The hair on the top of your head needs more attention and grooming, but the hair on your face also requires some care. The market has seen a slew of beard products that range from oils and combs to suit specific needs, which can make it difficult for people to understand. Is it really necessary for the average bearded man to use such products? What is a simple, effective, and minimally invasive facial hair grooming regimen?
Thad Forrester, Hudson / Hawk Barber & Shop offered some expert advice on the subject.
How to care for your facial hair
There are two important benefits to taking the time to care for your facial hair.
It makes your mustache and beard look better. If you attempt to avoid grooming, your hair will look messy and untidy. It’s just like if you don’t wash your hair or brush your hair. Many men will wake up with “bed hair” after a long night of sleeping. This is the facial equivalent to bed head. Even with a full-length beard, such as mine, it is noticeable when your hair is slanted in one direction. It looks messy and unprofessional. Your facial hair should not be a mess. Your beard is part your first impression. You want it to be perfect.
Second, caring for your skin under your hair is an important part of grooming facial hair. This aspect of grooming is often overlooked because men are notoriously poor at skin care. This is unfortunate because the skin beneath your beard is much more sensitive than your head and is less resilient. Thad states that the main goal of maintaining your beard is to avoid dry, itchy skin, and prevent oil buildup.
Here’s a quick overview of the products
Although the number of products for one’s hair isn’t nearly as large as for your beard, there are still many options. Here’s the scoop:
Beard oil. This is the product that you are most familiar with, at least from what you see in shops and on social media. The base oil for beard oil can often contain essential oils. However, if you don’t like the strong smell of essential oils being under your nose all day long, there are fragrance-free options.
Beard oil can be used to condition and moisturize the skin. It also adds shine to your beard. Beard oil can’t be used to style your hair. It is best for men who have beards that are naturally shaped and feel comfortable on the face. It can be used as a secondary conditioning option if you are not in this category.
Beard balm. Balm can be found in a small tin. It will moisturize and give you some shaping power. Balm can be used to smoothen out a scraggly beard. It usually has a butter base — typically mango or shea. You can also add other oils or scents. Balm is preferred by Thad, even though it gets more attention than beard oil. It’s lighter to transport and less messy than an oil.
It’s usually a matter of thickness when it comes to “conditioning”, versus “styling”, which is how many beard balms will ultimately be classified. Styling balms have more control and are thicker, but offer less shaping control than conditioning balms.
Beard/mustache wax. Waxes offer more control and thickness than balms. You don’t need wax unless you are a serious beardsman that shapes his facial hair in a particular style every day. You will need wax if you are that type of person.
Beard shampoo/conditioner. It all depends on the product. Shampoos and conditioners that are cheap often contain chemicals. Depending on the sensitiveness of your scalp, you might not notice it. However, your face may be the first to notice a dry or itchy beard.
It’s okay to use the shampoo/conditioner that you use for your hair on your face if it is high-quality and contains fewer chemicals. Thad advises that you always read the ingredients list. Sulfates can be harmful to hair and scalp. Like many things that you ingest or use on your body. The more easily pronounceable and recognizable ingredients are the better.
Conditioners and shampoos for your beard are usually made from higher-quality ingredients. You won’t see “Fructis beard” in any of the stores. You don’t have to pay a lot for shampoo and conditioner for your beard, so it might be worth it.
Beard brushes and combs. Before I began researching for this article, the idea of a beard brush/comb seemed absurd to me. Now I believe that every man with a beard should own one. It will give you a straighter look and organize your hair better. Although you may not feel the need for it, your beard might look fine without it. I was there until I tried it myself. I asked my wife her opinion. The immediate reply was “Ways better!” It was enough to convince me. I suspect that you won’t notice how messy your beard hair is until it gets a good brushing or combing.
What is the difference between a comb and a brush? Brushes are easier for shorter hair, but if the hair is longer it can be more difficult to use. A comb is a great tool for this situation. While brushes are more effective at dispersing your facial oils and pulling them from the skin, combs can be more difficult to use. Although it may seem silly to brush your face and comb it, it is worth it.
Quality products are important. You will be able to style your hair and face with real animal hair brushes. Wooden combs are also better than plastic combs.
Quality trimmers are essential for all beard-lovers. I used to wear a Norelco for years that made me feel a bit like a rat chewing on my face (much as Brett did with electric razors). After I started to research this topic, I was able to purchase an $80 Brio Beardscape. It’s been a game changer. It’s incredibly helpful to know how many minutes I have left on my battery, and I also know exactly how much trimming I did. I can adjust the blade speed and change the size of my guards. These benefits are not available in cheaper versions. My Norelco low-end lasted for 5 years. There’s no reason why the Brio will not last as long. It was well worth it, in my opinion.
A pair of scissors is also a good idea to use when trimming your mustache or trimming errant hairs. A regular pair of scissors will do, but I prefer the smaller ones made for facial hair. They are usually less than 5 inches long and easier to use.
Beard oils/supplements. Do not buy them. They are a scam. They simply give your skin the environment it needs to grow hair. To grow a beard, eat a healthy diet and moisturize your skin regularly.
How to Choose the Best Beard Care Routine
Every beard is unique, just as every skin type. Your routine will be different if you have dry skin and a scraggly mane. Pay attention to how your skin feels. You can use more oil or balm if your hair is itchy. You can use more oil and balm if the hair is very scraggly. Here are some tips:
Beard washing. Although you may shower every day, or at least every other day, you shouldn’t wash your beard (or your hair) with shampoo/conditioner every single day. People with dry skin and those who live in dry areas should not wash their hair more often than once a week. If you can manage 2-3 times per week, it is a good idea.
Moisturizing. Thad likes a balm or oil right out of the shower, and to let it sit for a while. You might not need to shape your hair. It can be reapplied throughout the day – do it in the morning or evening to keep your skin and beard happy.
Shaping. If your beard is shaped in the morning, it will probably need less assistance. To remove tangles, give your beard a good brushing or combing. Apply balm to keep flyaways at bay. You don’t want a floppy face while you go about your day. Apply the balm again to your beard to ensure it is evenly distributed.
It may be more difficult to maintain a neat and tidy beard if you take your shower late in the morning.
Trimming. Most likely, you’ll trim your hair with the scissors 1-3 times per semaine — removing long hairs and loners that grow in strange places. Your beard’s needs will dictate the type of routine you use.
The frequency you have to trim your entire beard depends on how quickly your hair grows and how thick your beard is. Drying your beard is the best option. Oil and water can cause hair to look wacky, so it’s best to dry it. You can then wash off any hairs that have gotten stuck.
Start with the largest guard first and work your way down. It is not a good idea to accidentally cut off more than you intended. This could lead to weeks or even months of growth. You may need to use scissors depending on how long your beard is.
For a beard trim, you can also visit your local barbershop. It’s a delightful experience.
Wrapping it up
This is all you need. You will love your beard if you use a few products and follow a simple routine.
Be sure to consider the needs of your beard and skin beneath it. It may take some experimentation to figure that out. Different products will have different reactions to your skin and hair. Try out different products and start small. Once you have found something that you love and keeps your home looking great, you can start regular maintenance.