Just like history, fashion always repeats itself and the resurgence of the popularity of facial hair is just the most recent iteration of a cycle that has taken place for centuries. In the past beards have been seen as a sign of intelligence, wealth and a much admired status symbol, and at times they’ve also been considered the mark of a villain. Beards were particularly popular amongst the wealthy for several centuries until the advent of World War one, when it was discovered that a full resplendent beard interfered with the effectiveness of gas-masks so the trend for a respectable gentleman turned once again to that clean-cut look.
For some the daily grind of shaving can be a torturous ten minutes that leave our faces feeling scratched, dry and uncomfortable, but now that beards are considered cool again many of us have put the razor down for good and look forward to a face full of luxurious growth. But a great looking beard doesn’t just happen on it’s own, to avoid looking like a throwback to the Neanderthal age there are plenty of things we can do to get the kind of beard that looks cool, tidy and fashionable.
Choose a Beard That Suits The Shape of Your Face
If you’re like me and have the kind of face that only a mother could love then you’re probably just considering letting your beard grow as much as possible, but as well as hiding your face, a beard can also draw attention to some of your least favorite features, so think about what sort of beard would really suit you.
If you have a rounder face and perhaps more chins than you’re entirely happy with you can obscure the jaw line with a beard that stretches below it. A goatee with sharp edges will also make your face look more angular if you want to exaggerate your cheekbones and that’s usually the fastest growing part of your facial hair too. Shorter hair at the sides with a longer growth around the chin will stretch your face out and give you a more streamlined look.
If you have a longer and thinner face then a thicker growth at the sides with a well-trimmed beard around the mouth and chin will round your overall appearance off and give your face a more pleasing proportional shape. If you are slim or underweight you may have sunken cheeks, in which case leave the hairs at the side of beard to grow longer, which will also help to even the shape of your face up.
Maintaining Your Beard to Keep it in Great Condition
Once your stubble has finally grown into the beginnings of a real beard you’ll need to perform a small amount of maintenance on it at least once or twice a week if you want to keep a tidy professional looking beard suitable for work or the office. Once you’re in the habit of not shaving the speed with which a beard can become scruffy and unkempt looking is surprisingly fast, so follow these tips for a well-groomed and tidy beard.
If you’ve decided to trim your beard below the jawline, you’ll need to keep your neck free from bristles at least every 3-4 days to keep things tidy. If your beard grows particularly quickly you may even have to shave your neck every day. Use a razor to maintain the edge of your beard at the jawline and rinse it using warm water, if you perform this task regularly the added growth should come off with only one pass of the razor, if you leave it too long the task will require far more work. The skin of the neck can also bunch up so lift your head up and stretch out the skin if necessary to ensure that you are shaving over the actual surface of the skin. Fading the length of stubble on your chin by using a closer setting with clippers further down your neck can work well for a great professional looking beard, although this will require some trial and error before you achieve the look you are after.
One of the main issues when first growing a beard is the itchiness that it creates. This is sometimes caused due to not caring for the skin beneath it properly. Make sure to clean your face beneath the beard daily and wash your beard at the same time as you wash your hair. Using regular hair shampoo on your beard is not always the best choice as it can strip your whiskers of moisture. Using a gentle hydrating face wash as an alternative to shampoo is far more likely to keep your stubble in good condition in the early stages of beard growth, but make sure you completely rinse off any soap from your beard after washing to avoid flaking or even dandruff when it dries. If you use conditioner after washing your hair then you can use it on your beard too, this will result in you having a soft silky beard that feels great. There are conditioners that are specifically designed for beards on the market, and just like regular conditioner there are formulas for a variety of hair types.
Use a comb or brush to de-tangle your beard before you start trimming, make sure to comb your mustache too and try to get all the hairs settling into the same direction, particularly if your beard is long and thick. When your beard is first growing it’s a good idea to comb or brush it at least once a day as this will train the hairs to grow the way you want them to and save you lots of time, trouble and tangles when your whiskers become fully grown. Make sure you trim when your beard is dry as the eventual shape of your facial hair is likely to change if you trim when your whiskers are wet. After combing your mustache out use clippers to trim any hairs that hang over the lip, and if your mustache grows particularly thick and you would like to thin it out, run clippers through it a few times or alternatively use just a comb and scissors to reduce some of the thickness.
Often you will find that your beard will grow at different rates, so experiment with different styles while it is growing to avoid patchiness and uneven growth. Your cheeks in particular may take longer to achieve a thick growth of hairs so trim them with clippers to leave them looking tidy.
If you have the type of beard that is particularly wiry or rough then you might want to use a beard oil that will add softness to your whiskers and keep the moisture locked in to them. This will not only keep your beard looking healthy and shiny but it will also make trimming and maintaining the shape easier as its grows.
Keep the skin beneath your beard well moisturized, our bodies can sometimes produce extra oils on the face when a beard is grown which will result in uncomfortable breakouts beneath it, particularly in the cheek and chin areas. Moisturizing these regions should help avoid such problems and using moisturizer on your neck after you’ve shaved it will help avoid agitated and dry skin. Don’t forget to use a moisturizer with added sunscreen if you’re out in the sun for a large proportion of your day or your beard is not particularly thick yet.
Use The Right Tools for Maintaining your Beard
If you have a steady hand then you can just use a comb and scissors to trim your beard to the required length, but if you’re like me and your hand is a bit shaky in the mornings before a daily fix of caffeine settles your nerves, then you might find an investment in the proper tools avoids minor bloodshed and uneven trimming with ease. Clippers or beard trimmers will help you maintain the edges of your beard, particularly if you like a shorter beard or stubble. A pair of tweezers will help you sort out any problems with ingrown hairs and a pair of good quality miniature scissors with a sharp edge will make daily trimming of odd breakaway hairs an easy task.
A Healthy Lifestyle Helps a Healthy Beard
If you really want to give your beard a top-notch appearance then a healthy diet and lifestyle will help your whiskers gain a shiny and great-looking sheen, as well as improving your skin and general well-being of course. Drinking plenty of water to ensure you are fully hydrated will improve things, and taking vitamins that increase the strength and health of your hair will help, in particular if they are rich in biotin and Vitamins D, B5, B3 and B9. Foods rich in Omega 3 such as seafood, nuts, grains, fruit and vegetables will all increase the thickness and strength of your beard. If you’re a smoker and you’re always telling yourself you’re going to give up one day, there can be no better time then when you’re about to embark on a new set of whiskers. If you’re seriously committed to giving your beard every advantage then you can invest in vitamin supplements such as Vitabeard that are particularly geared towards growing a healthy set of whiskers.
The tips above should help you to choose a beard that will enhance your appearance and keep your facial hair looking healthy and shiny. If you’re unsure of what type of beard will suit you best then your barber should be able to advise you, alternatively take a picture of your face and experiment with a few styles in photoshop to see what is likely to suit you best. Most importantly of all be patient when your beard is first growing, the first week or so it’s unlikely to look great but the eventually results will be more than worth it. Itchiness on your face will subside within a week or so as long as you keep your whiskers and skin clean and well hydrated, and best of all once you have grown a decent sized beard it’s a lot easier and less itchy if you decide to shave it off and start the process all over again.