The Comprehensive Handbook for Beard Grooming and Care
Beards have come in and out of fashion over the last century, and today there are hundreds of men's beard styles to choose from to express your individuality. Today, beards are as popular as ever.
In this article we are going to focus on the beard, as it relates to humans and facial hair. We will save the animal and food beards for another day.
A little beard history
Historians have found evidence that men have been styling and caring for their beards for millennia; ancient Egyptians wore their beards as a symbol of power, and from 3000 B.C., the Egyptian Kings even wore metal “beards” (called “postiche”) we see depicted in their imagery today. Egyptian men dyed their beards to color them.
In Europe and Russia, beards came in and out of fashion frequently. One Russian king even implemented a beard tax because he believed everyone should be clean-shaven – the public was even allowed to enforce this tax!
The earliest records of beard oil being used date back to Ancient Mesopotamia, where beards were revered and treated with an oil made from sesame seeds. Ancient Greeks also used oils and balms made from castor oil to care for their beards.
It was the British, however, who first started mass-producing beard care products. Macassar Oil was created as a hair-care product for both genders, though it was extremely thick and prone to covering anything it encountered! (Imagine grabbing a door handle only to find it covered in someone else’s beard oil…)
It wasn’t until the 20th century that better alternatives started to become available around the world, as petrolatum-based balms and waxes became more popular. Today, of course, we have more choice than ever before (you can even create your own beard oil with us!), and you can try new scents and consistencies until you find the products you love.
Should I grow a beard?
Yes! I believe every guy should give it a try. You may be surprised at the results. Grow a beard and see what kind of reaction you get. Was it the reaction you were looking for? Do you like it? You may even find that your beard will cause a positive change in your life or maybe a change in your wardrobe.
The people or woman you meet may be different. The changes can be subtle or dramatic.
Growing a beard can be a glorious experience. Go ahead give it a try!
Can anyone grow a beard?
Anyone can certainly give it a try but most statistics tell us that less than 50% of males can actually grow a beard and even less than that can grow a full beard. The good news is not all beards look the same on everyone so a little stubble or a thinner beard may look great on you.
As mentioned throughout this article genetics will play the biggest role in whether you can grow a beard. Sometimes having incredible beard genetics can be blessing and sometimes, not so much. I had a friend that could grow a full beard in just over a month. The average is 3 to 5 months. He shaves it in the morning and by midday he has a 5 o clock shadow. It itched and drove him crazy and he hated the way he looked in a beard, so he was constantly shaving it.
Your age and puberty can also play a role in whether you will be able to grow a beard or not. Unless you have superior beard growing genetics, as a young lad you will not be able to grow a great. Initially, when you first start to try and grow a beard it may initially grow in thinner or be very light color. When you are younger, peach fuzz is usually part one of your beard growth journey. If you are part of the less than 50% of men who can grow a beard, as you get older and move through puberty, you may find that your beard will start to grow in thicker and darker. Until suddenly you are growing competition beards, and winning! That is exactly what happened to me, minus the actual competitions, for now anyway.
Unfortunately, the truth is, not everyone will be able to grow a beard and there is nothing on the market that will actually make facial hair grow.
What are the different men’s beard styles?
Glad you asked! There are many different styles of beards that are worn throughout the world, some more popular than others. I believe beards generally fall into one of four categories.
Title say’s it all, this is your daily go to beard. A beard fit to wear to just about any occasion, work, dinner, out with friends etc. The daily beard can be any share, size, or thickness but tends not to be to long as it should be relatively easy to maintain. This is something you can quickly style before heading out the door. A little beard oil and beard balm or butter and your good to go.
This type of beard is not something you would normally wear everyday, although you can. This beard is incredibly neat, tidy, and trimmed. All stray beard hairs are kept in check and accounted for.
This beard requires work and takes time to get perfect.
It is trimmed and cut on a regular basis by a qualified professional. This beard might be worn at a wedding, funeral, or any other formal occasion.
Think James Bond with a beard.
Traditional and Religious Beards
This type of beard is something that has been passed down for generations or is worn for its traditional meaning or heritage. These beards can also be worn for religious reasons.
The folks who have these types of beards where them with pride and in some cases can require meticulous work and maintenance.
These beards can be massive and quite impressive, yes, they can also fall into any of the categories above, but these types of beards tend to stand out from the rest of the crowd. These are the types of beards you will see at any beard competition. These folks are judged on the length, size, appearance, health, and general fullness of a beard amongst many other criteria depending on the competition. Many beard company owners compete and are happy to show off their winning beards on their website and in videos. These beard growers are at the top of their game and only the best products will do when it come to treating and taming their wicked beards.
Under each of the four beard categories mentioned above are hundreds of different beard styles and sub categories of beard.
Many factors can play a role in the way a beard looks, including the size and shape of your face. Your hair style can also play a big role when it comes to your beard.
Therefore, two people can have the exact same beard type and style but their beards will look completely different.
Can you wear a beard to a job interview?
Yes you can!
If you’re scouring the Internet the night before your job interview wondering whether you really need to shave, it’s likely because you’ve run into a remark here or there that it isn’t proper interview etiquette to turn up without a clean shave.
Yet, you also know that beards are becoming more and more common in the workplace, and while it will grow back, it’s also not something you want to part with if you don’t have to. If you choose to wear your beard to the interview, here’s the right way to do it.
How to choose to wear your beard
You may be on the fence and just need a little reassurance one way or the other. Don’t forget to do your research on how to present yourself. Just like the preparation you’ll do for the role you’re interviewing for; you’ll want to have at least a little bit of context on whether it’s the right call.
Think about context
The job and environment you’re interviewing for can often tell you a lot about whether or not it will be acceptable. Jobs in cities like Toronto, Austin or Silicon Valley definitely fall into more beard-friendly regions and are likely to be a little bit more lenient than more conservative areas in the suburbs.
Look for clues
One of the most foolproof ways that you can understand a company’s culture is by taking a peek at the social media of the company. Check and see if those at the company are sporting beards in their headshots or if the company has individuals with beards in any posted photos. These clues may indicate whether there is a beard-friendly culture. And it doesn’t have to be everyone — look for even 10 percent of the company — that’s enough to give you a feel for it.
How to make your beard look interview-ready
Once you’d decided to wear your beard, you need to make it look top notch. Even if you’re generally good about grooming your beard, you want to make sure that you have an above average appearance.
- Head to the barbers to get trimmed up in the days ahead. This is in no way shaving your beard, but it is making it more presentable.
- Condition, condition, condition. Invest in a beard balm or beard oil that will help give your beard the proper hold as you style it. If you really want to maintain your style though, beard balm is generally the way to go since it contains beeswax.
- Comb it through. Skip the brush and go for the comb since it also gives you better styling control. Be sure to bring the comb with you and run it through your beard either in the car or in the bathroom right before. This will ensure that your beard looks as good as you feel going in.
Is a mustache considered a beard?
No, hair above your lip with no other facial hair on your face is a mustache, not a beard. There are a few popular beard styles that really accentuate and focus on the mustache. A Verdi or Garibaldi come to mind.
In my opinion the mustache is one of the most overlooked and can be one of the least maintained parts of a beard. It can also be the hardest part of a full beard to grow.
Is a goatee considered a beard?
Sort of, although if it is big enough it may look like a full beard from the front. What are your thoughts on a goatee? Honestly, the goatee never been a favorite of mine. Although I did have one for a short period of time. I remember it being a real pain in the but to maintain and I was always finding food in it.
Looking back in hindsight at my old goatee photos I think it looked terrible and I have no idea what I was thinking. Having said that I am not against them and there are a few folks that can pull them.
Is stubble considered a beard?
This is a tricky one, but I would say yes, stubble could be considered a short beard. I am not sure if a 5-o clock shadow can be considered a beard but stubble that has been growing for a few days can be considered a beard, or at the very least the early stages of a beard. Some guys will be able to grow a beard quickly, but for the rest of us it takes time. When you see stubble, this is when you can start to think about using a beard oil or beard butter. You can also use a balm but there won’t be much beard hair to style at this phase of beard growth, so I don’t recommend it. Some may argue stubble is not a beard, I think it can be. What do you think?
Today, there are three main products that are used on beards. I am also including mustache wax on this list as a fourth because many beard growers will often use a product with more wax to tame their mustaches. Mustaches can be incredibly temperamental, and it can be a little harder to keep your mustache hair in line.
The three main products for beards are:
Beard oil forms the foundation for a beard. It is usually scented and is made up of a combination of carrier oils, essential oils, and fragrance oils.
Beard oil is for all types of beards, short, long, big, or small and will treat them all in the same way. Beard oil can protect a beard and will help to provide a healthy foundation for your beard. Beard oil can protect a beard from the elements and the dreaded beard itch caused by dry skin and a lack of sebum. Sebum is a natural oil produced by our skin and an ever growing can put a put a real strain on the production in sebum as it tries to keep up with your ever-growing beard.
Beard oil is not used to style a beard. It is more like a scented, protective cologne that is used on your beard and the skin underneath it.
How do you use beard oil?
If using a dropper place a few drops into the palm of your hand and lightly rub hands together and then rub into beard. Making sure you are also applying beard oil to the skin under your beard.
Beard balm is the go-to product when you want to really style your beard. It is also perfect for anyone who has a hard time keeping their beard in check. Depending on the hold of a beard balm it can have a lot of beeswax in it or a little. The stronger the hold, the more the beeswax. To little beeswax and it is usually considered a beard butter. To much beeswax and it is usually considered mustache wax.
Beard balm is also sold scented most of the time but can also be found in unscented.
Beard oil is usually sold in droppers or spray bottles. Spray bottles are usually reserved for large beards or beards that require a large amount of beard oil.
How do you use beard balm?
Beard balm is usually sold in metal tin cans and can also be found in larger plastic or glass containers depending on the amount.
Beard oil is scooped out by using your thumb. Dig your thumb, nail side down across the surface of the beard balm to get a small amount on your nail. Larger scoops or multiple scoops will be required for larger beards.
Scrape scoop into the palm of your hand and rub until dissolved.
Use hand to massage into beard and style beard. Again, you may need to take scoop more or go back for multiple scoops depending on the size of your beard.
Beard butter is like a cross between beard oil and beard butter. Many guys will only use beard butter as their go to beard product using nothing else. A good, premium beard butter can replace beard oil and beard balm.
Beard butter will usually come in two different varieties, with beeswax and without. If the beard butter does have beeswax wax it will be in a very small amounts, just enough for some modest styling.
Common beard butter bases are Shea butter, Almond butter, mango butter, and cocoa butter. Coffee butter seems to be showing some promise and the smell is incredible if you are into that sort of thing.
A good beard butter will be very smooth and creamy, regardless of the amount of beeswax used.
How do you use beard butter?
Beard butter is used like beard oil and beard balm and can work as a combination of the two.
Scoop out a small or large portion of beard butter, depending on your beard size onto your finger or thumb. Rub it into the palm of your hand until dissolved. Then like beard oil, rub it into your beard, making sure to also reach the skin under the beard.
Mustache wax is on this list because as mentioned it is used by many beard growers to help tame their mustaches. Sometimes you need a little more beeswax than a beard balm can provide and if that is the case mustache wax has you covered.
Mustache wax is the thickest and strongest holding of all the beard products and is commonly used if beard balm is not having the desired effect. I have included it in the list because many folks with larger beards may use a combination of beard oil, butter, or balm and mustache wax.
Mustaches can be a lot harder to tame and style than beards and a big mustache is always getting in the way and depending on the size can be a little bit of a pain to maintain.
Having a large mustache means you are going to be eating mustache hair from time to time and don’t be surprised if find yourself chewing on your mustache at dinner on occasion.
Keeping that mustache tamed is crucial to not only the way it looks but how much of it you end up eating.
How do you use mustache wax?
You will need to use your thumb nail to scoop a small amount of mustache wax onto the tip of your thumb, you don’t need much, and you can always go back for another coat if you need to. Then rub the wax between your thumb and forefinger until is dissolved. Rub the wax onto your mustache shaping it outward as you apply the wax.
There is no question that all beards will require a little maintenance, once in awhile. Some beards will require a lot more maintenance than others, especially ones that require regular cutting or trimming to maintain their shape or style. You will also likely be applying at least one beard product or another to your beard each day. Multiple times a day depending on the size of your beard.
Most beards will only require a little trimming and shaving at the neckline every few days to give it a clean look. Not all beards will grow in large and thick and the process to grow a great beard can take time and effort.
Age can play a big part, if you are on the younger side and are struggling to grow a beard, hang in there it will likely get easier as you get older.
I couldn’t grow a decent beard until I hit my early thirties!
Eventually a beard is going to need proper trimming if you let it grow for long enough. Proper trimming is usually best handled by a skilled barber, but many men are happy to take up the challenge themselves and many do a great job.
No matter who is trimming or cutting your beard there is always the risk of disaster. Although the risks are much, much lower if you use a trained professional like a barber.
One slip of the trimmer could mean the difference between a slightly shorter beard and having to shave it off completely.
I have had this happen to me on more than one occasions and every time it happened it brought a tear to my eye. Now a days I visit a local barber and now a good friend of mine.
The big takeaway here is that a beard will require some maintenance and the bigger it gets, the more maintenance and product it will need.
Should I cut my own beard?
I don’t recommend it. It is always better to leave it to the professionals. If you make the wrong cut, you could end up having to shave off your entire beard. In the early stages of beard growth if this happens it won’t hurt near as much if you have been growing your beard for months or years.
If your beard uses a special cut or trim to shape it you will want to hit up a qualified professional.
Having said all that if you are brave enough or skilled to do this yourself there are a ton of videos on YouTube that will guide you through the process.
Neckline is important when cleaning up your beard, most full beards will be trimmed at the neckline. Other beard styles may require a higher cut at the neckline creating a thinner hair line along the jaw.
How do I find a good beard barber?
Reviews and word of mouth are going to be your main sources when it comes to finding a good local barber with quality beard trimming skills.
In fact, it is not uncommon to have one person in the shop handle beards, they become a specialist. Masters of their craft.
Even with a good word of mouth and good reviews you may not connect with a barber or their shop. When I found my barber, it was amazing, and we connected right away. I felt comfortable and more importantly they did a great job. I have been going to the same place ever since.
When you connect with a good barber, you will know it.
How do I clean my beard?
If you have stubble or are in the very early stages of beard growth you will not really need to use any special soaps or cleansers
As your beard grows it will require specially formulated soap for beards. A quality formulated soap will ensure your beard is getting treated with carrier oils and all natural products and scents.
A premium beard soap will ensure your beard is not dried out or damaged during the cleaning process.
Your beard hair is less like the hair on your head and more like the hair between your legs. It has different requirements and regular soap, or shampoo won’t cut it.
As with anything some men can get away with not using beard soap, but for the rest of, we will be using a quality beard soap. In my experience using regular soap or shampoo on your full beard can damage it and over time no beard oil in the world is going to bring it back to life.
Can I dye my beard?
Yes, you can! There are many reasons why you may want to dye your beard and if you feel like you need to or want to, go for it. It is safe and there are many different products for you to choose from. Please check out this article for a lot more information on dying your beard.
What is the best beard type?
I don’t believe there is a “best beard”. Every beard is unique as it grows and conforms to an individual’s face. A daily full beard is my beard of choice, not to big or long and relatively easy to maintain. I need to give it a good cut or trim every couple of months.
A full beard may look great on one person and terrible on another. It is all very subjective.
If I ask you to think of the perfect beard, who do you think of? Do you think that beard would look good on you? Would it be good for all face types?
I always wanted to have a cool beard like Wolverine from the X-Men movies.
When I ask you to think of someone with a wicked beard, who do you think of? Are you thinking of Wolverine now? Sorry about that.
I don’t believe there is a “best beard” and although you may see a lot of top 10 or top 25 beards lists, they should all be taken with a grain of salt and should only be used for reference and entertainment. There is no “best beard”, only the beard you love and when you find it, wear it with pride my good man.
Is beard hair pubic hair?
Technically, yes. Beard hair follicles are more closely related to the hair between your legs and arm pits than it is with the hair on your head.
Essentially, any hair that grows during puberty is considered pubic hair and because beard hair grows during puberty it falls under this category.
Beard hair has different requirements than the hair on your head and other pubic hair on your body. Your beard is exposed to the environment 24 hours a day, and this causes your beard hair to be affected by the same negatives effects that can dry out or damage the hair on your head.
I suppose if your crotch hair was exposed to the elements 24 hours a day it to would require a little special care and treatment as well.
No matter how you slice it, beard hair is technically pubic hair, but I think beard hair sounds a lot nicer.
Is there any product that will help me grow a beard?
No, there is currently no product on the market that will help you grow beard hair. Just as there is no magic sauce for growing hair on your head, there is no such product for beard hair. Many companies may make bold claims but don’t believe the hype. Marketing can be a powerful thing but nothing on the market toady will grow facial hair.
How long does a beard take to grow?
On average a full beard will take anywhere from 2 to 5 months to grow. Some men will be able to grow a full beard much faster, but the average persons beard will grow approximately half an inch each month. Growing a beard can take time, and taking good care of it can be the difference between a good beard and a great beard.
Can beards stop growing?
Yes, some parts of your beard may reach a sort of maximum length and will not get any longer. The soul patch part of a beard is a common beard part that will stop growing as the rest of your beard gets bigger. For some men their mustache may stop growing after is reaches its maximum length.
In fact, most beards will stop growing when they reach their maximum length, and this maximum length is different for each person. For some, their beard will seem to continue to grow forever, albeit much slower as time goes on.
Can beards cause acne?
It is not so much the actual beard itself can cause acne. It is more likely that you have added to much product to your beard or have not washed it. You may have also been very active causing excessive sweat and dirt build up. If you have a full beard, it is not uncommon to get a pimple or two from time to time. If you are prone to acne a beard is not going to make things better.
In fact, if you are prone to acne I would recommend reaching out to a dermatologist or your doctor for advice on growing a beard and using products. They may recommend treating the acne before encouraging you to grow a beard.
Do woman like beards?
Not all woman like a beard and even less like a large, competition type beard, but there are a few who absolutely love them. My wife for example is a huge fan of beards and she loves a full beard. She is also a big fan of game of thrones and lord of the rings. Both movies with beards all over the place!
If you look around it seems like beards are everywhere, and men would not be wearing them if woman did not like them. I am sure word would spread fast if growing a beard became a no-no.
In many surveys 30% or more women find a beard very attractive and I believe this number has only increased over the years. The good news is, less than 10% of woman find beards unattractive.
If your wife won’t let you grow a beard, we feel your pain brother.
Are there religions that require a beard?
While some religions such as Islam and Sikhism consider a full beard to be an official part of their religion. Other groups and cultures such as Mennonites view a beard as part of a man’s virility and wisdom. It can also represent strength, wisdom, and power.
Although growing a beard is not part of the compulsory pillars of Islam, such as fasting and payer, many schools of Islamic law hold strong potions on the length and fullness of a man’s beard. It can be considered unlawful to shave one’s beard.
Why are beards not allowed in most militaries?
The two things that put an end to beards in the military were hygiene and gas masks. Interestingly they wouldn’t be completely outlawed in the United States until December 1984, when Chief of Naval Operations Adm. James D. Watkins put an end to them once and for all.
Which US presidents had beards?
Of the 45 individuals that have served as president (at the time of this writing), 5 wore a beard for the duration of their presidency.
- 16th - Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), U.S. President (1861-1865)
- 20th - James A. Garfield (1881)
- 19th - Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881)
- 18th - Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)
- 23rd - Benjamin Harrison (1899-1893)
21st President Chester Arthur (1881-1885) Came close with mutton chops and mustache. What do you think, should he count? His mutton chops were called Friendly Mutton Chops.
It wasn’t until President Abraham Lincoln when the president of the United States sported a beard.
It is rumored that an 11-year-old girl named Grace Bedell wrote a letter to the republican president and told him he would win the presidency if he grew a beard, and the rest is history.
Beards were incredibly popular during the 1800’s so it’s no surprise so many presidents during this period had one.
In the 1800’s in America, a beard was worn because it showed the wearers had moral courage and they remained extremely popular into the mid 19th century.
Benjamin Harrison was the last president to have a beard while in office. Since then, no president has ever had a beard while they were in office. In fact, I have been unable to dig up a real photo of a president with a beard at all, other than the ones mentioned in the list above.
Clinton sported a real beard while he went to Oxford, but this was way before he served in office. It wasn’t until 1983 when he first served as governor, 10 years after graduating from Yale and roughly 12 years since the bearded photo was taken in 1968.
There are also a few good photoshops out there, and I think Bush Jr looks great in a beard. I encourage you to search for the photos, some of them are good.
Some of those presidents with beards served in the military.
Beards are more popular than ever, and I don’t see that popularity slowing down anytime soon. Beards are in style and they are here to stay.
Growing a beard can sometimes be the little change in our life that is needed to point us in a new direction with style, relationships and even friends.
Yes, a beard is going to require some maintenance and beard products but is well worth it in the end. Your beard will look fuller, healthier, shinier and with the right products will smell incredible as well.
Go now and grow a wicked beard, it might change your life!
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