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Your beard is your signature. It frames and defines the character of your face and helps you move confidently in the world, a symbol of head-turning, red-blooded manhood. If you’re reading this, you are already a practicing member of the brotherhood or are seriously considering joining the community of men who celebrate their manliness by growing magnificent, colossal heaps of facial hair.
Since the first signs of your adolescent fuzz, you’ve been on the road to big, burly, awe-inspiring beardness. Two male sex hormones in your body power the vehicle that gets you there: testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. Responsible for revving up hair follicle action, testosterone interacts with the enzyme 5-alpha reductase (5AR) to produce DHT. How much hair populates your face may be in direct proportion to how much DHT is working towards the goal of boosting the growth and thickness of your beard.
Whether your favorite bearded look is urban hipster, noble statesman or grizzly mountain man, this blog is designed to help you enhance, maintain and support the growth and good health of this great manly asset.
A word of warning: those early beard-growing weeks will come with some fallout. As you rock that scraggly first growth, you’ll get strange, disapproving looks from strangers, your scratchy face could make romance more difficult, and that peck on the cheek from Aunt Franny may unleash a whole battery of complaints. Don’t lose faith! As your new hair grows in, so will your confidence. Watching your face starts to take on that epic, bearded look, you’ll remember why this rugged, classic growth was part of your master plan all along.
If you’ve just started the growing process, you’ll want to let your facial hair come in freely for at least four weeks, without trimming or shaping the main part of your beard. Things will look pretty scruffy for a while, but resist the temptation to shape until the beard is fully grown. The hair should be at least one inch long before you break out that trusty shaping tool. Once you’ve reached full-beard status, you’ll need to decide what type of statement you want your facial hair to make, then trim accordingly.
Unfortunately, if you’ve ever grown a beard, you know itching is part of the experience, particularly during the early stages. New growth will aggravate the skin. Stray hairs will curl under and stab or scratch at your face, while clogged pores and accumulated dirt and oil will all contribute to the madness. The good news is, this part of the process should only last a week or two. In the meantime, excessive scratching only makes matters worse, so try and control the urge!
Keeping your beard clean is essential, and regular light brushing will not only feel great on an itchy face, but will help straighten errant hairs and keep them from curving in and poking at your skin. Itching can also be an indication of dryness, so using a beard oil or beard balm a couple of times a day should calm things down considerably. As an added bonus, the extra moisture makes beard hair softer and smoother, so it will be less likely to stab at your skin.
While the no-trim rule during the first weeks stands firm, one school of thought says it’s OK to trim the neck area after a week or so, and we agree. Messy neck growth contributes to that creepy caveman look, particularly if your beard grows all the way down to the base of your neck. Trimming or shaving this area early will establish some borders and put you squarely in beard growth territory (as opposed to just looking unshaven). You want your beard to start roughly the width of two fingers right above your Adam’s apple.
Draw an imaginary curved line right above those two fingers, and you’ve established your neck line. Feel free to clip or shave all the hair below that line. After the first week or two, you can also work on establishing your cheek line by carefully clipping any stray hairs that grow above the dense, main part of your beard, which give your face an unkempt appearance. The aim is to create a smooth, gradual progression from clean cheek to thick, full growth, which gives your beard a more natural look.
Once you’re ready to shape your beard, you’ll need to consider what kind of beard would go best with your personal style and the shape of your face. If you’re new to beard-trimming, you may want to let a barber or stylist do the first round or two and give you some pointers. If you’d prefer to try it for yourself, you’ll find a number of great resources online with step-by-step instructions on how to trim and detail for best and most accurate results, depending on the beard type and length you want.
A few useful things to keep in mind:
You’ll want to keep trimming and detailing frequently, once or twice a week, depending on your rate of growth. Even if your plan is to grow a long, thick, full-on lumberjack beard, periodic light trimming and shaping will keep it even, neat and healthy-looking.
The right supplementation, good nutrition and an active, healthy lifestyle are literally at the root of the thick, amazing beard growth you’re after. Below are some useful tips to help you achieve the look you want.
In these beard-friendly times, you’ll find tons of fancy gadgets and grooming products to help you tame the beast. Feel free to buy them all if you’re so inclined. But here are a few essentials you won’t want to be without:
Beard comb and brush. Beards tangle, curl, frizz and get messy. If yours is long or extra coarse, you’ll need a wide-tooth comb; medium is fine for shorter, tamer beards. Carefully work through the tangles as you would your hair, then comb or brush the beard downward to get the hairs to lie in the same direction for a smooth, clean finish. Daily brushing will help distribute natural oils and clear away loose hair, dirt and dead skin cells. For best results, use a beard brush made from natural bristles.
A good beard trimmer. This will be your most important tool, so do a little research and choose a reliable, good quality clipper. For the sake of convenience, consider a cordless, rechargeable one. They are a bit more expensive, but offer the freedom to move around, can be used anywhere and, when compared to battery operated ones, will save money in the long run. You’ll want a clipper with an adjustable or removable trimming guide (most actually offer this), which will help you determine how much to trim. When in doubt, or when using a new trimmer for the first time, always adjust your guide to a longer beard length than what you want. You can always go back and cut more, but the inverse is not an option!
Hair scissors. You’ll use this for additional shaping and sculpting on a day-to-day basis. Individual beard hairs grow at different rates, so you’ll need to be on the lookout for long, wiry whiskers poking through between trimmings. Any sharp pair of scissors will work, but if you can, invest in a pair of professional barber’s scissors; they will last forever and do a great job. Some seasoned beardmeisters prefer to bypass the trimmer and only snip away with scissors. This can be tricky and will definitely take practice. It entails combing through the beard, then carefully and evenly trimming the hair that comes through the outside of the comb. Here’s that same advice again: always cut less than you think you need, then go back and re-trim if necessary.
A high quality beard oil. You’ve already seen these magic bullets mentioned a couple of times, and with good reason. A good beard oil is the perfect, all-purpose fix for what ails you: dryness, itchy skin, wild frizz, and an overly rough, scratchy beard will all benefit from a good conditioning oil. (More on beard oils in a minute.)
Wash your face and your beard regularly with a mild cleanser like Aubrey Men's Stock Spice Island Face Scrub to remove excess oils, dirt and food particles. Regular cleansing will not only leave your beard looking awesome, it actually helps keep facial hair follicles clear and healthy for maximum growth. If your beard is extra long or thick, you may want to try a beard wash or shampoo especially designed for facial hair. After washing, rinse well with warm water and gently pat beard dry. Hard rubdowns with a towel can cause your beard to frizz and could lead to split ends (yes, beards get them!)
Applying a conditioner after washing will add softness to your beard and help work through any tangles caused by the scrubbing action. You'll find conditioners made especially for beards on the market, but a lightweight hair conditioner like Aubrey Green Tea Conditioner or TheraNeem Gentle Therape Conditioner should do the trick. If your beard is extra long or full, you might also consider investing in a beard conditioner. If dryness and rough hair are an issue, here’s another idea: try using a conditioner in place of a shampoo or beard wash (a process, called “co-washing”). During your shower, wet your beard thoroughly, apply conditioner all over, then massage it in the way you would when lathering with a shampoo. Let the conditioner sit in your beard for 2 to 3 minutes, then rinse well in warm water. The conditioner freshens without stripping natural oils, and leaves your beard clean, soft and smooth.
Here’s that famous beard staple we keep talking about. Working a high-quality oil through your beard and onto the skin daily will banish dryness, control wiry, frizzy hairs and split ends, make beard hair softer and smoother and add a healthy shine.
Always apply the oil when your beard is freshly washed; a clean, softer beard absorbs better. Dry your beard thoroughly (wet or damp hair will not absorb well, so some of the oil will be wasted) and start with a small amount. Apply 2 to 3 drops (more if your beard is extra long and thick) to your palm, rub your hands together to spread the oil, then smooth them down both sides of your beard and down the front, following the direction of the hair growth, then through the neck and chin areas in an upward motion, against the growth. Finally, using your fingers, wipe some of the oil across your mustache. If your beard hair still feels dry, apply an additional drop or two of the oil, and repeat the process. Then comb your beard in a downward motion to distribute the oil more evenly and get your beard hair to lie down flat.
When shopping for a beard oil, consider blends made with lighter oils, such as jojoba or argan oils; they are closer to your skin’s natural sebum, are more easily absorbed, and go to work quickly and effectively. Heavier oils, such as olive oil, tend to lie on top of the beard hair, creating a greasy look and feel, so it’s best to avoid them. There’s a wide variety of formulas to choose from, and many are available in rugged, masculine scents that can be used in place of a cologne or aftershave. Look for formulas scented with pure essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances, which can be harsh on the skin. Or even better, make your own beard oil at home.
There are so many benefits to a good fitness program, it’s hard to imagine one bodily function that is not improved by a healthy workout. But here’s one side effect you might not be aware of: Exercise, particularly anaerobic workouts, such as weightlifting or sprinting, can cause a temporary but significant surge in your testosterone. More testosterone can create the perfect environment for healthy beard growth. For best results, exercise for 30 minutes three to five days a week, and focus on weight training that works your core and other large muscle groups. Slowly increasing the amount of weight you can safely lift will help further support your T-levels, while slowing down your reps will cause your muscles to work harder, thus increasing the intensity of your sessions.
This is a no-brainer: a clean, well-balanced diet will do wonders for the quality of your beard. Avoiding sugar and processed foods that can actually deplete your body of nutrients is a great place to start, while eating foods rich in the vitamins and minerals your body needs for enhanced beard growth is essential.
Be sure to consume some of these foods on a weekly basis to give your beard a healthy, natural boost:
Eggs. Excellent sources of protein, one of the building blocks of hair, eggs are also very high in biotin, one of the most important nutrients for hair and beard growth support.
Beef. Yes, go ahead and chow down on that thick, juicy steak. Besides being very rich in protein and other nutrients, red meat contains saturated fat, a fatty acid your body needs for the production of testosterone. For a full, balanced meal, make sure to fill the other side of your plate with healthy greens like asparagus, spinach, Brussels sprouts or kale.
Brazil Nuts. Besides being an excellent source of protein, Brazil nuts are extremely high in selenium, a mineral your body uses in the production of testosterone. As few as two Brazil nuts per day can make a difference, but be sure any nuts you consume still have the skin on, as a great deal of the selenium concentration is found there.
Gelatin. A blend of protein and peptides produced by boiling the bones, skin and cartilage of animals, this colorless, odorless substance is a far cry from the sugary gelatin desserts of your childhood. Available most commonly in powder form, it is known to support hair health and is rich in amino acids, particularly glycine and proline, used by your body in the production of hair and nails. A deficiency of these two amino acids can lead to impaired beard and hair growth.
As you already know, constant, ongoing stress can have a powerful detrimental effect on your health. Feelings of tension and anxiety trigger your adrenals to release cortisol, the “stress hormone” that negatively impacts nearly every system in the body. Too much cortisol can lead to adrenal fatigue
But here’s another reason to keep stress under control: When it comes to your beard, too much cortisol can also impair your body’s ability to produce and utilize testosterone and DHT, those important facial hair boosters. Make it a point to set aside a few minutes each day to consciously relax and unwind.
A good workout is a great stress reliever and provides a lot of added benefits in the process, so we’ll say it again: be sure to exercise regularly. Practicing mindful meditation that focuses on your breathing calms the mind and helps get your bodily systems back in balance. If you prefer something more physical, yoga and tai chi help work your muscles for added strength and flexibility while having a powerful centering and de-stressing effect.
While there are literally dozens of grooming products to choose from, here are a few we think might enhance your beard-growing experience the most:
Antibacterial beard balms. The balm part will keep your beard hair soft and your skin moisturized. And the antibacterial is a no brainer: food particles, sweat, dirt and pollution can do a number on your beard. Add sneezing and coughing, plus all that thoughtful beard stroking with less-than-pristine hands, and you could have a petri dish of major proportions right under your unsuspecting nose. Keep your beard healthy and germ-free between washings with one of these handy 2-in-1 balms.
Mustache waxes. Your ’stache might need a little extra care, particularly if you’re growing a long one or are considering that stately handlebar look. The best mustache products are made with beeswax instead of petrochemicals, and are a better choice, considering how closely they sit next to your mouth and nose. Some offer light control and a healthy shine, while others provide the heavy hold of a hardcore hair gel, so be sure to choose one according to your needs.
Styling balms. Like mustache waxes, beard styling balms come in a variety of strengths and allow you to tame messy growth and frizz, or shape your beard any way you please. As with mustache waxes, the more natural the styling product, the better.
A number of nutritional supplements are available to help support healthy hair growth and help you achieve the full, dense, epic beard you’ve always wanted. Here are some excellent choices from the Healthway family of brands.
Zhou Nutrition Iron Beard. Premium beard and hair growth supplement nourishes from within to help maintain a vibrant, healthy beard you can be proud of. Biotin and other B vitamins help support existing and incoming hair to help you achieve full, thick coverage, while hydrolyzed collagen provides 18 naturally occurring amino acids, the building blocks of hair protein. There's additional herbal support with pumpkin seed and nettle, plus the Chinese herb fo-ti. Gluten free, lab verified, 60-day money-back guarantee. 60 Veggie Capsules, 30 Servings.
KAL Ultra Biotin DropIns 10,000 mcg. High potency formula provides 10,000mcg of bioavailable liquid biotin per 15-drop serving. Perfect for healthier hair and beard growth, biotin is also great for healtheir skin. Add Ultra Biotin to a favorite beverage or directly “DropIn” into your mouth. Natural, mixed berry flavor, sweetened with organic stevia, lab verified. 2 oz, 59 Servings. Also try KAL Ultra Biotin ActivMelts 10,000 mcg, tasty, naturally flavored chewables, or KAL Ultra Biotin 5,000 mcg tablets.
Solaray Timed-Release Biotin 5000 mcg. Timed-release biotin provides 5000mcg per capsule to help support healthy beard and hair growth and more vibrant skin. Fast-acting, long-lasting formula is designed to release half the biotin quickly and the other half gradually, making this nutrient available to the body for up to 8 hours. Non-GMO, vegan, lab verified. 60 VegCaps, 60 Servings.
Zhou Nutrition Hairfluence. This excellent hair health supplement is generally marketed to women, but men can also benefit from its potent, synergistic blend of A, C and B vitamins (including biotin), amino acids and beneficial herbals designed to help support longer, stronger, more vibrant hair – including beard hair. Hydrolyzed collagen, MSM and other powerful ingredients come together in the perfect, nutrient-packed diet for hair, skin and more. Non-GMO, gluten free, lab verified, 60-day money-back guarantee. 60 Veggie Caps, 30 Servings.
Don’t love swallowing pills? Try Zhou Hairfluence Gummies or HairfluenceWater Enhancer or Hairfluence Gummies.
Zhou Nutrition Collagen Peptides Powder. Vital for both hair and skin health, collagen peptides contain 18 naturally occurring amino acids, the building blocks of hair protein, important for hair and beard growth support. Sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised cattle, and designed for easy digestion, this hydrolyzed protein powder provides types I and III collagen, which make up 90% of the collagen in your body. As an added bonus, collagen supplementation may help support the health of your skin, bones, blood vessels and soft tissues. Non-GMO, gluten free, sugar free, lab verified, 60-day money back guarantee. 18 oz, 46 Servings. Also try the Zhou Collagen Peptide Gummies.
Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.