Tricks of the trade
The Newbie’s Basics to Growing a Beard
So you’ve decided to grow a beard. You’re not quite sure for how long, the style you’ll be aiming for or even what if you’re going to turn into a lifestyle choice. Don’t stress…following a basic beard regime will help you make those choices and it’ll definitely make all the difference to your experience of growing a beard!
An absolute must venturing into this new hairy world is beard oil. Simply put, new growth can be an itchy experience, and many a man has opted to just shave it all off to stop the madness of the itch, but what these men didn’t know – and didn’t use – was beard oil! Our beard oil is created specifically to stop the itch. On top of that, but equally important, these specifically chosen oils stimulate hair growth, strengthens your hair and prevents hair breakage, moisturises your skin and hair and so much more! Apply a few drops after in the morning and night, preferably after a shower to encourage absorption of the oils. You’ll notice the difference in days!
Having now past the itch-phase of beard growth, just let your beard grow. It’s recommended, but not essential, that you let your beard do its own thing and avoid trimming for the first 2 – 3 months. This will allow you to see how your beard grows. However, just because you’re growing a beard doesn’t mean you should look like a cave man so trim off any random, rogue hairs with a good quality pair of hair scissors and a wide tooth comb. Don’t forget to keep you cheek and neck line neat – this can be pretty tricky for a newbie so please go to our “Trimming tips and Tricks and Styling” section below.
Our beard oil is water soluble, so rinsing it off in the shower works well….but we do recommend you use our beard shampoo every three to four days to avoid build-up of beard and natural oils, and of course daily pollutants and the unavoidable food and drink particles getting stuck in your facial hair. Our shampoo is natural and free of harmful chemicals that dry out your hair and skin, and full of moisturises and oils to encourage hair growth and promote healthy, shiny hair!
Finally, you’ll need a comb or boar bristle brush for when you’re beard gets long enough. We highly recommend a wooden comb – it doesn’t damage your skull and hair, nor do they snag and break your hair like metal or plastic ones, and they help distribute both your natural and added oils throughout your beard, from root to tip.
That’s all you really need to know at this stage. When you get past the “newbie” stage, you’ll need to know about trimming and other styling tips, beard styles, beard balms and if you’ve decided to impress with along mo, you’ll definitely want to read our section on moustache wax!
Head over to our Bearding Products page, click on individual items for more product info and how to’s.
Anything we haven’t covered in this section? Pahlease contact us and we’d be happy to assist….
Trimming tips tricks and styling
While facial hair may be a product of natural processes, beards won’t take a healthy shape without a little help. Trimming, shaping, fading, cleaning, combing, and conditioning is all part of the game and changes depending on what style you want and type of facial hair you were born with. There’s no one correct way to have a beard, so we included opinions on what guys should be doing to grow, maintain, and care for the most popular styles of facial hair.
Growing a full beard doesn’t mean that you need to have the look of a wild man, especially if you’re working in the corporate world or if you’re trying to convince your lady friend that beards can be sexy, so be sure to have a good quality trimming pack to maintain your beard and moustache.
Scissors or trimmer? Scissors are ideal for a quick trim, cutting those random rogue hairs but for a more detailed and precise trimming, a beard trimmer is best. Do bear in mind though, if you haven’t used either and/or you don’t possess the steady hand of a neuro-surgeon, you might want to pop in at your local barbershop for the first few trims, and hopefully you’ll pick up a few handy tips on how to go about this.
Don’t follow your jaw line. Many first timers think this is the way to go and they end up losing half of their beard in the process, not to mention it looks anywhere from super odd to having a double chin. What you want to aim for is the line where your head meets the neck, which on most guys lands about 25mm above their Adam’s apple. Use that as a measuring point and carefully shave away any hair below that line.
With the cheek line try to go with your natural line and only trim off the one or two stragglers that are outside that line.
When trimming the moustache, I recommend you use a pair of scissors over clippers. This will give you a little more control and only cuts a few hairs at a time.
Short to medium length beards or growth, a wooden comb and a beard balm is enough. Simply apply the beard balm, comb and style as you wish.
With a longer beard, you may find that using a blow dryer will help your beard look fuller and tidy. First, apply a beard balm while your beard is still damp, then blow dry from the neck up which will essentially “poof” out the beard. After the beard is dry, use the blow dryer to blow the beard down and into its final resting place, using a wooden comb or boar bristle brush.
Tips for a Better Shave on Your Neck
The neck can be a particularly troublesome area to shave. Some just can’t seem to get a close enough shave. Others are troubled by razor burn with redness and pain, nicks, cuts, and ingrown hairs. Here are 10 strategies that can help tame the neck:
- Detailed Grain Mapping
If you have been wet shaving for a while you have probably heard of or read about people shaving with the grain (WTG), across the grain (XTG), and against the grain (ATG) of their beard. Most people would assume that with the grain of your beard simply means shaving downwards, say from you side burns or your eyes towards your jawline. Unfortunately for many that is not always the case. Like the hair on our head, our beards grown in various directions, and the sooner you learn which directions your beard grows, the better your shaves will become.
If you are wondering why on earth you would take the time, or even care about mapping your beard, it is because shaving with the grain (WTG) of your beard will produce much less irritation than shaving across the grain (XTG) or against the grain (ATG).
Bottom line, given that everyone’s grain is configured differently, it’s still worth the investment simply because your grain map doesn’t change. And once you’ve got it down, you’ve got the key to a smooth, bump free shave for life. Read on for pointers to help you figure out what works.
First of all you need some facial hair, so I would let it grow for a day or two. You could take a picture like I did and try to visually figure out the direction of you facial hair. You could also print out a facial diagram like this one and pencil in the direction. Just run your fingers along your face to determine the direction. You are looking for the opposite direction of your smoothest pass.
- Careful Preparation
Properly preparing the skin of the neck is often overlooked. Cleanse your face, neck and beard with our all natural (chemical and alcohol free) beard soap or shampoo with warm water for 3 – 4 minutes. The Warm water will open up your pores and soften the beard hair. Some shavers troubled by ingrown hairs on the neck should try a good, thorough scrubbing of the area before putting razor to skin. Pat dry.
- Shaving Oil or Cream
Dampen the cheeks and/or neck with warm water. Apply 5 – 10 drops of our all natural shaving oil to the areas that you wish to shave.
- Use a good quality cut throat or straight razor
Ensure your good quality razor has a sharp and clean blade. Dirty, rusty or damaged blades will nick and cut your skin. Cut throat or straight razors are superb for close shaves and sharp lines. Don’t know how to hold a straight razor? Rest the first three fingers on the back of the blade. Rest your pinkie on the blade’s tang. Place your thumb on the side of the blade near the middle. This grip gives you nice control of the razor. You may have to adjust it when you shave different parts of your face, like your upper lip or your jaw.
Everyone has their personal preference when it comes to the technique they use with a straight razor. As you gain experience wielding a straight razor, you’ll find yourself changing things up to suit your preference. If a particular way to shave with a straight razor works for you, then do it.
- Use a good quality shaving brush
We only sell badger hair shaving brushes as they hold more moisture than any other type, and creates a much better lather.
Place a nickel-sized dollop of shaving cream into your mug. If you’re using shaving soap, put the soap cake at the bottom of the mug. Soak your brush in hot water. Flick excess water off the brush. With the brush, mix the cream/soap thoroughly, using a combined stirring and churning motion until a thick lather appears. The more you rub the brush on the cream, the thicker the lather.
Apply the lather to your face with your brush in swirling motions. Ensure that lather gets up under every single whisker. When you’ve covered your face completely, take a few strokes to even everything out.
- Flattening Not Over Stretching the Skin
Many shavers will tilt their head upwards to pull the skin of the neck taut. This may help, but it doesn’t really flatten the area. Instead, try leaning forward and tilting the head back slightly. Shorter strokes on the razor may also help cover flatter areas more consistently.
- No pressure
Begin with slow, even strokes and shave in the direction of your beard growth. Shaving against the grain can cause ingrown hairs and razor bumps. Hold the blade at a 30-degree angle. Anything more and you risk cutting yourself; anything less and you won’t cut the whiskers. Also, apply very little pressure when you shave. Let the razor do the work! Pressing down on the razor will only cause cuts.
Shave the Right side of your face
Start off by shaving the right side of your face. Reach over your head with your left hand and draw the skin upward with your fingers, thus making a smooth shaving surface. Shave downward until you clear about half the right cheek. Slide the left hand down further until the fingers rest in the middle of the cheek. Pull the skin upward. Continue shaving downward until you shave the entire right side of the face.
Shave the right side under the jaw
After shaving the right cheek, move on to the right jaw. Tilt your head back and to the left, exposing the skin under your right jaw. With the fingers of your left hand, draw the skin tight under the jaw. Shave downward if the beard grows in that direction.
Shave the Left side of your face
Place the fingers of your left hand in front of and just above the ear. Pull upward on the skin so as to draw the skin taut. With the razor in your right hand, toe pointing upward, reach across the face, and shave downward. Walk your left fingers down as you get to the lower part of the cheek and chin. Keep pulling the skin taut.
Shave the left side under the jaw
Tilt your head back and to the right, exposing the skin under your left jaw. Pull the skin downward with your left hand and shave with the grain.
Shave the Upper Lip
Draw the upper lip down as much as possible to tighten skin. Shave downwards.
Shaving the Chin
Draw your lower lip up as much as possible. This will pull the skin tight, making it easier to shave the whiskers underneath your lip and on your chin.
Shaving under the Chin
Throw your head back and elevate the chin. With your left fingers, draw skin downward. Take extra care as you shave. The skin under the neck is much more sensitive and prone to cutting.
- After-Shave Balm
Rinse with COLD water to close the pores. Pat dry with clean towel. The apply a small dab of our After-Shave Balm to help soothe and repair irritated skin caused by shaving, including any nicks or cuts you may have. It also helps replenish the moisture lost during shaving and leaves a protective layer to combat shaving irritations like razor bumps, razor burns and ingrown hairs.”
Beard Trends for 2015
Natural Neck, Trimmed Cheeks
The natural neck line balances the beard, keeping it from looking too primped. The trimmed cheek hairs gives the beard and face angles and shape,
The trick with this look is to follow the bottom of the cheek bone, mowing off anything above and keeping what’s below. Giving yourself a once-a-week trim is a general guideline but changes depending on rate of growth. The real question here is if you have full enough facial hair to give yourself a strong cheek line, especially with guys with an extra light growth or patchy beards. And even though the neck looks natural, as a rule, anything below the Adam’s apple should always be trimmed.
A rugged beard should look natural, but it should also have a hint of maintenance. These are shorter beards of between one to two weeks growth. The style is maintained by keeping both the cheek and neck line faded rather than just going for an even trim across the board.
A shadow is meant to create the illusion that you woke up looking good. In reality, it should be trimmed daily using one of the lowest settings on your beard trimmer. Hairs that grow too far above the cheek line and below the Adam’s apple can be nicked off with a razor, but don’t go too crazy or the natural effect gets lost.
As to the difference between a slovenly shadow and the perfect stubble?
The first is to make sure you can grow a full enough beard so that it doesn’t look patchy and unhealthy. The second is to make sure you are otherwise very well kept – a good haircut, dressed nicely – or it will just look like you’re lazy. The final rule is that shorter stubble works on softer features and heavier shadows for sharp, more defined faces.
The Clean Neck Line
A clean border between beard and bottom of the neck is the best way to give a bit of corporate order to an otherwise rebellious growth of hair. The trick to getting the perfect neck line at the bottom of the beard is use the top of your Adam’s apple as a guide and follow your jawline outwards.
Keeping it clean means reinforcing the line at least twice a week. This is the hard rule for shorter beards, but once your face furniture grows out, fading and shaping from that line starts to look more conservative than a drastic line.
Long but Neat
It works because while it’s got more mass than your average tuft of facial hair, it also has order. Helping a longer than average beard to not consume your entire face means treating your face a little more like it is the top of your head.
The longer a beard gets, the more important it is to pay special attention when washing your face. Using a daily beard oil and/or balm keeps the hair and skin beneath it nourished, cuts down on unruly frizz, and keeps all those facial follicles in flowing order. The neatness is attained by cutting erratic fly aways and trimming the cheek and neck line at least once a month, probably twice. But before all that, it takes anywhere from six months to a year to cultivate a beard of such considerable proportions and you should have a pretty thick and dense face full of hair if you want it to look healthy.
The Extreme Beard
Confidence is going to be the main factor that lets a guy pull off a stronger, creative beard of unusual proportions. We do recommend regular maintenance to avoid getting mistaken for Chewbacca. That means a light, once a month clean up just to make sure the look you’re going for isn’t being mistaken as a nebulous mound of hair with a mouth. Washing and conditioning as you would the hair on your head is also part of this game, and it’s a good idea to comb it out every so often to stop the fuzz from looking tangled.
The longer the beard, the drier the hair and the skin below it becomes so it’s a good idea to use a beard balm, making sure to rub the stuff all the way down to the root. Wash your face basis.
The Messy Look
The key here is to keep it shaped to the face and address the neck correctly. Both the neck and cheek lines are kept natural, but are slightly faded to match the contours of the face, which isn’t the same for every guy.
Beard fades can be tricky to do at home since they combine two very nuanced movements – slight increments of length that happen along the same line of origin. Start by trimming the beard all to one length. Then go two sizes down on the guard and shave from the Adam’s apple to about one or two inches below your jaw; connect the two lengths by blending with number guard in between. It’s a little trickier along the cheek line, where manmade lines are more visible. Getting it wrong can ruin any vestige of having an un-groomed beard, but hitting the mark on the spot will turn an otherwise uninviting jungle of face fuzz into a good looking forest.
Like all things beard-related, your style is completely up to you and these are simply starting points for personal maintenance. Just make sure your beard is groomed to match the rest of you and you’ll be good to go.
UrbanBeardsman Mag tell us How to eat with a Beard
Eating is truly one of life’s great joys. However, if you happen to possess a beard, which if you’re reading this then there’s a good chance you do, you know that eating certain foods can become challenging to say the least. It might take a little extra planning, but each of us is still capable of enjoying our favorite foods, one delicious bite at time.
One guy who has definitely dealt with this before is friend of Urban Beardsman and all around righteous guy, Jeff Buoncristiano. For Jeff, no food possesses more complications for beadsmen than the glory that is the sandwich. However, by following just a few simple steps, you can enjoy even the sloppiest of sandies with minimal beard intrusion.
According to Jeff, the best idea is to cut your sandwich up into smaller pieces, preferably quarters rather than halves. Then once you’ve picked up your smaller sandwich piece, hold the food using only your back fingers, leaving your pointers and thumbs free. As you bring your sandwich towards your mouth, press your front fingers together and ride them up towards your mustache as you touch your mid-lip. Splay your mustache, removing any hair from your mouth’s entry way, and go in for a bite. Repeat as needed.
Beard on everyone.