You’ve decided the beard stays, let's talk about grooming.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you put your best beard forward and make an excellent first impression.
We'll break this down to three categories: Short (3" or less), Medium (3"- 6") and Long (6"+). Each length is going to come with different challenges. Some of these beard grooming tips may work better for you than others. Some may take some practice and patience, don't get discouraged. If you really want that beard, you have to work for it!
Short: Shape It
If your beard has developed that round, pumpkin-looking shape, it’s time for a trim. Finding the right shape can be tricky, you want the beard design to compliment your facial structure.
Going to a professional at this point will be very valuable as they can help you decide what shape works best for you and give you a head start by carving it out. A pro can also detail your side and neck lines, which is CRUCIAL for a sharp appearance. If your boss said you can keep it as long as you don't look scruffy, this is what they were talking about.
Your stylist can also suggest proper beard care products and show you how to work with what you have to achieve the look you want. The best stylists will set aside a few extra minutes to demonstrate beard care, make sure to request this when you make your appointment.
Trimming a beard at home is definitely a skill and takes practice. I recommend spending no more than ten minutes at a time trimming without taking a break to rest your eyes. If you stare too long into the mirror, your visual perception can begin to warp, resulting in uneven lines.
Medium: Transitional Growth
This length is about training your beard to stay the way you want it. Invest in a good brush and comb. You may only need oil for beard maintenance or you may want to follow up with a balm or wax for more hold. For a list of high quality beard oils, check out Okamura Farmacopia's selection here.
For beard shaping, train the hair below the jaw to curl up and in toward your neck. This provides you with a cleaner looking rounded edge. Use product to keep hair moving in a uniform direction.
Take the time to trim around your mouth, or use wax to part your moustache. People like to see your mouth while you talk and it keeps some of the mess controlled while eating. Be sure to keep your lines sharp, even if you're growing it out.
Long: All About Concealment
If you’re going for an interview or you want to grow it out but cannot have it free-flowing at work, it’s time to learn how to make your beard appear smaller than it really is.
If the length is a health/safety issue, a couple quick and easy options include braiding it or putting it in a bun with a small rubber hairband. This will contain it so you can fit into a facemask or hairnet.
If the boss wants you to maintain a shorter look, you may have to get more creative with your beard grooming. I roll my beard up and in toward my chin, and then use an alligator clip to secure it to the hair underneath the jaw. This will hold it in place without having to use wax or hairspray every day. Then I style the rest as if my beard was shorter and rounded off at the bottom - this also helps conceal the clip.
Where There’s a Beard, There’s a Way
Remember, these processes can take time to master. If one doesn't work well for you, keep trying new methods. Feel free to share your best beard grooming tips below!
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Gabe Lumbus has championed facial hair acceptance in the workplace for years. He moved to Portland in 2012 and became a member of the Portland Beardsmen in 2014. The Portland Beardsmen strive to dispel the negative stigma that comes with facial hair by helping the community through volunteer work and charity fundraisers. Gabe is excited to be working with Okamura Farmacopia to share some of the grooming tips and insight he has gained through his time in the world of professional bearding.