Ruffians Guide to Growing A Beard
We like to think we know a thing or two about beards here at Ruffians. Many a beard has walked through our doors and left looking infinitely sharper. We felt it was time to pull together Ruffians Guide to Growing a Beard to help those of you who want to learn how to maintain stubble up to those who want to tame their full growth beard. There are many tips and tricks with facial hair that can dramatically alter your face shape and how a beard looks. Learn from one of our beard experts, Jake Murphy, on how to perfect your beard.
The key to turning stubble from negligence into a look is trimming and shaping. Leave your facial hair for a couple of days for the length on the face to even out, as hair tends to grow in unevenly, then trim. This doesn’t mean one length all over, the density of the hair varies across the face, it can be a lot thicker around the chin and moustache for instance. Experiment with different lengths to get that colour balance right, you want it all to look even, no darker patches hanging around!
Next up, for those of us whose beard connects to your chest hair or stops just beneath your eyes, we need to shape it. A general rule of thumb if to set the line on your neck just above the Adam’s apple, do not follow along the jaw, ever! And on the cheeks, you want to keep it in line with the corner of your moustache or the corner of your mouth. There are plenty of variables, corners, rounding, fading, lowering lines, raising lines etc. Which you can experiment with, some things will suit certain people, if you have a soft jaw you can use the corners to accentuate it and make it look stronger and more defined!
Some people get itching when the hair first comes through as the face isn’t used to it, moisturising will help soften the ends of the hair and clean up any dry skin you may have. Keep up your usual skin care routine, making sure you get into the stubble, if some areas are real dense, they’ll require a good scrubbing. The skin will eventually comply with your cool new look and settle down, leaving you to rock your stubble itch free.
The Mid Beard
If you tire of the stubble look and want something a bit hairier, the next stop would be a full-blown beard. I would advise continuing the steps above and letting it grow from there, changing shape gradually as you nurture the beard to it’s desired length. I would advise against waiting a month or two then going for it as beards can become a bit like topiary, you must shape the beard from scratch, you’re going to need a few mirrors and a steady hand.
A few areas to keep under control as your beard grows and once you have it where you want it; the sideburns can fill out, to get these badboys under control you want to comb all the hair back towards the ear, once you reach the end of your sideburn, give any hair that sticks through your comb a good trim, this can be done going forwards to the eye as well. The weight underneath the chin can become quite bulbous, two mirrors will come in handy for this endeavour, comb the area out and try to get it as flat as possible, mirroring the shale of your face, you can use this technique to enhance the chin if you are lacking in that department. The moustache can interfere with your eating and drinking quite quickly, if you’re not going for the massive, lip covering behemoth of a moustache, take it off the lip, follow the shape of your lip and trim the moustache to keep it out of your way, tilt your head back to and trim any rogue hairs that may persist!
Growth patterns of the beard are where things get tricky, you’re going to get spirals, some areas will grow into other areas causing them to jut out and give the appearance of uneven growth, waves, curls, coarse hair which goes where it wants, mainly straight out! Maintaining these with your trimmer and a comb are much better than going over it with a guard. This is where you need to be brave and in control, free handing over the beard is a pulse pounding, palm sweating ordeal, many beards can end at this point from slipping, or wandering attention, to over confidence. Tackle your spirals from every angle with the clipper and comb till it lays flat, and the areas where growth patterns clash, go over them in both directions of hair growth till they also lay flat. You could spend all day standing in front of a mirror combing and cutting stray hairs, but you need to be able to call it a day or you will go insane.
Unfortunately, this can become a daily ordeal, to keep these all under control, beard oil can give the hair a nice healthy sheen, and a light beard balm can add weight to the hairs, keeping them in line. Shampooing the beard alone is unwise as it strips the hair of natural oils, leaving the beard wiry and coarse, get some conditioner on there too, this will add weight to the beard so you may find a balm unnecessary, shampoo and condition once a week to avoid irritating the skin.
The Full Beard
If you decide to go the whole hog and let your beard inch towards your navel, the same techniques and wisdom I have imparted to you are still applicable, but the longer it gets, more lax. The easiest way to do it would be to descend into a cave or hovel and wait for two years, then emerge with your glorious long beard. For those of us without the time however…
As the beard grows past the neck, you can maintain the neck line, but letting The line go lower and lower will result in a fuller beard, until you no longer must set a line, just trim it up nicely. Cheek lines are good to maintain so you don’t look like you’ve given up as you’re beard grows. The same maintenance tips as mentioned still apply, but you will find free handing with your machine will become much more commonplace, so get your practice in before you have more to lose!
Be prepared to let your moustache grow over your lip as a trim moustache doesn’t always work with a mighty beard. You can maintain it in the same way, instead of following the lip line, comb your moustache out from the middle and trim any stubborn hairs that reside. Also, another tip which is going to raise a few eyebrows, blow dry your moustache! Training your moustache to sit nicely as opposed to forming a curtain over your lips is a tiresome journey, but your hand-held warm air emitter can help you tame the beast. Dampen your tache, then just comb, dry, and apply a little wax to hold. You can blow dry the rest of your beard in the same manor, as the hairs get longer and heavier, most of them should start to fall in line and sit consistently with the rest. Trim up your sideburns with the comb, but don’t trim right to the edge of your sideburn as with your mid-length beard, leave more room, head towards the ear with the comb so you don’t end up with super tight sideburns and a long beard, it’s quite the contrast!
Oil your beard right to the skin still, as the face can become neglected and irritated once the beard takes place, I’ve heard stories of beards and moustaches dripping with beard oil, this is too much, far too much. You want more the longer the beard gets, but add more as opposed to up ending your bottle of oil straight onto your face, beard oil spreads nicely, remember that!
One piece of advice to sear into your memory, regardless of length: you will make mistakes! Whether you take a chunk out of your beard, take your cheek lines too low or end up with a wonky moustache, these mistakes are all you will be able to see, but to the untrained eye, nobody will be able to tell. You wouldn’t shave your head after an awful haircut, the same applies here, live and learn from your mistakes, the hair will grow back sooner rather then later and most can be masked with dextrous use of the comb. Just keep those hands steady!