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A beard is a glorious thing. A beard can build you a new chin, butch up a baby face, make strangers ask to pet you, grant you superhuman wood chopping skills, and make you irresistible to women.
Of course, a beard can also make your boss rag on you, make your lady friend not want to smooch you, and make people try to toss change in your coffee cup.
How can something as simple as facial hair give you such varied results? Because beards that do the latter are worn by dudes. The former, beards that actually look and feel good, are worn by men, and don't just happen. They don't take a lot of work, that's why they're beards. But not NO work. You can't expect greatness with absolutely zero effort.
With some really basic maintenance, you can have a proper man's beard that makes both you and the people in your life happy.
For a primer on big beard care, check out Beard Care • An Epic Guide
Wash your beard, scrubbing the skin underneath well, but do it as infrequently as possible. How often depends greatly on your face's oil production, as well as your beard's length and density (fine-haired beards need it more often). At the most frequent, wash every other day, but if you can go a week or more without it getting gross, do it!
Beardsmith, for example washes his every week and a half. On non-wash days, still give it a good scrub just with water to reset bed beard and distribute those natural face oils.
But what should you wash it with? There are a number of options, some tailored specifically toward beards, and some even more multi-purpose.
Shampoo is another excellent washing option, but the question is, can you use the shampoo you use for your hair for your beard too? If you face skin/beard have similar texture and needs to your scalp/hair, it makes all the sense to choose an appropriate formula for both.
If your head hair is thin and straight, for example, with a thick bristly beard with some texture to it, you could choose a gentle shampoo for both with a heavy conditioner for your beard, OR a light shampoo for your hair, paired with a rich shampoo for your beard.
If you're going that second route, you might as well choose a beard-specific shampoo, which are usually more rich and moisturizing than your average hair shampoo.
It blows our minds how often dudes don't think to use conditioner on their beards. It smoothes, softens, keeps it from becoming a gnarly tangled mass, helps it become bendy and trainable, protects against breakage - all the things you need to make your beard appear healthier and even longer!
It also keeps that beast pettable, because if you plan of rubbing it up against someone, let's keep it out of the brillo pad state, yes? And if you're planning on inflicting smooching on someone, don't forget the mustache area.
Even if you don't wash your beard every day, it's totally fine to condition it daily. Use a good moisturizing conditioner for these purposes, or if you're extra burly, smother that face beast in an emollient-rich deep conditioner instead.
Just smear some on your entire beard area, including parts that you are going to shave (neck, cheeks) toward the end of your shower when the hair is already pre-softened from the water heat. If you're deep conditioning, you can even get out of the shower with the conditioner still in your beard, leaving in for at least 10 minutes before rinsing.
While your beard is still wet, brush it well to pull your facial oils through the hair and smooth down the wild hairs. You can use a brush or a comb, but whatever you use, just make sure that the teeth or bristles are long enough to reach all the way through to your face.
These steps are just the basics of beard grooming but for those truly dedicated gents, there is even more to learn in Beard Care • An Epic Guide.