harsh texture of facial hair can be a lot to handle for anyone (especially our significant others). Some guys would love to have a softer beard and simply don’t know how. Others need to wash their beard every day because of their jobs, so they don't think a soft beard is possible.
So how does a beardsman keep his beard pleasant to the touch?
You’ve got to embrace your typical grooming practices, of course - make sure you keep it clean, comb and brush regularly, and apply oil - but for really dense beards, colder climates, or jobs that require lots of shampooing after work, that’s just not enough to keep your beard soft or repair damage.
PRO TIP: You don’t have to rinse it all out. Greg and Carlos both attest to often leaving a bit of the softener in the beard before towel drying, which helps keep it moisturized and soft through the styling process and throughout the day.
For even denser beards that need extra help, try using softener to your beard after you shower. Use your hands to apply a quarter-sized amount thoroughly through your beard, then comb it through to even out the distribution. You can blow dry it or let it air dry from here - either way, you’re going to have a luxurious soft beard that you won’t be able to keep your hands off of.
Curl Your Beard Like a God
The Godly Curls - we know what they are. These are epic beard curls that you see in old statues and paintings. See here:
Zeus and Poseidon are depicted with epic beards that have some awe-inspiring curl action. Have you ever seen that in real life? Not often, I’ll bet - and if you have, someone knew exactly what they were doing when they were styling.
To be perfectly transparent, not every beard is gonna be able to pull this off. This tends only to work with thick, curly beards that have been growing in for at least a few months (depending on how quickly your facial hair grows). Still wanna give it a shot? Keep on reading.
There are two versions of The Zeus look - a looser, more natural look, and a groomed and styled look that involves using products.
If you’re going for a more natural look, it’s pretty simple! Don’t towel dry your beard after the shower. Apply some beard oil or sea salt spray, then comb out any tangles and kinks from the beard before letting it air dry.
Letting the beard air dry from being wet, rather than towel drying, allows the weight of the wet beard to help set it into curls. When you towel dry your beard thoroughly, you’re actually taking away the defined curls in your hair. Of course, depending on the density and coarseness of your beard, results will vary - but this is the easiest way to get natural tight curls in your beard.
For a more polished, dapper look, you’re going to have to use some styling balm. After a shower, towel dry and brush your beard as usual. From there, you’ll want to apply small amounts of styling balm to chunks in your beard, then wrap the length of those hairs around your finger to style and shape the chunks into curls manually.
See that curled chunk of hair in my fingers? Keep forming those twirled chunks of beard with styling balm repeatedly until your whole beard has been “twirled”. This will take some time to complete (15 minutes), and you'll likely have to practice (it's worth it).
Once you’ve accomplished that, blow dry for a moment or two with heat to train the hair into position, then blow dry again with cool air to lock it into place. If you wanna go the extra mile, you can apply a super-light sheen of beard oil at this point to remove some of the “crunch” factor that styling products can have.
Anyone in the south can attest to humidity playing a factor in your beard game. If you live in a hot, humid climate, chances are your beard gets a little unruly sometimes - pumping up the volume in an undesirable way, and causing curls to curl harder and flyaways to fly straight away from your face.
Our senior video editor (and weekly Youtube host) Jack is from Florida, and he recommends using a touch of hairspray on each section of the beard in order to give it a lasting hold.
Style your beard as you would - be that with a hair dryer or a brush or whatnot, then give yourself a couple quick shots of commercial hairspray. Let him show you here:
This is a case in which you wouldn’t want to use styling balm - the texture would be affected by the moisture in the air combined with the resulting sweat.
Use Mustache Wax
You’ve got a fancy occasion coming up, so you know you’re taking that suit to the dry cleaners, getting it pressed, picking out the perfect tie, and showing up looking dapper as hell.
Why wouldn’t you dress up up your beard, too?
I don’t mean clipping bowties in your beard - I mean giving your beard the extra fine touch to bring your look together and class it up a notch. There are two little details that can be accomplished with mustache wax that’ll put a great finishing touch on your formal style.
- Tame the cheek lines of your beard and your sideburns with mustache wax. This gives a finished, uniform effect that’ll have you camera-ready at all times. Check this out:
Add some mustache wax to your ‘stache and comb it through. You don’t even have to style it into curls or handlebars - combing through with a touch of mustache wax gives your ‘stache a uniform, crisp shape, and keeps it out of your food at formal events.
Once you’ve got your beard in and you’re ready to work with it, there are more advanced techniques to style it into your ultimate beard. Using these more advanced beard grooming hacks will help you achieve beardsman greatness - however that looks for you.