Great looking beards don’t happen by accident. Growing a beard takes time as beard grows in stages. While it’s true that some men can naturally grow better beards than others, a truly awesome beard is the result of proper care and attention to detail.
A good beard care and maintenance routine is a must for developing the kind of beard you can be proud of – one that will set you apart from other bearded gents to whom beard maintenance is an afterthought.
And we’re here to help with the following beard care maintenance tips that will take your beard’s appearance and its overall health to a new level.
1. Beard Oil is as Important to Beard Maintenance as Breathing is to Humans
OK, maybe not that important, but hopefully you get the picture. If you’re not already using beard oil, drop everything and get your hands on a bottle of it, ASAP. The stuff is – especially high-quality oil – is a miracle worker for beards and crucial to any beard care and maintenance routine.
Why is beard oil so essential to your beard’s overall health? Well, for one, beard oil works to balance your beard’s hydration level naturally. It moisturizes your facial hair and the skin underneath it, while it also softens and tames your beard to help make it easier to style.
The moisturizing ability of beard oil makes it a go-to beard care product because washing the beard, and hopefully, you’re using a quality beard shampoo and not the shampoo you use on your head hair, strips away some of your beard and facial skin’s natural oil. Washing your beard is essential to get rid of the dirt and grime (and yesterday’s lunch) that accumulate daily, but may leave your beard looking a bit dry and brittle.
A “dry” beard, meanwhile, is one that’s prone to beardruff, i.e., your beard’s version of scalp dandruff. Those white, pesky flakes in your beard and on your clothes don’t create a suave appearance any more than head dandruff does. Beardruff is partly the result of your facial skin’s natural oils not being able to keep up with the growth of your beard. There are other reasons why men develop beardruff, but no explanation of it is complete without mentioning a lack of hydration.
Beard oil, because it naturally moisturizes your beard, is an essential component of your grooming kit if you’re serious about keeping beardruff at bay.
Beard oil consists of carrier oils and essential oils. Carrier oils are oils that carry essential oils to the skin. They dilute the more volatile essential oils so that you can apply them to the skin, while also providing nourishment to the hair and skin. Typically, carrier oils come from the fatty portions of a plant and go through the cold-pressed extraction process before being ready for cosmetic and grooming use.
Some common carrier oils found in beard oil include jojoba oil, argan oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, coconut oil, and castor oil. Each type of carrier oil comes with a variety of benefits that promote the health of your beard and facial skin.
Essential oils give plants their distinctive aroma and, hence, provide the fragrances found in beard oils. While essential oils don’t provide the wide-ranging health benefits of carrier oil, they help keep your beard and facial skin in top shape by, among other things, relieving beard itch and beardruff, providing antibacterial protection, and even fighting acne.
The how-to of applying beard oil
The two most common questions men have when they’re starting a beard oil routine are: 1) How often should I apply beard oil?, and 2) How much beard oil should I use with each application? Let’s take a quick look.
In general, a couple of drops of beard oil per application is plenty, but the amount also depends on the length of your beard. You can apply more than that if your beard is longer, but you don’t want to over-apply it because too much can block skin pores and leave your beard with a too-greasy look.
Most beard care experts suggest using beard oil once a day, although some men like to apply a small amount of it at bedtime, too. The ideal time to apply beard oil is in the morning after you’ve showered (or splashed your face with warm water). The warm water opens your pores and dampens your beard to make it easier for your skin and facial hair to absorb the oil. Pat your face and beard dry with a towel before you apply beard oil because you don’t want either to be too wet during application.
2. Why Beard Balm is a Product You Must Have
You’ll often hear beard balm referred to as the “lovechild” of beard oil and beard wax, because beard balm combines some of the moisturizing qualities of beard oil with some of the hold of beard wax. But, no matter what you call it, it’s another important tool to have for taking care of your beard.
Beard balm is, as you’d expect, thicker than beard oil (much thicker) while also providing many of the same benefits. Some men wonder why you can’t just use one or the other, i.e., beard balm or beard oil, which we’ll get into in a bit. Just know for now, however, that there’s room for both in an excellent beard care routine.
While you can use beard oil during every stage of your beard’s growth, it’s best to use beard balm after your beard gains some thickness. The longer and denser your beard becomes, the more you need a product like a beard balm to keep your stray whiskers in place. That’s not to say you can’t use it for shorter beards, since it provides hydration to your beard and skin much like beard oil, but keeping your beard well-sculpted typically becomes more challenging as it continues to grow.
A key ingredient in beard balm is beeswax, which holds stray whiskers in place. Beeswax is the same stuff that holds a beehive together, so you know it’s strong. Its texture resembles that of lip balm or hair wax, and you usually don’t need more than a small amount to give your beard a nice firm hold.
Another important ingredient of beard balm is butter, whether it’s shea butter, cocoa butter, etc. While butter helps make the balm easier to spread on a beard, it’s also a great source of hydration. That’s important as your beard grows longer and your facial skin’s natural oils become depleted. Keeping your beard moisturized properly also is crucial in avoiding and treating beardruff.
So, the question remains, why use beard oil and beard balm at the same time when they share many of the same beard-friendly qualities? Well, it comes down to a couple of things, including your desire to have an epic beard or one that’s perhaps not quite as impressive. Beard oil softens and hydrates your beard and helps get rid of knots and tangles that make it difficult to style, while beard balm holds it in place without the stiffness of beard wax. And the butter found in beard balm is essential for your beard’s health if you live in a cool or dry climate.
A small amount of beard balm usually goes a long way. It’s best applied to your beard when it’s warm and damp, like after your morning shower. Scoop out a small amount of balm and rub it between your palms vigorously until it’s fully melted. Use your fingertips to massage it into your beard with a downward motion while making sure that it reaches the roots of your hair follicles. Don’t be afraid to dig deep.
3. You Need a Comb For Your Beard, But Not Just Any Comb
If you want your beard to look nicely groomed, you need to invest in a quality beard comb. There’s no getting around it. And you’ll need a beard brush, too, which we’ll talk about soon enough.
Beard combs are an important part of your beard maintenance program for several reasons. First, they’re a great styling tool because they help you get the look you want. Consistent – as in daily – beard combing trains your facial hair to grow in a certain direction, which is helpful for maintaining your preferred style.
But a good beard comb also can make the difference between a rough, coarse beard and one that’s softer and nicely-groomed. It also keeps your hair growing in the right direction while eliminating ingrown hairs. Those of you who’ve dealt with ingrown hairs acknowledge that having fewer of them is a good thing. Plus, a healthier beard without the tangles, knots, and ingrown nasties has the potential to grow faster than a less-groomed patch of facial hair.
Here’s another thing: Combing and brushing your beard helps to distribute products such as beard oil and beard balm evenly.
All that said, you need to choose your beard comb carefully. Whatever you do, don’t grab the el-cheapo comb off the shelf of your local mini-mart and then run that through your beard every day. Those combs almost always consist of plastic and plastic is a cheaper material (hence, a plastic comb’s low price) that doesn’t smooth out your beard as well and creates static.
Your choice of materials also includes metal, which isn’t much better than plastic, to be honest. The edges of metal combs aren’t cut smoothly, which can be rough on hair follicles.
Your best option is a comb made from wood. Wooden combs are hand cut, which means its teeth are saw cut and then polished to eliminate any jagged edges. Wood combs come with varied teeth widths which make them capable of handling beards of different lengths and thickness. Hair combs, on the other hand, may have teeth that aren’t spaced far enough apart to deal with beard grooming. Curly and coarser beards, for one, require wider spacing.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when combing your beard. If you hit snags, which most of us inevitably do, don’t tug and pull at it. Instead, slow down and gently comb through it; in most cases it’s not a full-fledged snag but rather a couple of hairs that have crossed over each other.
Combing with a downward motion will separate the hairs and make it easier to shape your beard into your favored style. Also, don’t forget to comb the hairs away from your mouth. But first, begin by starting at your neck and combing your way upward to your chin and cheeks. Combing upward gives your beard that full, fluffy look.
4. Training Your Beard and The Importance of Using a Beard Brush
We strongly recommend that you purchase a quality beard comb. But don’t think that’s enough because you also need a beard brush to keep your beard looking fabulous.
Keep in mind that beard brushes and beard combs serve a similar purpose but also work in different ways to help promote a healthy beard. Let’s begin by looking at some of a beard brush’s many benefits.
- Beard brushes gently massage the skin underneath your beard, which helps increase blood flow to your facial hair follicles.
- A beard brush helps ensure that your skin’s natural oils are distributed evenly to each hair follicle.
- You’ll improve your beard texture by using a beard brush. Beard hair is curlier (at least in most cases) than scalp hair and often prone to knots and tangles. A brush helps your beard lay evenly while loosening the snags.
- It’s hard to beat a beard brush as a beard styling tool. You’ll gradually train your hair to go in the direction you want through the consistent use of a brush.
- A beard brush helps keep your beard clean by removing loose dirt and debris.
- Your beard will look fuller with regular brushing because the brush’s bristles lift your hair away from the skin.
Choosing a brush for your beard is the same as choosing a comb in that you want one made for the job. So, don’t use the same brush as you use on your scalp, or a plastic brush you can buy for a few bucks at a pharmacy. Instead, we recommend buying a beard brush that has natural boar’s hair bristles and a wooden frame and handle.
Why boar’s hair bristles? For one, they’re gentler on your beard than plastic bristles and they do an excellent job of spreading your skin’s oils throughout your beard.
The best time to use a beard brush is when your beard is dry. Brushing it when its wet may pull out hairs that have grown so magnificently.
Many astute beardsmen recommend using a beard brush early on in the beard growth process, perhaps even as early as the second month. The theory is that “training” your beard to move in a certain direction should begin as soon as you have a decent amount of growth.
5. Why Trimming Your Beard is Part of a Sound Maintenance Plan
So, what happens after you’ve endured beard itch and successfully fought the temptation to shave your beard during its early growth stages? For starters, unless you plan to grow a yeard or another super-long beard style, you’ll need to start trimming your wonderous whiskers if you want to keep it looking magnificent. Then again, even if you’re planning to grow the beard of a feral woodsman, it’s a good idea to keep it trimmed.
And that’s why you need a good beard trimmer.
While beard scissors work superbly during the early beard growth stages, especially for snipping away unruly split ends that detract from your beard’s appearance. After a couple of months of growth, however, it’s time to break out a beard trimmer to properly sculpt your beard, as well as trimming other parts of your face.
Keep in mind that the various parts of your beard grow at different rates; one area may be long and dense while another grows at a slower pace. A beard trimmer helps to give your beard an even, symmetrical look. Moreover, trimming your beard often promotes a healthier beard, which can lead to faster growth.
The good news is that there are many quality beard trimmers from which to choose. You’ll find trimmers that fit every budget, and some with enough bells and whistles to put an airplane cockpit to shame. Here are some things to keep in mind when purchasing a beard trimmer:
- Your beard’s length – Your best bet is to choose a trimmer that has multiple length settings. Some trimmers work best on shorter facial hair, others on longer, so finding one that handles all lengths only helps your beard maintenance cause.
- Attachments – Many trimmers come with attachments that allow you to achieve different beard styles and lengths.
- Versatility – Ask yourself how you plan to use the trimmer. Is it for your beard only, or can you use it on your sideburns, mustache, body, etc.? Some trimmers come with a multitude of length settings that enable them to do more, much more, than simply trimming your beard.
- Power source – Trimmers come in cordless or corded versions. Cordless trimmers provide the flexibility that comes with being able to use them almost everywhere. The potential disadvantage is that you have to keep them charged. Generally speaking, corded trimmers provide a bit more power and you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your trimmer’s battery power won’t die in the middle of a trim. Make sure that you know the length of your trimmer’s power cord if you’re seeking maximum maneuverability.
- Wet & dry use – Many trimmers are good for wet and dry use; by “wet,” we mean that you can use your trimmer in the shower, and/or with shave gels, foams, and lotions.
- Blades – A trimmer’s blades are crucial for getting a clean, nick and irritation-free trim. Blades made from stainless steel, chromium, and titanium provide a more comfortable shave and usually last longer than blades made from other materials.
Here are a few tips for using your beard trimmer the right way
The first step in trimming your beard is choosing the right length setting. Experts suggest that beard newbies – and anyone new to beard trimming – should choose a longer setting at the start as it prevents you from chopping off too much facial hair as you’re getting used to using a trimmer. And it’s always best to trim a beard that’s clean and dry.
Your neck is a crucial component of a well-styled beard and you strive to create a clean, tight neckline that defines where you want your beard to begin. Defining your cheek line is similarly important – you can maintain a beard that extends to the top of your cheeks, or one in which the cheek line is a bit lower.
The best way to sculpt the whiskers on your cheeks is to start at your cheek line and trim downward. Take your time during this step while being aware that the hair on your cheeks doesn’t grow back as quickly as, say, on your neck. Many men prefer a beard in which the hair on their cheeks is slightly shorter than the hair on their chin.
Last but not least, trim your chin vertically toward your jawline. You’ll create greater definition if your chin’s whiskers are slightly longer than the hair on your jaw.
6. Don’t Play Dirty – Wash Your Beard
There’s not much a man can do to keep dirt, debris, lunch, and other things from ending up on his beard. Just a minute spent outside exposes you to dust, grime, and even pollen, although beards do a decent job of warding off such things. Powerless doesn’t mean helpless, however, and that’s why regular beard cleansing is essential.
Your beard maintenance routine must include a beard shampoo or wash for many reasons, not the least of which is that a clean beard is a healthy beard. A clean beard has a healthier appearance overall, including that it’s – hopefully – not plagued with beardruff.
There are many other advantages to using a beard shampoo: it keeps your beard soft and manageable, it helps to prevent beard itch and other irritations that can sap the joy out of growing a beard, and keeps your beard smelling fresh and not like the cigar you enjoyed with buddies last night.
Keep in mind that the emphasis here is on “beard” shampoo, and not the shampoo that you use on your scalp hair. Beard shampoos, at least the best ones, don’t contain harsh chemicals found in regular shampoos – chemicals that can strip skin of its natural oils. The top beard shampoo manufacturers understand the important role those oils play in keeping your beard healthy.
But even as essential as shampooing and washing are to beard maintenance, you don’t want to overdo it. Use your beard shampoo or wash a few times a week and rarely, if ever, on consecutive days. Washing your beard every day can make it dry and less manageable. Always keep your beard hydrated, which leads us to our next beard care and maintenance tip.
7. A Proper Beard Needs Proper Hydration
We’ve already talked a lot about the important role that your skin’s natural oils, i.e., sebum, play in keeping your beard in prime health. Moisturizers such as beard conditioner, beard oil, and beard balm help keep the skin beneath your beard moisturized by managing (not eliminating) the oils.
One of the quirks of growing a beard is that it reduces your supply of natural oils – which struggle to keep up with the growth of hair follicles. Combine that with regular beard maintenance, such as shampooing it, and your beard can become a bit brittle without some help. And that’s where moisturizers such as beard conditioners come into play.
Conditioners help keep your beard hydrated – although not as well as beard oil – but also soothe irritated skin to allow your beard to grow without friction. They soften and repair hair follicles, remove beardruff and eliminate beard itch.
A good beard conditioner, usually one made with natural, beard and skin-friendly ingredients, keeps your beard from looking wiry while making it easier to style it. The bottom line is that you should use a conditioner on your beard three to four times a week to help it maintain its “magnificent” status.
8. Match Your Beard to Your Face Shape
If you’re truly serious about maintaining a rocking, kick-ass beard, then you need some tools – such as beard oil, balm, a beard trimmer, etc. But you also need to work with the tools you already had, such as the shape of your face.
Your facial features play an important role in styling your beard in a way that enhances your overall appearance. The wrong beard with the wrong face shape, well, it’s the sign of someone who isn’t making every effort to have the coolest looking beard on the planet (or, at the least, in your neighborhood or workplace).
Here are a few rules to follow when growing and maintaining a beard that meshes well with your facial features:
- Square faces – Men with a square face have a wide jawline and a square chin. Pick a beard style that makes your chin seem less aggressive by trimming your hair shorter on the sides while letting it grow a bit longer on the chin.
- Round face – Round-faced men have fuller cheeks and a more gradual, unobtrusive chin. Trim your beard as short as possible on your cheeks while letting the hair gradually grow longer as you move down your jawline to your chin.
- Pointed chin – Men with this face shape have a strong chin that’s far more prominent than their jawline. If that matches your features, then keep your beard longer on the side while trimming it much closer around the chin to create more of an oval shape.
- Heart/diamond face – Men with a heart or diamond shaped face also have a pointed chin but one that’s more gradual. You can wear practically any beard shape style if you have this facial shape, but don’t trim it too closely so that it resembles a rounded or extreme square style.
- Triangular face – You have a triangular face shape if your face gradually widens as you move down your jaw, making your forehead appear narrower. You can either keep every part of your beard short and close-cropped, or maintain a longer beard with shorter sides to create more of an oval look.
9. Why You Need to Eat Right to Maintain a Healthy Beard
There are several reasons why you may struggle to grow and maintain a healthy beard. It could be genetics – if you’re dad and grandfather had trouble growing a beard, you may have trouble, too – or it may be something within your realm of control.
Like, for instance, your diet.
All of us understand the importance of eating healthy – from preventing major health issues to halting unhealthy weight gain. You can also eat your way out of a healthy beard.
The phrase, “you are what you eat” applies to your beard, as well, because the lack of the proper vitamins and minerals can leave your beard looking dull, lifeless, and without all of its potential thickness. If you eat healthy, your beard benefits.
What are some important vitamins that help, not hinder, your beard’s health? Here’s a quick look:
- Vitamin A – Vitamin A helps aid the production of sebum. You’ll find it in foods such as carrots, liver, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, and more.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps rid the body or free radicals which can harm hair follicles. Oranges, strawberries, cauliflower, pineapple are among the many foods loaded with vitamin C.
- Vitamin E – Vitamin E increases blood circulation which, in turn, ensures that beard and hair follicles get all the nutrients and minerals they need for proper growth. Leafy green vegetables, dried beans, raw nuts are all excellent sources of vitamin E.
- Biotin – Also known as vitamin B7, biotin is essential to hair growth because it promotes the synthesis of the hair protein keratin. Among the foods that are good sources of biotin are oysters, bread, fish, legumes, and egg yolks.
- Niacin – Niacin, a.k.a., as vitamin B3 promotes the circulation of blood to hair follicles. Strawberries, pork, chicken, liver, peanuts, and oily fish are good sources of niacin.
- Zinc – Zinc helps to repair and enhance tissue growth. Oysters, beef, spinach, lentils, and pumpkin seeds are all rich in zinc.
10. Your Body Wants You to Exercise. So Does Your Beard
While you can’t exercise your beard as, say, you can your biceps or quads, don’t underestimate the importance of exercise for maintaining a healthy beard. Exercise is not only a great stress reliever and helps keep our bodies fit, but it’s also good for your beard.
For one, exercise increases a person’s blood flow to his or her muscles, skin, and scalp. That means more nutrients and oxygen for the skin underneath your beard and, as a result, healthier beard hair follicles.
But there’s more:
- When you exercise, you perspire. Waste substances and toxins get flushed from your system through your sweat, which helps give you radiant, healthy-looking skin. It also helps to clean your hair follicles, which gives space for new hair to grow.
- As mentioned, exercise improves the body’s circulation which means improved absorption of the proper nutrients you ingest. That’s important for beard growth.
- A good program of resistance training, such as weight-lifting, can boost your body’s testosterone production – which can lead to a thicker beard.
- It’s often said that better overall health breeds better lifestyle habits. If you exercise consistently and reap its many benefits, the chances are you’ll eat better – which means your beard and body reaps the benefits.
One of the most important components of any exercise plan is consistency. Find a workout program or activity that you’ll enjoy and will stick with consistently. Exercising one day a week won’t quite cut it. But even working out three times a week will provide many overall health benefits.
11. Remember: The Skin Beneath Your Beard is Just as Important as the Beard Itself
Last, but certainly not least, your beard’s overall health depends on the health of the skin underneath it. Basically, everything we’ve talked about so far for maintaining a healthy beard applies to your skin, as well. And the skin is the ground upon which your beard grows, so unhealthy skin is like bad soil upon which plants struggle to grow (if at all).
The fact is, the skin under your beard gets more exposure to the elements and other natural conditions than many other areas of your body, which is why you need to treat it with good old-fashioned TLC. There are many ways to do this, including using a gentle shampoo and conditioner meant for your beard, and not your scalp hair.
Beard oil and beard balm, when used after you wash your beard, have excellent skin benefits, as well, while you can even apply a hot, wet washcloth to your face to loosen beard hairs and soften the skin underneath.
Exfoliating the skin, in which you remove dead skin cells that accumulate daily and can clog pores, is another recommended beard maintenance strategy. Using an exfoliating cream once a week – which you rub gently but firmly down to your skin – is enough to scrape away dead skin.
Of course, there’s no better tactic for keeping your skin healthy than by keeping it moisturized. Dry skin can cause beardruff, create irritation and redness, and leave your beard looking dry and damaged. So, be careful about what products you put in your beard and take other measures, such as not exposing your skin to hot water temperatures, such as in the shower, for very long.
As you can see, there are many means and methods for keeping your beard well-maintained and healthy. Your beard and the skin beneath it are like every other part of your body in that taking the proper measures now prevents problems down the road.
How about you? What kind of beard maintenance routine do you follow? What do you think is the most important factor for keeping your beard healthy? As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions and would love to hear from you.
Until next time.