A great beard takes work. Left alone, beards can go wild quickly. Your beard could be dogged with knots, frayed ends, and snowy dandruff. Learning how to maintain a beard is an important part of how a man presents himself to the world.
If your whiskers are in good shape, you can style them as much or as little as your little heart desires. But some of you are going to need an overhaul. The following will go over some of the important things you will need to know to whip your mug into fighting form.
Not everybody is going to need everything on this list. But there’s probably something on the list that you don’t have that would be worth dropping some coin on.
When it comes to the gear, it’s like anything else. There’s a lot of manufacturers, and there will be a lot of opinions out there. Usually the difference between ‘Good’ and ‘Great’ comes down the preferences of the person.
If you like the highly engineered gadgets, you’re going to lose your mind when you see what’s out there. If you like products with a lot of utility and are reasonable on the pocketbook, they’re out there too.
Products, on the other hand, are a much broader market. There’s so many ways to mix up the formulas that you’re best off trying a couple products. Since these are consumables, eventually you’ll run out and you can decide to stick to what you like, or try something different.
Fine tooth comb: This is your forward action tool. Most beards are thicker than the hair north of the eyebrows. These don’t have to be expensive, but they can’t be cheap. Unless you like having a comb that’s missing more teeth than a bare knuckle boxer. Over time you can change the direction your hair follicles grow, the daily comb is how you do it.
Detangling comb: You’ll know if you need this one. Beards that have been neglected (or if you’ve won the genetic lottery) need something to work out rough ends and tangles. Again, these don’t have to be expensive, but they can’t be cheap.
Beard trimmer: You can do a lot with just the scissors, but electric trimmers can do some pretty precise things much faster. Depends on how crisp you’d like things to look and what styles you like. If you need to tighten things up regularly, you can’t go wrong with a good trimmer.
Safety Razor: Why a razor when we’re talking about beards? Some beards just look better if you shave the edges. Plus you may have some other hairs to go after. On the neck for example. A good razor is a staple for anyone, male or female, with hairs to shave.
Wall Mounted Mirror: Particularly with trickier hair/beard styles, the wall mounted mirror comes in extremely handy. It’s as close as you’re going to get to having eyes on the back of your head. Once you get used to being able to position a mirror that frees up both your hands, it will be difficult for you to go back. These are handy for all elements of grooming and Styling.
Beard Shampoo: These work much the way regular shampoos do and those products may be good enough. If you’re finding your skin under the beard is becoming itchy or inflamed, beard shampoos are designed to address those issues. There is also such a thing as beard dandruff. If any of these affect you, you may want to consider one of these products.
Beard Conditioner: Much like regular conditioner, these products affect the quality of the beard hairs post-wash. They soften beards that are rough. This will make them easier to comb and will save the skin of the people you love that come into close contact with you.
Beard Oil or Beard Wax: These products will also help condition your beard hairs, but are more oriented towards styling. Use these in combination to the combs you’ve purchased to create a style you like. Over time your hair follicles will reorient themselves.
The tools and products available can be used for dramatically different results. The first step would be to take stock of what you’re hair can actually do.
Look to your own cultural background and ethnicity. There are some distinct trends you’ll spot on the actual qualities of your beard. The individual's hairs can be very thick, or fine, and the beard overall can be very dense or sparse. There's’ not much you can do about these qualities.
You can, however, adjust other qualities. Straight hairs or curly hairs can be modified with products. And the overall grain and direction of hair growth can be modified over time by consistently combing/styling the hairs in particular directions.
Embrace the constraints, and you’ll find there’s a lot of flexibility within what you can change.
Starting with a good wash, both shampoo, and conditioning, it a good idea for everyone. You won’t necessarily need to do this as often as you shower, but it’s a good place to start. Experiment with how often you need to do this - if you’ve been falling behind in your care, it may be a good idea to do more often up front and settle into a regular schedule.
Run the detangling comb, and then the fine tooth comb through your beard. This isn’t about styling, this is about maintenance. If you’re finding it particularly rough, it likely means the ends have begun to fray and split. As a result, they are catching on each other. Work from top to bottom, and work out any knots. Avoid yanking, this can make things worse.
When tried, use either scissors or more ideally the beard trimmer to remove any damaged ends. Wait until the beard is dry (or mostly dry) first. Wet beards have a funny way of fooling you. Use your wall mounted mirror if you need. For longer beards you’re looking at trimming the ends, most men won't need to remove much to get rid of the damaged ends.
But go through this process again in a week to catch anything that was missed. With shorter beards, you may want to use the beard trimmers adjustable clippers. Follow the grain of the hair. Beard conditioners are good for preventing further hair damage in the future.
Now pay attention to any styling concerns. Scissors, electric trimmers, and razors will be used to remove all undesirable hairs. Go slow, so you don’t remove too much, but remember it’s just hair, it will grow back if you screw it up. Extra points for shaving off any stray neck hairs.
- Try a beard oil or a beard wax for final treatment and styling. Work the hair with your fingers or your fine tooth comb. This activity will be the one you do most often, and will “train” your beard to move into the orientation you like. These products can be used as often as daily (feel free to experiment).
So there you have it. The quick-and-dirty of everything you’ll need to know to take your faceful of scruff and steel wool and turning it into something that will turn some heads. As mentioned, not everyone will need every product, or even every step on the list.
But at a minimum, everyone should be competent in how to maintain a beard. As a base, everyone should be able to remove any freys and knots, and use some preventative maintenance to keep the hairs and skin in good shape, and prevent dandruff.
Review these steps often, and get out there and represent great beards to the unwashed masses.
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