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Five Tips for Growing a Beard for the First Time

Man trying to start growing a beard

Most men who want to grow a beard don't even try it because it can be sort of intimidating? Why? Because nobody's beard grows in looking just so, and how to avoid looking like Santa Claus? If you want to grow out your beard but aren't sure exactly how to go from clean-shaven to sculpted and styled, keep reading—here are five tips for growing out a beard that looks just like Idris Elba's. 

Test drive your hair growth

Before you start growing your beard, stop shaving. Well, duh, you say—of course you have to stop shaving for hair to grow, actually, this is a test drive to see how your facial hair grows. If the last time you tried to grow a beard was more accurately called "stopped shaving for two weeks because I never left the house", you didn't give it enough time to fill in all the way. Some men have beards that look patchy and kind of anemic for a few weeks, then overnight they seem to turn lush and full. 

The other thing about doing a test run is that a) you'll get to decide if you really want to make the commitment, and b) you'll see how your facial hair grows. Every man has a growth pattern in his beard, it's just never been long enough for you to realize you have a cowlick on your chin. Once it's past the glorified stubble stage, you'll see what options you have for a beard style. If you have wispy growth on your cheeks but it's full under your chin, then a goatee is your best bet. 

Saving face

Continuing the counterintuitive method for growing your beard, shave off that ten-day stubble. Here are the basic steps. 

  1. Give yourself a bit of a man facial—starting with a pre-shave oil, either in the shower or right out, before the follicles close back up. 
  2. Massage it in so that the hairs stand up for easier shaving, 
  3. Apply a heavy shaving cream in an even layer. 
  4. Using a fresh blade, shave as close as you can in the direction of the hair growth. 
  5. When you're done, rinse off the cream and apply an alcohol-free moisturizer to hydrate your skin. 
  6. This close shave stimulates the hair follicles and cuts down the chances of ingrown hairs once it all starts to grow out. 

Now that you have the canvas ready, toss the razor and let it grow. Don't try to sculpt or shape it for a couple of months, until it's really had the chance to fill in. The test beard you grew a couple of weeks ago gives you an idea of how long this will take.  If you get itchy—most men do—use a stubble balm to soothe the itch, or a beard oil to keep your skin moisturized. 

Trim around the edges

Unless you're going for the Leo DiCaprio Revenant look, or maybe Tom Hanks in Castaway, you do need to trim the perimeter of the beard on your face and neck. 

Use a trimmer with the largest blade or a razor for these touch-ups. A rule of thumb for trimming is that you don't see any hair below your chin when you look in the mirror—this keeps the look intentional rather than unkempt. For probably the first time in your life, you'll need to invest in grooming products, at least a beard trimmer or a good pair of barber's scissors. 

Once your beard is all grown out, it's time to decide on a style. Before you go to it with the trimmers, prepare it for grooming. Start by washing it with a beard wash, using a beard brush to really scrub it clean. A beard conditioner will help soften the hairs, so trimming is easier. Brush it out with the beard brush so it lies smooth, and you can tackle any flyaway hairs.

When you start trimming, use the longest guard first, gradually moving to the shortest one as the beard takes the shape you want. 

Deciding on a style

If your heart is set on a Jason Momoa beard and you have the face shape and bone structure, go for it. If, however, you are merely human, you may need a Plan B. Look at your face in the mirror to determine the shape, and work with that for the most flattering style. 

  • Round faces appear longer and leaner when the sides are trimmed short and there's some length on the chin. 
  • Rectangular faces look more proportional when your head looks longer, so stick with a shorter beard that's fuller on the sides. 
  • Square faces need some rounding, so avoid length and go for a buzz cut or heavily stumbled look. Your hair should also be cropped short if your face is square. 
  • Some men have diamond shaped faces, wide at the cheekbones with a narrow jaw and brow bone. Grow your beard a little fuller and find a hairstyle that adds some width to your forehead, and your face appears oval. While we are having a geometry lesson, other men have a triangle shaped face that's wide at the jaw and narrows towards the forehead. If this is you, keep shaving. All a beard will do is make your wide jaw look even broader and take your face out of all proportion. 

If you are lucky enough to have an oval face, you can wear any beard style, and it will be a flattering look. Refer to our post on finding the right beard style for your face shape for an in depth guide! 

Man taking care of his growing beard

Taking care of your beard

A sculpted beard needs regular maintenance to look its best. Take care to wash your beard twice a day, and brush it out before you wash. This helps exfoliate the skin and helps prevent ingrown hairs. Use a gentle face wash, then rinse and rub in some beard oil. Finish with a moisturizer to condition the hair and your skin. If you've never seen yourself as a grooming routine kind of guy, keep in mind that beards can carry bacteria—a cleaning routine is a must. 

Keeping the bathroom tidy is a concern for lots of would-be beard growers—all that hair trimming can be messy. You could get a barber's cape and drape it in the sink, hoping it doesn't send hair down the sink and cause a clog, or make a huge mess when you empty the cape into the trash. A beard bib is just the thing—a grooming cape that attaches around your neck and attaches to the mirror with suction cups, catching all the trimmed hair in a sort of hair hammock. When you're through, you pull the ends up and have a secure pouch to empty. The bib also has a tray for your grooming tools, so it's literally a catch-all solution to your beard grooming. 

With these great tips and beard care products, now you are ready to grow your first beard. 

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