There comes a time in a man’s life when curiosity gets the better of him. Having grown tired of his baby face and found inspiration in the #beardsofinstagram, he is at last ready to embrace his bristles.
Retiring your razor is a rite of passage, and like many other rites, the road is rarely smooth. It’s not as simple as letting your fur run rampant across your lower face. Growing out a beard requires a routine all its own, as well as the fortitude to stick with it when the going gets tough (and itchy).
Maintenance is a must to create a flattering shape and cultivate healthy hair – and that includes trimming, even if your ultimate goal is whiskers that would make Chewbacca seethe with envy.
To those who haven’t yet figured out how to grow out a beard and still look like a stud, this one’s for you.
Be Patient & Persist
A bountiful brush does not appear overnight. Thick, luscious facial hair is the product of patience and persistence, and a preternatural ability to endure the inevitable awkward phase. Most men require a month to grow out a full beard. At times it will look weird and feel weirder, but you must resist the urge to shave, cut, trim or overshape. The worst of it will be over by week three. Then the fun begins.
Nourish From The Inside Out
Much of your beard’s progress will be determined by the grooming gods. Nature will bless you or not, and there’s little you can do to speed up the process. What you can do is ensure your body is in optimal beard-building shape by staying healthy. Eat well (particularly protein, which hair is made of), exercise, get sufficient sleep, drink water, keep your stress levels low, and to feel confident that all your bases are covered, take a supplement like biotin to stimulate growth.
Tame The Mane
Before long, the itch will rear its dreaded head. Resist the urge to scratch, which could cause an infection, and start a treatment regimen designed to soothe your tortured skin. Apply a beard oil or moisturiser daily to encourage softness and movement. For maximum TLC, treat your face and budding fuzz to an ultra-conditioning hot oil treatment once a week.
Brush Those Bad Boys
Your newly freed hairs will run amok if you let them. When enough time has passed that you can see a bona fide beard beginning to take shape, it’s time to invest in a comb or boar bristle brush. Use it every day to wrangle stubborn hairs and train them to grow in the desired direction. Add a soft-hold styler if you need extra sculpting power to put unruly bristles in their place.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Just like the hair on top of your head, your facial hair should be washed to keep it free of grit and grime. Ask your barber to recommend a specialised beard shampoo and conditioner suited to your hair type and eventual style goals. Cleanse 2-3 times per week to keep your beard fresh, soft, and tangle-free.
Trim The Hedges
At last, your locks are long enough to require tidying up. Though trimming may seem counterproductive to growing out a beard, it’s an essential step to get the best looking and healthiest hair you can. Invest in a pair of quality grooming scissors to snip away split ends and keep your lips free of any stragglers. As your beard continues to mature in the growth process, you can graduate to trimmers to hone the shape. Use a guard to ensure you don’t overdo the pruning and have to start from scratch. When you have finally reached your beard goals, continue performing occasional trims to keep everything healthy and handsome.
Defend The Borders
In your excitement to at last be in lumbersexual territory, you may be loathe to let any of your hard-won hair go – but go it must, if it’s prone to sprouting in an unflattering place. Create symmetry along the cheek lines and remove anything that puts you in danger of rocking a neckbeard. Avoid hard lines as you define the borders of your facial hair, particularly along the bottom. Use different settings on a trimmer to create a fade as you move towards your Adam’s apple. Round off all corners to get a natural look.
Complement Your Face
The importance of proportions cannot be overstated. Your facial hair must complement, and should ideally enhance, your face shape. In most cases, the goal is to make your face look as close to oval as possible. If your face is naturally long and narrow, your beard should be a bit bushier on the sides to create the illusion of a rounder shape. If you were born with a basketball head, keep the sides cropped closer and let more length grow at the chin to elongate your face. A more square shape can also help define a weaker jawline.
If it doubt about the most flattering style for your face, see a pro for the initial shaping and follow their template from then on.