Being an adult has changed the last few years. And for a lot of us guys, the rules have changed at the office. Button down shirts are uncomfortable, we suddenly need to hang shit on the wall behind us, and we don’t have to shave as much. In other words, you can see the guys who don’t know how to fold a t-shirt, those who think sports memorabilia is acceptable wall art, and those who don’t understand how to grow and maintain a beard.
In 2023, just because some people feel they can show up looking like schlubs, doesn’t mean you should.
As a long-time beard wearer, I find it has become more and more acceptable to wear a thick, well-maintained beard without wearing suspenders, a linen shirt and collect vinyl like a hipster. During lockdown, I got to ZZ Top levels, but these days I think society has reached an equilibrium between beard acceptability and reasonable length. These tips and products should help you grow and maintain a nice looking chin cap.
For some of you, this may not apply. If your mustache hair does not connect to the hair along your jaw – immediately stop reading and go shave. If you are patchy, sorry – it wasn’t meant to be. If you think a goatee is acceptable, stop reading and immediately shave – and remove the framed jersey from your Zoom wall. The only goatee that has ever been acceptable is DeNiro’s from Deer Hunter, and I’d just as well call that a beard.
SOME GROUND RULES
People look at your mouth when you talk. Your hair should always be trimmed around your lips – daily. It’s gross for that hair to cross your lip line, and it makes eating with you a disgusting proposition.
Your beard should not connect to your chest hair. Neck beards are uncomfortable for everyone involved.
Check a mirror a couple times a day, especially after meals. Beards are half a velcro strip and dirty velcro is skeevy.
Remember gentlemen – there is only one Big Papi and I recommend you aspire to his athletic prowess, not his chin strap.
SET THE LINES
I shave my beard off entirely to the skin with a blade once or twice a year. I like to let the skin get some vitamin D for a couple days, some moisturizer, and then we go again.
When growing a new beard, how you start is important. After a couple weeks of letting it grow unchecked, I recommend going to a good beard barber. I use this visit to let a professional set the lines. They know where along the bottom of the chin to set the beard line as well as on the cheeks. It’s very unflattering when the beard is cut wrong on the bottom – too high on your chin or too low on your neck. They can also give you an indication of how low to go on the cheek.
Give your barber guidance, but letting a pro set the first line is important moving forward to give you an outline of where to maintain and trim to. The beginings of a beard are the itchiest stage but after a couple weeks that feeling generally passes.
FREEFORM FOR THE WIN
Get a great clipper with an adjustable (or lots of) attachments. This is important for maintaining a well-trimmed beard. I tend to use a clipper on the lips, for length, overall maintenance, and then I go with a blade for the neck and rest of cheek.
Once you’ve got a good base, use an attachment for trimming. Find a size a little longer than the desired length and run it over for a trim pretty regularly. When starting off, it’s important to keep everything even. Once you’ve found your given length, always trim with a longer attachment. You want the runaways, not the body of the beard. When you use attachments that are too short, the beards have a uniform look and length. A little bit of freeform growth gives a beard more form. Once it’s long enough, lose the attachments and use barber scissors or simply wave a buzzer over the beard to catch the strays. It’s daunting at first, but freeform trimming will let the beard have a much more natural look and feel.
For shaving creams my go-to for years has been Geo F Trumper Shaving Cream – the house brand for the legendary London shave shop.
SHAMPOO & CONDITION
I suggest getting a good beard wash and a good conditioner. In a pinch, a standard shampoo and conditioner will do but scents that close to your smelling and breathing holes are not great. Do not shampoo and condition your beard every day, it takes away the shape. I recommend every other or every third day for the full cleanse.
Detroit Grooming Co’s Grooming Beard Wash and Conditioner are recent favorites. Trim before the shower, wash it out with or without shampoo. Run a comb or brush through it before and after the product.
DOUBLE DUTY MOISTURIZER
It’s very important to find a good product mix to keep a beard soft. Nothing repulses a lady who gets a cheek kiss more than that steel wool feeling. Another issue is that beards get dandruffy, even if you never had this issue until growing a beard.
I suggest a moisturizer that works as well on the skin as on the beard. Kiehl’s Facial Fuel and Shiseido Men’s Energizing Moisurizer are both great on my skin and keep the beard soft, shaped and- bonus – your shirt won’t look like a snow globe.
I like to use a beard oil and then follow that up with a balm after. The combo keeps a coarse beard looking really healthy and soft.
Jack Black’s Nourishing Oil is meant for both skin and beard and works fantastically. Proraso makes both a good Beard Oil and liquid Beard Balm, but they tend to lean to a heavy old fashioned barbershop scent, which I tend to like, but is not for everyone.
A good beard brush will become your best friend, as it makes sure the product gets through, holds the oils and butters and give your beard a nice clean and healthy look.
In summary, go easy on the shampoo, mix it up on the product, and wave that trimmer over the beard every morning to shape and catch the strays.
Editor’s note: this interview has been edited for clarity.
All products featured in LEO are selected on their merits. We may receive a commission through our retail links. Since all links do not earn commission, we appreciate your purchasing through LEO links when possible so that we can keep bringing you great content.