"7 Expert Tips from Barbers for Growing the Perfect Beard: A Step-by-Step Guide"
Growing a beard is a viable option for most men. However, it all boils down to your willingness to endure the uncomfortable and awkward stage of transitioning from a clean-shaven look to a scruffier one. Not all beards are created equal, and some men have better luck growing them than others. Nevertheless, with a little commitment, growing a beard is achievable.
But, bear in mind that you can't do it alone. You need support in the form of beard-friendly products and a solid plan for how you want your beard to look. It's similar to embarking on a new exercise regimen: you need to visualize the end goal and then work backward to figure out the steps to achieve it. To reach that goal, you must commit to the process and, above all, be patient. Like how you won't get a six-pack overnight, you won't wake up with a flowing Jason Momoa beard after a few weeks.
With careful curation of products and proper planning, you can grow a beautiful beard. However, it's important not to compare your beard to others as everyone's hair is different, and maximizing your beard's potential is the key to success.
To help you through your beard-growing journey, we sought advice from Chris Brownless, owner of Northwest Barber Co. and Uppercut Deluxe ambassador and education manager, for his top tips and tricks on bypassing the inevitable awkward stage and growing a fantastic beard ASAP.
Tips on Growing a Beard
The first step in growing a fantastic beard is to understand your facial hair. Even if you've never grown a beard before, you may already know how far down your neck your whiskers grow and what direction they grow in if you shave every day. And if you let yourself have a few days' worth of stubble, you might already know if your hair grows patchy or full and how fast it grows.
These are all important things to consider when planning a beard. If you have patchy hair, you may need to go for a longer beard, and if you have thick, fast-growing hair, you're in for more regular trimming.
1. Take Care of Your Skin
Healthy hair starts at the root. If you take care of your skin, your hair will grow longer and faster. Although hair care and skin care may seem unrelated, they are interlinked when it comes to your beard.
"Skincare is crucial," says Brownless. "Growing healthy facial hair requires healthy skin. Keeping your skin clean will allow your beard to grow healthier and even faster!"
2. Use Your Face Shape to Shape Your Beard
To style your beard, you need to assess your face shape. Beards can enhance or alter the shape of your face. Take a step back and consider the overall shape of your face. If it's round, trimming the sides and leaving length on the chin can make it appear longer and leaner. If it's oval, leaving the sides longer than the chin can make it appear wider and more angular. And if it's square, trimming rounded angles can soften harsher angles.
The shape of our chin is not something we can change, but our beard is. "A skilled barber knows how to manipulate the shape of a beard to suit your facial features and complement your haircut," advises Brownless. Typically, a beard should help make your face look closer to an oval shape, although it can also make your jawline appear more distinct and angular. To get the best idea of what would work for you, tilt your head to each side and take a careful look.
"The hardest part of growing a beard is getting through the first few weeks and adjusting to how it looks," explains Brownless. "It might not look as great as you imagined, but you have to persevere until it's long enough to shape and groom."
3. Shave Before Starting Your Beard-It Can HelpIt might sound counterintuitive, but undergoing a clean shave before growing a beard can stimulate your hair follicles and reduce the chances of ingrown hairs throughout the growing period. It can also prepare your skin for a smoother beard growth journey, with less itch.
"If your hair is too short, a clean shave can serve as a great reset, and it's always fun to take a before-and-after photo!" Brownless remarks.
After taking a hot shower, massage a pre-shave oil into your skin to lift hairs for a closer and easier shave while lubricating your skin to minimize razor burn. Apply a thick shaving cream in circular motions for better coverage, then use a fresh blade on your preferred razor type to shave with the grain, making smooth and even strokes to avoid nicks or cuts. Finish by washing off with water and apply an alcohol-free lotion to soothe and moisturize freshly-shaved skin.
Read more: Best Beard Products
If you can grow long stubble in a few days, and your skin is in good condition, you don't need to shave your face clean. Brownless suggests going for it and spending roughly a week at home until your beard fills out. Afterward, trim it up a bit before showing the world your new look. It might take up to a month before you feel confident with your beard growth, but stay positive and keep going. It's a process, so enjoy the ride.
Read more: Best Beard Trimmers
4. Let Your Beard Grow Before Trimming itOnce you've shaved your face clean and are ready to start a new beard, be patient and let it grow for at least two months without trimming or shaping it.
Brownless advises, "Stretch the limits of your beard until the first trim." This allows your hair to grow longer and gives your barber more options to shape it initially. It can be challenging, but wait until your beard looks unkempt, then call in the pros.
To cultivate an impeccable beard, it's crucial to know what you're working with, and the only way to do that is to let it grow. Your beard can fill out and conceal patchy areas while growing fuller and thicker than you ever thought possible.
As your whiskers grow, they may become itchy, and this discomfort can deter men from continuing their bearded journey. To alleviate the itch, use stubble balm to soften the shorter hairs or beard oil to moisturize and soothe the skin underneath. Dry skin only exacerbates the itching. If you feel like Bigfoot, consult with a barber for your first trim.
"Once you have perfected your beard shape with your barber, seek their advice on how to maintain flyaways in between appointments and grooming product recommendations to keep your beard healthy and in shape," Brownless advises. The styling products you select are crucial for taming your beard. Thus, heed your barber's suggestions for your new hair care routine.
5. Define Your Beard LinesWhile allowing your beard to grow, it's essential to keep the lines crisp to start defining the final form. The neckline is crucial because a well-maintained beard looks intentional while wild growth seems haphazard. Determine where you want your neckline to fall as your facial hair grows, and visualize a "U" from ear to ear. Use a razor or trimmer to shave below the line you establish, ensuring that you don't see any hair below your chin. Keep your cheeks free of stray hairs that creep up from your beard to say, "I have a beard!" instead of "I haven't shaved in a week!" Experiment with your lines to identify where you want them to fall as your beard grows.
6. Shape Your Beard Through TrimmingCongratulations! The hardest part is over, and you now have a real beard. Wash it with a beard wash, followed by a beard conditioner, to soften the hair. Using a coarse-bristle beard brush and downward movements, brush out your beard, smoothing the hair and identifying any flyaways or stragglers. Trim these stray hairs with scissors, including any mustache hairs that may fall over your lips. Use a beard trimmer with multiple guards, starting with the longest guard, and gradually work your way shorter as you shape the beard. If it all seems complicated, consult with your barber to shape it for you. All you must do afterward is maintain the edges at home.
7. Trim Your Beard Regularly
Maintaining the desired shape of your beard is crucial, and regular trimming is essential to achieve this. You should aim to trim your beard every few weeks, just like getting a haircut. If you let your beard grow uninterrupted for too long, it can quickly go from being scruffy to fluffy and become hard to tame. Ensure that you keep your beard in check by scheduling regular appointments with your barber or trimming it at home.
Enhance Your Beard with Beard Products
Now that you have achieved a full, mighty beard, it's time to make it shine. Start by using a few drops of beard oil right after you trim it to smooth and moisturize your facial hair. To get the most out of beard oil, massage it into the skin underneath your beard, which is prone to dryness when covered by facial hair.
Then, depending on the coarseness of your facial hair and how much control you want, use either a beard cream or balm to smooth and shape your beard. It's essential to follow this routine regularly, even if you are not trimming your beard (which should be done every two weeks or so). Make sure you use a beard wash each time you shampoo your hair (about every two days) and brush your beard daily after showering. This will help distribute the natural oils, keep the wiry hairs moisturized, and exfoliate the underlying skin. Use your beard oil and balm after each wash and as needed in between.
Explore more: Discover the Best Beard Oils of the Year
Our Selection Process
For two years, we consulted with Men's Health's grooming editors and writers to determine the top beard products for men. Our experts, including the Grooming Editor Garrett Munce and Deputy Editor of Commerce Christian Gollayan, tried and evaluated dozens of beard products for their ingredients, consistency, feel, and effectiveness. We also looked at top-reviewed beard products with at least 100 five-star ratings on trusted e-commerce websites.
Learn more: Check Out Our Guide on How to Grow a Mustache
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