Greetings my fellow, Distinguished Beards-men! The days of quarantine proved to be the most trying days ever faced as a nation! There is a "new norm" under development and it is on us to adapt! For us men, if you’re like me, you started quarantine with a clean shaved face! One month in you sported fresh new growth. Some patchy areas, but steady beard growth. Month two: steady beard growth has turned into a shaggy lite beard (some patches still). Month three: beard hairs are all over the place and you're beginning to resemble a lumberjack when you look in the mirror! From month four onward, your beard has taken on a life for itself and now you can’t recognize yourself when you look in the mirror. If this sounds like you then we both have something in common! We both have heavy beards and are dueling with the newfound responsibility of caring for your new beard. For me, this journey has been a fruitful one and very educational. As a result, there are a few high-level tips I’d like to share, to help those either starting at ground zero, or sporting a full beard, that were paramount for me during my beard journey. Without further ado, let’s get started!
How to Grow a Beard: Step-by-Step Guide
1. Leave your beard alone
Ditch the razor. Stop shaving completely for at least four weeks — that’s when a beard typically starts to show itself as a beard. Let your facial hair grow. The best thing you can do is let it grow naturally; don’t cut, shape or style until you grow some length and can see how your beard develops. Commit yourself to a period of six weeks for example, and let nothing stand in your way to achieving your goal. Truthfully there will be discomfort; beard itch, ingrown hairs, shedding, but stay the course! Personally during this period my beard hairs grew at different speeds and thicknesses all over my face. My moustache grew faster than the hair on my chin and my left cheek looked like it didn’t get the same memo as my right cheek.
2. Stay Healthy
Exercise gets the blood pumping, improving your metabolic rate, sending hair growth-stimulating nutrients to your face. Any exercise is good but as a rule of thumb, aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity a day (e.g. running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, etc).
Hair is built mainly of protein and, if healthy, coated in oil and fats —the good kind, not the kind your favorite box of doughnuts are cooked in. A healthy beard, much like a healthy body, requires a balanced diet of protein and healthy fats.
Vitamin supplements are also important in helping the hair grow thicker and faster, providing the right balance of oils, boosting the immune system, and improving blood circulation. Here are the vitamins you need along with some foods to find them in:
- Vitamin B9 helps with thicker hair and can be found in cereals, nuts and green leaf vegetables.
- Vitamins E, B5 and B3 help improve blood circulation and can be found in chicken, fish, beef, egg yolk, avocado and whole grains.
- Vitamin A maintains hair follicles and serum and can be found in carrots, broccoli and green leaf vegetables.
- Vitamin C improves the immune system and can be found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, green peppers and dark green leafy vegetables.
When you sleep, the level of growth hormone in the blood increases, which speeds up cell reproduction and hair growth. Rates peak at around 2 am, so aim to be sound asleep before then. All in all, you should try to get eight hours of sleep a night.
3. Holding the Line
During this phase you are still “holding the line” but you begin to notice (and hopefully appreciate) how your young beard is maturing. It looks pretty scruffy BUT hairs are coming in healthy and you’re finally starting to see how your beard grows. Technically you’re in the home stretch. You have a strong beard regiment, you’ve chosen the beard products that suit your needs best, and you're being patient, simply enjoying the journey. Nonetheless I’d like to share a few “high level” daily maintenance items to ALWAYS follow.
Step 1: Wash it — Ideally, twice a week (more if your beard is full of dirt) using a beard wash. DO NOT use regular shampoo on facial hair. Shampoo for your head is designed to remove the serum from the hair, beard wash is developed to preserve it.
Step 2: Condition it— Apply a beard conditioner after washing to soothe and hydrate the hair so that it stays healthy and manageable.
Step 3: Hydrate it— Apply beard oil daily to moisturize facial hair and the skin underneath. Oil will also help keep dandruff at bay.
Step 4: Style it — While you might not have anything to style in the early days, a combination of beard balm, beard butter and beard wax will help keep facial hair in peak condition. Balm works a lot like beard oil to moisturize, condition and soften the beard. Butter nourishes facial hair, leaving a light hold and a matte finish. Wax is purely for styling — twizzling the moustache and keeping frizzy hair in line. You can apply all three daily, as and when required.
Step 5: Comb it — Comb or brush your beard every day in a downward direction. In the early days, this helps to train the hair to grow in a downward direction, rather than all over the place like a crazed scientist. In the first three months of growth, use a beard brush. Once the hair is longer, upgrade to a comb to remove knots.
Shaping your beard
Now you have a couple trims under your belt and you’re getting some good growth, you can start to think about shaping your beard. Taking scissors or clippers to your facial hair can be an intimidating task at first. But it does get easier. The key thing is not to over complicate things.
For the first visit to the barber to have your beard shaped, ensure that you’re in the hands of a good barber. Have your beard professionally trimmed every 3-4 weeks so that all you need to do at home is maintain it. Plus, as the barber works their magic on your mane, here are a few tools of the trade for your tool bag on how to keep hair in check between visits.
- Wash and dry your beard, then comb it through to remove any knots before trimming.
- Follow your natural cheek line when shaping your beard and only snip away stray hairs using a good pair of beard scissors.
- Avoid trimming too close to the area between your chin and neck. Visualize a line that curves gently from behind one ear to the top of the neck below your jaw and back up to the other ear. The line from the sideburns should continue straight down to meet that curve. To work out the midpoint, place two fingers above your Adam’s Apple.
- Anything below that can be trimmed.
- Rather than trim the moustache, comb it out from the middle either side so that hair doesn’t encroach on the lip. From there, snip away only the rogue hairs that won’t play ball.
- Use beard balm and wax to tame and shape your beard into the most suitable style.
I hope this was able to alert, inform, and educate! Growing a beard is a commitment and we have to stick with it! There were dozens of methods to follow however, I wanted to share some of the basic principles as these were the “high level” lessons I learned during my journey. I hope these tips help you in yours! Good luck, ignore the critics, respect the process, and enjoy the ride!!!!
This is one Distinguished Beards-man signing off!