To beard or not to beard, that is the question
Why? Yes, why should you grow a beard? Because you want to see what you would look like with one? Because it’s what nature intended? Whatever your reasons, they should include that having a beard can be pretty damn awesome, with a little time and effort!
How? Well actually, you are most likely growing one all the time, but by taking a razor to your chin you just don’t let it materialize. So to begin with, growing your natural facial hair could be considered a lazy man’s solution (but no, it’s not quite that simple if you want an awe-inspiring sight to behold.) Of course, how much hair you produce (growth rate, quality and thickness) and your beard growth progress depends much on your genetic makeup; basically if you come from a line of paternal hairy ancestors, you are more likely to succeed. (We haven’t studied the maternal ones yet so let’s not go there!) More info here: Will I be able to grow a beard?
So now you’ve decided to embark on this journey of self discovery, what should you expect, to achieve that great hairy masterpiece you desire? We’ve put together the 6 stages of growing a beard, taking you through the process from the stubbly beginnings to the Full Monty. Remember though, it doesn’t just happen; a beard, like the hair on your head, requires routine maintenance to keep it looking fantastic, but we’ll guide you through the care required, what products to use, and when, as we go.
One more thing: TAKE PHOTOS! Not only will comparing images give encouragement when you’re doubting whether those hairs are growing, but once you’ve finally achieved the ultimate beard experience, you’ll be pleased to look back at the story you’ve lived to get there.
Stage 1: The 5 o’clock shadow
The first week is probably the easiest! You stop shaving, and what happens? Yep, hairs sprout! Your five o’clock shadow precedes the real growing process and everything seems calm and manageable. Your potential beard hasn’t got itchy or decided to create a riot yet!
The average man will produce approximately 3mm of growth per week, but we’re not all average so be patient (and besides, once you have your full beard in a few months’ time, you will be far from average anyhow!) As well as growth rate, there are other factors that determine how fast things move along at this stage. If you’re grey or have light hair color, allow two weeks to get the complete stubble effect, while dark hair can get there within five days.
Beware! There are many items on the market that claim to speed up the process, but most are snake oil. These (along with snake oil itself) are not worth bothering with. The best advice is to keep to a healthy lifestyle where sleep, exercise and food are key. Our food blog post will give you some pointers to help. Also don’t be tempted to use shampoos containing sulphate, or anything with silicone – you don’t want to block your pores which are producing their own natural oils. Even in this early stage your beard-to-be is a natural phenomenon and should be treated with respect, and naturally ‘natural’ is the only way to go, so use a good quality exfoliating face wash to keep your skin, which, after all, is doing all the hard work, in top condition.
Oh, and put that razor down! It’s not yet time to define the overall shape.
Stage 2: The stubbly itch
Ok, you’ve got through the initial stage, and yep, maybe with all the attention your significant other has been giving your sexy new look, you may want to stay there. Or give up and shave it off. But if you really want the beard of your dreams you’re going to have to get through the itchy period, and this comes as your stubble grows out but before you can really claim to be one of life’s Real Bearded Men. Again, patience is required.
As the itch materializes, we have a few products that will help calm things down. Moisturize your skin with our all natural beard oils and balms, and if you really need to scratch, use our boar bristle brush for a good massage to give your hair follicles a treat and get rid of any dead skin that’s floating around.
Now you’ll also start to notice that different areas of your pre-beard may become patchy, and grow at different rates. Don’t worry, it’s normal! Get through all this and you’re on your way to the awesomeness of your imagination! Still keep away from the razor though, and let to grow, let it grow, let it grow!
Stage 3: More itchy and scratchy
Three weeks later and the itchy, patchy mess you so wish you could call a beard (but truthfully can’t) is at its worst. Ok, at the moment you’re having your doubts and you’re not sporting anything like your desired look, but get through this and you’ll get through anything, and real beard achievement is not far away. You may even think you have slow facial hair growth or that your beard has stopped growing altogether, but treat it right and you’ll be over the worst. Now’s the time to invest in an all natural beard wash, which will go a long way to ridding both the hair and the skin of unwanted dirt and dead skin cells. Yet again we can’t stress enough that you will need patience, but stay with it if you seriously want that beard you always dreamt of.
Stage 4: Into the beard
So you’re now about 4-6 weeks in and, for the first time, you might catch a glimpse of hair as you glance down rather than it all being some phantom image in the mirror.
You’ve been through all the initial stages of how to grow a nice beard, and maybe this length, with a sharp trim, is perfect for you. Or perhaps you want to go bigger and bushier? Whatever you aspire to, at this stage stray hairs may become more prevalent as some grow faster than others, and despite the brushing and combing you should be subjecting them to, they just won’t behave themselves. Use a trimmer or go to your barber to get all things equal, but unless your furry face fuzz has grown quickly, you’re not quite ready to start sculpting the shape of your new beard yet. Instead, keep using the beard wash, making sure to massage it right under the hairs and onto the skin for a really deep clean. It’s incredibly important, after all this hard work, for your skin to remain clear and healthy. Plus your partner will appreciate the great aroma given off from using the right wash. They will also welcome the use of beard oil – an essential ingredient to keep your new, short mane soft, nourished and manageable, avoiding the sharp frizz and split ends that no significant other wants to experience when snuggling up close.
Stage 5: Longer and thicker
Now that you’ve been growing that little monster for up to 8 weeks, you’re most likely ready to start creating the shape and style you envisaged before you began. If you’re brave and have a steady hand, you could do this yourself, but one slip and all your hard work could count for nothing, plus the mirror image you’ll using can confuse the moves you make. Probably better to visit a good barber who will discuss with you where you’d like to see the neck line, and how you’re going to deal with your cheeks. This may partially be decided for you as it’s not unusual to have thinner, patchy areas on your cheeks, so a lower, sculptured top line might be the answer for you. And don’t forget your mustache. If you’re going for the full bushy beard it might be better to let the mustache develop along with it rather than trim back to a shorter length, but really, the choice is yours. A few ideas that might suit the shape of your face can be seen here.
Stage 6: You have a beard!
Congratulations! Yes, you own a beard, and at 10 weeks old it should be starting to resemble something you can be proud of! Not only have you decided on a style and had your first shaping experience, but you’ve probably got past the comments about uncontrolled hairs randomly erupting (accompanied by cheesy smirks) and colleagues are starting to salute your new appearance with envy.
Alas, with this enhanced look comes greater responsibility. However, it’s worth every effort to maintain the health and beauty of your beard. As the hairs lengthen they will become rebellious, but by now you should have established a daily routine, using brushes and combs to lay the hairs into the right direction (which ones suit you best can be trial and error), and using washes, oils and balms to nourish and encourage the most healthy of chin hairs.
By this stage you may also start to notice – shock horror – that after your ablutions hairs are being left behind in the sink... and in the brush... and, well, generally all over the place. No, you’re not going bald! This is part of the natural process of all hairs. Old ones die and become discarded while new ones are growing underneath to take their place. It can become annoying though, if not for you then for anyone you share the washroom with, and one gadget that might help the cleaning up process is our clever little beard catcher.
Are you going to keep your beard at this length, or are you going to continue to grow a bigger, bushier face mane? Your options might be limited if your employment dictates a smart, dapper little number; otherwise you might want to keep letting it grow into something truly awesome. Either way, shaving off those sneaky little hairs that grow in the wrong places is a daily ritual, same as any clean cut man, and additional, regular barbershop visits will keep everything else under control. From here on in, it’s all about maintenance. You’ve got this fantastic facial addition; now keep it in tiptop condition.
One year anniversary
Yey! A whole year of sporting a beard – or as you can officially call it, a yeard! You’ve combed, you’ve oiled, you’ve heard all the beard jokes, and compared it with other Real Bearded Men. You should be proud of your magnificent achievement, of taming those unruly hairs and showing the world that not only could you grow it but that you have stayed the course with your commitment to this wonderful addition to your persona!
Remember we said ‘take photos’? Now’s the time to have a look through your visual beard diary and amaze yourself at what you’ve really accomplished. Share your beard’s before and after success with your friends and colleagues, on social media, and, if we’ve helped you with the whole process, send them to us too – we’d be pleased to know we’ve played a part in your life-changing Real Bearded Men image.