How to Grow a Beard

By Steve Watson
October 19, 2020

Beards are here to stay for a few more years yet so why not use this current period of social restrictions to start growing a beard? Every man owes it to himself to grow a beard at least once in his life.

The media have been predicting the end of beards for a number of years now, but in my experience beards are more popular than ever. This is reflected in the amount of beard products that have flooded the market over the last two or three years, available in most, if not, all supermarkets and barbershops throughout the country.

Beards are here to stay for a few more years yet so why not use this current period of social restrictions to start growing a beard? Every man owes it to himself to grow a beard at least once in his life.

Growing a beard is a journey. Each day, each week, each month your beard will change. You will notice it grows in particular directions; it might swirl and switch back on itself; it might have a curl or a wave that begins to appear after several weeks; you will notice different colours in it etc. Even the weather can affect how your beard looks.

No beard is perfect – except on Instagram – and every man will wish for something better, but it’s the imperfections that give beards their character and make each one unique. Grow it and own it.

There are lots of how to websites and articles knocking about and some are tailored more towards selling beard grooming products than giving realistic advice on growing a beard. So here’s my advice:

1 START GROWING

There’s no secret knowledge or technique to growing a beard. It grows where it grows, at the density it grows and at the rate it grows. In my opinion, no amount of special beard shampoo, oil or serum will cause your beard to grow faster or with greater coverage. Websites promoting such quackery are only encouraging you to buy their products.

2 – LEAVE IT ALONE, LET IT GROW

Ideally, you should leave your beard well alone for about 12 weeks, by which time it’ll have grown about 1.5” and you’ll have some idea of its natural shape. Keeping a photo diary of progress can be helpful. Taking a photograph once a week will provide you with evidence of progress during times of doubt.

3 – WHAT ABOUT THE ITCH?

Push through, it’ll itch for a few days then stop. Scratching it will only make it itch more. I found rinsing my face in warm water then applying a few drops of beard oil helped curb the itching.

4 – I LOOK HOMELESS, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

There’s no escaping the scruffy look, you just need to get through it. If your lifestyle doesn’t tolerate you looking scruffy then make an appointment with us for a beard trim. If you’re determined to go it alone then clean up the neckline, cheeks and moustache, avoiding any attempt to shape your beard.

5 – WHERE SHOULD THE NECKLINE AND CHEEKS BE?

Cut the neckline just above the Adams Apple. If you’re not sure err on the side of caution and keep the line low. Keep the cheeks natural by removing only the hairs outside of the beard’s natural boundary.

6 – I’VE HAD ENOUGH, I’M CUTTING IT BACK/SHAVING IT OFF.

Apply the 24 hour rule, put down any clippers, scissors or razor and step away from the mirror until the next day. I’ve yet to meet a client who hasn’t immediately regretted shaving off his beard. Then, make an appointment with us for some counselling.

Beard Care

1 – WHAT ABOUT WASHING MY BEARD?

Most beard related products are expensive because of their niche placement in the market and comparatively low-volume sales. Washing your beard with hair shampoo is an option but bear in mind your face may be less tolerant than your scalp to the shampoo detergents. Using hair shampoo for your beard could lead to dry skin, flaking and itching. Personally, I use a natural organic soap in solid form.

Wash your beard daily or every other day and work the lather through to the skin. Your lifestyle will generally dictate how often you wash your beard, and you’ll soon find what works best for you.

If you’re going to be drying your beard with a hair drier, set it to cold and blow the air in the direction of growth, gently separating the beard with your fingers. If you’re drying your beard with the intention of straightening it, dry as above then switch to warm whist using a brush.

2 – DRY SKIN, BEARDRUFF AND BROKEN ENDS

There are a number of symptoms that could be mistaken for dry skin, including psoriasis or eczema. However, these skin conditions differ from what we would call dry skin. See your GP if you suspect psoriasis or eczema.

Indicators of dry skin include scaly skin, white flakes, redness and irritation, often resulting from an insufficient amount of oils (sebum) produced by the skin. Again, a number of external and internal factors can be at work here such as the weather, exposure to chemicals, thyroid function, medication etc.

Being unable to cover all of the above permutations here’s a guide on general beard care to reduce dry skin and beard.

1. Use a beard shampoo or natural organic soap, see above. Many soaps and shampoos contain surfactants and other chemicals that are too severe for the face.

2. Rinse thoroughly leaving no trace of shampoo or soap in the beard or on the skin.

3. Use warm water. Hot water will strip the natural oils from the skin and beard.

4. Dry thoroughly, working through the beard to the skin. Pay particular attention under the chin where the water tends to pool.

5. Apply a few drops of beard oil (see below) whilst your beard is in the towel dry state. Work the oil well into the skin and beard. The oil will act as an emollient, soothing and softening the skin and beard, and also as an humectant by sealing the moisture in the skin and beard.

6. If using a hair drier, set to cold.

7. Using a beard brush or fine toothed comb on a wet/damp beard will cause damage to your beard.

3 – BEARD CARE PRODUCTS

You don’t really need any products but it’s nice to have them. You’ve invested a lot of time and patience in growing your beard, and no doubt endured comments about looking homeless etc. Your beard embodies patience and endeavour, so why not invest in some products?

Oils and Balms There’s no right or wrong here, but out of the two, oils are more popular. Price doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality. Look for products with jojoba, argan or sweet almond oil bases. These oils are easily absorbed and have additional properties which are good for the skin and beard.

Balms are useful for adding some control to bushier, more fly-away beards.

Beard Brush and Comb A beard brush will help keep you beard looking groomed and also remove loose hairs, fluff, dust, dead skin etc. By penetrating to the skin the bristles will help remove dead skin cells and stimulate blood flow. Avoid using a brush if your beard is wet or damp. Choose a comb with wide teeth.

Happy growing.

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Steve Watson
Author and founder of Watson's barber's
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