Caring For Your Beard
A Well-Groomed Beard
Owning and Caring for a Beard
Let me tell you from extensive experience, having a beard is not as easy as it looks. The common belief is that all we have to do is let it grow and a beard will shape, groom and keep itself clean without much intervention from the beard wearer. This is so far from the truth as to be laughable!
Beards are nasty creatures with a life, and a will, of their own. They love to disobey and always seem to be trying to have things their own way. It's a war and we fight it every single day.
Beards must be nurtured, groomed, trimmed, washed, loved, combed or brushed, clipped, shaped and presentable. We grow them for ourselves as well as for the general public and are not a statement but a choice. Why we choose to grow a beard does not matter as much as what type of beard it is that we want to grow.
How much upkeep is one willing to invest in this beard?
Do you want a full beard with complete care and that comes with it or do you want a goatee with simple grooming?
So many questions run through one's mind when considering growing a beard in the first place. It's a commitment, a long-term commitment that usually lasts for at least a few years. Some then decide to cut it off or create a new shape out of it. Some can get quite creative with their beards and enter them in contests.
Throughout one's lifetime there are various reasons for wanting to grow a beard, whether it be a full beard, a goatee, or another form. Most, of course, are for reasons of vanity but other reasons can be:
* A show of masculinity
* To cover up a facial flaw
* To hide behind
* To impress
* Due to sensitive skin
* For heath reasons
Some seem to relate to beards as being dirty and unkempt but this is far from the truth. Unless the person is living on the streets, a man with a beard is usually very adept at keeping his manly hairs clean and presentable. After all, everyone wants to look their best at all times when in the public eye, right?
Keeping Your Beard Clean
Keeping a beard clean does not mean simply taking a shower. It means washing and cleaning on a daily basis to keep it looking its best.
Ever have a piece of rice stick to your face and you didn't know it until someone mentioned it or you saw it when you looked at yourself in a mirror? Well, a beard is like a food magnet and it's amazing what one can find in there. When guys stroke their beards, not only does it feel nice for them but it's also to make sure there is nothing stuck in there!
Whether it's a simple water cleansing or a soaping in the sink, or a complete scrubbing in the shower, a beard needs to be kept clean for it to become a personal part of your attire. A beard can appear very ugly, and do it quickly, if not kept properly cleaned and groomed.
Shampooing a beard is a simple matter, like shampooing the hair on your head, plus your face is more accessible to your hands and fingers. Even for a full-length standard beard, one only needs about a dime-sized amount of shampoo in their hand to do the job quite well. Scrub using your fingertips, not your nails, as you don't want to irritate or scratch your skin. Never use soap on your beard just as you would never use soap on your head hair.
A beard could always use a good conditioning and hair conditioner works just fine. Beard hair is much coarser than the hair on one's head so extra conditioning is always a good idea. Leave it on while you bathe and rinse it clean just before you are finished with your shower.
When drying with a towel, be careful not to over dry but to keep a bit of moisture in for smoother combing afterwards. A properly groomed beard is clean and combed nicely!
Grooming Your Beard
The key to keeping your beard properly groomed is repetition and patience. It is a daily ritual that must be performed if one is to attain the perfection one seeks in their own particular style of beard.
Beards are not one color, at least not for me. I have black hairs, brown hairs, red hairs and gray hairs. Dying it is always an option but once you start you pretty much have to keep up with it on a bi-weekly basis. I just let mine grow naturally now because dying became too much of a hassle and I didn't like clipping out the stray gray hairs that "got away."
The individual hairs in a beard have a mind of their own. Some go this way, others go that way. Some go up, some go down. Some are curly, some are straight. Some go up my nose, others stick straight out. It's a contest to keep up with it, snipping here and there daily, to keep it in shape and nicely groomed.
There are plenty of tips and different techniques on how to groom one's beard and, of course, it's all a personal preference.
One of the most tedious, most time-consuming, most frustrating part of keeping a beard properly maintained is trimming or clipping. It is a maddening ordeal that must be dealt with as one deals with a spoiled child. Hairs will defy you, dodge your attempt to cut them, and laugh at you in the process.
If you choose to trim with scissors, a good pair is recommended. A sharp pair is best so you don't end up pulling your hairs out instead of snipping them (ouch!) I use a small pair of scissors, about 3 inches in length, that are perfect and do the job well.
Personally, I don't like using an electric beard trimmer since I don't trust them. Edge trimming is best done with a blade anyway. If you have a trimmer, refer to the instructions supplied with your machine for more details. That's all I have to say on that.
Never trim a damp beard. Wet or damp hairs will appear longer than they really are. You want your beard at its natural length and if you trim it while it's damp you will cut off too much. Besides, when it's dry is when it does all it's little curls, dives and dips.
If you use scissors with a comb, comb through the beard and trim the hair on the outer side of the comb all to the same length. Easy as pie.
Yes, you still have to do some shaving in order to maintain proper grooming. Shaving along the neckline of the beard is especially tricky. Get close to the mirror and do light, downward strokes from the edge of your beard followed by even lighter upward strokes. Personally, I have to finish that up with a right-to-left swipe of the razor due to the direction of growth of my individual hairs.
Also, shaving along the face is sometimes necessary, depending on the particular beard style chosen. Little strokes of the razor are easy here and can be done in no time. Just remember to not run into the hairline of the beard and you will be fine.
Just remember to follow up any razor action with a good lotion to sooth your irritated skin afterwards.
Do I really need to tell you how to use a comb? If you want to keep your beard looking nicely groomed, comb or brush straight down your cheek to your neck on both sides and straight down from your chin to your neck.
Some people prefer that lumberjack look and never comb their beard, preferring instead to simply stroke it with their hands. This will create a more puffy-type of beard, depending on the person's hair structure.
Using a Beard Oil
The beard is a drier hair than the head hair so some people will oil their beard hairs. I don't use it and I really don't see a reason for it. The beard does just fine with hair conditioner. I suppose it is another of those personal preferences.