Sometimes, it’s the little things that can piss you off as you trim your beard. Bad cuts that ruin the shape, stray hairs that won’t stay put no matter what, an awesome beard that suddenly looks like shit the moment you walk out the door. Yep, the little things count when it comes to beard trimming.
Which is exactly why we’ve compiled this list of quick tips to help make beard trims a little bit easier. Let’s get right on it:
Use Chemical Products Designed Specifically for Beards
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When it comes to hair care products, the common manly-man instinct is to use what’s already there. Why buy new stuff when you have two perfectly good bottles of shampoo and conditioner in the shower?
Well, facial hair is thicker and tends to be scragglier than the hair on top of your head. The oils on head hair (aka terminal hair) tend to be thicker than the hairs on your beard (aka androgenic hair). Chemical products designed for head hair thus strip more oil than what is healthy for your beard.
This is why serious beard maintenance calls for chemical products that are formulated specifically for facial hair.
Invest in Dedicated Beard-Care Tools
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The basic beard comb and beard scissors combo is a must if you’re serious about grooming your beard. This is the bare minimum you want if you’re serious about beard maintenance. Beard scissors are designed specifically for trimming hair and supporting your finger grip while you do it.
The combs, on the other hand, have just the right width to help you disentangle the wiry hairs of your beard without damaging said hairs. Electric trimmers and clippers also come highly recommended if you have a long, full beard.
They make trimming a cinch, especially when you match the attachments to the length of your beard. We have a couple of pieces talking about beard scissors and electric trimmers here on MajorBeard. Why not check ’em out if you’re at a loss about which ones to pick up?
Wash and Dry Thoroughly Before Trimming
Maintaining a clean beard makes enough sense on its own. What most people don’t know, however, is that trimming wet hair is a very bad idea. The first and most important is that wet hair stiffens when it dries up.
You could cut a very close trim with wet hair, only to find your beard looking off-kilter once the hair dries and puffs up. Second, wet hairs stick to each other. This increases the chances that your scissors or trimmer ‘slip’ on wet hair that’s clumped up – failing to cut a few strands in the process.
This is not a major issue for well-maintained scissors or trimmers, but it’s still a risk that’s just not worth it. You can avoid all these problems by simply patting your beard dry and letting it air out for a bit.
If you’re in a hurry, pat your beard with a towel and then blow-dry it off. No, seriously – blow-drying is a huge help if you’ve only got a few minutes to clean up before heading out to work or a social event.
Be Conservative with Your Beard Trims
When you get to the actual trimming, try to cut off as little as you can with each pass. Snip or buzz off a few millimeters at a time. Imagine yourself ‘hovering’ the blades on the top-most layer of your beard.
The rationale behind this is simple: better to patiently run multiple passes than to fuck up your beard in one fell stroke. If you make a mistake with a light hand, you can more easily adjust your beard to correct the error.
You can’t do that if you accidentally snip or buzz off a large chunk of hair. If the mistaken cut is big enough, you’ll have to cut off an equally big chunk of your beard to even things out. This is why it’s better to conservatively trim off as little as you can, so any mistakes can be easily rectified without harming too much of your beard.
Use Physical Features as Guideposts
If you have problems defining the borders of your beard, then use the various parts of your face as guideposts to help you out. For example, you can use your upper lips as a border for a mustache. You can use your double chin or your Adam’s apple as guideposts for your neckline. Just shave all the hair below the double chin. Place two or three fingers above the Adam’s apple, and use that as a guide for shaving. Then you can use your ears lobes, or maybe the center of your ear, as another guidepost. Draw a curved line linking your earlobes to the corner of your jaw, and follow that line. Experiment with the features on your face, and you’ll find markers to help you more evenly and symmetrically define the borders of your beard.
Test the Grading System of Your Trimmer
My trimmer’s size 11 attachment could be the same as your trimmer’s size 8 attachment, which could also be another trimmer’s size 3 attachment. This is why it is very, very important that you ‘test’ the grades of your electric trimmer’s head attachments before you commit to a shave.
Doing so is pretty straightforward. Take all the attachments and stick ’em into your beard without actually doing any cutting. You’ll know you have the right attachments when the blades of the trimmer are at the desired distance.
Set these aside and take note of them, as they’re the ones you’ll want to use when you get down to the actual trimming.
Comb and Style Unwanted Curls
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If your beard has a couple of curls that you want to get rid of, resist the temptation to cut them away. Curly hairs are a natural part of your beard, unlike stray hairs that poke out of the beard.
If you try to cut the curls out, you’ll end up with ugly patches that mar the entire look of your beard. Focus on straightening them out instead.
You can do this by blow-drying and then comb the curls flat. If those curls are stubborn, you can also use a bit of mustache wax to coax especially aggressive curls into shape.
Use Paper to Help Pick Out Stray Hairs
A humble sheet of paper can work wonders in helping you spot stray hairs that poke out from your beard. If you have dark hair, prepare a white sheet of paper. If you have light hair, prepare a dark sheet of paper.
Make sure your beard is nice and dry. Comb the hairs out so that no individual strands are curled up and hidden inside the beard. Now slip that paper behind your beard and examine your beard in the mirror.
The contrast between your hair and the paper background will make it much easier to spot stray hairs. This is especially useful for those whose beard hairs are the same shade of color as their skins.
Fade the Borders of Your Beard for a More Natural Look
If you want your beard to look less sculpted and more natural, then it’ll be worth your time to ‘fade’ the cut along the beard’s border.
This is pretty simple: progressively shorten the cuts or trim as you approach the borders of your beard. For example, you use a size 11 attachment for the bulk of your beard. Now switch to a size 8 or 7 two inches from the beard’s border.
Switch to a size 4 or 3 one inch from the border of your beard. This sloping effect will smoothen out the beard, and make its borders less pronounced. It’s particularly effective for longer, scruffier beards, though it still works pretty well for shorter, more closely-cropped beards.
And there you have it: nine nifty tips to help make your beard trimming experience a hell of a lot easier. Like what you just read? Have a few tips of your own to add? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below. Don’t forget to share these tips with your friends or family who have trouble managing their beards. They may just appreciate the suggestions you’re passing along to them!