Growing and trimming a beard can be quite challenging if you’re growing one for the first time. There are plenty of pitfalls and easy mistakes that you can make, which can either ruin the experience or result in having to shave it all off.
In this guide, you will learn how to grow and trim a beard as well as different beard styles as well as a bit on the beard’s history:
- How To Grow & Look After Your Beard
- Why Does Your Beard Itch?
- How To Fix A Patchy Beard
- Essential Tools For Trimming A Beard
- How To Trim A Beard
- Our Beard Style Guides
- A Brief History of Beards
Simply use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read it all!
There’s no secret in how to grow a beard aside from a simple combination of patience and resolve. When a man decides to grow a beard, he is often disappointed that he doesn’t achieve the results they want in a short space of time.
Of course, nobody is expecting a bushy beard overnight. However, we tend to underestimate the time it takes for the facial hair to grow!
Overall, growing any beard style is a commitment. Nevertheless, after a few weeks or even months, we can get disheartened that there is still much progress to make.
There is also nothing more frustrating than staring back at a messy, unfinished beard in the mirror. To ensure that the growing experience and exploring your masculinity is enjoyable, consider adding goals in between.
See The Best Beard Trimmers To Buy
Therefore, the commitment to start growing a beard should be made in stages. This approach will ensure that it remains presentable and keeps you from losing interest.
For instance, to grow a beard style that’s quite long may require years of work. Yet, there are shorter styles that you can enjoy along the way. We suggest that you set realistic targets that involve intermediate styles towards your final objective.
This can start with partial beards such as a Balbo beard. You can then fill it out with a heavy stubble beard and then transition into a shorter Full style such as the Garibaldi. Alternatively, you can grow stubble directly into a short boxed beard and allow it to eventually fill out into a longer style.
How Long Does It Take To Grow A Beard?
Growing a beard can greatly vary between different people. Some men may be lucky enough to grow as much as 0.05 inches (1 mm) of facial hair per day. However, the average man will grow approximately half an inch (1.25 cm) of facial hair per month.
Usually, men with darker and thicker hair will grow fuller beards in a short amount of time. Meanwhile, fair-haired men tend to have lighter and slower beard growth.
Although genetics plays a significant role in hair growth speed, lifestyle factors can also have an effect. These vary from the usual suspects such as a balanced diet, regular exercise and healthy sleep patterns.
They may not have an enormous impact on the rate which your hair grows. However, if you are seriously committing to a long beard, it might be worth taking into consideration.
If it’s your first time growing a beard, you’ll have to wait and find out!
Beard Growing Phases
Typically, beard growth is summed up into two broad phases: 4 weeks and 4 months. These are often employed to imply what stage a man is going through when you start growing a beard. Both are vastly different experiences as we will explain in full.
First Month Of Growing A Beard
The first few weeks growing your beard can be daunting even for the most hardened beard veteran. At first, the stubble looks pretty tough but feels like low grit sandpaper. The grated texture of your beard hairs can be pretty fetching and even hardens your features along the jawline.
Two weeks in, the once handsome stubble becomes unruly grows in all directions, sometimes poking out in the most unexpected areas.
At 4 weeks, the beard growth will begin to finally feel like a beard. Yet it’s unlikely that it will be a pretty sight. If you’re aiming for something short and tamed like a boxed or circle beard, it can now be styled.
However, if the goal is growing a beard that’s really long, let your beard grow and be satisfied with cleaning the cheek and necklines as outlined in the trimming section below.
Why Does My Beard Itch?
Some men will begin to experience an itchy period during the first few weeks of beard growth. Many men may feel an overwhelming urge to just shave it all off an be done with it at this point.
Indeed, this is your first test of resolve!
Most men have experienced an itchy beard on at least several occasions. The experience is infuriating. Even a slight gust of wind feels like its chafing away at your cheeks. You’ll find yourself clawing at your face and scratching away as if you had the pox.
There are several reasons that we experience an itchy beard. Firstly, shaving slices the follicles at an angle. As the hair grows back out the skin, the points are often sharpened with needle-pointed and jagged edges.
At first, the Stubble stands upright so we don’t feel anything. Our loved ones, however, certainly do when we come in for a kiss. After a certain length, the hair begins to fall back and curl in on itself. It’s at this moment that we really begin to experience the itchiness.
Additionally, your new coating of facial hair dries the skin. Indeed, irritation starts shortly before you actually notice it.
The skin underneath, unaccustomed to a coat of hair and used to regular shaving, struggles to hydrate itself. Unable to receive the necessary moisture, it builds up with grease, which then dries out and produces dandruff when washed.
How To Stop A Beard From Itching
To stop a beard from itching, give it a thorough clean as you would with your hair. Use shampoo to clean the beard even at an early stage. Afterwards, follow up with conditioner, which will hydrate the facial hair as well as the skin.
You can use a facial moisturising cream while your beard is still short stubble. However, we strongly suggest using a quality beard balm as soon as possible. Beard balm nourishes and hydrates both the skin and the facial hair. As a result, it will also soothe any itchiness.
As it transitions into a beard, the itchiness will eventually subside completely but you must continue using beard balm. It can be worked in by hand when the beard is short but consider using a proper brush as the beard gets longer.
Beard Care & Growth After One Month
You’ve made it this far and now on your way to really growing a beard! Once between 2 to 3 months of growth, you will be able to begin styling it by sculpting its form. Scissors provide more control while trimmers offer convenience.
Nevertheless, unless settling at an intermediate length, try to avoid overly styling until after 4 months. It may sound obvious but too much styling will slow down overall growth.
Furthermore, you will want a uniform beard once at 4 months. This will let you style it exactly how you want it and not have to wait even longer because you cut away some parts earlier on.
As we hinted above, dry beards are much more difficult to manage and become wiry. A badly nourished beard will render the task of pruning a challenging endeavour.
By taking a few simple steps beforehand, trimming becomes a breeze. At 4 weeks and beyond, a few toiletries such as beard oil and a brush become essential.
Beard oil and balm nourish the follicles and keep them healthy. Brushes specifically for beards have softer and denser bristles, which make them more efficient. Furthermore, the face’s skin is more sensitive than the scalp so a beard brush will be soothing rather than irritating.
If you’re looking at getting seriously kitted up, head to our dedicated series on beard care accessories.
How To Fix A Patchy Beard
Some men resign to growing a beard because they have a patchy beard. Patchy hair growth is usually common among younger men and eventually fills out naturally over time.
However, some older men are often frustrated by persistent patchiness. Fortunately, there are a few ways to fix a patchy beard. Firstly, it’s important to learn a little bit about hair growth cycles and how it affects you.
Hair Growth Cycles
Any hair growth including beards occurs in three cycles known as the anagen, catagen, and the telogen. The anagen is the growing phase that last between 2-7 years. This is then triggered to enter the catagen, which is a short transition that ends active growth.
Over a period of 2-3 weeks, hair transitions to the telogen. The hair becomes dormant over the course of 3 months before shedding to allow for the growth of new hair.
Bear in mind that none of this is synchronised. All hair follicles are in different stages of growth at any given time. Normally up to 90% are in the anagen phase, while 10–14% are telogen and 1–2% are catagen. An average person sheds 50 to 100 hairs a day from their scalp.
Why is this important? Firstly, knowing this helps understand that each of us have limitation in how long we can grow our beards.
Nevertheless, even if your anagen lasts only two years, that leaves you with around 1 foot (30 cm) of growth, which is ample for any man.
Secondly, it helps understand why some men experience patchy hair when Stubble grows back after shaving. Thirdly, it is comforting to know that shedding hair is a natural process and doesn’t necessarily indicate hair loss!
How To Fill In A Patchy Beard
As we described above, it’s important to at least commit one full month to growing out your beard so to understand how it grows on your face. After a month, you may begin to notice the patchy areas have filled out.
Since both the catagen and talogen take 4 months in total to cycle back to the anagen, it will usually show you whether you are able to fill in a patchy beard. If you are starting to see results, be patient and let the follicles continue their cycle.
If there is still no growth in these areas, it may, unfortunately, mean that you cannot grow a beard that’s really thick. Nevertheless, there are a few solutions. Firstly, you can simply find a beard style with a pattern that matches your growth. You’ll then be able to trim something that looks and feels good.
Nevertheless, if you’re adamant about growing a thick beard, there is still one solution, which we have tried ourselves. Minoxidil-based products such as Rogaine are designed to slow and even reverse hair loss.
With careful use of small amounts over six months, you can apply it to your patchy areas to stimulate the roots. On some occasions, it can kickstart hair growth over three to six months. However, we advise that you proceed with caution and read the instructions beforehand as it can produce some side effects!
Although we had excellent results, we can’t guarantee that it works with everyone. However, it’s certainly worth a try.
What You’ll Need: Beard Trimming Essentials
Each beard style has its own quirks when it comes to pruning, which we cover on their respective pages. However, all require a common approach for general trimming. Before we’ll show you how to trim a beard, we’ll present you with the necessary arsenal that will allow you to do a good job.
Every man should own some of the following essential tools and accessories:
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Beard Brush
- Beard Comb
- Hair or Beard Scissors
- Safety Razor Or Shavette
- Beard Trimmer
- Beard Oil or Beard Balm
If you need to invest in a few of the above items, simply use the links to see our recommendations. They’ll open in a new tab so you won’t lose your progress here.
Of course, your specific style of beard may not need every item listed above. Whatever style you’re aiming for, a beard trimmer is vital when you grow a beard.
Similarly, you may be happy with just a brush rather than a comb. However, heavily styled beards will need a comb for extra precision.
Meanwhile, we’ve suggested both a safety razor and a shavette. While a beard trimmer is easy to use, razors are much better for creating neat contours. We generally prefer using a shavette as the open blade offers improved precision.
Unlike traditional straight razors, they don’t need much maintenance and they’re quite cheap.
How To Trim A Beard
We will now break down how to trim a beard in detail. This process will outline a general trimming regimin and not any specific style. If you want to learn about trimming a particular beard style, refer to our dedicated guides listed below.
In order to trim a beard, we will explore the following steps:
- Cleaning Your Beard
- Dry & Brush Your Beard
- Define The Neck & Cheekline
- Trim The Moustache
- Trim The Beard
- Moisturise When Finished
You can use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read it all.
1. Clean Your Beard
You should always trim a clean beard. Firstly, it prepares the facial hair by softening the follicles. Furthermore, a clean beard won’t dirty your tools.
Facial hair is much like the hair on your head and needs to be treated accordingly. The hair roots produce a natural oil called sebum that nourishes and protects the hair. It’s a by-product that makes hair shine and creates volume so needs to be preserved when possible.
Shampoo works by trapping oils. Therefore, if you use it too frequently, the result leaves you with a very dry beard, which breaks and tangles.
Men with short beards can get away with daily shampooing because the follicles need less time to be replenished by oils. However, men with long beards need to find a balance, which is often no more than three or four times a week. Arguably, you could wait until each time you trim your beard.
Meanwhile, conditioner replenishes the beard hairs with the oils that have been stripped away so it’s absolutely vital if you want to keep your beard looking healthy.
There are also a number of beard shampoos on the market, which we highly recommend as an alternative to regular shampoo. This is because shampoo for hair tends to feature harsher compositions of toxic chemicals that can damage your beard.
2. Dry & Brush Your Beard
Don’t mercilessly attack your beard with a towel or hairdryer. Instead, pad it dry until smooth and slightly humid rather than dripping. You want it to be manageable yet still clearly see how it will look when dry.
Brush or comb your beard everywhere first against the grain than with repeat the process in the opposite direction. This process will get rid of any straying tangles and settle them correctly in one direction.
3. Trim The Cheek & Beard Neckline
Understanding the neckline and cheek line on your face is vital for a well-proportioned beard. It’s important to grasp them so to respect the hair’s natural contours even when styling differently.
In the words of Picasso, “learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
When talking about the neck and cheek lines, we’re referring to the contours at the top and the bottom of your beard. You can use the graphic below as a reference, which we’ll explain in greater detail.
Designing The Beard Neckline: X & Y
Not everyone has truly defined boundary between their face and neck and there are several ways to define a neckline. The easiest, quickest solution is by looking in the mirror.
Tilt your head up so you can see your neck. Visualise a U shape that goes from ear to ear with its lowest point just above the Adam’s apple. We like to make a simple gesture of drawing a line with a finger across the throat like a death threat. This is a quick and dirty way to see what needs to be removed underneath.
A precise method for defining the edges is from the side. Imagine two axes X and Y as illustrated in the graphic above. Axis Y is a straight line down that follows the back of Sideburns. Axis X seems complicated but it’s simply the aforementioned U-shape that travels from ear to ear seen from the side.
Use a safety razor or a shavette to draw out this line and then round off the corners for a smooth finish. Afterwards, simply shave away any stray hairs outside this area.
The neckline can also be stylised. For example, you can use clippers on shorter styles to create a fade. This is achieved by decreasing the guard number from the jawline and towards the Adam’s apple after a first pass. Alternatively, gradually add pressure when trimming towards the Adam’s apple.
Bear in mind that some styles such as the boxed beard have necklines that side far higher using the jawline as a reference.
Designing The Beard Cheek Line: Z
The cheek lines much easier to define. Simply study the natural growth on your cheek after letting it grow out.
You’ll notice that the hair often grows pretty high and it doesn’t look particularly attractive. You can neaten the cheek line while using its natural growth as a guideline.
Alternatively, some stylised beards have low-sitting cheek lines. Nevertheless, understanding your natural morphology will help make stylising to your face shape easier.
To identify your cheek line, simply visualise a straight line that goes from your ear hole to where your moustache naturally falls and meets the cheek hair. See axis Z in the graphic above for reference.
Once this is established, create a natural slope from the front of your Sideburns to seamlessly meet the axis.
4. Trim The Moustache
We prefer to start with the moustache and work our way down the beard. This process makes it easier to visualise while you work.
Although trimming the moustache can be achieved with clippers, scissors offer better precision. Comb or brush the hair in the direction that you want it to stay.
You can brush them vertically down if you want a well-trimmed moustache. Alternatively, you can brush it to the sides if you’re going for a handlebar moustache style.
Using the scissors, trim away any stray or unwanted hairs. You can take away any hair that falls over the upper lip if you find this irritating. If you want to learn more about styling moustache, head to our dedicated guide.
5. Trim Your Beard With Clippers
If you’re still growing out your beard, you can hold off on using a beard trimmer for a while. Instead, you can just use scissors just to trim your beard by clipping away any stray hairs.
When trimming, always start with a bigger guard or a lower setting than you actually want. This will avoid any accidents where you remove too much beard hair.
Trim vertically and work your way downwards to avoid hair rising up and taking chunks out of your beard. Take beard hair off in increments on each side to ensure symmetry and brush it back into place every now and then to make sure everything is in order.
Sculpt your beard hair into the style you want with the beard trimmer. You’ll find specific guides for shaping each style on their respective pages listed below. However, if you don’t yet have any clippers, we suggest that you read our beard trimmers guide to find the right ones for you.
6. Moisturise & Oil Your Beard
Now that’s done, rinse out your beard to get rid of any stray hairs and pad it dry. Apply an appropriate dose of beard oil or balm and massage it into the hair and skin.
As we described above, these keep the hairs nourished. However, they also provide some hold to your beard’s shape. Brush the hair back into place and check for any final strays.
Best Beard Styles For Men
Now that you have learned how generally to grow and trim a beard, we will provide you with more detailed guides that cover different styles that you can try.
Bespoke Unit covers a variety of beard styles, which we’ve grouped into nine individual guides. Each of these will approach the beard configuration as a family and then dives into detail of different individual styles.
You can learn about the beard family’s history, how to grow and trim them as well as some styling tips to make them suit your face shape.
A Brief History of The Beard
The beard is often regarded as a virile symbol of status and power. However, the Romans were fervent advocates of a clean-shaven face. It was their belief that long beards were associated to uncultured barbarians.
Roman men considered personal grooming to be a hallmark of a sophisticated civilisation and the Tonstrina or barbershop blossomed to life.
Conversely, the Gauls believed that long, braided hair and beards indicated status and good health. Frank kings such as Charlemagne would famously grow impressive and wavy beards, which were typically associated with power. Merovingian kings would prefer death before a cut beard, which indicated the loss of their claim to the throne.
With the Renaissance, beards had a short-lived comeback in England that soon waned when wigs from France came into fashion. Beards then returned as wigs all but disappeared and saw a boom in the second half of the 19th Century.
Beards have phased in and out of fashion. Some experts believe that beards become more common during times of economical hardship as a subconscious survival mechanism. Others argue that beards become fashionable when the population of women drops causing men to compete for dominance amongst themselves.
Today, around 33% of American men have some kind of facial hair as opposed to 55% of men around the world.
Beards will always be with us in a plethora of styles. However, for many men, a beard is not just a fashion statement but an entire way of life. Whether fashionable or not, the secret is always looking your best with the beard that’s right for you.
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