So you’ve made the decision to grow a beard, and you’re finally getting used to letting your facial hair have its way. Feels good, doesn’t it?
Growing a beard can definitely be a liberating experience, because the moment you decide to stop being a “slave to the shave” every day, you begin to feel a sense of empowerment that’s hard to describe. After all, men are naturally gifted with the power to grow facial hair, and when you finally decide to harness that power, it is not uncommon to feel a new wave of virility and manliness sweep over you.
Growing a beard can also completely change how you are perceived by the opposite sex; you can start turning the heads of women who may have never even noticed you before, and let’s face it – that feels pretty good too.
As awesome as growing a beard is, you will also have to give some attention to grooming your beard evenly. These factors are important no matter how long or short your beard is, because an out-of-control beard can quickly send the wrong message. In other words, you don’t want the only attention you get to be someone mistaking you for a vagrant.
Therefore, learning how to shape, style and trim a beard is an essential skill that will help you maximize the appearance of this facial hair that you have worked so hard – okay, waited so long – to grow.
But before we can get into any in-depth discussion about beard grooming, we have to settle the issue of what type of beard style you’re going to choose. This requires answering the age-old question…
What Are the Various Beard Styles?
There are tons of popular beard styles, any one of which can serve to give your face distinction and character. Here are the 6 most common beard styles you’ll see nowadays:
1. The Full Beard
The full beard looks exactly like it sounds. Your beard and mustache are connected, and your cheek hairs are grown out as well. Full beards provide perhaps the most abundant “coverage” of your face out of all the different beard styles. Hair length for full beards can be short or long, as long as the appropriate areas of the face are covered.
2. The Long Beard
Long beards are generally regarded as any type of beard style that extends below the chin. The length of the beard can be anywhere from 1 to 2 inches below the chin, all the way to a full-on Santa Claus or Duck Dynasty style.
3. Neckline Beard
While some guys choose to keep everything below the neck and jawline shaven, the neckline beard emphasizes a more full-bodied look on the underside of your jaw. As the name implies, a neckline beard has a definitive point at which the hair stops before encroaching upon the neck. Those who choose not to tidy up their necks by shaving below the neckline are often referred to as “neckbeards”.
4. Cheekline Beard
The cheek line (i.e. the point at which your beard hair stops growing on your cheeks) is one of the most difficult things for a burgeoning beard grower to master. A cheekline beard is one in which the cheek lines are adequately defined, which means that the hair will grow up to just below the cheekbone area, and everything above that level is normally shaved clean. For many guys, this hair growth pattern takes place naturally with little help from the razor, but for others whose beards lean more towards “wolfman” tendencies, it is necessary to use some type of shaving tool to shape up the cheek line.
5. Ducktail Beard
True to its namesake, the ducktail beard is a style that is similar in shape to the posterior of a duck when viewed from above. This unique shape is achieved by a combination of the soul patch (that cluster of whiskers just below the bottom lip) and fairly full-looking chin hair that culminates into somewhat of a small point at the bottom.
6. Goatee Beard and Mustache
A goatee beard is usually just chin hair that has been grown out to whatever length the beard wearer chooses. The width of the goatee normally doesn’t extend beyond the corners of the mouth. Classic goatees do not include a mustache, but many men have modified the goatee beard by combining it with a well-grown mustache; this is officially known as the “goatee beard and mustache”.
So now that you have a good idea of some of the most popular beard styles, it’s going to be up to you to decide which style will be the best fit for your particular facial features. Once you have settled on what that style will be, then it will be time to start the shaping, styling and trimming process. For that, you’re going to need some tools.
Beard Grooming: The Tools Of Trade
Just like a gardener needs a tiller, hoe, trowel, and other tools to successfully plant and maintain a garden, so you too will need a set of essential tools to help you properly groom and maintain your beard.
Now this is not the time to start skimping on equipment costs; you deserve to have adequate tools that were specifically created to perform the job. Yeah, if it came down to it, you could maintain your beard with a sharp knife or a pair of school scissors, but you’re not stranded on a desert island, so you don’t have to treat grooming your beard like you’re in survival mode. Investing in the following 3 tools will be a choice that you won’t regret:
1. An electric beard trimmer
This is going to be a staple of your beard grooming repertoire. Try to choose a trimmer that allows for long beard hair settings, because this will offer you more versatility when it comes to styling options. For example, if you’re going to rock a full-blast face-covering beard, it’ is almost a given that you’re going to need a longer setting.
2. A set of professional barber scissors
Also called “cutting shears”, these ultra-sharp scissors are the perfect manual trimming and cutting tool for snagging those hairs that are hard to reach using an electric trimmer. Cutting shears also come in handy for longer beard styles that trimmers simply cannot accommodate. If you’re left-handed, be sure to do your homework and pick a pair of scissors that will be easy for southpaws to use as well.
3. A mustache and beard comb
The art of beard grooming requires something to help you keep those hairs in line, and a mustache and beard comb is the perfect tool for that job. Not only will you be able to use it to give your mustache and beard a neater and more uniform look, but it will also come in handy during the shaving process. You can use the comb to brush loose hairs away, so that you can maintain a clear picture of which hairs are attached, and which ones are not.
Where To Trim Your Beard?
Every good beard must have boundaries. The problem is that many guys are not quite sure where those boundaries are supposed to be.
Since there are no beard-trimming rules that are written in stone anywhere, it is largely left up to each individual to determine where exactly to trim their beard. There are, however, some commonly adopted “best practices” that have proven to be winners throughout the years. Here are the top 4:
The most common mistake that guys make when defining their neckline is aiming too high. You may have seen this before, where the beard comes to an abrupt halt before it even reaches the guy’s jawline. This can borderline on displaying a “clown-like” appearance, which almost no self-respecting man would ever intentionally shoot for.
The neckline should remain below (or behind) your jawline, all the way from behind one earlobe to behind the other earlobe. As far as how far down your neck you should allow your beard to go, the neckline cutoff point should be roughly a finger’s breadth above your Adam’s apple. This will ensure that you’re not crossing over into neckbeard territory.
2. Cheek lines
As mentioned earlier, the cheek lines should be allowed to grow up to their natural stopping point, unless you have legitimate concerns about facial hair growing up to your eyes. Trimming the cheek line too low will produce an unflattering look for your beard, and may put you at risk of looking like a backup singer for Color Me Badd from 1991.
Allow your cheek hairs to grow freely before trimming them so that you can find out where they naturally begin to taper off. Once you have identified this cutoff point, you can then shave anything above that point. For most guys, this cutoff point will be just below the cheekbones. You can choose to define a hard line, or allow it to play out more naturally to give it a softer look. It’s up to your personal taste, as well as what your girlfriend or wife might think about it.
Just remember, the woman’s opinion always wins.
Be sure to shape up your mustache line so that you won’t have stray hairs sprouting up in areas where they’re not welcome. This includes the small area right below your nostrils; if you allow those hairs to creep up too close to your nostril openings, things can quickly get out of control. You can also tidy up any mustache hairs that are protruding too far over your lip line or into the corners of your mouth, both of which can be very aggravating. A mustache and beard comb really comes in handy for this.
4. Chin hair
Depending upon the style of beard you’re going for, you may need to trim your chin hairs to keep everything up to snuff. For example, if you’re sporting a goatee, you will need to keep it from spreading over too wide of an area on your face. If you have opted for a full beard, however, you will just need to make sure that any extra-long stragglers or just downright wild hairs get trimmed to keep the beard looking uniform and even.
2 Ways To Trim Your Beard Evenly
For relatively short beard lengths (e.g. anything below 1-2 inches), the most common tool used to trim a beard is an electric trimmer. The guards that come with the trimmers allow you to trim your beard evenly without having to worry too much about having an “eagle eye” for proportion.
For longer beards, cutting shears are common, although some guys know how to freehand with a trimmer like a boss. You can use the fingers on your free hand as a “bumper” to make sure that you’re not trimming or cutting past a certain point. One of the most reliable tricks of the trade is to start in the middle and work your way out to the sides. This will help you maintain a good sense of symmetry throughout the entire shaving process.
How To Groom Your Beard Properly?
Make sure that your beard is completely dry before you do any grooming. The importance of this point cannot be overstated.
If you try to trim or shave a wet (or even damp) beard, you’re going to end up with a crazy, clumpy mess, so make sure that your beard is Sahara Desert dry before attempting to groom it.
In addition, always comb out your beard as you’re shaving to get rid of any loose hairs. It’s unreal how many times loose beard hairs can deceive your eyes into thinking that you still need to shape up an area of your beard to keep things even, only to find out later that you were using loose hairs as your gauge. Once those hairs fall out, now your beard is uneven again. So make sure to comb out loose hairs as you go.
3 Steps To Maintain A Perfect Beard And Mustache
Step1 – Shampoo and condition your beard on a daily basis, just like you do for your regular hair. This will stimulate your hair follicles and keep your beard hairs nice, shiny and healthy. Plus, you never know what particles may be lurking in there that need to be released.
Step 2 – Comb your beard and mustache on a regular basis.
Step 3 – Apply a small amount of beard oil to give your beard a softer and more healthy look. Some guys opt for beard pomade as well; it can add just enough weight to your beard hairs to keep those “flyaway” hairs under wraps, and keep everything looking uniform. Beard pomade can also serve as a pretty handy shaping agent as well.
Alright…you now have all of the information you need to properly shape, style and trim your beard. Consider yourself equipped to go forth and “beard up” like a pro!