“Lose your beard” it was said, “and you lose your soul.” It would explain why well-respected men such as Shakespeare, Marcus Aurelius, and Socrates lived with such passion.
You stop shaving – you grow a beard. It’s science right?
Not exactly, there is far more to beardliness than first meets the eye.
When I first found myself desperately wanting a manly beard, I had no clue where to even begin.. I knew putting down the razor was one thing, but taking care of your beard and actually living with it… Well, now there’s a real challenge.
Nervousness aside, I gave it my best shot and began to grow. I spent a lot of time learning everything under the sun. Today, I’d like to share it all with you.
My hope is that it will help you along your own bearded journey. Perhaps you will have the confidence to do something you’ve never done before, starting today.
And speaking of today, facial hair can be seen places you’d least expect it like: the boardroom. These men aren’t sporting full beards, but it still accounts for something.
– Sergey Brin (Google’s co-founder)
– Marc Benioff (billionaire founder of Salesforce)
– Lloyd C. Blankfein (Goldman Sachs’s chief executive).
No matter what your profession or lifestyle may entail, the gift of growing a beard is shared by universally all men.
Here’s how to experience it firsthand:
THE GROWTH PROCESS
1. IT TAKES TIME
“I’m going to stop shaving”… Two weeks later, three weeks later.. You’re still not going to see a full beard. What’s going on?
The truth is, a complete beard for most men takes time. More along the lines of two to three months. Now don’t get me wrong, there are men who can grow their beard as fast as Rapunzel can grow her hair down the castle tower windows, but the reality is it’s not true for most.
If you’re starting to grow a beard plan to dedicate at least six months to it. Sure, that seems long a long time to wait, but good things come to those who wait don’t shave.
By then you’ll have a solid sense of where you stand in terms of your own growth rate. Plus you should be seeing everything start to fill out.
2. AGE MATTERS
TEENS TO TWENTIES
In your teens to 20’s it’s completely normal to picture yourself as an adult with a beard. We start to compare ourselves to our peers, question if our beard growth is normal, and more than often, jump the gun.
Perhaps you desire the same beardliness your father had and see it as true masculinity. But what we fail to understand is that picturing ourselves to others, much like the guys in the locker room who magically grow hair effortlessly, will only leave us disappointed in the present moment.
Believe it or not, you are different. After all, you are a human being, no one person is the same. As time goes on we all continue to mature. For some this is a fast process, for others a slower one.
You may start with wild sideburns and thin hair stocks that blow in the wind. Your mustache will be glorified peach fuzz, and your stubble will be far from coarse. As our own worst critic it’s an unpleasant sight to see when we fail to live up to our expectation.
The reality is, this is a small step forward towards what you wish to accomplish. It may not be the impression you would like right now, but truth be told, there is nothing to compare yourself to in the present moment.
Around 22 to 23 is when you may notice things starting to change for the better. That has been my general finding, but remember the points I made earlier. If it doesn’t happen, don’t get discouraged. While most gentlemen are seeing their beards fill in during their 20’s, the reality is beards continue to improve well into your 30’s, even 40’s.
You may be struggling to see your beard fill in during your teens or early 20’s, but by no means does that mean it’s forever going to be like that. Don’t limit your beliefs to thinking if it doesn’t grow in by a certain time, it never will, because that is far from the truth.
30’S, 40’S AND UP
Even in your late 30’s you’ll notice your beard growing in places you have never seen before. Wait till you start seeing hair grow from your nose, eyebrow and ears, then you’re in for a real treat!
3. BEARD GROWTH PRODUCTS
Every wonder why diet pills never work, yet it’s a multi-billion dollar industry? It’s not because something magical is happening, it’s because people are making boat loads of cash selling hopes and dreams.. And people desperately want to make them a reality.
The reality when it comes to beard growth products is there are none. None of which have been proven to be successful while you are using them nor long after you stop.
Sure, it would be nice achieve a permanent beard that’s thick, full in coverage, and grows to your heart’s content.. Overnight, or perhaps in a month or two, but it just doesn’t happen.
Every teenager under the sun, or most should I say, would love to grow a beard right this very moment. But until there’s a time machine, it’s going to take just that – time.
Now, I will mention there’s a mixed bag of promising reviews on Minoxidil. Some have stellar results, while others just have unwanted side effects. The most prominent take away from stories I’ve read, is that it stops working a few months to a year down the road. Your mileage may vary…
4. RATE OF GROWTH
It’s not uncommon for certain areas to start growing in before others do. In my own case, it was the sideburns first, but your experience may be entirely different.
What you’ll typically notice is that the chin area will surpass your cheek growth. The cheek area tends to grow in slower, over more time. What you’ll want to do is allow your cheeks some time to catch up, then you can trim and shape for the perfect fill.
Should you notice a bald spot in your cheek area simply give it more time. In 3-4 months the weak, bald and light spots will eventually fill-in or fill-over. Remember, not all of parts of your beard will grow at the very same rate. It brings me to the next point: Connectors.
5. MISSING CONNECTORS & COLOR
Missing connectors are nothing to worry about, in fact, most people don’t even notice them. The only real critique you’ll ever encounter is yourself wanting to be perfect. Should one be missing or the other looking thin, simply match them together to achieve symmetry.
The biggest rule when it comes to looking your best with a beard is to focus on it as a whole. It’s exactly how others will see it.
As far as color goes: If you have brown hair chances are you might start seeing your beard grow in blonde, light brown, dark brown and even a few shades of red. There is no rule that requires your beard to be one solid color.
Having a mix of colors gives your beard character and it also makes for a distinguished appearance.
7. BEARD ITCH
A WEEK OR TWO
Your beard may feel itchy, scratchy and often at times downright uncomfortable during the first month of growth.
Most men however, won’t experience beard itch at all. If you on the other hand do, you can take comfort in knowing that prickly cactus feeling will only last a matter of a week or two. After the stubble phase has ran its course the beard becomes softer and more gentle upon the face.
A little trick you can use is applying hydrocortisone cream to stop the itch if it’s absolutely unbearable. It’s a miracle-cure at times but you like anything else that works wonders, it should not be using for a long period of time. There are some dangers that come along with it, like thinning the skin; so please do your research and be careful when and where you apply it.
If the itch happens to comes back take some consideration into your skin itself, not the beard. Perhaps you have dry skin or another condition causing the annoying sensation to occur.
A few remedies you may want to consider are cleansing with beard wash, moisturizing with beard oil, and using a beard comb. If nothing else, consider taking a trip to the dermatologist.
9. HOW WILL YOU LOOK?
Heavy stubble wins, or at least science says so. But here’s something to also consider, during the same study involving 351 women, bearded men were perceived with the highest parenting skills.
In another, the Britain’s Royal Pharmaceutical Society found the majority of male professors were bearded compared to lower staff employees such as lectures and research fellows.
Now, that might be a given, but here’s something interesting involving Dixson and Vasey.. On a scale of 0 to 5, men and women ranked bearded men as having the highest social status in their study.
Even more intriguing, is the The Handicap Principle written by Israeli physiologist Avishag Zahavi and her evolutionary biologist husband in 1997. The two claimed that a beard could easily be grabbed during combat; making for a handicap during matches.
The theory stated that men with full beards were essentially showcasing this weakness and proudly displaying their confidence in ability and fitness. As if they had won the fight before it even began..
Science aside, you might be wondering if a beard will make you look homeless? Perhaps you’re reading right now dealing with a disgruntled wife or girlfriend who claims it does. But here’s the deal guys.. It’s common for women to object to this change and make exaggerations about your beard.
The truth is, you can’t allow affection to be withheld or negative behavior to be tolerated during this change. The better solution is to talk things over and ask for patience and understanding during your bearded journey. Explain why you feel growing your beard is important to you; every man has his own reasoning.
Remember, a beard for some men is not even remotely related to attracting women. Perhaps you’ve simply always wanted one, hate shaving, are following a family tradition, desire to express your freedom or believe a beard feels natural or manly.. There are countless reasons to wear your beard with pride.
Girlfriends and wives aside, how will other people view you?
Will they accept your beard or refuse to even tolerate it? The answer to these questions is that it does not matter. What you do with your life is a decision left entirely up to you. Let people worry about their own business while you carry on minding your own. Respect everyone around you if you wish to receive the same in return.
The concept is simple, every man knows how it works.
If you want to be the best version of yourself and it entails growing a beard, then by all means do so. Never allow yourself to wander away from a path you personally believe in. Just because someone thinks they know who you are, does not mean they know what you as a human being stand for.
True manliness begins at your core.
BEARD CARE 101
Growing a beard doesn’t mean putting down the razor and calling it a day. Only the lazy man who plays into the common misconceptions believes this to be true.
For the men who grow their beards with a true sense of pride, it means following a higher set of principles. Respect begins with a daily grooming routine.
What does a grooming routine for your beard entail… Here are the basics:
1. WASH, SHAMPOO AND CONDITION
Rise and shine, and hop into the shower like any other normal day. Warm/hot water is fine if you’re accustomed to it, just avoid getting your beard wet. Should that happen you’ll run into a few problems with your beard and the skin underneath it like: Frizz, brittleness, and dryness. The key is to always wash with cold water when possible.
When it comes to shampoos they will de-gunkify your beard, but it’s a give and take relationship. Not only will they remove the excessive oils, but they’ll also remove the good natural oils you need, stripping the hair of protection.
To balance this out you’ll want to wash you beard with shampoo once a week or every two weeks. Use a high quality shampoo and stay away from harsh detergents when possible; just look over the ingredients on the label.
Remember, most shampoos are designed for the scalp; the same can be said about soaps and body wash for the body.
Be selective in what you buy and avoid soap and body wash all together when it comes to washing your beard.
Conditioner is critical, yet it’s often overlooked. Once the beard has been shampooed you need to give it a bit of nourishment back. The oils in conditioner will leave behind a smooth, protective layer over the hair, making it feel smooth and appear shinny.
It also strengthens the cuticle to help fight and prevent unwanted tangles. As an added plus the coating also helps to retain moisture and reduce static electricity.
Blow dry your beard on low heat or gently pat dry with a towel. If you’re not in a rush then let your beard air dry on it’s own.
3. BRUSHING AND COMBING
Before you pick up the brush you’ll want to comb through your beard while it’s still wet. (After the shower) This helps remove any excessive hairs that may be damaged and at the end of their lifecycle.
Once your beard is all dry it’s time to move onto a fine boar’s bristle brush and beard oil. Apply your favorite oil and use the brush to help distribute it evenly across your beard.
An easy way to figure out which one you need is by considering your beard hair type. If you have a bushy, out of control beard that needs to be tamed, then a hard brush is best. Should your beard need to be shaped and gently refined go with a soft brush instead.
BEARD CARE PRODUCTS
1. BEARD OIL
In a nutshell, beard oil helps to replace the natural oils lost when you wash your beard. It can help soften your whiskers up and make them more manageable. The enjoyable massage also encourages blood-flow and assists in moisturizing the beard.
To apply beard oil you simply dab a few drops into the palm of your hand and proceed to rub it in the beard. You won’t need much at all.
Just remember to work it into the beard and below; the skin needs some love too.
It can be a circus act trying to tame your beard on your own. When you want to change your style up and make it stick, a dab of wax will do the trick.
Simply dig your fingernail into the wax and move it across your finger tips. (Thumb and index finger). Rub them together for a moment or two until you feel them begin to warm up. From there you are ready to apply and style your mustache or beard however you like, perhaps some handlebars.
Keep in mind you can use beard wax anywhere you’d like: The beard, mustache and even those unruly elbows.
3. BEARD BALM
If there’s beard oil and wax, then what the heck is beard balm?
Think of it as a paste or a leave-in conditioner if you will. (Suited more for bushy beards) It goes to work by taming frizzy beards and delivers a mild-hold in terms of styling. If you need a stronger, more controlled hold then you’ll want to stay with beard wax.
When you ready to give beard balm a try the first step begins after you give your beard oil a moment to sink in. Place a small amount between your thumb and finger tip just as you would with the mustache wax. Rub it together till warm, then message the balm into your beard.
1. JOB INTERVIEWS
I’ve heard 98% of the Forbes 100 list of the world’s richest men are clean-shaven. I’ve also heard a rumor the remaining 2% are their bosses..
However, consider when Carl Icahn was spotted with beard on the front cover of Forbes magazine. If his $24.8 billion dollar net worth didn’t raise a few eye-brows certainly his beard did.
For the longest time other billionaires and successful business like him have worn beards: Phil Knight, James Simons and Pierre Omidyar just to name a few.
The truth is beards are not anti-establishment in nature. A well-groomed beard makes you memorable and often at times portrays experience, confidence and ability.
From my own experience, you will more than often be hard-pressed to find employers who discriminate against them.
Some will have established no-beard policies, such as what you’ll find in the food and beverage industry (vs. the IT industry), but by no means does it mean you’re un-hireable. An interviewer should inform you of this policy and offer assistance to any man who wishes to be a part of that workplace.
If you are asked to shave your beard, but have grown an emotional attachment to it, consider if your are falling into job misalignment.
2. SUMMER BEARDS
It’s perfectly normal to have beard in the summertime, don’t think of it as only being useful for warming up in the winter. During the hot summer days the beard acts much like a shade to keep your face cool.
Factor in sweat and your beard will be quite comfortable, unless of course you are in a humid climate.
But there’s a little more to this that I would like to tell you about. Here’s an interesting study that may give you some food for thought. It’s a topic well-debated, but the theory comes from dermatologists Valerie Randall and Ebling.
Their discovery proved men’s beards grew 50% to 60% quicker in the summer than in the winter. It makes one question how vital of a role a man’s facial hair has in regulating our body temperature.
When you think of other things like UV protection from the sun harmful rays, a beard acting as a barrier makes sense.
2. THE YEARD
If another bearded man mentions the word “Yeard”, here’s what it means: It’s a combination of the word beard and year. Simple enough right? After one full year of growing out your beard that’s what you get.
But there are two sides of the coin here and the word has often been debated. Some believe it means absolutely no shaving or trimming for a full year. Others think you’re allowed to do some styling around the neckline, check line and Adam’s apple.
No matter what side you agree with.. Now you know exactly what gentlemen are talking about.
3. WEDDINGS, GRADUATIONS & FUNERALS
It’s surprising someone would ask you to change your style drastically for a special occasion but it happens. Much like a young man being asked to cut his long hair by his parents, it’s really no different even as an adult.
As a youngster, you could be asked by mom to shave for a funeral or graduation pictures. As an adult your wife could beg you to shave before a wedding. Even if you’re the best man at someone else’s wedding, a bridezilla may be dead set on all the groomsmen shaving before the wedding.
Now, it might seem crazy at first glance but without overacting, understand at this core of this all is one thing: Emotion. Chances are you’ve seen those shows on TV where the bride goes absolutely nuts over every single detail of the wedding. It’s her big day which means she’s going to be dealing with stress, excitement, and anxiety all compounded together.
Take the funeral, a depressing time for everyone. Family members might be dealing with too much grief to handle. Often a request to shave can be expected. You may hear, “it’s what grandpa, or whoever would have wanted”.
Unless your grandfather absolutely hated your beard with a passion, perhaps give it some consideration. On the other hand, if your beard was never mentioned by the person who has passed, it’s safe to ignore this request.
Emotion often makes this seem like it’s a “respectful” deed that must be done. The reality is you should be the one to make the choice here. If you feel it is the right thing, do it. If you don’t, then by all means don’t.
The key is to stand your ground. Don’t spend time arguing when emotions are high; you’ll only worsen the problem at hand here. Be understanding, be a gentleman, and do your best to handle the situation. Remember, just because you refused to shave doesn’t mean you’ll be shunned by the family or have the marriage called off. Once emotions settle down, people more than often more to their sense.
4. SHIRT COLLARS
Grow your beard out long enough and you’re bound encounter this problem at some point. All of the sudden your beard will love to work its way inside your shirt collar. It will be incredibly annoying and happen over and over again.
If you don’t go crazy by then, there is one simple and easy solution. Simply button your shirt all the top, up to the very last button. A little weird and uncomfortable, yes, but much better than having to deal with your beard getting caught on the collar.
You can always choose to wear a different shirt, but for most who wear button downs to work, sometimes that isn’t a feasible option.
5. BEARD BREAKAGE
Ah beard breakage, it’s unfortunate but it does happen.. So how can you attempt to prevent it?
Start with a good grooming regimen; it goes a long way. Add in a healthy diet and workout at the gym more often for a little added protection. Should you find yourself tugging at your beard with a comb or brush, stop. Try out some new combs or brushes that don’t snag your beard. Be willing to experiment to discover what works the best for your beard.
Yes, you’ll shed beard hair much like your dog sheds off his coat. It won’t be as dramatic of course, but understand that this process is quite common. Not to mention, natural too! Your beard, like any other hairs on your body, goes through a lifecycle.
For the dead or broken hairs lying in your beard you’ll want to remove them. It’s easier said than done to be honest. Plan on investing a fair amount of time to clean your beard out.
6. EATING AND DRINKING
There’s no doubt about it – our faces are magnets for things like sauce and breadcrumbs. Even without a beard you’re still going to be reaching for the napkin.
With one, the problem as you guessed it, increases tenfold. You now have this massive spider web on your face ready to trap anything you put near it. Toast, soup, cereal, beer – yup, your beard wants to catch it all.
But there are some techniques and ways to help reduce these issues when it comes to drinking and eating with a beard.
When possible use a straw, bottle or coffee mug. If you’re drinking a beer and those options don’t apply, change the angle of your head, lean back a bit, and open your mouth a tad wider.
You’ll want to switch from drinking with the top of your lip to the bottom of your lip as well. It’s awkward and takes awhile to get used to, but it works wonder for preventing your mustache from getting wet.
You can also keep a small handkerchief in your pocket and use as needed. Most can be covertly rested inside your hand. No one around you will notice as you continue to dab your bead dry.
Just like drinking it’s a good idea to keep a handkerchief around when you’re grabbing a bite to eat. Only this time, brush towards the sides of your mouth to push away your whiskers. You can also cut back on your mustache wax before you start. The more you use, the harder it will be to clean.
However, the easiest thing you can do that helps cut down on the clean up, is to simply roll your top lip up and your lower lip down before you take a bite. Common sense right? But truth be told, it takes a fair amount of practice to get it just right.
Remember to use your teeth to latch onto your food before your lips make contact. There will be certain foods where this isn’t possible, like a gigantic hamburger or stacked sandwich, so expect to get a little messy. Switch around the angle of the item your eating, and try to ensure that your mustache always goes over it. You don’t want to end up chewing down your mustache by mistake!
If possible, just reach for the fork and knife. Cutting things into bite size pieces will always help. You can do this with bagels, pizza, toast, or anything else you’d like. When it comes to foods like yogurt, ice cream, soups, or a bowl of cereal in the morning you’ll want to insert the spoon into your mouth before closing.
Usually we tend to slurp these things down. Last, but not least, avoid overfilling your spoon in the first place.