Beards are no longer just for guys who work outdoors. But too many men treat theirs like an afterthought; an accident that emerged from your face because you couldn’t find your razor.
Much like your scalp and hairstyle, facial hair needs proper care and maintenance. Armed with the right tools, and the knowledge to use them, any man can boast a beard that’s more Jack Guinness than mountain man.
Mistake: You Let It Grow Too Long
I understand you want the full lumberjack look. But you’ve got to play the hand your parents dealt. Let a coarse and unruly beard grow out and it’s just as likely to grow into your skin. And rugged handsomeness soon becomes irritation and blood spotting. Raw face aside, it’s also a tough beast to tame.
If you find that’s the case, try keeping things short and neat instead. Light stubble is more manageable but you can still trim it to accentuate your angles. Wahl’s heavy-duty clippers make short work of the gnarliest face wire. Pair with a daily exfoliator to keep the bristles soft.
Mistake: You Don’t Use Beard Oil
Your beard needs as much TLC as the hair on your head. Neglect it and it won’t just look dry and straggly; the tips will crack and your skin beneath the beard will dry out, flake and cause – shudder – beard dandruff.
A beard lube infused with argan oil will help to seal the split ends. It also encourages the hairs to retain their natural sebum – the oil they extract from the skin follicle. Which means lush, finger-pleasing growth. Not chin-mounted tumbleweed.
Ruffians Argan Beard Oil, available at Ruffians, priced Rs.3400
Mistake: You Use Beard Oil Too Early
Until you’ve got a couple of centimetres’ growth poking through, just exfoliate and moisturise. Smear beard oil on when it’s barely beyond stubble and it’s like washing in chip fat. Expect shiny skin and (delicious smelling) whiteheads.
If your skin does feel dry – or your stubble seems scratchy – add a midday dose of moisturiser and make sure to focus everywhere there’s hair, especially the sensitive skin on your neck, which trimmers can easily irritate.
Clinique For Men Moisturizing Lotion, available at Clinique, priced £25.
Mistake: You Don’t Know When To Stop Shaving
A well-shaped beard is a godsend for those who don’t have Captain America’s jawline. But you’re not trying to pencil in an outline.
Shave too low down on your cheek and you end up on a spectrum between Wolverine and the Lewis Hamilton chin strap. Instead, shave a straight line on your cheek as high as your beard growth allows. The more coverage on your face, the better the definition.
Always shave upwards from your cheekbone – if you slip you won’t slice a chunk out of your beard’s most visible hairs. Ditto when you’re shaping the hair on your neck, which should echo your natural jawline – think of a path from where jaw meets neck, under your ear, to your Adam’s apple.
Shift any stragglers below but don’t trim too high. A beard that sits on your actual jawline makes you look like a garage MC.
Don’t over-shape your beard
Mistake: You Mistreat Your Tool
Whenever you shave, your skin becomes a breeding ground for germs: warm skin that’s just been stripped by a razor is a haven for bacteria.
Unlike at your barber, the tools on your sink probably haven’t been sterilised since the last time you groomed – so they could pick up all manner of nastiness from your bathroom cabinet. Spritz with Wahl’s Clipper Spray and shift trapped hair with a toothbrush to banish any nasties.
Wahl Hygienic Clipper Spray, available at Amazon, priced Rs800
Mistake: You Treat Your Beard Like A Pet
It may be furry. It may be fun to stroke. But your beard is not a puppy. Let your Instagram reflect that fact.
Narcissism may have inspired you to grow it, but the beard’s recent resurgence has been driven by the confidence it bestows. Don’t undermine that by being needier than a My Super Sweet 16 princess. Wear your beard with confidence, not arrogance. After all, that hair is a privilege. Not a right.