Facial hair first-timer? Welcome to Beard Growing 101.
Give it time
When you take your first tentative steps into the world of facial hair, don’t touch your beard for four weeks — the stubble phase might look awkward and feel itchy, but you need at least a month to understand exactly what you’ve got to work with. You might have full enough coverage to rock a full-on bushranger, perhaps you’ve got patchy areas that will need to be trimmed out, or if you’re unlucky, your facial follicles might be so scraggly that you need to give up this beard growing caper before you’ve even begun. By the four-week mark, you’ll also pass the itchy phase, which can be soothed by moisturising your beard while it’s still growing out in all its glory.
With a month of man mane staring back at you in the mirror, it’s time to go to the barber and get a trim. You want the shape of your beard to make your head appear more oval-shaped, so the shape of your face informs the ideal shape of your beard. Add a bit of volume around the chin on square and circle faces (as wide as they are long), whereas a long beard on a rectangular or naturally oval face can make the head look too long, so a bit fuller on the cheeks with less length on the chin is perfect, or even just a short covering of Jason Statham stubble. A good quality barber is the steadiest hand for that first trim, then it’s up to you to maintain the shape of your beard at home.
Care for it
Your work’s not done when you head home from the barber shop — your beard need a trim every two weeks at least to keep it looking fresh and well groomed. Be conservative with your beard trimmer because you can always trim more, but removing big chunks can ruin the symmetry of your facial hair. Pay particular attention to your neckline, which should be clearly defined a couple of inches beneath the jawline with either a fade or a hard line. You also need to condition the hair on your chin just like you would the hair on your head in the shower, as well as beard oil with a comb to keep your whiskers soft and healthy — shampoo can wash out the natural oils that have the same effect, so don’t lather up too aggressively if you want to avoid a dry, flaky beard.