How to Grow and Maintain Healthy Facial Hair
Whether you’re growing your first beard or are determined to grow your best-ever beard, there are ways you can ensure success. (In terms of beard growing, “success” means that you reach your full potential for a great-looking beard, no matter its length.)
These tips are universal in that they’ll help you set realistic expectations for how the beard will look—for example, perhaps your beard is patchy, but you can still make the most of it. You shouldn’t be discouraged just because your beard isn’t as full as James Harden’s. Lots of guys have great beards and they’re working with far less.
Again, the rules can be applied to every guy’s own beard growth. Follow them, and you’ll grow the healthiest, most lustrous beard possible.
Know your limits, and your potential
What’s the most frequent question guys ask regarding their beard? “How can I grow more facial hair?” Well, if you’re in your mid or late 20s (or older), you’re probably set with your full deck. Some guys may experience late-stage growth, but it’s most important to accept your own beard as it is, and to make the most from there. Maybe you lack hair on the cheeks but can grow a full beard under the jaw and chin—great! That’s a perfectly normal beard style. So frame your goals around what is realistic.
Your ideal length may not be uniform
Second, it’s important to assess the shape of your head, and to aim for a beard style that flatters your geometry. The key here is to make things as oval as possible—if possible. In other words, if you have a long, narrow face (rectangular shaped), then don’t grow a long beard, or it’ll negatively accentuate that length. Instead, aim for a beard that grows more on the cheeks and less volume underneath. If your face is circular or square shaped, then keep it light on the sides, fuller on bottom. Do whatever you can to create a balance of width and length (not a perfect balance, but certainly not a hugely disproportionate imbalance, either). If your face is naturally oval in shape, then go crazy—you can probably try just about anything and it will flatter the passing eye.
Also, if you keep a shorter style and never even venture in the face-shape assessment territory, then consider a slightly contrasting length of your mustache and beard. Maybe a more weighty mustache and shorter beard is your strong suit—or perhaps the other way around. Don’t settle on a single guard length simply because that’s all you’ve cared to try. Play with contrasts, and suddenly you unlock dozens of new potential styles.
Keep the perimeter clean
Always shave the neckline and cheek lines of your beard to define the edges and give your beard intentional shape. Even if you prefer a bushy, boisterous beard (in its unkempt glory), this is the key difference between growing a beard responsibly and simple refusing to groom oneself. A beard helps give your face definition and dimension, and a clean neckline is always necessary. A neckbeard looks like a bunch of weeds overtaking your vegetable plot. The same goes for stray beard lines that lack definition.
The easiest way to “draw” your beard neckline? Imagine a U-shape from behind the two ears, swooping down behind the jaws and to the top of the neck. Rest two fingers (middle and pointer) atop each other and above the Adam’s apple. Now, envision the U from behind the ears meeting at this point (it’s the bottom of the U). Shave everything underneath the U, and keep everything above it.
Stock up on beard oils and conditioners
You’ve heard about beard oils, but maybe haven’t heard exactly what they do: Beard oils quickly absorb into each hair and deliver vitamins and nutrients that soften and hydrate the entire mane. In turn, this makes the beard softer, less itchy, and easier to tame (that is, more cooperative). Oils are also effective at reaching the skin beneath the beard, which is otherwise difficult to target and moisturize when it’s covered up.
Second, you can also try beard conditioners (creams or lotions) that work exactly like facial moisturizers to achieve the same end. Either way, this is a necessary part of maintaining a beard of any length, to ensure its long-term health and short-term management.
You probably need a comb and a brush
A beard comb is the easiest way to distribute oils evenly throughout the beard, or even to shape and style the beard after a warm shower and beard-cream application. It’s the tool you need for good presentation.
A beard brush, on the other hand, is an effective way to exfoliate the skin underneath the beard, and to remove dead skin cells that otherwise might get trapped (ditto for any other crumbs and particles that make their way into that nest). It also helps pull the natural oils produced by your skin and deliver them to the rest of the beard—similar to brushing your hair, which is an effort to nourish the full hair strand instead of just the roots. This prevents breakage, hair splitting, itching, and more.
Mustache scissors and balm go a long way
If your beard requires more than oil and a comb to keep its shape and tame flyaways, then you need to call in the reserves. That’s a good pair of spot-checking scissors (typically sold as mustache scissors), and a weighty beard balm that helps preserve a beard’s style and shape while keeping it soft and nourished. (You can either apply it thoroughly throughout the entire beard or simply graze the outside of the beard with balm in your palms to give the outer layer a frizz-free coating.
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