Here’s How to Grow and Maintain a Beard the Right Way
Tips, tricks, and product recos to reach your best beard potential while quarantined.
Attention fellas: are you embracing a beard during this time of house-bound isolation? Whether you’re growing your facial hair out for the first time or refreshing the look of existing face follicles, there are certain steps that separate an awesome beard from a shaggy and unruly-looking one. Here, Matty Conrad, award-winning barber and founder of B.C. -based Victory Barber & Brand, lays down some key ground rules for how to grow a beard, and maintain it, that are worth following at home.
Know the basic anatomy of a beard and observe how your hair grows:
“There are two parts to every beard: The girth, growth or the interior of the beard. That’s basically how thick, how long or how full it is. And then there is the outline. Your outline is essentially what creates the shape. The shape of your beard — the outline you decide to go with — is going to be somewhat dependent on the beard growth itself. Where does it naturally grow thick? Is it thick all over? Is it patchy on some areas? This is the first thing to figure out as far as going for a shape.”
“When you’re growing your beard for the first time, you want to let it grow for about 3 to 4 weeks to give it a really strong outline.”
Invest in the right tools:
“When your beard is short, all you need to do is keep the perimeter or outline of the beard clean. The best tool to do that sort of thing with is a trimmer. There are two types of machines barbers use: trimmers and clippers. Clippers are meant for cutting volumes of hair, so cutting the interior of the beard. A trimmer has very fine teeth and is only meant to clean the outline by shaving hair down really close to the skin. It’s not designed to cut the interior of the beard.”
Beard shape really boils down to three lines:
1: The base line
“When growing a beard you want to make sure you create something that’s going to accentuate the jawline. You want to start by lifting the chin up, and draw a straight line with your trimmer from the corner of the jaw to the top of your Adam’s apple, and do that on both sides so that the beard is nice and even. That way when you put your chin down, you’re not going to see any hair growing on the neck area. That’s what barbers call the baseline: the bottom part of the beard.
The real trick is, when you’re looking straight ahead in the mirror, you don’t want to see any hair growing behind the chin line on the neck because that kind of makes the face look chubby. When you have a nice crisp line instead, it gives you the appearance of a stronger jaw. And that’s the whole reason men grow beards in the first place: It gives us a much stronger jaw.”
2: A top line that compliments your face shape
“The other part of the beard you want to pay attention to is the top line. That’s the line that descends from the corner of your sideburns to about the corner of your mouth. There are two types of top lines barbers primarily use, and those are dependent on what shape your face is. If you have a very full face (you’re a fuller dude with a bigger face shape), you want to make that line is as clean and crisp as possible. If you make a really nice straight line, or what we call an angular line, that’s going to make your face look leaner. If you already have lean face, then you can give that line a slight rounded shape — so it comes down in a slight rounded shape from the corner of the sideburns toward the corner of the mouth. You then want to clean off all the hair that grows above that line.”
Remember to take your time!
“Just putting those two lines on the beard, a base line and top line, will instantly create a beard shape. It will create a look of a good beard rather than just ‘I haven’t shaved in a month.’ Those two are the big areas, and they’re not particularly hard to clean up yourself. The big trick is to try your best to make them look even, so start with less and add more if you need to.”
And 3: Finish with your lip line
“The only other line you need to concern yourself with as the beard starts to grow longer is the lip line. That’s the line at the bottom of the moustache. On a short beard, the lip line should be slightly peaked in the middle and it should rest right on top of the lip. You don’t want to go too high with it because then you start to expose too much mouth. As the lip line grows, you can groom it with a trimmer.
If it’s a shorter beard, you can use the angle of the blade to create that peak, or you can place the trimmer on its side right at the center of the mouth and kind of arch your way outwards. If you do that, you’ll get the highest point in the middle and it will soften downwards towards the corners of the mouth.”
Control the itch with the right products and ingredients:
“A lot of guys in the initial growth phases have a hard time getting past the beard itch; short beards can get a little wiry. There are two types of things you can use for that. First thing: make sure you use a good beard wash. Don’t use a bar of soap! Everyone has been washing their hands a million times a day, and we’re seeing first-hand the effects that using soap over and over again can have on our skin. Like, my knuckles look like an elephant’s knee right now! Many guys think, ‘Yeah, but I’m not fancy.’ It’s not about being fancy. It’s about personal care: the health of your skin, especially on your face. So I recommend a good beard wash. Use something that’s moisturizing and that doesn’t have harsh detergents. What you wash your beard with directly relates to how healthy it looks, how soft the skin is and it negates that flaky, dry beard feeling. A good beard wash is paramount!
The next thing I recommend is good beard oil. With beard oil, try and stay away from products that have very heavy oils, like almond or avocado oils which are molecularly quite large and heavy, and sit on the surface of the hair instead of penetrating in. Instead, look for a micro-fine oil (jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, argan oil) which will penetrate. Beard oil is meant to moisturize the skin and hair to make everything softer. If you use heavy oil, it just sits on the outside, makes you look shiny and blocks your pores leading to breakouts. And I recommend reaching for something that uses essential oils instead of fragrance oils (so perfume oils). Even though that’s not a bad thing to have in other products, with beard oil, it’s sitting right under your nose all day long. Most fragrance and perfume oils are designed to smell strong for a long time. The problem with that sitting under your nose is that it doesn’t dissipate the way something like an essential oil would and that can lead to headaches, nausea and irritation. Essential oils provide more of an aromatherapeutic benefit and they dissipate naturally as well.”
Keep your beard clean on the regular — especially right now:
“The big thing about beards is that they trap bacteria from food, hand touching — whatever else. Anything can get trapped in a beard. So it’s really important, as everyone is washing their hands, to also keep beards really clean as well. A lot of beard cleansing products, when used day after day after day, can strip natural moisture and leave a beard feeling wiry and bristly. We designed our beard wash, which is meant for daily use, so that you don’t have to go through those sensations. It has baobab oil, which is a protei-n and moisture-rich oil that penetrates and acts as a conditioner. It also has activated charcoal so it detoxifies as well. I mean, imagine trying to put a really dry, bristly beard into a mask right now! Oh my god…”