How to Grow a Beard: the Beginner's Guide for the Beard-Curious
by Nathan GareauLast updated: September 10, 2021
So, you’re finally taking the plunge into growing a beard. Perhaps it’s your first time, or maybe you’ve tried many times before and always quit when it got too itchy.Whatever the case may be, I’m here to help. I’ve got all of the personal experience and beard care knowledge you’re going to need to make it through the awkward early stages, fits of itchiness, and facial hair frustration and emerge with a proud beard worthy of admiration.
How do I Start Growing a Beard?
This one is pretty obvious: just start! While some of us sneeze too hard and have the beginnings of a beard, others (like myself) don’t have it quite so easy. For those of us who are follicle-y challenged, this is the toughest par of growing a beard. But fear not: If I can grow a good beard, you can too.
First things first, take care of your face. Us guys aren’t always taught proper skincare, but it’s important for hair growth. Healthy skin and follicles means healthy hair! Start with a simple routine of washing and hydrating your face once per day, and after any particularly sweaty/ dirty activities. I’m partial to the Schaf range of products for their top-notch quality and performance, but if you’re a beginner to skincare, some good hydrating soap from Aleppo Savon and a basic moisturizer will do the trick.
Next comes beard-care. It’s a little early to start slathering on oils and balms, they won’t do anything to help the hair grow or look more full, and they can even clog your pores. Instead, grab yourself a hydrating cream once your beard gets to the prickly/ itchy stage. This stuff is much lighter than oil, and nurtures both your skin and hair. It’ll bring the itchiness to a manageable level, if not eliminate it entirely, and it’ll help your skin too.
Half the fun of growing a beard is getting to try new products! It's never too early to pick up one of our beard care kits and get started.
Lastly, presentation. Just because you don’t have much of a beard yet, it doesn’t mean you should look after its appearance. A simple trim with a razor can keep your edges from looking sloppy and accidental to clean, professional, and intentional. If you’re in a job that requires you to be face to face engagement with others, this is especially important.
Also, don’t let the haters get you down. If someone gives you a hard time about growing a beard, don’t listen to them. This too shall pass, and soon you’ve have a full face of fuzz.
Maintaining a New Beard
Now that you’ve made it through the first few weeks or months, your beard is starting to look like a real beard! Congrats on making it through the hardest part; this is where the fun begins.
Much like your skin, a beard needs two main things: to be washed regularly, and moisturized daily. Beard washes are specially formulated for the skin on your face, unlike shampoo, so they’ll clean you up without making your skin dry and itchy or frying your beard hair. I use a foaming, PH balanced beard wash from Tremendous about three times a week, more if I’m quite active. As for moisture, I continue using my beard and face cream after every wash, or as needed.
This is a great stage to start using oils, but I use them in combination with a cream rather than replacing it, as oils offer somewhat different benefits such as shine, fragrance, and some extra deep moisturizing to your hair. Stick to lighter oils that won’t bug your skin, like Mammoth’s Hazelnut & Hemp based oils, Bartigan & Stark, or Like Grandpa.
Brush your beard! It feels great, and it can help cover over some of the patchier parts of your beard.
The other essential steps at this stage is keeping your beard tidy, and even styling it. There are three main tools you’ll want for this process: a good boar’s hair brush,a safety razor, and some decent scissors. Use your brush daily, even a few times a day, to keep your whiskers tame and shaped the way you like. Boar’s hair reduces static, carries the oils through the hair softening them in the process, and unlike plastic, doesn’t create frizz.
Like I mentioned earlier, clean lines on the edge of your beard will help it look tidy, defined, and intentional. Check out my guide for lining up your beard to get the lowdown on the whole process. Scissors can be used less often to trim strays as they pop up. At this stage you likely won’t want to trim any actual length off with scissors, but if you want to keep your beard close to the face, visit your local barber for a trim and ask their advice while you’re in the chair.
How to achieve the perfect beard
Now that your beard is growing free and proud, what’s your next step? Do you want to let it go wild and bushy like Grizzly Adams, get long and flowy like Gandalf, or keep it trimmed like Keanu Reeves? This will inform what you do with your beard next.
The other determining factor is your “terminal length”. Most beards tend to “stop” at a certain length, and it varies wildly from person to person. For some it’s several feet, others several inches. Your beard hasn’t actually stopped growing, but eventually old hairs release to be replaced by new growth. Searching for this length can be one way to determine what your beard is capable of, and once you find it you can decide where you want to stop.
Growing a beard isn't about having the longest, bushiest beard. Our man John, for example, looks quite handsome with a trimmed Jeff Bridges-esque beard!
Or, you can keep your beard at a length that you feel suits you. For me, that’s about 1 inch long. I have a pretty long face and longer hair, so growing a shorter beard keeps me face looking “balanced”. I also happen to like a more tidy beard.
Once it gets long, this is where you can start experimenting more with products, trying different formulas for a few months, and finding your preference. You can try heavier oils such as Mammoth’s Argan base, which will provide more hydration and go a lot further than light oils. You can also use wax-based balms to lock in moisture, and even strong-hold balms to style and shape your beard! Personally, I’m quite partial to moustache wax to keep my ‘stache styled and out of my pints.
If you’re a gearhead like me, you can even employ the use of some fancy gadgets to take your beard grooming to the next level! I love the Kuschelbar Beard Straightener for its ability to completely tame and soften my whiskers. I even use it on my hair! A good comb will make a handy travel companion for regular tidying, and if you’re truly adventurous you can pick up some clippers and a beard bib to do your own trimming!
Don't fear the scissors! Just take your time, and go slow.
If you’ve started to grow a beard or are beard-curious, I hope this article was able to set your mind at ease. I was super nervous and uncertain growing my first beard, but slowly is came in and soon enough I was enjoying the process of grooming and maintaining my beard. Now I grow one every winter! If you ever have questions or need some more help, don’t hesitate to reach out. Good luck!
A famed cocktologist and axe man, Nathan opened the first Kent of Inglewood store in Calgary, and now spends his days writing most of what you are reading here and teaching straight razor shaving classes. Ask him about his world-famous Three Cherry Manhattan. In his spare time Nathan can be found sharpening his axe, making fermented foods, or practicing his amateur butchering hobby. He doesn't slur his words, he speaks in cursive.