Growing a beard isn’t as simple as “not shaving for a while,” despite what many people in your life have probably told you. Sure, it’s part of the equation, but you have to be proactive to get the beard of your dreams…. And yet, at the same time, some of it is still out of your control!
Sound confusing? It sure as heck can be. That’s why we’ve put together this extensive guide on how to grow a beard. In the sections below, we’ll answer some of your burning questions about growing and maintaining a beard.
The answer to this question is surprisingly important. When it comes to beards, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all-faces option. So before we talk about how to grow a beard, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about the types you can grow.
Here are just a few of the most common beards you’ll see:
There are endless possibilities for your beard, but the list above should give you some strong starting points to work with. After all, we’re talking about growing a beard—and the last thing we’d want to do is overwhelm you with possibilities.
Growing hair on your face (or head) is mostly out of your control. A 1987 study found that hair growth is mostly contingent on your androgens. In simpler terms, it means that hair growth is totally dependent on your genetics—which are unique and totally unlike every other man on the planet.
Dr. John Anthony of the Cleveland Clinic explains this further by going all the way back to your awkward adolescent years. “Men have hairs on their face that are programmed to respond to testosterone, and when they get that signal around puberty, they transition from fine hair to thicker hair,” Dr. Anthony says. “But how thick it is depends on genetics.”
There are also a few things you can do along the way to avoid scaring your family as you’re growing your bread out. Even if you’re hoping to grow something as unruly as a viking beard, use a trimmer to occasionally clean up the rough edges around your face. It’s particularly important to cut away stray hairs around your neck and cheek areas.
Again, the science behind every great beard suggests that every guy grows hair at different rates. It’s really hard to give you an exact timeframe for your exact beard. But based on what we’ve seen, you should get a pretty good idea of where you stand after letting it grow for between four to six weeks.
Unfortunately, even if you’re gifted with an endless supply of hair, growing the beard that you want will take some time. And in most cases, probably more time than you want.
Officially, the answer to this question is over 17 feet. According to the Smithsonian, a Norwegian man named Hans Langseth died with a beard that measured 17 feet and 6 inches. So if you’re willing to forego several grooming best practices, you can grow a beard as long as you want!
That doesn’t mean you’ll end up with a nice beard, however. And if you’re like many men, simply letting it grow without trimming it occasionally might result in a long beard that makes your friends think that you’ve sold everything you own and are about to embark on a year-long trip across the country.
That’s why so many experts urge men to trim and clean their beards. Dave Harvey, M.D., a dermatologist at Piedmont Healthcare says that your beard can become a breeding ground for bacteria if you ignore it. “If you don’t clean your beard well, and you let it just do its own thing, sometimes you can accumulate yeast and get dandruff within the beard,” Dr. Harvey adds.
Additionally, trimming your beard regularly allows you to reevaluate your beard. Don’t think the Viking isn’t working for your face anymore? That’s OK! Trim it to start a brand new shape, like a goatee or a chin strap.
If you’ve already grown out your beard to a longer length than you want, great! You have plenty to work with to trim and manicure your beard into the shorter length and shape that you want.
There are several options available to men for grooming a beard (more on this in a bit), but trimmers will be your best friend to get that short beard. But don’t just start hacking away though. Use a beard comb to comb your hair downward—and don’t forget to wash that facial hair before you do anything else.
Additionally, think about just how short you want your beard to be. If you’re using a trimmer, start with the longest blade guard and experiment from there. Some men have hair that’s conducive to that 5 o’clock shadow look, but that type of stubble might make other guys look like they’ve just eaten an entire bag of cookies.
Grooming a beard can feel like one of the most annoying parts of having one at all. There are so many products on the market and they can be overwhelming and confusing. What do you need to maintain your beard? And how much of this is necessary if you’re just going for length over style?
We put together an extensive guide on beard care for beginners. But to help get you started, here are a few things to focus on first:
Growing a beard can be a frustrating experience when you first start out. You need to leave your facial hair alone for several weeks, and there’s still no promise that you’ll grow enough to style it into the beard that you’ve always wanted.
What might make you feel a little bit better is to know that it’s hard for most men. Nobody just wakes up with an amazing beard without putting in a little effort.
Stick with it, though. With a little patience and an occasional grooming session, you’ll be on your way to making all your friends jealous with an impressive-looking beard.
Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash