There are 3 stages to beard growth
Stage one, deciding on not shaving
Stage two, initial growth, the hardest stage and the one most people fail at
Stage three, beard care, the bit you’ve been waiting for
- 1 -
Stage one - Before you've even started growing
There are a million how-to guides on beard growth but there is really only one thing you need to understand in advance, beard growth is iterative. What I mean is that at each stage, from initial stubble to the first time you see real coverage, through to that moment you first realise the hair is finally pointing down instead of out, all the way through to your first professional beard cut, and on to your final base beard, the place from which all good beard styles emanate.
When you understand that growing out your beard is a journey, it stops being daunting. Now you can plan how you want to do it, making each stage a style in itself. You don’t have to go through a month of looking homeless to grow a beard, you can start by choosing what shape of stubble you want and rocking that while it grows out. This is where beard balm plays its role.
Once you have chosen your stage two shape, say, a beard pattern that includes chin and cheeks, not too much neck and tidy lines from ears to lips, you need to choose your balm. Choosing a balm is like choosing a cologne. Aim for high quality, good ingredients. Make sure you enjoy the smell. Possibly buy a few and pick where you want to wear them. Our Beard Balm Sample Set is a great place to start.
Personally, I match scent to two things, times I want to smell it and times I want others to smell it. Date night is always our aftershave on the neck, and the liberties balm in the beard. There are enough similarities to match and enough differences to create complimentary scents so my wife leans in. Mornings I universally go for our Temple Bar scent, the strong verbena note is invigorating and stays with you as you get through your morning coffee. Weekends and evenings, I’m all about lavender and mint, it's relaxing, smells good after a good beard blow dry and isn’t too obvious over a dinner. I try to have fun with it.
Anyway, back to the point, when do I put beard balm on first? Right after your last shave. But its beard balm?! I hear you decry. You’re right, but it’s also highly moisturising. Remember its job is to mimic what you just cleaned off your skin. Three things happen when you apply the balm at this stage.
- Your skin gets a dose of moisturising oils that work just like sebum, the skin's natural oil. This seals pores, plumps skin and makes your face feel softer.
- The essential oils get to work. Compounds like peppermint pull blood to the skin increasing healing, cloves contain eugenol, a natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal anti-inflammatory that kills bacteria and protects your freshly damaged skin.
- You smell great.
“ok so I’m using it just after my last shave, for how long and how often?” Well from here you’re growing a beard, right? Well, here’s the trick. You’ll still be shaving, not as often, and not your whole face. If you are lucky enough to have one of those growth patterns that looks cool 24 hours in go for it. If not and you risk the “under a bridge” look, consider growing stubble for a few days then shaving your neck, leaving a solid inch of unshaven skin under your jawline, more on this later.
Do the same for your cheeks, a clean line here and one under your neck makes any stubble suddenly look tailored and deliberate.
- 2 -
Stage 2 - The growth phase
Your beard is a week in, lines looking good, but it's itchy. This is universal and temporary.
It’ll probably take about a month to stop being itchy like this, but as mentioned, it's treatable.
Firstly, you need to get into the habit of caring for it like a hairstyle.
Wash your beard daily, with a good soap, preferably a beard soap. They contain ingredients designed to work with skin and hair oils.
Once it's been washed, get a blow dryer out and give it a blast. You don’t have a style yet, but this device is going to be the difference between feeling like a wet dog and a badass come a rainy day.
Once you’ve dried your beard, put a smidge, say a third of a fingernail scrape of your chosen balm between your fingers, massage into the skin, and pull it down through the hair. This is how you want to apply beard balm pretty much all the time, it should melt in the hand, go as close to the roots of your beard as possible, and then spread through using your fingers. Now you can go ahead and style it as you like, if you can at this point.
Beard grooming at this stage isn’t hugely necessary, but a good old read and a peruse of the internet's bearded folk is good practice for finding others with similar growing patterns, helping you to choose how you wish to proceed.
- 3 -
Stage 3 - Enough hair for a beard base
Your base beard is probably 2 to 4 inches long, thick and hopefully brush able and smelling good from your balm.
You’re armed with a litany of photos of bearded gents and it's time to god see a pro beard stylist.
If you happen to be in Dublin, Sam’s barbers on Ormond quay is where I go, ask for Bianca, show her your photos and you’ll look great walking out.
From here you will know when you put too much beard balm in because you will be used to it. It goes without saying that a bigger beard takes more balm and more care, so dial it in over the course of your beard journey.
You’ve managed to go from stubble to Viking and skipped the homeless step, congratulate yourself, you deserve it!