Clean-shaven men spend somewhere around 3,350 hours of their life shaving. So growing a beard can free up over 3,000 hours of your life for more interesting pursuits.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend a bit of that time taking care of your beard. A well-maintained beard is healthier, looks better, and won’t drive you crazy enough to consider shaving it off.
Let’s look at how to care for a beard.
5 Steps to a Healthy Beard
To keep your beard in good shape, there are five things you should do regularly – wash it, condition it, use beard oil or balm on it, brush or comb it, and keep it trimmed.
It might sound like more work than shaving but it’s a pretty simple process. Most of it is stuff you’re probably already doing, but maybe not the right way.
Washing your beard is an obvious step. The part that isn’t so obvious is how to wash it. Most guys grab a bar of soap and lather it up while they’re scrubbing down in the shower but that’s not the best way to keep it clean and can even do more harm than good.
Instead of a regular bar of soap, wash your beard with a specialized beard wash. You can find them in bottles like shampoo or bars that look a lot like regular soap. The difference is in the ingredients.
Regular soap and shampoo can dry out your beard and damage the hairs, not to mention make your face itch like crazy. Soaps and shampoos intended for beards contain ingredients that help keep your beard soft and the skin underneath healthier.
Conditioning your beard is another important step to keep it as soft and comfortable as possible. But like shampoos and soaps, you don’t want to use the same conditioner you’re putting on your head hair.
Beard conditioners contain different ingredients that help keep your beard soft and easier to maintain. There’s nothing worse than having your beard hairs sticking out in all directions after using regular conditioner on it.
Beard wash and beard conditioners come with all kinds of manly scents too. Since your beard is next to your nose, make sure you enjoy the scent of the products you’re using or they’ll drive you crazy pretty fast.
Beard Oil and Beard Balm
It might seem strange to put oil in your beard but that’s one of the best ways to help keep it healthy. But not just any oil. You don’t want to grab a bottle of olive oil from the kitchen and slather some into your beard.
Beard oil helps replenish the natural oils in your beard and the skin underneath. Washing your face, exposure to the sun or cold weather, and all the other things your face and beard go through every day can deplete the natural oils. A good beard oil gets it back into balance.
Beard oils contain a carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut oil, essential oils like peppermint and tea tree oil, and sometimes other preservatives like vitamin C or E to help them keep longer.
The carrier oil is what softens your beard while the essential oils have other benefits like anti-bacterial effects (tea tree oil) and possibly helping to stimulate beard growth (peppermint oil).
And like Dapper Mane says, they stop beard itch in its tracks.
Oil vs Balm
Beard balm, sometimes called beard butter, beard cream, or beard wax, are similar to beard oils in some ways. They usually contain the same types of oils and other ingredients that you find in beard oil. The difference is beard balms also help style your beard.
Beard balms are thicker, almost like hair styling products. Once you work them into your beard, you can’t see them but they’ll help thicken your beard and give you more control. If your beard tends to grow in all directions and you have a hard time keeping it straight, a balm is the best solution.
Brushing or Combing
Brushing or combing your beard is another crucial step in keeping it healthy and looking good. For one thing, regular brushing and combing help to train the hairs to all grow in the same direction. Over time, this can make a big difference to your beard’s look, especially as it starts to get longer.
Running a brush or comb through your beard also helps to spread the beard oil and the natural oils from your skin throughout your beard. You can massage it in pretty well when you apply beard oil but the teeth of a comb or bristles on a brush are much finer than your fingers. They’ll get the oil spread through all the hairs.
Keeping Your Beard Nicely Groomed
The final item in this 5-step process is to keep your beard well-trimmed. Unless you want to look like you’ve been living in the woods for the last five years, you should trim your beard regularly.
That doesn’t mean you need to cut a lot off. It might only take a very light pass with a beard trimmer or scissors to get rid of the stray hairs and any split ends or otherwise damaged follicles.
Keeping it tidy will make a big difference in how it looks and getting rid of any damaged ends will help it stay healthier as well. Make sure you keep your neckline trimmed as well unless you intend to grow a neckbeard.
Bonus Tips on How to Care for a Beard
There are a few other things that can make a big difference in how to care for a beard. The first is to be patient when first growing one. Let it grow for a month to six weeks before doing any kind of trimming. It might be looking a little unruly by the end but trimming it too early isn’t a good idea.
Once your beard grows in a bit, don’t tug at the hairs. A lot of guys develop a nervous habit of pulling at the hair in their beards. This can lead to patchy spots if you pull too many hairs and touching your beard too much can affect the natural oils.
Finally, your diet and general fitness have a lot to do with the health of your beard. Eat a healthy diet with lots of vitamin B3, B5, and B9, get plenty of exercise, and make sure you get enough sleep every night. A healthy body has more resources to feed a growing beard.
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