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How to Grow & Maintain a Beard: 10 Stellar Facial-Hair Grooming Tips

James Knowler, Getty Images

So, you want to grow your beard out. Why not? You’re a man, after all — or at least have enough scruff on your face to pass for one (like the bearded lady on ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show‘). Let those hairs sprout and reach for the sky. Show the world that a man’s face is a glorious spot for a pile of bristle and fuzz.

Once the decision has been made to let your facial hair take off, you’ll need to think a little bit about maintenance and how best to let your beard garden flourish. Sure, you could stop shaving altogether and go for the “I’m homeless and couldn’t be bothered” look, but that would be a mistake. You should always take pride in your work, especially when your work is your face. People tend to look at it. And with that notion in mind, here are 10 tips to help you keep your beard and mustache in stellar shape:

1. The Right Tools

If you’re going to sport a lavish bouffant of facial hair, you’ll need the right tools for the task. You can find plenty of beard clippers on the market today for length-based trimming. But if you want to get fancy, with varied lengths and trimming techniques (shorter mustache, longer beard, longer hair around the chin, etc.), you’ll want to buy a pair of beard-trimming scissors and an acetate beard comb. While an electric trimmer might be quicker, a comb and a pair of scissors will let you fluff your beard up, and then trim it with greater detail. It might take a while to master the technique, but if you’re committed, you’ll clip your way through it in no time at all.

2. Choose a Beard Idol

There are lots of beards out there to model your own personal whiskers after. Do you want a wild Gandalf beard, or a retro Tom Selleck mustache? Would Abe Lincoln’s Amish look suit you better, or perhaps Wolverine’s extended muttonchops? Maybe you’d like your beard neat and trim, like comedian Russell Brand’s facial bristles. The point is, find a beard idol with a look that suits you best, and then go from there.

Johannes Simon, Getty Images

3. Beard Oil

Once you’ve gone full beard and you have some wild shrubbery to deal with, you’ll want to invest in some beard oil. And no, cooking oil from the kitchen won’t do the trick. Quality beard oil can give your new fleecy friend a beautiful sheen, while keeping it velvety to the touch. Beard oil is also great for beard health. If you opt for scented oil, your “grass grin” will act as a kind of chin and cheek potpourri, sending pleasant aromas toward your nose all day long. And be sure to choose a scent you enjoy, a seemingly obvious step that many men ignore at their peril.

4. A Month’s Patience (or More)

Come No-Shave-November, or whenever you decide to take the beard and mustache plunge, patience is your best friend. Resist the temptation to start beard-sculpting too soon. Give those little hairs a chance to bud and grow. This way you’ll have plenty of hair to work with when you start carving out your hipster beard or mountain-man chin carpet — plus you’ll have some idea of how your beard behaves as it grows, idiosyncrasies and all.

5. Trimming the Neck

Some guys are lucky. They don’t have much hair growing on their neck. Other cavemen aren’t so blessed, with their beards growing down their throats and merging with their chest hair into one piece of continuous follicle foliage. You can shave your neck area completely or partially; crop it close to the skin with a trimmer so it doesn’t get out of hand; or just let it go wild.

The amount of itching and shaving hassle depends on the look you’re after, how much hair you can actually grow, and the amount of time you want to spend maintaining your beard. Come up with a neck-trimming plan (that phrase sounds a little macabre when picked apart) early on in order to grow the best beard you possibly can.

6. Remember Your Pores

Remember, just because you’re now the proud owner of a kickass beard, that doesn’t mean the skin beneath your Van Dyke, Ducktail or Short Boxed Beard (to name a few styles) isn’t in need of some attention now and then. Happy skin promotes a healthy beard. Whenever you sculpt or shave your beard, take some time and open up your pores with a hot towel. It feels good on your face and softens your hair and skin for what comes next. Use a hot towel to reduce skin irritation, while basking in the art of being a man.

7. Condition and Moisturize

Yep, just like the hair on your head, you may need to moisturize the hair on your face as well. This is especially true for blokes who want a big, bushy beard. Moisturizer with sunscreen will protect against sun damage and excessive drying, both of which are quite harmful for your skin. Remember, beard hair is not the same as head hair. You can invest in special moisturizers made for three-day beards, such as the one L’Oreal offers, or a two-in-one face and beard moisturizer from a company like Stubble & ‘Stache. Once you grow that beard out, it would be a big mistake to start neglecting it, right?

8. Wax On or Wax Off?

Maybe you’d like a cool handlebar mustache, or a pointy Fu Manchu or French fork that stays in place? If that’s the case, you’ll want to procure some mustache wax. A bit of mustache wax can go a long way to achieving that stylized whisker aura you’ve been chasing. Wax will also keep longer mustaches groomed, and out of the way of the lips and mouth — which can make cleanup after dinner a whole lot easier.

Different wax types (soft, medium and hard) are appropriate for different mustache lengths and coarseness of hair. Play around and figure out which wax works best for you.

9. Avoid Ingrown Hairs

For men who shave daily, as well as men who shave less than once a month, ingrown hairs can be a problem. Yuck. They’re painful, irksome, and not a lot of fun to look at. When growing your beard, you’ll most likely run into these pesky little critters wherever you trim the borders of your beard and mustache. Apart from tweezing those ingrown suckers out, make sure you exfoliate often (salicylic acid is helpful here), wash your face regularly, don’t shave ridiculously close (which can lead to ingrown hairs), and shave with the grain of your beard.

10. Get a Beard Buddy

You’ll come across a lot of beard myths as you start to grow your own. You can’t really train your beard to grow in a certain way, and shaving it won’t make the hairs grow any faster. If you’re new to the wonderful world of beards, your best bet is to find a beard buddy who can act as your stubble guru and show you the ins and outs of your bristle growth — what products worked for him, and which ones didn’t. There’s nothing like having a knowledgeable friend by your side as you embark on your beard and mustache journey.

Morne de Klerk, Getty Images

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