A 10 Step Guide to Growing a Healthy Beard
This is a great guest post from the chaps at https://www.beardtrimmerbay.co.uk
Check out their site and look through the resources they have as it is a great place for tips on beard care and more. Thanks! - Luke
I reckon most beardsmen will nod their head and agree when I say: “Getting an epic looking beard takes a lot of work” Or does it?
You see, after a consultation with 37 beard experts it is clear to see there is one common underlying aspect that ties all good looking beards together…
… they are all healthy.
An epic beard won’t be suffering with beard-druff or split ends (i.e. unhealthy), instead it will look clean and full (i.e. healthy). And in today’s post I’m going to show you in 10 simple steps that achieving a healthy (and therefore epic looking beard) isn’t all that much hard work after all.
1. Stop Picking at Your Beard
Perhaps the biggest cardinal sin when it comes to generally looking after beards yet it is easily the simplest yet hardest mistake of all to stop. Now, don’t get us wrong, we aren’t saying don’t touch your beard, after all you have well and truly earned the right to stroke it as you ponder, reflect and contemplate life.
But, here’s the thing:
If you touch it excessively, you are not only increasing the likelihood of split ends, dropouts and such - you may even find yourself falling into a mild form of beard trichotillomania.
Have you ever found yourself, at first just stroking your beard but then came across that rather odd feeling beard hair, that just didn’t sit right? So you had to pull it out? The odd one is fine here and there - however what tends to habit you start to run the risk of forming a habit - concentrating in one particular area in your beard and before you know
it you’ve ended up with a bald patch. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that a bald patch in a beard, just ain’t a good look on anyone’s beard.
2. Offer a Little T.L.C.
A lot of beard problems men face are usually self-inflicted. For instance, when it comes to taking a shower, dial the temperature down a couple of notches from scalding hot to lukewarm. Plus, if you are going to use a blow dryer on your beard, make sure you hold it away at a reasonable distance and ideally have it at the “lower” heat setting - you
don’t want to be drying your beard out. Also watch out for being overly rough with it as well - even as simple as drying your beard with a towel, instead of drying it like you would your
hair - opt for a gentle pat down technique. Then when it comes to brushing or combing, you shouldn’t be ever tugging on your beard, just let up and re-engage the stroke again - save yourself from potentially damaging your beard. In all, you can prevent future a lot of beard problems by just treating your beard with a little bit of the old tender loving care.
3. Wash Your Beard Properly It’s obvious, right?
Beards collect dirt, bits of grub and who knows what else - and unless you enjoy your beard giving off a whiff of beard odour, you’re gonna have to give it a wash every now and then.
But, here’s the kicker: Where many guys go oh so, so wrong is that they are using the exact same shampoo for their beards as they do for their head hair, or even body wash! The issue there being, that those cleaning agents tend to be way too abrasive for beard and although they’ll clean it up, they will also wipe out all the natural oils that your beard has been clinging on to. The result? One hella’ dry beard.
Instead, you want to be using a dedicated beard friendly soap or wash, that will clean your beard but also help to preserve this natural goodness. After that, you’ll want to act quickly to replenish these oils with a decent conditioner - sealing in that extra moisture.
A beard oil will be perfect. Now, with regards to how frequently you want to be washing your beard, it just sort of depends on you and your beard. You’ll get guys rocking badass beards who wash them every day and say it’s absolutely fine. At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll get guys rocking badass beards who swear by washing it only once a week. We say, just wash it when you need to, if that’s once a week, then that’s totally fine. If you need to wash it every day because you have been hacking down trees then that’s cool too.The only thing we will say is that if you are in the latter category, it is even more imperative you use a conditioning, natural and dedicated beard wash.
4. Your Beard’s Best Friend - Beard oil.
You might have come across a phrase along the lines of this before: “Beard oil is a beard’s best friend”. Sort of cheesy, but so true. I mean a good beard oil is just outright fantastic for your beard - they make them softer, shinier and just leave them smelling awesome. Quite frankly, it is really the key element to achieving a healthy beard.
It gets better though not only does a beard oil, look after your beard, it looks after the very foundation it’s built from, your skin. As briefly discussed, the best time to actually use beard oil is right after a warm shower, when your pores are more receptive and beard slightly damp. Just get an appropriate amount, don’t make the mistake most guys make and smother your beard with it. We’d suggest taking 1-3 drops for a short beard, 4-7 drops for a medium beard and 8+ drops for a longer beard. From there, just work it in at first with your fingertips and gradually encompass the entire beard with it (give it a good minute or two to really massage it in). Then if you’ve got a decent beard comb to hand this will work great at distributing nice and evenly throughout your beard. And if you’ve got a boar bristle brush - that’ll work great too.
5. Develop a Grooming Routine
Naturally with the new range of beard products to hand that you’ll be using to take care of your beard, you are going to have to form some sort of daily beard grooming routine to make sure it is looking and feeling great. Granted, this means it will likely add a few minutes to your morning routine that you’ll have no doubt timed perfectly, down to the minute to you rock up at work. At least in the beginning you’re going to have to give yourself an extra five or so minutes in a morning, but as you pick it up everything will become pretty much second nature. Not a big deal really.
That said. You don’t want to be neglecting a pretty fundamental aspect either - and a lot of guys who start to grow their beards make this mistake, they forget about or just neglect their skin completely. Yes, a beard oil will help you out with keeping your skin healthy and
moisturised, but it doesn’t stop there. A couple of simple tips though is to massage (to encourage growth) in moisturizers and exfoliants (to relieve the dead skin blocking hair follicles) with the ends of your finger tips and gently work it through the beard and on to the skin. This in turn actually stimulates blood flow to your beard, causing better beard growth. A pain really. However, there is a pretty darn cool alternative.
The clarisonic. If you haven’t come across it before, I try and describe it as a sort of electric toothbrush meets facial cleanser but you’re just going to have to see it in action to really get the idea.
6. Sleep Well
You see, that manly hormone, testosterone is a prominent driver in growing a good healthy beard. That’s why making sure you are getting enough sleep is essential - it keeps your testes pumping out the good stuff. In fact, there was a study published in 2011 by the Journal of the American Medical association that found that where men were only
allowed five hours of sleep a night that their daytime testosterone levels plummeted by 10 to 15%.
It’s not just reduced testosterone though, sleep deprivation will also increase the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can act against the effects of your testosterone - compounding the problem. So to get a healthy beard that’s growing to its full potential, you need to be getting an adequate amount of shut eye: somewhere between the seven to nine-hour mark should see you right.
8. Do you even lift?
Just like getting enough sleep to preserve testosterone levels, there are ways to boost it naturally too. One of the best ways to go about this is through exercise. Not all exercise is equal - there have been studies showing that peak testosterone levels are around 48 hours after weight lifting. And if you want to compound this effect, compound the movement. By that I mean, bigger lifts, using multiple (preferably large) muscle groups such as Squats, Deadlifts, Bench press and rows.
Who’d have thought it ‘ey?
A healthy lifestyle for a healthy beard, not only will your beard be in better shape look better, you might find that you do too.
9. Beard Pruning
Particularly at the start of growing a beard, you need to just let it grow. As it becomes more established though, you are going to have to start tending to it. That Homer Simpson style beard you thought you were going to get as a new beard grower, thick and even, most likely has not or just won’t happen. Instead it will have probably grown sort of lopsided, be somewhat riddled with split ends (certainly as it grows out), and just basically won’t quite sit right.
That said, you don’t need to hit the panic button on your beard trimmer and shave it all off just yet though. All that’s required is a decent pair of beard snips (make sure they are proper ones though, otherwise you could be causing more damage than you are trying to fix) and you can get to work. When you come across split ends and knots, you just want to make the cut a couple of millimetres above the split and move on. It’s not always super easy to see the split ends so the occasional all over trim is definitely a good idea to keep them at bay, not taking too much length though, just enough to keep it healthy. If you have noticed your beard growing unevenly, you’ll want to work on shaping it very gradually in order for it to become more even. If you are a bit hesitant, I always recommend that it is best bet is to rope in a quality barber to shape it up for you (at least first time round) and be inquisitive.
Ask them a good few questions on what you can do to maintain the shape is definitely a good idea, draw from their experience - they’ll most likely enjoy dropping a little knowledge on a newbie beardsman too. But pruning also isn’t all doom and gloom, split ends and funny shapes. You’re probably going to have some odd hairs growing way faster than others. If only they all grew that fast! While it might sound good, having some significantly longer ones, often poking out the desired lines, can make your style look a little fuzzy around the edges, ruining that wellgroomed look you might be going for. Make sure to frequently check out your beard (I know you will - it’s an obsession) and keep an eye out for these speed racers.
10. Tend to the Beard
Whether you want to brush or comb it, it is up to you. Personally, I like to use both. Make sure it is a quality piece of kit though - getting hold of a cheap PVC beard comb that you can pick up at the local garage is more likely to cause your beard to be bombarded with split ends and breakages than getting it under wraps. Your beard hairs can even get caught in the misshaped plastic, plucking them from your face - basically not what it’s supposed to be doing, pop over to Big Red they’ve got some nice little pieces.
The idea behind combing the beard is to separate the beard hairs and prevent “tangling in the future” as well as for distributing beard oil. I’ll then pick up my boar bristle brush to help tame and train the beard hairs to grow the right way and slap on some beard balm (at a later time, mind you) into the beard to help nourish and tame them unruly hairs. In all though, it offers you a healthier, fuller and more refined looking beard. Again, you don’t want to over do it, once or twice a day with combing and brushing your beard is enough - otherwise you run the risk of damage.
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