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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.