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When your beard is on the shorter side, the basics are all you need. Wash, condition, brush, done. When it starts getting full and, dare we say, EPIC, it needs a little extra love and care to look like the majestic beast it is inside.
The further you get into the adventure that is growing a beard, the easier the trimming maintenance gets. It is also around this time that you have to step up the daily grooming maintenance. Long hair or long beard, the more length hair strands get, the more damage they take from daily wear and tear, and the more care they require.
This is the routine The Beardsmith uses to keep his beard full, healthy, well-groomed and worthy of the moniker Beardsmith.
For a primer on beard basics, check out Beard Care • A Beginner's Guide
Having a strong, healthy beard starts at the source - your face. Far too many men use having a beard as an excuse to neglect their skin, and then wonder why their beard isn't full, healthy, shiny and growing well.
Not that beard oil will grow hair where there isn't any, or thicken your beard, but it sets up your skin and the hair follicles therein to do what they're capable of to the best of their ability.
Beard oils are meant to penetrate the skin and beard for improved condition over time, as well as provide a barrier against the elements. Thicker oils will provide more barrier, while thinner oils will provide deeper conditioning.
Notice we don't say "moisturizing," because moisture refers to water, which your skin needs, but you won't find in a beard oil. Why would you want to buy water though, and the preservatives its inclusion requires, when you can bring the water to the party yourself?
The best time to use a beard oil is when you're fresh out of the shower and your beard is still damp. A bit of water also helps the oil distribute better throughout your beard so you need less.
Most beards could do with a daily oiling, especially those long enough the tips don't see much natural oil from your face anymore. Apply into a damp beard upward and then back downward, working all the way through the hair down to the skin. Don't forget the mustache if you're planning on doing any smoochin'.
The most popular product on our shelves, think of beard butter as a solid beard oil that melts in your hand. The butters it contains, Shea, amongst others, help to relax and mobilize stiff tissue. That's something every beard could use.
Speaking of Shea butter, it feels rich and even greasy at first, but it does absorb all the way over time, and surprisingly won't clog pores! For super stiff beards, oils alone might not cut it, but if your beard is already relatively movable, butters may be too much.
The dense butters are great at locking in the water and oils you may use earlier in your beard care. In fact, many clients mix unscented beard butter with scented beard oil to enrich their beard routine.
This is the part of beard grooming where we tend to get some pushback from dudes.
"You want me to blow dry my beard? What do you think I am, a woman?" Well, no, we don't know too many women blow drying their beards. Don't know about you, but we think wielding a handheld hellmouth to forge science upon your hair is pretty dope no matter your gender.
And no, you don't have to do it. But if you are having trouble getting and keeping it smooth, detangled, and getting it to sit the way you want it to, a little hot air and purposeful brushing sure as hell helps.
If you have a big, gnarly beard and need to look like a respectable human in a hurry (job interview, meeting of S/O parents, court date, whatever), if you can only do one thing to make your beard look pulled together, this is it.
Use a brush and a blow dryer set to high heat and low speed dry your beard upward, flat against your face. What you are doing here is using the heat, as well as the curve of your face to wrap any wonkyness out of your beard and flatten it out (oh my Zeus, you guys, NEVER use a flat iron on your beard, you will destroy it. Once in a blue moon for a beard competition or event, maybe, but avoid if at all possible).
Next step, brush and dry down your neck and under chin-area, pulling it straight down against your neck with the brush. Then pull down your lower jaw area, then the cheeks and any other hairs. If you have a large mustache area, hit that with the heat a little too.
Whether or not you used oil and/or butter pre-drying, if you're using anything wax-based, now is the time to do it. These types of products are more for finishing than simply beard care. Butters and oils=moisture, waxes=control.
Beard balms and waxes are usually relatively soft - sometimes not initially, but they should melt down to a thick liquid when rubbed between your hands. Apply over the top of the beard, you don't need to get it all up in there as in the first step.
While the oil by itself can keep your mustache nice and naturally groomed, if you like a little extra hold, one of the best mustache waxes on the planet comes courtesy of Captain Fawcett, in a variety of delightful old world smells, as well as a stronger Expedition Strength wax.
These steps are just the basics of beard grooming but for those truly dedicated gents, there is even more to learn in Beard Care • A Beginner's Guide.