A beard is one of those things that is completely unique to the individual. "Some are big, some are small, and some people's beards hardly grow at all" (An ode to beards). But regardless of your beard type, there are always things that need to be learnt in terms of growing, grooming and general upkeep. As a response to man's pursuit of beard knowledge, we have received countless emails from people asking questions about all things ‘beard'. We thought we would share and answer some of those questions here.
How to deal with beard itch?
Beard itch is caused by a number of things. Skin dryness, dry hair and dead skin build up. Dryness can be caused by your own skin chemistry or environmental factors like: extreme heat, cold or debris and built-up grime. It can also be caused by using harsh soaps or shampoos designed for the head or body. There are a number of things that can be done in order to overcome this itchiness.
- Using a bead oil or balm will hydrate and moisturise your hair follicles and dry skin.
- Using a brush or comb will help to exfoliate the skin under the beard hair. This process will help remove dead skin cells and loose hairs that are built up on the surface which causes beard itch and smoothes out your skin.
- Using beard specific washes or shampoos are perfect for reducing beard itch. Unlike regular shampoos that dry out the face, these are designed for the face to soften and moisturise your beard without making it dry and causing beard itch.
3 steps to reduce beard itch:
- Wash - with a cleanser designed for beards
- Scrub - using brushes and combs
- Condition - using oils and balms.
How do I trim my beard?/How often do I need to trim my beard?
People have many schools of thought on how, when and what style to trim their beards. There are too many variables at play that need to be considered when trimming your beard. Consequently, there is no definitive answer for all beards. Also, the rate of growth and personal preference varies person to person. Furthermore areas of growth and the rate of those areas So to those who asked the question I’m sorry I can’t give you a clear answer but I can offer a few points on the best ways to trim your beard:
- Try and use scissors over using clippers if you can. While clippers may seem more time efficient they give you less room for error and one wrong swipe could result in a chunk missing from your beard. Trust me I have done this and it was not a good look.
- For a fuller looking beard trim long wispy strands that stick out from the rest of the mob. If you are worried about losing length, then don’t. Trimming these long wispy bits will actually make your beard look fuller.
- Trimming regularly will make it easier to style your beard and make it easier to maintain your facial hair style.
How often should I wash my beard?
It is very common for a lot of guys not to wash their hair. Or at least very infrequently. But there is something about beard hair that gives the grower a sense of parental control and duty of care over their beard. They want to treat it with the finest balms, oils and other potions and lotions so that it looks, smells and feels great. So while oils and balms are fairly straightforward a lot of questions have been asked about beard washing and how often should you wash them.
First of all, it depends on your occupation. If you work outdoors and are getting a lot of dirt, dust, debris and grime in your beard, coupled with sweating then we recommend washing your beard once a day after work, (only using beard specific washes). If you work in an office, or in an environment that is clean and doesn’t have a lot of physical activity then you can get away with washing your beard 2-3 times a week.
There are few important things to note about beard washing.
- The chemistry on your beard and facial skin is different to that of head hair. Therefore a gentler wash is needed for the beard and facial skin as opposed to conventional shampoos.
- While a beard wash is better than conventional shampoos, daily use is not recommended if you work in a relatively clean environment and washing it 2-3 times a week should suffice in terms of softening and cleaning your beard.
- If your work involves manual labour or anything where debris and grit enter your beard then daily washing is recommended.
What do I do with a patchy beard?
Most men will claim to have a patchy beard even if it looks quite full. So everyone's gauge of what a patchy beard is is different. Patchy beards can be made to look less patchy by;
- Growing certain areas such as the cheeks longer while trimming the thicker areas for a more even look.
- If your beard is patchy all over then keeping it short will assist in making it look thicker
- Removing of patchy sections on the cheeks and neck and styling your beard around the jawline and moustache will allow you to show off your thickest areas.
As said above everyone’s perception of patchiness varies. If you are finding it difficult to style or which areas to trim to maximise the look of your beard then ask your barber what his/her recommendation would be. For more information check out our patchy beard article here
How do I make my beard less curly?
A lot of guys with extremely curly beards wish they were straighter. A straighter beard means fewer tangles and longer looking beard also. There are three ways you can straighten your beard hair.
- Straightening irons: A straightening iron is one of the best tools for achieving a long straight beard. If you are going to buy one then a great tip is to buy a small one designed for straightening women fringes as it is designed for shorter hair and gives more control. As this is a hot element there is a chance you might burn your hair or skin in the straightening process. You also increase your chance of drying out your hair and skin making it more brittle and flakey. So be sure to condition with an oil or a balm immediately after use.
- Blow dryer: a blow dryer is a great tool to have. As it applies heat to your hair it can dry both your skin and hair follicles. As a result, I would recommend applying a small amount of beard oil to your beard and skin pre-blow-drying. When using the tool, always point the nozzle down and start drying from the roots to the tips using a comb or brush to lengthen the hairs as you straighten. Always apply oils or balms after to repair the hair.
- Hand drying: This technique is one that I use and is the best option for those with dry sensitive skin and brittle hair, as no heat is applied to hair. the process is simple and should be done immediately after having a shower. Using a towel, dry your beard downwards moving it from side to side but always pulling down. By drying your hair this way rather than just side to side you are lengthening your beard hairs making them straighter and longer. Always apply beard oil or balms after use.
So your beard is straighter and longer but you want it to last all day right? Applying a beeswax based balm after one of the three straightening processes will not only condition and apply moisture to your beard but will also help style and keep your beard hairs longer and straighter throughout the day.
I hope these answers to some of the beard questions have helped in understanding how to look after a beard. If you have any more questions, please feel free to send us an email or drop us a comment.
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Author: Kareem Ghaly
Ed: Ben De Campo