The Grooming Manual
These days, everyone wants to try out the beard look. Especially in a semi-quarantined world - and with no-shave November around the corner - it can be a cool and different look. But here’s the thing: if you don’t make smart grooming a priority, your beard can go really wrong.
Here are the 10 most common mistakes to avoid and how to get it right.
1. Using Beard Oil Incorrectly
Yes, beard oil is important - and a high-quality, natural, and organic beard oil will condition your beard, soothe your skin, and deeply moisturize your face and hair.
The problem? Many men skip beard oil altogether or apply it only on the hair itself, and not on the skin. Both mistakes can exacerbate itching, dry skin, ingrown hairs, and an unkempt appearance.
Your body produces its own sebum, the oil that protects your skin’s natural barrier and keeps your skin healthy and hydrated.
When your beard starts to grow, it draws that sebum into the beard - so you’re not longer getting the same amount of moisture you need on your face. Translation: dandruff, itching, and irritated skin.
That’s why you should apply beard oil to both your facial hair and the skin under your beard. This will soothe any irritation and maintain the balanced hydration the need to be healthy.
2. Getting Impatient
The process of growing and maintaining a beard is not something that you can rush. Yet it's something that many men often get impatient about - and this impatience will never pay off.
That's why, as your beard grows and you experience concerns like patchiness, itchiness, or an uneven appearance -- which, make no mistake, you will likely experience at some point -- the most important thing is to give your beard the time it needs to thrive.
It’s also important to keep from trimming your beard too early or too often. You may be eager to see your beard look even and neat, but too-frequent trimming can take you back to square one.
Instead, wait until your beard feels settled and make sure you:
- Start conservatively: Trim a little at a time so you don’t deal with costly mistakes.
- Comb your beard: Before trimming, brush your beard so you get a better sense of its length and how much you need to cut.
- Only trim dry: Never trim a wet beard. It will appear longer than it actually is, and you won’t be happy with the results once your beard dries.
3. Having Irregular Edges
This one can be tricky. It’s difficult to cut your beard or your hair in a straight line if you’re not a professional. But you have to make sure that it is even and symmetrical all the way around if you want your beard to look right.
Not sure you can get it right? Have your barber do it the first time, then learn to maintain his work. This will be a learning process. But don't worry, it gets much easier as you get the hang of it.
4. Trimming The Neckline Incorrectly
A lot of men go wrong here. They wind up either trimming their beards either too high or too low down the neckline.
Use this simple rule of thumb: Trim just above your Adam’s apple, where your head connects to your neck.
This will prevent your beard from looking small or thin. It also keeps you from getting the caveman look you'll be rocking if your beard goes further down your neck.
5. Skipping on Beard Maintenance
Many guys don’t treat the hair in their beard the same way they treat the hair on their head. They don’t shampoo regularly or spend time on keeping it clean.
But this is a critical step that can't be skipped. It doesn’t mean that you should shampoo every day - in fact, doing so may worsen any problems with dryness or itching and make your beard look overly fluffy. Still, you should make time to wash and brush your beard regularly.
Always use a high-quality, non-stripping wash along with a wooden or metallic comb that is designed for beard grooming.
6. Choosing a Style Your Face Doesn’t Support
You may have your heart set on a Grizzly Adams look or an ultra-sleek, retro cut. But if your beard and your face don’t support it, it’s just not going to work. Go with what actually makes sense for your face structure, your facial hair growth, and your whiskers' consistency.
If you don’t know which style to choose, consult with your barber once you have some growth. Let them give you some insight into looks and styles that might make sense for you.
7. Ignoring the Mustache
A mustache can be considered its own entity, and it should be treated as such. Make sure that you keep it clean and neat. Use a fine-tooth comb to shape your mustache and keep it neatly trimmed around your mouth.
In addition, make sure that you:
- Choose the right mustache style for your hair and face shape
- Use a wax or oil to keep your hair styled and in order
- Trim your mustache regularly
- Comb it every day
8. Trimming A Beard Wet
Never trim your beard when it’s wet. Water straightens your facial hair and makes it appear longer than it is. If you trim your hair wet, you’ll get a much shorter result when it finally dries out.
Always be sure your beard is fully dry before you start trimming - and, of course, don’t forget to comb it as well.
9. Incorrectly Shaving the Top Line
We already discussed the neckline, but the top line on your cheek is just as important. Some men let this area grow naturally, but others prefer to shave it to better define their beard and give it more structure.
Just be sure this top line does not go too low. If you trim it down too much, your beard will have a shrunken, unnatural look that isn't flattering.
Stay conservative with this shaping process. Remember, less is more when it comes to connecting your sideburns to your mustache.
10. Using Harsh Products
If you wash your beard with a bar soap or a cheap drug store wash, you're not doing yourself any favors. These products often contain harsh, problematic ingredients like phthalates, sulfates, and detergents - all of which can cause irritation, dryness, and slower beard growth.