Beards are great. They’re manly, they can help to shape the face, and they’re great to store food in for later. Beards though, like the hair on your head, require some attention. They can have cowlicks and growth patterns that make them difficult to control, they can be coarse and dry, and they can feel itchy and more trouble than they’re worth. And rare is the man that can grow a great looking beard without come grooming and styling.
When I talk of beard grooming and styling, I don’t mean braids or moustache curls or copious amounts of products (although, if that’s what you like, no judgement here). A great looking beard can be as simple as a trim every 4 to 6 weeks at your favourite barber shop. Longer beards may require a little more work but it really is simple with the proper tools and a little practice.
The way hair falls naturally (straight, curly, wavy, etc.) depends on the way certain molecular bonds are configured within the individual hair shaft. Luckily, we can manipulate these bonds to get our hair to move the way we want. One easy way is by simply wetting it. When hair gets wet, hydrogen bonds are broken allowing hair to be shaped into a different form. If the hair is dried in this new form, the hydrogen bonds will be restored in a new configuration, holding the hair that way until it gets wet again.
To shape your beard and control any unwanted growth patterns, you will need water, a brush (I prefer a round brush for longer beards because it is easier to hold the beard straight, a boar brush for shorter beards), a hair dryer with directional nozzle, and a good quality product such as beard oil or beard balm to finish. You can find any of these tools at your local department store, drug store, barber shop, or salon. You can buy round brushes with different diameters. For shorter beards you want a small diameter brush. As the beard gets longer, you will want to expand the diameter but, unless you’re Gandalf the Grey, you shouldn’t need anything larger than a medium size brush. For products, I would strongly recommend professional grade oils and balms. These are more often made with better ingredients that are natural and good for your hair and skin, and they will also last longer and look better than cheaper products.
First thing first, give your beard a good soaking. You can dab with a towel afterward but you don’t want to towel dry. You want your beard to be good and damp when you start brushing. Set your dryer to high fan and medium heat. For shorter lengths, simply dry from root to ends while you brush. For longer beards, use your round brush to pull the hair straight down. Do this by putting the brush under your beard and rotating outward. If you did this correctly, your beard should be pulled straight over top of the brush. Now, use the hair dryer (high fan and medium heat) to dry the beard in the direction you want it to lay, usually from the roots of the hair to the ends. Continue to do this until your beard is completely dry. If you have a persistent growth pattern, brush the cowlick in an “X” pattern until it is destroyed. Put in some oil or beard balm, gently comb through, and enjoy the attention you get as you walk around town with a killer beard.
That’s all there is to it, fellas. If you’re new to beard grooming, it may take a few tries to get used to it but it’s well worth it. If you have any questions, find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or, better yet, pay a visit to your local barber shop or salon. Most places (if not all) would be happy to answer any questions.
Until next time, happy grooming.