From Captain America’s glorious full beard in Infinity War to Doctor Strange’s elegant goatee, Hollywood’s been throwing all sorts of beard styles into its cinematic brew. It’s guaranteed to make any shaving enthusiast’s heart stir in envy; after all, if these characters-and the stars who portray them-could rock these beard styles, hell, yeah, we could also rock them too. After all, we ordinary guys aren't all that different from these guys, right?
A Beard Grows a Man
For most of us who have grown used to shaving, growing a beard seemed rather unnecessary. Not everyone of us can muster enough hair to make it thick and lush and for those fortunate to have one, it seemed rather time consuming and required lots of effort.
But there’s a lot of research in the market which shows that having beards can actually benefit your professional and personal lives.
In 1990, a study examined the influence of facial hair on the perception of employers on job applicants. Interestingly, it showed that those with facial hair consistently ranked more positively in the perceptions of social/physical attractiveness, personality and competency.
Meanwhile, women are more attracted to men with facial hair. A 2013 study revealed that having some form of facial stubble is a turn-on for women (which is awesome news for Friday nights at the dating pool) while having a fuller beard is an indicator of someone with a good fathering ability and more investment in offspring.
There are also some health benefits to having a beard. A beard, particularly a full one, serves as a natural filter against bacteria and UV rays. It will ward off throat disease and bacterial infection and give you a smoother and wrinkle-free facial skin.
So with all these benefits, that’s gotta be enough to make us consider getting a beard right?
To Be the Man, You have to Beard the Man
Growing a beard is not just a simple matter, though. You can’t just let it grow and hope for the best. Like a plant, you gotta nurture it by feeding it nourishment and trimming it with the right tools.
Yeah, we know it’s a lot of work but if one wants to get the benefits, one has to put in the work.
If this is the first time you’re growing out your beard, then we recommend waiting until the third week to start trimming it.
That’s because we need to have at least some amount of facial hair to start trimming with. Facial hair grows .5 mm per day; in three weeks' time, we’ll have enough of a stubble to create the most basic of beard dos – which is the short box beard.
Like all things, practice makes perfect. You certainly might not get an Avenger-worthy beard on your first round of beard grooming but we assure you, you’ll get the hang of it the more you spend time trimming them lucky beards.
— D'Rock, Naked Armor Founder
Going Halfway or Full House?
Before trimming though, you need to have a game plan. In fact, you should have one the moment you decided to go get yourself a beard.
That’s because not every beard style can fit on just about anyone’s face. You can’t rock a full beard if you’re of Asian descent and your genes can’t grow a lush and thick beard. Neither can you work a Robert Downey Jr. beard if you don’t have a narrow chin like he does.
Knowing what style you want beforehand will save you a lot of grief during execution.
• The Short Boxed Beard – This is what we like to call the workplace beard. It’s a neat classic beard style that complements a variety of haircuts, with a neat finish that goes well into conservative office settings. Boxed beards are closely cropped and sculpted and use the face’s natural hairlines for contours.
Bespoke Unit recommends this style because while it requires frequent trimming, it’s easy enough to do with minimal skill. Perfect for the newbies.
• The Natural Full Beard – This style is when you want to go full out with your beard. This means letting the hair on your upper lip, cheeks, sideburns, chin and around your mouth grow thick and lush. Having all that hair will give you a lot of stuff to work on, which is why a natural full beard can be a stepping stone for other extravagant full beard styles.
Bespoke Unit defines this style as any beard that is at least a month old. A real full beard though would consist of at least 3 months of growth. A natural full beard style is also the most compliant with workplace regulations, so hold off on the extravagant styles if you don’t want to get the side-eye at work.
Going Straight with a Razor
Now that you’ve decided on what beard style to aim for, the next thing to do is to pick up your blade of choice. The most common advice you are going to hear out there is to go and get a nice pair of scissors and an electric trimmer to do the job.
It’s a reasonable recommendation given that these tools are more convenient and easy to use than, let’s say, a straight razor. But, hear this people, it’s not gonna get the job done.
That’s because beard trimmers and scissors aren’t precise enough to give the correct trim in certain parts of your face. When trimming lines on your beard, you need something that can define the line by shaving it closely. And believe us, dude, a beard trimmer won’t even get that close. Neither will a scissor.
What you need, therefore, is a straight razor. A lot of people think that it’s only good for shaving, but it is also surprisingly good for trimming.
A straight razor will allow you to maneuver different angles as you sculpt your beard. It’s also very sharp that you don’t need to do more passes than necessary to achieve your desired result. It will also precisely define the trim lines that you want in order to have a sharp looking beard.
A high quality straight razor, however, will do more than that. It will give you a luxurious shaving experience.
How to Trim Your Beard with a Straight Razor
Styling your beard using a straight razor is almost similar to shaving your beard using a straight razor.
Straight razor users already know this: to get the best results, one needs to prepare the hair as one would do for wet shaving.
• Prepping up the hair involves softening the facial hair and opening up the skin pores.
You need to get a warm shower before styling your beard or put a warm moist towel on your face for a minute or so. Doing this reduces the chances of getting a skin irritation or a razor burn when you start trimming.
If you’ve got some pre-shave oil on hand, you can apply it to make the whiskers and skin more lubricated. We happen to have an excellent, easy recipe if you’d like to try making one yourself.
• The next step is to get some lather on your face.
You can use a can of shaving cream or a puck of shaving soap. Here at Naked Armor, we’re such wet shaving traditionalists that we like to use our soap, not only because it’s an all-natural, organic, cold pressed soap, with lots of glycerin and fat for skin hydration, but also because it’s more cost-efficient to use a shaving soap.
Because when you start maintaining a beard, you’ll be spending lots of time lathering. And a puck of shaving soap is hard and concentrated enough to last longer than a can of shaving cream.
• Start mapping that beard
Before you start trimming though, you need to see the beard shape you’re aiming for. With all that lather on your face, you won’t be able to see it clearly, which is why we recommend outlining it with your fingers. Whether you choose the short boxed or the full beard style, you need to map it out in the lather like a chalkboard so that you will have a guide to follow when beginning to trim.
Use your fingernail to draw the lines of the required beard area on your cheeks and neck. To find the appropriate neck line to shave, draw the line from the edge of your jaw down to just about your Adam’s apple.
• Trimming a Short Boxed Beard
Now that you outlined your beard shape, begin removing hair gradually on each side to avoid taking off too much beard. Reduce the height of the cheek lines but leave your sideburns wide and intact.
Once you’ve decided on the desired height, use the razor to define the sloping contours from the sideburns to the cheek lines.
Shave off any hair growth around your Adam’s apple.
Now focus your attention below your jaw. Carefully shave an oval contour 1 to 1.5 inches below your jawline. After defining it, shave off any remaining hair around the neck.
Finish with trimming the moustache and soul patch to give a clean and sharp look.
• Trimming a Natural Full Beard
Unlike the short boxed, the natural full beard only requires minimal styling. Just work on the sideburns by slightly trimming it to provide a fade between the hair and beard. You don’t need to worry about your moustache since it will blend into the rest of the beard.
What you need to make sure of is to let the cheeks, jaw and chin grow to about 2 inches below the chin. Brush it down and then trim it just so that it forms a rounded and clean finish.
• Applying Aftershave
Once you’ve finished trimming, it’s time to wash the lather residue off with cold water to close the pores. After drying off with a clean towel, always apply an aftershave. Not only will it help moisturize the skin, but it will also kill off any remaining skin bacteria which will reduce any incidence of acne break-outs.
Word to the Wise
Don’t expect an instant perfect result if you’re doing this on your first try. Like all things, practice makes perfect. You certainly might not get an Avenger-worthy beard on your first round of beard grooming but we assure you, you’ll get the hang of it the more you spend time trimming them lucky beards.
Or you can always have your first trim at your friendly neighborhood barbershop. They’re experts in these sort of things. They’ll do it the correct way the first time around, so when it grows back, you can easily follow the contours when you trim them again. Now, how’s that for practical advice? Happy Beard Grooming!
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