Unless you’re one of the unfortunate souls who simply can’t produce facial (or body) hair, then you will have certainly asked yourself the question of whether or not to grow out your fuzz to create a fully-fledged beard. We’ll admit, that beards aren’t for everyone, although in most cases having at least some stubble on your face will make you look that little bit cooler.
But growing a beard isn’t simply a case of letting nature run its course and allowing your hair to just grow, oh no. Growing a beard takes time, patience and above all, maintenance. Not to mention, getting past the itchy phase. However, do so, and you could be rewarded with the best-looking version of yourself you’ve ever stared back at in a mirror, and it could even give you an extra dose of confidence when you’re hitting the town.
The very fact you’ve landed on this page tells us you’ve decided that yes, a beard is for you (or at least, you’re prepared to find out) but you aren’t quite sure what you need to do to grow a decent one. Fret not, for we consider ourselves well-versed in the art of facial hair forming and can now bestow upon to you the knowledge you desire.
Here is everything you need to know about growing a beard.
Accept That You’re Powerless
There’s something that we need to stress and something that you need to accept. Some people just aren’t made to have beards. This doesn’t mean that you might not have the constitution to go through with it, we mean that some people just aren’t physically capable of growing thick beards.
Regardless of what people will claim, there’s no medical proof that copious shaving or trimming can make your beard grow faster or thicker, and while things like beard oil or beard balm may help tame and condition the hairs that you can grow, they won’t aid you in growing a beard in any way.
Accepting this means to accept that you may have thinner patches, thicker patches, and ultimately, a beard that isn’t ever going to get you on the cover of Lumberjack Weekly. The only thing that will ever fix any kind of subpar beard, whether it be patchy or uneven, is time and patience. There’s nothing wrong with this though. Choose the beard that suits your face and your capacity for growth, and ultimately, you can’t go wrong.
Be Patient & Persist
This is probably the most important rule to remember. As with any other hair on your body, hair takes its sweet time to grow. So growing a beard the likes of which Abraham Lincoln would consider good, won’t happen overnight. You’ll most likely need to wait around a month before you start seeing any genuine growth, or at least anything that resembles a beard.
The weeks beforehand will be some of the most awkward of your life, especially if your facial hair grows in patches. If anyone asks, tell them what you’re doing and they’ll soon shrug it off. It’s also in these weeks that you’ll have to endure the dreaded itchy phase. For some
weak men, this step of beard-growing is unbearable and they’ll have to bust out the beard trimmer and revert back to either a babyface look or very short stubble. Persevere, however, and you’ll be rewarded with a thick, luscious mane.
Once you reach this stage, you’re free to start having some fun.
Nourish From The Inside Out
While there isn’t a lot you can do to force hair to grow if it simply doesn’t want to, if your body does sprout facial fuzz then there are some steps you can take to ensure the hair that grows will be of the best quality possible.
By eating well. It may sound surprising, but if you consume a good amount of protein (which hair itself is made of), exercise regularly and get sufficient sleep, then you’ll be rewarded with excellent-quality facial hair.
Other steps you can take include drinking plenty of water, keeping stress levels low (we understand if this isn’t possible for some, but at least try), or taking supplements such as Biotin. While you probably consume a fair amount of Biotin already from a healthy diet, taking it as a supplement can help to promote healthy hair, skin and nails.
Tame The Mane
A few weeks in and starting to feel the itch? We feel for you. It’s not nice. Fortunately, there are some things you can do help calm the itchiness, but one of those things definitely isn’t scratching. Doing so will introduce additional dirt and oil from your hands into the already sensitive skin that’s trying its darndest to push the hair out of follicles that have never been used before, making it way more prone to pimples, rashes, ingrown hairs and ultimately, even more irritation
Keep the skin around your beard clean, and as it begins to grow out, use a light, oil-free moisturiser to help keep both skin and facial hair soft, supple and soothed.
You can even treat your face to a hot oil treatment once a week. What’s one of those? We hear you ask. A hot oil treatment is similar to using a beard oil but ramped up to 11. It’s designed to intensely nourish your facial hair and promote healthy growth thanks to a range of ingredients such as glycerin, eucalyptus oil and aloe. The best part is, you can apply a hot oil treatment to facial hair of practically any length, although the minimum amount we’d recommend is what can only be described as ‘scruff’. If you have short stubble, we’d advise against using it. For each length, simply adjust the amount of hot oil you use.
Brush Those Bad Boys
Like a pack of unattended children, your facial hair will run amok if you don’t keep the hairs at bay. Once you’ve progressed from questionable-looking fuzz to something that can be classed as a beard, you’ll want to find yourself a decent comb or a boar bristle brush, to keep your beard in tip-top condition. Choosing a brush isn’t as simple as just choosing a brush, however, as you’ll be faced with different handles and bristle types.
Handles are usually either going to be wood or plastic. Wood is better for the environment and more robust but doesn’t always do well when placed under running water. As for bristles, again, they’ll either be natural (boar hair or horse hair) or synthetic. Going down the natural route will be more beneficial for your facial hair, as both boar and horsehair bristles secrete sebum, which will help to condition your hair. Boar hair would be our overall choice, however, as it offers the best of both worlds in terms of stiffness and flexibility.
Bristles can come in various lengths too, and the length you need will depend on the length of your beard. Longer bristles for longer hair and so on. Using a brush daily will remove loose hairs as well as rejigging unruly ones so that they all grow in the same direction. One with boar hair will also help to remove impurities in your skin, without pulling on your face too much.
As for a beard comb, you’ll most likely only need to call upon this tool when your beard is of real length, around three months minimum growth. While a beard brush is great for conditioning a beard, a beard comb is your best friend when it comes to styling and detangling longer hairs. This is especially the case when your beard is wet, as using a brush on wet facial hair is a big no-no.
If you do have a big of significant length, then you’ll want to use both a comb and a brush, and in that order. Comb to detangle and remove loose hairs and a brush to nourish and condition.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat
While brushing and combing can take care of the daily maintenance of your new mane, you’ll still need to think about washing it, it is just hair after all. Washing your beard can help to remove any build-up of dead skin cells, as well as other nitty-gritty bits that can become entangled, such as pieces of food or dirt.
But stop, don’t simply reach for your regular hair shampoo to cleanse your beard, it will usually be of a high acidity that will dry your beard out to a point where it will resemble some wire wool. Instead, you’ll need to use a dedicated beard shampoo which will be much kinder to your facial follicles. You can also apply a beard conditioner, which, in a similar vein to the conditioner you’d use on your head, will help to prevent your beard hair from suffering breakages, while also giving it a glistening shine. Because you’re worth it.
Trim The Hedges
So, you’ve followed our advice up until now and you’ve got yourself a damn fine beard. Now you’ll want to think about trimming it. Before you cry, “isn’t that counterproductive”, hear us out. Trimming your beard and keeping it tidy is an essential step to getting the best looking and healthiest hair you can. To trim your beard effectively, you’ll need an array of tools to help you get the job done.
Firstly, as we mentioned earlier, you’ll want to have yourself a good comb to bring the hair into one direction and to remove any loose or tangled hairs. If it’s a one-length look you’re going for, then you’ll also need a good quality set of clippers – the same as you would use on your head – with a range of guards that you can run through your beard to keep it looking tidy. To accentuate your beard (and why would you not want to, you’ve spent months growing it) use a lower guard setting to trim the neckline and the cheeks to fade them. It’s always the subtle tricks that have the greatest effect.
If there are any stragglers left behind, whip out a quality pair of scissors to finish the job off. You can also use scissors around your lips and moustache. You wouldn’t want to cut them with the clippers, after all.
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 in doubt about the most flattering style for your face, see a pro for the initial shaping and follow their template from then on.
A marvellous beard awaits you, you magnificent bastard.