Caring for your beard does not need to be time consuming or expensive or a burden. Many of us first grow a beard in order to avoid the daily chore of shaving. But what started for us as a time saver can become a passion, by keeping the beard healthy and stylish. With a few tools, a couple of well chosen products and a little bit of time this passion can easily be fulfilled.
Growing the Beard
You decide to let your beard go, not shaving for a couple of days. This ‘three day beard’ look has always been considered stylish in a rugged way. A gentleman wearing this look was for the longest time viewed as not acceptable in the professional world. But this view seemed to have changed in the 80’s, best exemplified, if not originated, in the TV hit show Miami Vice. It suddenly became acceptable to be unshaven in many workplace situations where it was not before.
However, at around the third day of not shaving, the beard tends to get a bit itchy. It is at this point that the razor comes out and you are clean shaven once more. Then you start the process all over again.
OK, so how do you bypass the itchy phase? The itchiness you feel basically comes from two sources – the stubble and dryness. The stubble from freshly shaved hairs maintains sharper edges for a while after the razor has sheared them. There have been products that are used to soften the edges of the stubble, acting kind of like sandpaper. By wearing down the stubble edges, it becomes more comfortable for you as well as for anyone who brushes against your cheek.
One brand that was offered a few years ago is called Soft Goat, a paper covered pad that wears the edges of the stubble hairs. Soft Goat does not seem to be around any longer. Their website, Facebook page and twitter are all a couple of years old. But you can get much the same effect by using a face scrub and moisturizer.
Your use of a moisturizer will also help with the dry skin situation. The new stubble probably has you touching you face more often, also causing some irritation. While the beard is stubble length you can apply any regular face moisturizer which can reach the skin underneath. You can also consider using a beard oil as your beard lengthens. And at longer lengths, you can start caring and styling your new beard.
Caring for Your New Beard
No longer looking like you just missed a couple of days shaves, your beard has started to fill in and is taking shape. Now to start your own personal beard care ritual.
Uneven beard growth
For some guys, their beard does not fill evenly. They complain of empty areas and look for products that promote growth of hair. Genetics gets the blame for most of these issues. Although some health conditions may cause issues with hair growth and loss, your genetics defines how thick your beard becomes. What you can do though is to keep yourself and your skin and hair healthy through diet, moisturizers and just plain common sense. Even if your beard is thin, it will tend to fill in over time. Another possible cause of ‘bald spots’ is constant playing with the hairs. This damages the hairs and can cause them to fall out, so try not to keep playing with, rubbing, licking and chewing your facial hairs.
Beard Care: Keeping Clean and Moisturized
Just as you use shampoo instead of hand soap for your hair, there are advantages to using beard wash instead of shampoo for your beard. Different types of soaps are developed for specific purposes. Cleaning grease, paint and other dirt off your hands would use a soap that might be too harsh on your hair. And cleaning your beard involves cleaning your face, so you want a soap that is not too harsh on facial skin. That is why many beard care lines have developed shampoos and conditioners specifically for your beard.
Most creators of beard wash recommend shampooing your beard a couple of times a week, not daily. (Of course, under some situations, daily shampooing may be necessary. Choose a brand that is on the gentle side). As well, use the shampoo sparingly. If your wish, once you wash the shampoo out of your beard, you can use a rinse-out conditioner. Let it work for a few minutes, then rinse your beard.
In order to keep your beard healthy and easier to manage, it is helpful to apply a product that moisturizes hairs and offers other healthy benefits. A quality beard oil should use only the best ingredients. The carrier oil forms the bulk of the beard oil. Argan, Jojoba and almond oils are regularly found to be used as the carrier, along with several other types. These oils contain a mix of vitamins and essential fatty acids that are useful to your hairs and skin. Beard oils have essential oils added, each supplying their own healthy properties along with the scent that the beard oil contains. The particular essential oils vary by product, each producer chooses the mix that they feel offer the best combination of benefits. Find the beard oil that works for you, or choose a couple that you can alternate.
Using Beard Oil
After you shower towel dry your beard. Then after pouring some oil into your palm, (usally just a few drops) work the oil into your damp beard. If you are working with a dry beard, add a drop or two of water to your palm and mix into the oil. The water helps spread the oil through the hairs and down to the skin. The amount you use depends on the length of the beard. But as a general rule of thumb, I usually recommend that after applying, if your hands are still somewhat oily, you can probably use a bit less next time. No need to over use this product.
You can also keep a healthy beard by applying beard balm. Usually created for styling, if properly applied many do help moisturize the beard. When you think of balms, usually that means a waxy or pasty product. There are also many that have a thinner consistency, being more like a cream or even lotion.
Beard balm takes longer to be absorbed into your beard and skin than an oil. Due to their higher viscous property, they also tend to hold the hairs in place making styling easier. These properties also make the balm harder to spread around. Use a brush to help distribute the balm through your bears and hopefully down to the skin. You might also prefer to use both an oil before applying the balm. The oil used for easier moisturizing and the balm for styling.
Other Considerations – Combs, Brushes and Trimmers
You might also want to consider acquiring other tools such as beard combs and brushes. Generally you only need these to style longer beards. But if you have a short trimmed beard, a comb and a brush help spread your beard oil and balm as well as acting to exfoliate. Many choices are available in size and materials. Some nifty beard combs come with a built in case to keep the teeth clean and protected while in your pocket.