Growing a beard is easy, just put the razor down and forget about shaving, right? Well, that approach certainly works for some guys, but if you like to look shaped it's not that simple.
We believe there are two sides to growing a great beard - the beard and the fresh. Trimming, shaping, and general beard maintenance are all part of keeping things fresh. With that in mind, we've rounded up the best basic beard trimming tips, shaping advice, recommended tools, techniques, and products, to give you a simple, stylishly manicured beard with a personal touch.
Shape Up Step By Step
Step One: Start with a Wash
The first thing you need to do before even thinking about trimming or shaping is give that face fuzz a good wash. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Don’t use just any shampoo. Find a quality wash that’s made specifically for beards.
Why do I need a beard wash? Regular shampoo will strip your beard of all its natural oils, leaving you with a wiry, dried up rat's nest. Beard wash will soften your beard and moisturize the skin beneath.
Step Two: Brush Your Beard
All clean? Good. It’s time to brush those bristles. Sounds easy, but you’re probably doing it wrong.You need to brush against the grain. This might sound - and potentially feel -completely unnatural, but everything happens for a reason. Brushing this way causes your hairs to stand up, better highlighting any inconsistencies in length, making it easier to trim effectively later.
Step Three: Trim
Now it's time to find your trimmer. If it's been a while since your last maintenance session, it’s probably buried somewhere under the Q- tips and that half used bottle of hair gel from 2003. Replace the batteries or plug it in, and attach the biggest guard you have.
It's best to start conservatively. You don’t want to accidentally trim away years of growth. You can always go over your beard again with smaller guard if you want to trim off more, but you can't go back from going too short. A good baseline to start with would be using a #4 clipper guard on your cheeks and a #5 or even a #6 around your chin. This will give you a shaped beard that somehow looks more natural than the truly au naturel option. Trim slowly and steadily, and pause periodically to clean any hair that accumulates out of your trimmer. If you're completely new to trimming, hit up YouTube for a video tutorial!
Once you've achieved your desired length, we have to deal with that mustache. The clippers probably aren’t a good option here unless you seriously need to reduce bulk, so get out your trimming scissors, or nail scissors in a pinch. Comb your mustache down over your upper lip and cut off the excess hair that passes beyond your lip line. Go slowly here too, and don't try to cut off big chunks of hair at once. Work in small sections, snipping into your hair at an angle.
Step Four: Address Your Neckline
Okay, it’s time for the moment you’ve been waiting for: the neckline. This is possibly the most important aspect of shaping because one mistake, or not worrying about your neckline at all, could really ruin the look of your entire beard. If you shave too high, you could give yourself a double chin, and if you leave it too low you’ll give yourself the dreaded neck beard. Don’t settle for social suicide. Follow these simple steps for finding your ideal cut off point:
Find your Adam’s apple. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? Now, put two fingers right above it. Where your top finger begins, your beard should end.
Shave everything below this point. Everything means everything. Don’t leave any hair below the line. You’re not losing any length here so don't be afraid to let go.
Don’t go above the line. It’s not a line, it’s a wall.
Done? Look at yourself in the mirror. Gone is the caveman, say hello to the dapper bearded gentleman you’re meant to be. Better take a selfie for Instagram! And tag it #FreshBeardFriday of course.
All you have to do now is keep with it. Get yourself some products to manage your masterpiece and remember to trim every couple weeks.
Maintenance Products You Might Need
A quality razor
Since you’re not shaving your face you don’t need one of those ridiculous 18 bladed razors (you wouldn’t need one anyway). Go for the classic single blade. They work just as well. Plus, there’s the added benefit of feeling utterly old school.
A professional trimmer
You don’t want to go at your beard with a nose hair trimmer. You need something serious, something with enough oomph to take care of your face forest. Get something meant for barbershop applications. There are options out there that are cost effective.
Look, we won’t lie: we sell some of the finest beard brushes around. You don’t want to use the average hair brush, the bristles aren’t right for the job. Invest in a quality beard brush and your beard will thank you.
Consider a Professional Trim
Even if you like to maintain your beard at home, remember that getting your beard trimmed by a professional barber is also a fantastic option. Not only will you have more options for shape and style, you'll be able to kick back and relax during the process.
Go to your favorite shop, or try a new place. Often barbers offer other services that go along with the trim. They may moisturize, exfoliate, massage...all options that are healthy for your hair and skin and also major stress relievers. A professional trim is the perfect way to unwind and come out looking fresh and feeling refreshed.
Stay Fresh, Enjoy Life
Having a big beard doesn’t mean it has to be unkempt. Get in the habit of trimming every couple weeks and stay away from any bad beard habits. Neglect, we’re looking at you.
The better you take care of your beard, the better it will look and the faster it will grow. This will boost your confidence, and it will make you far more approachable/dateable/employable! Remember, there’s the beard and there's the fresh.