There are many things in life that can make a guy feel super manly. For instance: splitting firewood. Grilling and eating a medium-rare steak. Unscrewing a stubborn jar of mayonnaise that your girlfriend swore up and down was “unopenable.”
And yet, none of these things come close to the feeling of rocking a glorious beard. Let’s face it, beards are a guy’s secret style weapon. They can be altered at any time to suit your mood or the season. They can make you look scruffy and sexy or sophisticated and distinguished.
Best of all, beards are entirely natural. With the right beard products and a little patience, almost any guy can grow some decent-looking facial hair.
It’s just a fact: beards are awesome. If you’re thinking about growing some scruff, we’ve got a few helpful tips to share that can make the process a lot easier for you. But more importantly, we’ll teach you how to maintain a beard, which is arguably the most difficult part of the entire process.
How to Grow a Beard
Step one: stop shaving. Step two: have good genes.
Kidding! Well, sort of. Growing a beard requires more than simply putting down your razor and thanking your folks for passing down their good genes. To grow a thick, bushy beard that sparks envy from your fellow men, you need to come up with a beard growing strategy.
With a rock-solid strategy in place, you can manage to sidestep some of the major pitfalls of growing a beard—namely, the dreaded beard itch and the awkward growth phase. Whether you’re gunning for a grandiose beard or prefer the uber-cool look of 5 o’clock shadow, here’s how to grow a beard that’s worth celebrating.
Choose a Facial Hairstyle
First things first: You need to choose the right facial hairstyle for your face shape. Start by standing in front of the mirror and gazing upon your handsome mug. Is your face square? Round? Triangular?
Once you identify your face shape, you can start looking for facial hairstyles that will complement your features. For instance, if you have a round face, you’d want to choose a more angular style that gives you the illusion of a jawline.
The only exception to the rule is if you have an oval face shape. If you have an oval face shape, you’re the envy of bearded dudes everywhere because your face shape works with virtually every facial hairstyle. Enjoy your unlimited options. Lucky bastard.
Stock Up on Beard Products and Tools
Once you’ve chosen a facial hairstyle, it’s time to start growing your beard. Word to the wise: Pick up beard products sooner rather than later. The last thing you want is for beard itch to drive you to the brink of insanity because you didn’t have beard oil at the ready.
So, which beard products should you get? Here’s a few products and tools that we recommend adding to your grooming arsenal:
- Beard Oil—You know that beard itch we’ve been yammering on about? Just wait, you’ll experience it soon enough. And when you do, you’ll definitely want to have a high-quality beard oil handy to hydrate and condition the skin underneath your beard. Our woodsy scented beard oil will eliminate itch while making you smell nothing short of amazing. Be sure to apply it daily, preferably right after you shower when hair follicles are soft and clean.
- Beard Balm—Although beard balm provides similar benefits as beard oil, there are some key differences that make both worth having in your grooming arsenal. Beard balm is an excellent styling product that can help you tame your new facial hair. It’s also useful for getting rid of nasty beard dandruff. Guys, those white flakes can be a serious mood-killer. Don’t let them happen!
- Comb and Scissors—OK, so you’re probably not going to need a comb or scissors in the early stages of growing a beard. But if you’re growing a longer beard style or a cool mustachio, then you will need to pick up a comb and scissor kit eventually. In a nutshell, you’ll use a comb to untangle your beard hairs and scissors to trim your mustache or any stray beard hairs.
- Beard Trimmer—A high-quality beard trimmer is a grooming essential for any budding beardsman. This all-important tool will help you maintain an immaculate beard like a true professional.
- Safety Razor—Thought that you could ditch the razor for good, did you? Not so fast. You’re going to need a double edge safety razor to trim and shape that glorious beard of yours. This bad boy cuts like butter and will make shaving irritation a thing of the past.
By far, one of the biggest mistakes a guy can make when growing his facial hair is not giving it enough time to flourish. Guys, your facial hair is not going to sprout into a magnificent beard overnight. It’s just not gonna happen.
Keep in mind that it can take months—maybe an entire year—for a patchy beard to fill in properly. If you’ve been growing your beard for a month and it’s still not as glorious as George Clooney’s beard, then just relax, alright? Clooney has likely been growing his magnificent mane for years. Nobody is on par with that scruffy, silver fox.
Encourage Beard Growth
Sorry dudes, but how fast your facial hair grows is largely dependent on your genes. That being said, there are things you can do to encourage beard growth and help you sail past the so-called “awkward phase” of beard growth.
First and foremost, focus on eating a balanced diet with a healthy amount of protein. If you lack protein in your diet, your facial hair will suffer for it. Load your plate with foods like eggs, fish, beef, nuts and leafy greens to encourage beard growth.
Also, get lots of sleep! Research has shown that getting inadequate amounts of sleep can slow beard growth and make you suffer through the awkward growth stage for longer than necessary. To grow a thick, healthy beard, be sure to get eight hours of shuteye each night.
How to Maintain a Beard
In all honesty, growing a beard is fairly easy. Learning how to maintain a beard is where things can start to get a little tricky.
Here’s the thing: You can’t just leave a beard to its own devices. Otherwise, you’ll end up looking less like a sophisticated Jake Gyllenhaal and more like Tom Hanks from Castaway. And we guarantee that neither your girlfriend nor your boss is going to tolerate the scraggly caveman look for long.
Fortunately, there are plenty of beard products and tools to help you be every bit the well-groomed gentleman. From washing your beard to styling your scruff, here’s how to maintain a beard and sculpt it into an ultra-flattering shape.
Keep It Clean
Guys, nobody likes a dirty beard! Beards can harbor a surprising (read: disgusting) number of bacteria, so be sure to keep it clean by washing and exfoliating your beard regularly.
While some guys use beard wash to cleanse their bearded area, others simply reach for their regular shampoo and conditioner. The choice is ultimately up to you. If you love the invigorating scent of peppermint in your shampoo and conditioner, feel free to use a little on your scruff as well. A lot of us dudes have been using regular shampoo on our beards and we haven’t been struck down by the grooming gods.
When it comes to exfoliation, choose a gentle face scrub and limit your scrubbing to once or twice a week. Overdoing it on the face scrub can dry out the skin and result in nasty ’druff. Don’t forget to follow up with a beard oil or beard balm to seal in moisture and keep your scruff happy.
Trim Your Neckline
Neglecting your neckline is a surefire way to ruin a perfectly good beard. The only exception is if you’re rocking some sexy stubble, in which case, you have roughly a month or so until you need to begin tidying things up.
Before you start trimming your neck area, you first need to establish a neckline. Here’s how to do it in two easy steps:
- Step One: Place your middle finger on top of your Adam’s apple and rest your index finger on top. Your neckline should start above your index finger.
- Step Two: Trace an imaginary line starting from behind the ears and jaws until it meets at the middle point of your neck in a shallow “U” shape. Anything below that line should be shaved.
Once you’ve established your neckline, you can take your beard trimmer and start tidying things up. Check your progress as you go, and always start off with a longer guard setting. You can’t undo your actions if you accidentally go too short!
Trim Your Cheek lines
Like your beard neckline, keeping your cheek lines tidy is the difference between looking like a well-groomed gentleman and a guy who just looks down on his luck. You’ll want to tackle your cheek lines after your neckline, as this will help ensure that everything looks proportional.
To find your cheek lines, draw an imaginary line from the top of your sideburn to the corner of your lower lip. Everything above this line should be shaved with a razor or a beard trimmer. If you’re not comfortable using an imaginary line to trim your cheek area, you can always use a beard stencil to shape your beard instead.
Since every dude’s cheek line is different, you’ll probably need to rely on intuition to trim them properly. If that makes you nervous, zip down to your barber and have them tidy up the cheek lines for you. Then, you can simply follow the line they made at home.
Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to experiment with your cheek lines. If your sideburns are somewhat sparse, work with your genetics by trimming the sparse hairs and leaving as much of your cheek line as possible.
Fade Your Beard
If you’re really serious about learning how to maintain a beard, then you may want to take a DIY approach to fading your beard. Sure, a barber could do it for you in a pinch. But there’s something satisfying about knowing how to fade your beard all on your own.
For anyone who doesn’t know, the goal of fading a beard is to make it transition seamlessly into your neckline, sideburns or mustache. Here’s how to do it, using your sideburns as an example:
- Step One: Start with a clean, dry beard. Brush the tangles out with a comb to avoid hitting any snags.
- Step Two: Use a guard setting that is one below the length of your beard. Start creating a taper by trimming an inch or so above the jawline.
- Step Three: Now, use a shorter guard setting to trim another inch towards your sideburns.
- Step Four: Repeat the process until you’ve seamlessly blended your beard into the tops of your sideburns.
Remember: If this sounds daunting, you can always get your barber to show you how to do it. Sometimes, you need a pro to walk you through the process before you take things into your own hands.
Add the Finishing Style Touches
Finally, it’s time to add the finishing touches to your beard. Styling your beard is simple, fast and easy to do with the right tools and products.
Beard balm is likely going to be your most used beard styling product. As we mentioned earlier, beard balm hydrates and conditions your beard while taming pesky flyaways and frizz. It also leaves you with a stylish, buttery soft beard that doesn’t wreck your partner’s skin whenever you go in for a kiss. It’s the little things that the spicy senoritas appreciate, fellas.
In case you’re now wondering, here’s how to use beard balm properly:
- Step One: Scoop a dime-sized amount onto a finger and place it in the palm of your hand.
- Step Two: Rub your hands together until the product has disappeared.
- Step Three: Massage it into your beard.
That’s it! Like we said, super simple.
Embrace the Beard Journey
Growing and maintaining an immaculate beard isn’t nearly as intuitive as some guys may think. It requires a little strategy, some patience and a lot of trial and error as you figure out which products and tools work best for you. Hopefully, this guide gave you a helpful start to embracing your own beard journey. Cheers!