It’s time. Perhaps you’ve thought about growing a beard for some time now, or maybe you just had a sudden urge, but you’ve put it off long enough. All of those great looking beards out there; you want to be a part of it and who can blame you? And while it seems easy enough – just put down the razor and let it grow – it’s not that simple.
Fact is, growing a beard requires a routine and discipline like most anything else. Just sitting back and letting nature take its course isn’t really an option (at least in the long run), and you might find that it’s harder than you think. But there’s also no reason not to start now.
Here’s a guide to help you as you dive into the world of full facial hair – how to grow a beard successfully for the first time in 6 easy steps:
1. Accept What You’re Working With
Let’s get started by giving a quick nod to genetics. That is, not everyone grows facial hair at the same rate, thickness, and overall look. In other words, you can only work with what you got, which very well may be different than that guy in your office who looks like a well-groomed lumberjack.
Beards have been with us since, well, forever, but so has the fact that everyone’s biology is different. If your father or grandfather had great facial hair or a baby face that seemed to resist all growth, you probably will, too.
The point is, learn to accept what the beard gods gave you and proceed from there. Don’t give up because it seems like you aren’t making progress. Instead, develop a clear understanding of what you can and cannot do and proceed from there.
2. Decide the ‘Why’ Of It
Like anything you set out to achieve in your life, it’s good to know your intentions and goals before you decide to grow a beard.
Maybe it’s because you want to look more masculine and believe that a beard will help you project that. Maybe you’re just fascinated by the process and want to give it a try. Maybe you’re trying to cover scars or other imperfections on your face. Maybe your love interest is urging you to go for it. Or, maybe you just think it will give you a more confident look.
In any case, know what your end prize is and focus on it as you go through the process.
3. Week 1 Survival
If you’ve never grown a beard before, the first week is going to be interesting, to say the least. First, that initial growth of facial hair is going to not only look strange – hello, scruff – but also feel strange.
What can you do? Well, nothing. Sure, you can do something, but resist the temptation to shave it just because it looks weird and itches like crazy. You’ll also need to resist the urge to scratch it at every opportunity because that can even bring on an infection.
There are a variety of other ways to stop beard itch, and investing in a good beard oil is a great place to start. So is washing it at least every other day, preferably with a shampoo/conditioner especially made for beards.
While the itchiness may come back from time to time as your beard matures, it’s probably not going to be of the same intensity as when you were first starting out. And by then, you’ll be trimming it, and even an expert at making it softer.
But why, you might be asking, does my new growth itch so much? There are several reasons, including skin dryness under your new facial hair, and the fact that regular shaving – because it doesn’t cut the hair straight – results in pointy edges that touch the surface of your face as you grow.
You’ll need some patience when the itchiness is as aggravating as a mosquito buzzing around your head at night, but it too will pass. Again, beard oil is your friend during this phase. If nothing else, you need to stay strong during this part of the process.
Yes, people are probably going to comment on your new facial hair but don’t let their observations throw you off track. Besides, many of the comments will be positive – use them to help you keep striving for your goal.
In fact, some studies have shown that women are particularly attracted to the stubble that appears in the first ten days of growth. While you may want to stop there – and be sure to invest in a quality stubble trimmer, if you do – our goal right now is to help you see that beard to its full fruition (and, we promise, she’ll still love it).
Let’s face it, however, if you’re really serious about growing a beard, you’re doing it because it makes you happy. You’re never going to please everyone, anyway. End of story.
4. Give It Time!
We’ve already touched on the fact that a great-looking beard, like Rome, can’t be built in a day. OK, maybe a cliché, but one worth emphasizing because the temptation to impatiently shave off your initial stubble can be very strong. It sounds simple, but a great piece of advice as you go through the early stages of beard growth is this: you can’t grow a beard by shaving it.
The bottom line is that you need to let your beard grow for at least four weeks if you’re serious about the process. Don’t trim it or shape it during this time, because chances are you will overdo it and cut off more than you intended (remember, you’re still new to the game).
Four weeks allows you to grow your beard to a respectable length as well as get to the “decision” stage. After a month’s time, you can either decide to keep on letting it grow (which will help earn your respect among your new fellows in the bearded community), or to groom it for a more “respectable” look.
Either way is fine, but if you’re going for the presentable look you’ll need to have the proper tools, such as a quality beard trimmer.
If you’re serious about becoming a properly-bearded man, then you can’t jump the gun. Give your facial hair four weeks and then proceed from there. If you’re still not satisfied after a couple of more weeks, then – and only then – should you consider abandoning the project altogether.
Also, if you’re in your early 20s, it could be that you’re a late bloomer. Your time is yet to come and what you see now isn’t necessarily what you’re going to get later. While you’re at it, forget the urban myth that shaving your beard will make it come back stronger. It’s simply not true.
Remember, the true measurement of a beard is months, not inches. Besides, most of the best things in life take time. You can even set a target date for yourself, say six weeks when you’re going to make the decision whether the beard stays or goes.
5. Now It’s Time to Get Serious
The itch is gone, or at the least has subsided. Your beard is starting to take shape, and you have a good idea what it’s going to look like in the long run. Your significant other began to take a real liking to it, as she (or you) thought she would.
But now it’s time for you to join the process in a way that entails more than just sitting back and letting nature take its course (while resisting the itch). Here are some things to become familiar with, including some we’ve already touched on briefly, to help your beard reach its full growth potential.
It’s been said that beards, not unlike neckties, are nature’s napkins. Food, dirt, lint, you name it, can end up trapped in and under your new beard, and you’ll have to get used it. That doesn’t mean you’re powerless, however. You need to shampoo it like the hair on top of your head, making sure to dig deep down to the skin, and then rinse it thoroughly.
Conditioning your beard with a quality product made specifically for the job will hydrate your beard, relieve itchiness, and help your beard come in fuller, not patchier. If you want to take it another step, apply beard balm – which essentially is a leave-in conditioner.
Did we already mention the importance of beard oil? We have, but discussing its virtues never gets old when it comes to talking about growing a beard. Simply put, beard oil needs to become part of your daily beard-care regimen for many reasons, including taming wild hairs, subduing itchiness, eliminating beard dandruff (yes, it can occur there, too), spurring new beard growth, as well as helping you smell good. The stuff works.
Applying beard oil isn’t that complicated, either. It’s best to apply it to a beard that’s still damp from your shower, not when it’s dry. Put a couple of drops of oil in your hand and gently rub it into your beard while making sure to go skin-deep, because the oil is also good for your skin.
At this point in the process – remember the four-week rule – you can start trimming your beard unless you plan on growing your beard until it can’t grow anymore (there are limits). Chances are you’ve already been shaving the face and neck areas you don’t want to be covered by beard hair, but now it’s time get it looking its best.
By now, you’ve probably proven that you can “grow” a beard, but you need to add the finishing touches that place you in the ranks of a true beardsman. That said, you’ll want an electric shaver or razor to make sure you get the job done right. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
The shape of your face – One fundamental rule here is that a square beard on a round face will help define the jawline. So, trim accordingly.
Neckline – Every trimming job should begin at the neckline (the area of the bottom of the beard around the neck). Truth is, this is best handled by a professional because shaving here on your own can be tricky.
But if you insist on doing it yourself, use a beard trimmer to get rid of the excess hair, define the neckline, and then use your razor or electric shaver to free your neck of the remaining stubble.
Keep in mind that you can trim the neckline too high, especially as you’re initially defining the shape of your beard. Generally speaking, the neckline should be where the neck meets the head.
Cheek Line – Your cheek line represents the upper limits of your beard on the cheeks. The rule of thumb when it comes to this is ‘leave it alone.’ Unless your beard is encroaching dangerously close to your eyes, you shouldn’t worry too much about shaving or sculpting this part of your face.
Other thoughts – Like the process of growing your beard, getting the hang of trimming your beard requires similar patience. After a couple of months, you’ll be able to tame and shape it in the way you want – and in a way that highlights the uniqueness of your facial hair.
It’s helpful to understand going in – that is, right from Day 1 of your beard-growing journey – that maintaining a beard may require more time and effort than you originally thought, and you’re going to need the right tools to do it.
Finally, less truly is more when it comes to trimming your beard. You can’t go back when you trim off too much. Leave some to trim another day.
6. Help Yourself by Taking Care of Yourself
While genetics will play a big part in your beard growth, there are other things you can do to help it achieve its maximum potential.
Yes, you’ve heard about the many benefits of exercise when it comes to your mind and body. But it also can play a role in your beard growth:
- Losing excess weight helps you increase testosterone, which, in turn, helps promote facial hair growth.
- Shorter, but intensive workouts like High-Intensity Interval Training have also been shown to increase testosterone.
- Exercise improves blood circulation, and blood carries proteins and vitamins to your hair follicles, enhancing growth.
Diet, exercise – excuse us if this beginning to sound like an advertisement for your local gym, but all of this helps. A healthy diet is another way to boost testosterone, particularly a diet high in protein.
Some good foods to add to your diet, if you don’t already eat them, include spinach, nuts, olives, broccoli and olive oil. You can also add a vitamin supplement to your diet, including biotin or a multi-vitamin that contains zinc, vitamin B6, and magnesium.
Sleep is not only essential for your health and well-being, but also for growing a healthy beard. Strive for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
Last, but not least, stress can play a vital role in your quest to grow a beard. Stress can not only mess with your male hormones but can also constrict blood vessels and cause your hair roots to receive fewer nutrients. True, reducing stress is sometimes easier said than done, but there are many ways to go about it, including meditation and exercise.
While growing a beard isn’t rocket science, it’s not as easy as it looks. But don’t let rough patches, pun intended, intimidate you. Adhere to the tips mentioned above and guidelines and there a good chance you may even amaze yourself. Best of luck in the process.
So, what has your experience been when it comes to growing a beard? We’d love to hear from you.