A year and a half ago, my wife presented me with an ultimatum – “You can shave your face completely OR you can grow it out.” Which meant I had to deviate from my staple sexy stubble and go ALL in or go ALL out.
The rest, as you know, is history.
Now, how to do it? You’d think it wouldn’t be all that difficult – throw away the razor and let the rest take care of itself.
How wrong I was.
Doing nothing may have got the job done but we both know men who take, what I call, the vagabond approach to growing out their “man mane.” That might be cool if you’re living in your mom’s basement playing Call of Duty all day but, here in the real world, there may be a bit more expected of you.
So in an attempt to save you some lonely nights, your pending job promotion, and frequent looks of disapproval, here are ten tips you can use on your journey towards growing a better beard.
#1 GIVE IT TIME
First off, you’ve got to give your beard a fair chance. Too many men shave their beards off early for one of two reasons:
Either it’s itchy or it grows in patchy.
Look, I know it’s itchy. I know your face isn’t used to it. I know it feels like torture. But, in my opinion, this is the universe’s way of testing your resolve in growing out your beard. Don’t give in.
There are some tangible reasons for itchy skin (dry skin, coarse hairs, and ingrowns), but most of it will be resolved through a bit of patience and the tips I’ll share with you later.
At the end of the day, you’ll probably need to wait a week or two for the itchiness to go away.
Now, let’s talk about patchiness. The reason your beard is patchy is because the hair just doesn’t grow there or it’s growing at a different rate than the rest of your hair. Which means that, if you’re committed to growing a beard, you’ve got to give it time.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that if you can stay the course for a couple weeks you’ll experience less itchiness and less patchiness.
#2 DO IT YOUR WAY
With the resurgence in the popularity of beards, you can grow your facial hair just about any way you want and have it be completely acceptable.
When deciding which style to choose, think about your reason for growing a beard, what look you are going for, and if it fits your personality.
If what you’re currently growing doesn’t work, keep experimenting. You’ll find the style that suits you.
#3 TRIM IT REGULARLY
Your beard should be used to express to the world who you are in a positive light, not a negative one.
Whether you use a barber or do all your own trimming, I recommend you pick up a pair of high-quality beard scissors.
They’re designed for maximum control, durability and will take care of everything from the straggler you may find to a full on beard trim.
#4 COMB IT OFTEN
I recommend you carry a comb around in your pocket should you decided to grow your beard out to any measurable length.
If your beard is anything like mine, it gets a bit crazy in the morning and after any rigorous activity. Having a beard comb handy has saved me from looking like a poodle with a bad haircut on many occasions.
#5 WASH IT RIGHT
It’s a fact, beard hair is different than the hair on your head. Therefore, you should treat them differently. If you use a traditional shampoo to wash your beard, you may be stripping it of the natural oils, which increases itchiness (see #1 regarding itchiness), and create a waxy building up on the beard hairs.
Beard wash is specially formulated to condition and moisturize the hair on your face and the skin under it.
#6 OIL IT UP
Not, only does high-quality beard oil make your beard smell great, it also conditions the beard hairs and moisturizes the skin underneath.
The right beard oil will ensure your beard smells good, looks good, and feels good!
By the way, my go-to beard oil is the Tree Ranger scent by Beardbrand.
#7 LOVERS AND HATERS
Besides politics and religion, there is nothing quite so polarizing as facial hair.
In fact, I’ve had complete strangers walk right up to me and say, “I don’t like beards.” Although, I’d like to respond with a smartass comment like, “That’s okay, I don’t like your face either” or “Good thing there’s no chance I’d ever make-out with you,” I typically opt for the less aggressive, “That’s too bad, I really like it.”
In other words, if you’re looking to grow your glorious man-mane, you’d better be ready for some haters.
But, the opposite is also true. You’re going to find some people who love beards. In fact, I’ve also had random strangers ask if they can touch my beard and, even weirder, SMELL IT.
If you’re a beardsman, it’s just part of the game. Get used to it.
#8 RETRAIN EATING HABITS
As much as I’d love to scarf down a huge bowl of ice cream or the biggest chili dog you can find, it just isn’t going to happen.
So, if you’re addicted to a particularly messy type of food, you’re going to have to learn to eat differently or do without.
I guess that’s just the price of beauty.
Forks and straws will be your new best friends. You’re going to get some interesting looks but I’d rather explain a fork and a straw than I would why a grown man is wearing a bib.
Oh, and if someone does happen to point out a little food you may have left in your beard, spare them and yourself the embarrassment, and simply let them know “you’re saving it for later” then discretely address the problem.
#9 LEAVE IT ALONE
One of the worst habits I currently have is picking at my beard.
Most of the time I’m doing it unconsciously but occasionally, I’m trying to find one wild hair that just doesn’t want to seem to stay in place or a particularly thick hair that just doesn’t belong.
Don’t get into the habit. Leave your beard alone!
If you insist on picking at your beard, you’re going to create a strange looking beard shape, rub the skin underneath raw, or pick one too many hairs out.
Use a comb – not your fingers – to manage your mane. And, if you just can’t keep your hands off it, learn to stroke your beard evenly.
#10 THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY
If you’ve grown your beard out for any amount of time, you know you’re going to have good days and you’re going to have bad days.
As long as the good days outweigh the bad, I’d say you’ve got a winner.
Someone is inevitably going to make a negative comment. Certain days, your beard will seem unmanageable. Other days, it’s going to be downright annoying.
But, PLEASE, I beg of you, don’t do anything rash! Just wait it out and it WILL get better.
If you’re hell-bent on shaving it off, a good rule of thumb is to wait at least one day for every month you’ve been growing it to pulling the trigger (at this point, I’d have to wait eighteen days before I would consider pulling out a razor).
There you have it – ten tips for growing a better beard.
At the end of the day take care of your beard, don’t listen to what other people say about it, grow it your way, and have some fun.
Follow those beard rules and you’ll be enjoying the bearded life for years to come.