It doesn’t take a keen interest in style to know that beards are back in vogue. From the chunky lumbersexual offering to finely honed goatees, facial hair is now as important as your haircut and every inch an extension of your personal style.
And much like your haircut, care must be taken in its treatment. From choosing the right style to maintenance and aftercare, let us guide you through the prickly subject of beard maintenance 101.
Which Beard Style Is Right For Me?
The best look can be spoiled by the wrong accessories. Chubbier gents are fooling no one with unkempt chin-defining neckbeards, and sharp, narrow styles can make a Basil Rathbone lookalike veer into magician territory. So how to pick a style that suits?
“It’s a mixture of facial shape, hair growth and lifestyle,” says Adam Brady, trend expert at celebrated barber franchise Ruffians. “If you’ve got a long face, it’s better to grow a bit more hair on the cheeks, so it can fill the face out. Inversely, if you have a round face, you want to reduce the width.”
It’s all about rebalancing the proportions of your face to achieve the desired effect. However, on occasion, your peach fuzz simply won’t play ball. “You need to be aware of your own hair growth, as you may not be able to achieve the look you really want.” Brady recommends men with patchier growths opt for stubble instead; the sporadic tufts will be less noticeable if you opt for a short front-and-sides.
As with haircuts, certain styles fall in and out of vogue. After the bold statement of longer, unkempt beards à la latter-day Brad Pitt, shorter, neater beards are now taking precedence. Shorter styles can help to accentuate bone structure and hide odd features like weak chins or cherubic cheeks – a true Swiss army beard.
Brady also recommends looking into the prominent moustache, surrounded by long stubble. Think a grizzled Tom Selleck after a day in the field for proper manly credentials.
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For Pete’s sake, wash it regularly. Your crumb-catcher’s trapped food and skin cells can exacerbate itchiness while your beard grows into its own. With foreign bodies in your new beard, your skin reacts in a rash as it attempts to repel the invaders in the same way it attempts to push out trapped grease, resulting in spots.
The resulting inflamed skin looks and feels uncomfortable, resulting in frequent handling, itching and an even greasier beard as a result. For longer beards a common-or-garden shampoo should be more than enough for a wash.
For shorter, tougher beards less than 2cm long, a facial scrub is the better option. Exfoliating the skin around the beard with facial scrub keeps it looking fresh and clean and the beard itself looking less greasy.
The beard oil you’ve seen touted by artisan grooming specialists does have a place for longer beards.
“Beard oil coats the shaft of the hair which restores natural moisture in the hair follicle,” says Brady. This natural moisture is known as sebum, and stops the hair becoming brittle.
Finally, apply a moisturiser regularly to prevent dryness from recurring.
Seem like a lot of hard work? Well, all this maintenance has its purpose – as your beard is subjected to far more wear and tear than your haircut, dry follicles and irritated skin contribute to beard dandruff. To be avoided at all costs.