Winter is coming. (Sorry, we couldn’t help the Game of Thrones reference.) That means it’s the season to get in on the beard trend. Whether you’re kick-starting your stubble growth with No-Shave November (aka Movember), or just want tips on how grow a great beard, here’s everything you need to know if you want to grow a beard while keeping it neat and tidy.
Nothing is better than getting a close shave and a trim at the barber. But in reality, you’re not going to be sitting in that chair every day. Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to take care of your beard in between trips to the barber. “The first is to keep your skin clean, using a scrub a couple of times a week,” advises Francesco Cirignotta, Proraso Master Barber. “The second is to keep your beard and skin hydrated by using hot oils for coarse, bristly beards and normal oil for other beard types. The length of a beard requires continual hydration.” Proraso Hot Oil Beard Treatment ($18, Sephora.com) will do the trick.
“When trimming your beard, take your time,” recommends Global Hairstylist Simon Miller. “Make sure you have plenty of light in front and behind you, which will allow you to see the overall shape while you are pruning your face hedge. Wearing a white shirt helps too.” A simple how-to: Use a wide-tooth comb or boar bristle brush. Fluff your beard up then comb back into place. Use scissors to trim any wild hairs that won’t be tamed, and remember to only cut one or two hairs at a time.
While every face shape is different, a good rule of thumb is to prevent your beard from making your face look too round. An easy trick is combing your sideburns forward onto your face and cutting the hair that extends past your sideburns hairline. “This will remove more length and give a nice transition from hair to beard,” explains Miller. “And remember, beards have growth patterns and cowlicks just like the hair on your head. You may need to cut each side a little different to achieve symmetry.”
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5. Clean Slate
Just like you wash your hair, your beard needs to be sudsed up too. “Lather thick beards with shampoos researched to hydrate, remove impurities and provide nourishment,” Cirignotta says. The Jack Black Beard Grooming Kit ($35, Getjackblack.com) contains everything you need to tend to your scruff, including a wash.
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6. High and Dry
It’s no secret that harsh winter weather can leave skin parched, and this applies to your beard, too. “Calm any itchiness by cleaning the skin well and, above all, by keeping it hydrated,” Cirignotta says. “Hydration comes from the oils, as well as hydrating balms.” Proraso Beard Balm ($18, Sephora.com) conditions and softens beard hair, while menthol delivers itching relief. “Essentially, what bristly beards need is water, which we provide through hot oil that is able to penetrate the scurf,” Cirignotta says.
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7. Oil Change
A beard oil—such as Kiehl’s Nourishing Beard Grooming Oil ($27, kiehls.com)—is the go-to product for smoothing, conditioning and strengthening the hair and skin, so find one that works for you. “Remember this is on your face, so pick a fragrance you and your partner don’t mind smelling all the time,” Miller says.
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8. Your Beard is One-of-a-Kind
Still struggling to grow a beard? That’s totally normal. “Everyone grows a unique beard,” Miller says. “They’re like snowflakes. Don’t be frustrated if you aren’t growing the perfect model you see on Instagram. Be patient and realistic with yourself and you soon will be part of the bearded brotherhood,” he says.