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Wherever you go, there’s a growing number of men sporting at least some facial hair now. Beards come in all shapes and sizes and they’re apparently so attractive even male models on billboards have them.
So how exactly do you go about growing this outward expression of masculinity for yourself?
Well, you’re surely thinking that you just stay away from the razor or trimmer and let nature do the rest, right?
There’s some logic behind but it isn’t that simple.
At least that’s what most men would have you believe because they are jealous of you. Yeah, that’s right. They see you’re about to grow a beard and they envy the density, the thickness, the strength.
No, but seriously. Men who take care of their beards make them look so natural that you think its just a matter of time before your face starts to look the same, if you just resist the urge to shave.
That is exactly what I thought when I first decided the time has come for me. The time to seriously commit to growing a beard myself. I’ll tell you now that I genuinely underestimated just how much I would have to learn to grow a stylish and attractive beard.
To put it differently, if you had told me I would be writing an entire article on how men should grow beards, before I started, I would have laughed my head off.
It’s been an interesting journey and along the way I’ve learnt a lot.
It was fun and challenging to maintain one for approximately 2 years, before I decided to start shaving again. But I enjoyed all the little bits along the way. The passion, the desire, the persistence…
We’re still talking about growing a beard, right?
I’m writing this article now as a beard guide, for first time beardsmen around the world. Maybe I should call it “The Beard Guide, The Itchy Journey of the Mighty Itch Beardman”. Sounds great!
This is the first post of a series that I have been preparing for quite a while now, specifically for beard grooming. More articles will follow with tips and tricks and many many more.
OK, Lets get right to it.
Before learning how to grow a beard, figure out why
Growing a beard for the first time is a deeply personal matter for any man. It could be done for a number of reasons both social and psychological.
- Some think it’ll make them more attractive and some believe it’ll project masculinity.
- Some men aren’t very confident about the way their face looks without beard while others are simply fascinated by the whole process.
- Many others may want to grow a beard in order to cover certain imperfections on their face from acne or certain scars.
- Whatever your reasons for attempting this personal experiment for the first time, you need to be honest with yourself.
Focus on what you are trying to achieve by sporting a mane before you set out to groom one. Realize that there is a lot of work involved if you want to have a great looking beard.
Yes, staying away from razors & trimmers is a great start and it has a lot to do with growing a beard. Everyone knows that.
But what people don’t know is the actual work you need to put in it while you’re growing one to make it work.
First of all, you need to equip yourself with patience.
When you start growing your beard, you might have set a goal in your mind. Until you meet that goal, there will be times that you’re going think of shaving your beard off because you can’t take it anymore.
- Maybe it’s the unbearable itch during the first few weeks.
- Maintaining it and grooming it takes a lot more than your initially thought.
- It isn’t as cheap as you anticipated since you have to buy new equipment (e.g. beard trimmers) and beard care products.
- And lastly, you actually need to shave even though you thought that you would never have to do this again. Or at least a small part of your face.
So remember before you start growing a beard. You are building will power along with it and there are quite a few stages of growing a beard that you need to pass.
Speaking of goals and beard growth stages, there’s no ideal beard growth timeline to satisfy all beardsmen.
Some may like a stubble while other like to grow it for years until they reach the beard growth potential until your genes stops you.
Now, what about maintenance that we talked about?
When you first start growing out a beard stubble you may notice your face looks unkempt and shaggy.
This is when the itch hits you.
But this is the time that you need to be strong and become even more determined.
When you pass this stage -which is usually 2-4 weeks, things will get better, I guarantee it.
The reason that your beard is itchy is mainly because regular shaving doesn’t cut the hair straight which results in pointy edges of hair that has grown longer and touch the surface of your face.
This is a temporary hurdle you must cross, so don’t let it discourage you from going all the way with. Again, have some patience and the itchiness will pass.
In the meantime, consider applying moisturizing products on your growing beard. Beard oil is generally best for itchiness during the first few months. Well, I would say, beard oil is great at any beard length for softening and conditioning.
Here’s another issue you might have to deal with while in the initial stages of growing a beard – a sharp stubble. It’s going to be a source of endless scraping, soreness and redness for women you get intimate with, over the first few weeks.
Don’t let your quest for a manly beard undermine your sex life.
Since the hair on your face is fairly short in this stage, you won’t need to use shampoo at all. Normal face wash would be sufficient. However, be careful with products that may cause dryness on your face. This can make the beard itch even worse.
Prefer products with natural ingredients that promote natural beard growth and are proven to moisturize and make a beard softer.
Such natural beard softeners are the following:
- Coconut oil
- Jojoba oil
- Argan oil
- Hemp seed oil
- Olive oil
If you don’t want to buy any product to make your face and skin softer, you can make a blend of two or more oils from the above list. After all, there’s a good reason why most great beard oils contain these ingredients.
Beyond the beard stubble
Once you are beyond the stubble phase of growing a beard, you will notice that your face looks unkempt and untidy. That untidy look is not very attractive and you need to shape your beard.
This means that you need to start trimming the lip, upper cheeks and neckline. This will neaten the whole look to allow you to show your face in public.
What I’m trying to say is that growing a beard is completely different than keeping it well groomed.
Of course, if you want the as-natural-as-possible look don’t touch your face at all. Let it grow by itself.
This is the point most men give up entirely. The scruffy look tempts you to shave it all off, and feel that smoothness on your face again. A majority of men never make it beyond this point, so consider it as a test. A test that proves you’re worthy of wearing a beard.
The glorious beard you’ve been hearing about from the elders of the village. No one saw it, but all the tales narrate about the golden beard.
I’m loosing the track of this post once again…
Even though grooming your beard is a good idea at this stage, this is when most mistakes happen.
You need to be extra careful now because the beard lines are not well defined and this is the beard stage when you’re actually creating them.
When you want to shape your stubble, there are high chances that you trim/shave your beard too low or too high. For this reason, I would definitely advise to wait a bit longer until your beard is long enough so that you trim or shave your beard accurately with no regrets.
And when I say regrets, I mean shaving your beard off entirely because of the accuracy we were talking about.
Ah, and speaking of beard trimming…
Trimming your beard
We talked about mistakes in trimming.
During the first beard growth stages, many men trim the neckline too high because of the undefined beard shape.
That’s a fairly common mistake that many make, including myself. The neckline should be where the neck meets the head.
A simple rule of thumb is to shave what is parallel to the world in front of you, and leave that which is parallel to the ground.
You need to know that trimming is a delicate process. Don’t overdo it. If you use a beard trimmer, use it to trim your beard from ear to ear while looking straight in the mirror. This way you will be able to see easily the facial hair that requires trimming and shape it accordingly.
Even though beard trimmer gives you comfort this doesn’t mean that is the perfect beard shaping tool for all beard lengths.
After the 2nd month of growing a beard, you’ll notice that beard trimmer doesn’t offer you the level of accuracy that you’re looking for.
A pair of professional scissors can actually give you this.
When you want to shape your moustache and the beard under your lip as well as your sideburns, you normally want to be very careful and cut the hair with precise and slow moves. A pair of scissors gives you more control and it’s lighter. Also it’s not as bulky as a beard trimmer.
All these contribute to a better control and more accurate cuts.
A quick tip on grooming a beard -when it passes the 3rd month of growth, with a combination of scissors and beard trimmer is this:
Use a beard trimmer for your sideburns and and neck area to shorten the hair as much as possible. For the beard density on the cheek, jaw and moustache, prefer a pair of scissors. For the neckline and cheek line, prefer a good sharp razor. My personal preference? Good old safety razor.
One last thing that can give you control while trimming the beard is to use a comb to pull out the hairs and trim them at a suitable length.
During this time, maintain the beard by rinsing it thoroughly every time you shower, applying beard oil and only trimming when absolutely necessary. After all, you’re growing a beard. And beards need to grow.
After a few months of patiently growing your beard
If this is your first time growing a beard, this is when things will start getting interesting.
Since you’ve never seen your facial hair at a long length before, you might see things that you’re either going to love or hate.
Even if your hair is naturally straight, you might see your beard to be wavy or even curly.
How does this happen? Genes, my friend.
My suggestion is to embrace the uniqueness of your beard and keep on growing it. From my own experience, it will take one or maybe two more months until you start loving it and being able to tame it in any way you want.
Your beard starts to get a life of its own.
Besides the personality that your beard starts developing, this is the time that it becomes even more demanding.
Your beard requires more moisture than ever. Even though your beard produces its own natural oils -called sebum, this doesn’t seem to be enough anymore. Maybe it’s the water that washes the natural oils off or the dry weather or even your dry skin.
You should try to nourish the beard as much as you can. Again, you don’t have to cover your entire face with beard oil. Only a few drops here and there, brushing and massaging it, should be more than enough.
And speaking of washing the beard, after about three months of beard growing you may want to wash it less often. Instead of washing it everyday just like you were doing with your beard stubble, it might be a good idea to skip a day every once in a while.
On top of washing your beard two to three times a week, try to use shampoo that doesn’t strip off your natural oils and doesn’t dry your skin. Maybe your face wash isn’t such a good idea anymore for cleaning your beard.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t rinse your beard with water when you make a mess from eating a burger.
As far as beard trimming is concerned, scissors are slowly becoming the only tool you’re using, except for the beard areas that you’d like to keep short where beard trimmer is more suitable.
At the same time, try to get rid of the urge to shave everything.
This is when you get the feeling that you need to get rid of the beard entirely. A lot of men give in to the temptation to just shave it all away at this point.
Just remember to be patient.
You’ve done a lot of work until now, and it would be a pity to shave everything away.
The physical aspect of growing a beard
While growing a beard you are pretty much at the mercy of your genes. Your genes determine the quality of your facial hair and the length to which your beard will grow. I’m afraid there’s not much you can do about it.
Talking about genes, there are three hair growth cycles.
Anagen is the phase of growth when root of the hair is dividing rapidly and the hair grows approximately 1cm every month and it’s active for two to seven years until the hair enters the next phase
Catagen lasts for up to three weeks right after the anagen and this is the time that the hair becomes club. The blood supply stops and the hair is cut off from the cells that produce new hair. And this is when the hair enters the last hair growth phase.
Telogen is when the hair follicle finally rests. And this means that hair dies and starts falling off.
Imagine that these phases are just for the hair on your scalp. Facial hair grows slower than that.
Therefore, the lesson here is that you need to be patient and try not to be eager to grow your beard faster.
But is there a way you can grow your beard faster?
What can actually help is your diet and by reducing your stress levels.
Avoid stress and eat as healthy as you can. This way you’ll be able to reach the full potential of your beard’s growth.
Easier said than done, but that’s the way it is.
One thing to note is that shaving your beard will not make it grow faster. That’s no more than an urban legend and I spent most of my life believing in it. Don’t make the same mistake! But don’t take my word for that. I once thought that there was NO Santa Claus. Can you believe it?
Few things that can help grow a beard faster and thicker are natural oils such as jojoba, argan, coconut, sweet almond oils.
Generally, you’ll find all these type of oils in many beard oils. These type of oils, besides making your beard healthier and softer, are used in hair care products that promote hair growth. If they’re used in hair growth products, it certainly works for your beard.
Another thing you can do, is to boost your testosterone and include foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, olive oil and avocados in your diet.
From what it seems, growing a beard faster might also get you a great body.
Can you grow a beard faster with beard growth supplements?
This is a question I get quite a lot and I would advise against it.
I believe that you’ve got certain genes for a reason. Don’t try to manipulate them in order to grow a beard.
Besides your beard growth potential, I believe it’s better to get all the nutrition you need -or even more than this, by simply eating better and healthier. After all beard growth supplements are called like that for a reason. To supplement a healthy diet.
But again, this is what I believe, not only for growing a beard but also in doing sports or studying. You can be sure that you can get all the nutrition you need by following a healthy and balanced diet.
In any case, if you decide to get any of these beard growth products, consult your doctor beforehand.
What’s remaining is time. Time and patience.
Just wait a little bit longer and you will get the best results as a reward for your perseverance.
Styling your beard
Letting your beard grow is one thing. But don’t forget the styling aspect.
Trimming your beard every one or two weeks is necessary to keep your beard tidy. Normally, you’ll want to trim down certain parts of your beard to reduce the bulks. For me, this is the beard close to the neck and the cheeks.
Besides frequent trimming, you might also need to shave.
Depending on the beard style you decided to sport, there’s a great chance that you need to shave even on daily basis, especially if you want to keep it clean and well defined.
As you see, even though we said that you need to stop shaving in order to grow a beard, there are high chances that you won’t get rid of the razor after all.
Other tools that you can use for your beard grooming routine are beard combs and brushes.
When your beard is freshly washed and dry, you can style the beard further with a bone or wooden comb and make it look refined and well groomed. This is also a way to detangle the hair knots (yes, it happens a lot) and make beard oil or balm application simpler.
Beard brushes can also do a great job if you decided to keep your beard at short level which also helps with beard care product applications. Especially natural hair brushes do a great job with softening your beard since they’re able to spread the natural oils of your beard across the length of your beard.
Beard combs and brushes to consider
As for styling products you can use beard balm when your beard is already dry or even a beard wax for stronger hold. A good beard balm helps with both conditioning and shaping of beard. Even though beard balm is designed specifically for making your beard soft, depending on the amount of wax in the beard balm recipe, it might also give you some shaping properties as well.
Now, you might be thinking that you got the beard oil already for the conditioning part. For more information you can check out my article that talks about the differences between beard oil and beard balm.
Recommended beard balms
There are a ton of different beard styles you can choose from, once your beard is long enough. Work with what you have.
Let your genes determine which beard style is more suitable to your appearance. You may find that some beard styles are either not suitable for your looks or not feasible. Unfortunately, not all men can sport any beard style. But again, that’s alright.
If you notice you have a thick and full moustache don’t trim it. It’s rare to have a glorious moustache, so you might as well enjoy it.
Once you understand what your genes have decided for your beard style, shape your beard based on your head shape, hairstyle (can be a great match) and clothing style.
Go for a stylish looking goatee if you feel your cheeks are too sparse. If they are not patchy and you can grow a full beard then go for it, it’s an all time classic.
The Bearded Experience
Probably the most challenging thing to handle once you’ve grown your beard, will be the reactions of those around you. Especially if you let a beard grow for the first time ever, there will almost definitely be comments from those who know you best.
But who cares?
Nevertheless, a great factor to beard growth success is often getting support from your girlfriend, your friends and family.
You’ll be surprised by how much that helps in a beard journey like this.
Maybe your girlfriend wouldn’t be the happiest person on earth when you start growing it since it can be quite painful for her -literally. But in most cases, she’ll be more than happy with your decision to grow a beard and you’ll both enjoy it when you reach your beard goals.
On the other hand you may find a ton of websites, blogs like this one as well as communities of beard-obsessed men who can help and guide you throughout this “lonely” beard journey. It truly is a wonderful experience growing a beard and I recommend all men to try it at least once in their lifetime.
Good luck and may the force be with your beard.
If you’re looking for some audiovisuals, I suggest you have a look at the following video from The Beard Baron. He surely knows how to grow a beard. And by the way, his beard looks spectacular.
Image Courtesy: flickr/stemonx