How to Grow a Great Beard

Ah, growing a beard. It’s something pretty much every guy has considered. Some, well, they’ve already gone for it. You can identify them, even. (It’s the beard; the beard is the giveaway.) But if you’ve been stuck in the consideration phase for a while, or just started growing your facial hair out on a whim—or, let’s be real, if the reality of quarantine has pushed you into a space where you’re just like, “Fuck it, let’s get fuzzy”—you’re likely looking for a little guidance. Well, that’s where I come in.

Why should you trust me? I have a beard, for one. I’ve had some version of it for more than a decade, save for that one truly horrible Movember in 2010 when I teamed up with a bunch of colleagues and reluctantly got a clean shave before growing out a mustache. (When I came back from the barber who executed that fateful shearing, my then-girlfriend and now-wife recoiled in horror and promptly—and in something of a panic—asked me when the beard would return.)

But you shouldn’t just trust me because I have a beard—you should trust me because I don’t have one of those easy beards that come with the type of facial hair that creates an actual 5 o’clock shadow after an early-morning shave. I’ve got a patch here or there and somewhat lackadaisical follicles, and I put in the damn work to grow this thing out. I learned a few things along the way, too. Now I’m going to pass them on to you. So, whether you’re looking to go full-on Viking or just want a little bit of scruff on that moneymaker of yours, here’s how to do it.

Know What Kind of Facial Hair You’re Dealing With

Donald Glover, beard-haver.

The first thing you’ve got to consider as you grow a beard is what kind of facial hair you’ve been blessed with. Is it a little bit patchy? Really patchy? So full that it’s hard to get a razor across it? Somewhere in between? Fuck what you heard: All of these types of facial hair can translate into a beard! (That’s why they’re all a blessing.) Each type does require a slightly different approach, though. If you’ve got a patchier beard, you may want to opt for a shorter style that leans into that devil-may-care vibe. If you’ve got some seriously full coverage, you’ll want to be ready to deal with the necessary upkeep. It’s all about setting expectations.

Grow the Right Beard for Your Face Shape

You’ll also want to take a look at your face shape. Rounder than a record? Long and lean? As with hair types, every face can accommodate a beard. And really, you can go for whatever beard shape you want—though I wouldn’t necessarily advise it unless you’re trying for some kind of novelty vibe. Though the rules of grooming are more open than they’ve ever been, this one still holds water: As a general guideline, your goal will be to make your face look as oval as possible. If you’ve got a square or a circular face, that means adding length and keeping it trim at the sides. If you’ve got an oblong or rectangular face, you’ll want to keep it shorter and fill in the cheeks.

Grow Your Beard Out for Two Months—at Minimum

So, you’ve considered the elements at play here. You know that this is not something to be taken lightly. Now it’s time to sit back and wait. Cultivating a beard takes time—and you’ve got a lot of that on your hands right now, don’t you? Let it grow.

The key thing is that you cannot give up. You must hit the point where your face is itchy and scratchy—a balm or some oil can help soften and moisturize to alleviate that—and you feel like you look like a hermit who hasn’t come down from the mountain in a while. And then you must push past it. Too many guys give up too early, either because they can’t stand the (relatively minor) discomfort, or they lose faith that they can grow the beard of their dreams. Don’t be one of those guys. Set your sights on two months of growth and make sure you reach your goal.

Now, there are those who will encourage you to stay all the hell the way away from a trimmer for those two months while your beard fills in. I am not one of them. Some folks might need that entire time frame to see what patches might get filled in by a little extra growth, some guys’ hair grows faster or fuller than others, etc. The answer is not one-size-fits all. But—and this is crucial—the only place you should be trimming is around the cheeks and sideburns. So if your face is starting to look artificially round, go in with a trimmer. Start long, longer than you think you need, then work down very slowly. Don’t go much lower than your cheekbone, and make sure to leave the rest of your beard untouched. In other words: Proceed with extreme caution.

Define Your Beard’s Neckline and Cheek Line

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Justin Theroux, beard-haver.

Remember: A beard requires maintenance. It needs to look intentional, at least if you want it to looks its best. And that means no hairy cheeks—just draw a very shallow curve from the inner edge of your sideburn (right around mid-ear), to the edge of your mustache at the corner of your mouth, and shave above that—and no neckbeard. Some guys are blessed with facial hair that doesn’t extend down towards their chest, and might get away with a natural neckline (especially with shorter beards), but every beard-grower would do well to understand and define where their beard ends and neck begins.

Methods vary for doing this. Some folks advocate for drawing a “U” from ear to ear, with its lowest part above your Adam’s apple (sometimes as much as an inch), then shaving below that. Others, including me, think it’s best to start shaving lower, right at the Adam’s apple, then adjust upwards, checking yourself out in profile as you go. You’ll know you’re done when the lowest part of your under-chin—think of the line that forms when you look down—matches the lowest part of your beard. It’s a process, yes. But once it’s done, you just need to maintain.

You can also taper your neckline into the rest of your beard. This, also, is a process, in which you’ll drop your normal beard-trimmer guard length by half, then trim upward about an inch into the beard, giving the trimmer a little flick outward at the end to avoid creating a hard stop between the longer and shorter hairs. Then, you can do the same thing, but with a guard length that’s shorter by half once again, and only for half an inch into the beard. Mind boggled yet? Head to YouTube and look up “beard fade.”

Trim Your Beard Into Shape and Use the Right Products to Maintain It

Celebrities At The Los Angeles Lakers Game
LeBron James, beard-haver.

Congrats! You have set the basic parameters of your beard. But you’re not done yet. There are many things to consider still. First off, and especially as you’re growing it out, you’ll want to keep it as clean and un-prickly as possible. That means washing with a beard shampoo and using an oil or balm to add nutrients and soft up your whiskers (you can condition it, too).

After that, regular trimming is a must. (Need a refresher on the right way to shape your beard? Here it is.) Do it every couple of weeks, and start by brushing or combing against the grain so all your beard hair stands on end. You can then snip any patches or single hairs that have grown faster than the rest of your beard, and if you’re in the growing-out stage, help guide the beard into its ideal shape. A word to the wise: Mustaches tend to get overgrown even faster. Check on yours weekly, and be sure to trim any hairs that hang over your top lip. And regularly use the oil and balm and shampoo and conditioner! They’re just as essential as ever.

There you have it. You are now bearded. Keep up the good work.

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Jason Momoa, beard-haver.

Jonathan Evans is the style director of Esquire, covering all things fashion, grooming, accessories, and, of course, sneakers.

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Source : Esquire