beard care

With Father’s Day fast approaching, we thought it would be helpful to ask some of the Best Beard Brands for the Lumbersexuals a few questions regarding men’s grooming. Most men are low maintenance creatures when it comes to self-preservation, but what they do not know is that what you use on your head cannot be used on your face. That beard that he has worked hard to grow was all in vain if it is not maintained properly. Struggling with razor bumps and ingrown hairs? Learn why.

What is the difference in the look and feel of a well-groomed beard versus a neglected beard?

Beardbrand: "For longer beards, a well groomed beard will be trimmed to an even length. The cheeks and neckline will also have straight lines. A very well groomed beard will likely be blown dry and use oils and balms to ensure it looks its best. A neglected beard will have a lot of split ends, will be uneven, and not trimmed regularly. It will also have the appearance of “bed head” where it’s pushed to the side. For shorter beards, there is more personal style involved where some guys want the natural cheek lines to have a more rugged look."

Black Label Beard: "Neglected beards will feel itchy, scratchy, dry, and look wiry. Well kept beards will look clean, straight, and will grow from being well moisturized and healthy."

Craft Culture Co.: "A well-groomed beard firstly has boundaries. It doesn’t grow all over the cheeks, all the way down the throat, and around the back of the neck. It starts just around the Adam’s apple or at the crease of the neck. It has a defined boundary on the cheeks, coming down from the sideburns to meet the moustache. It sits on the jaw and doesn’t spread backwards towards the neck hair. It never merges into neck hair! A well-groomed beard also has a shape - it doesn’t grow wildly out in all directions. Usually it is flatter on the sides of the cheeks with a bit more length on the chin and moustache. If you have a curly beard, it'll still be curly, but the curls will be more uniform rather than having some appear longer than others. A well-groomed beard also has softness and a bit of natural shine - helped by beard oil - and lies fairly neatly, as it has been brushed through."

What kind of maintenance is required and how often? Combing, cleansing, moisturizing, cutting/trimming, etc.?

Beardbrand: "We recommend guys wash their beards once or twice a week and always follow up with a softener or conditioner. For the best looking beard, I’d recommend daily beard oil application, combing out any knots, and brushing the beard with a boar’s hair brush when the beard has been dried. For a maintained look, a guy will want to trim about 1/2” off his beard once a month."

Craft Culture Co.: "Every couple days wash your beard thoroughly to clean the skin beneath the hairs as well as the hairs themselves. Use a shampoo and conditioner that's created just for your beard. As mentioned, don't use the same shampoo that you would use on your head hair, as it's too harsh. For a well-groomed look, buy a nice beard trimmer and use it at least once a week. Figure out which setting on the trimmer meets your desired length and make sure to trim your entire beard frequently. A pair of scissors and comb can do the trick as well. Trim mustache hairs that fall over the lip or train them to the side with a little bit of mustache wax.

Buy a nice shave oil that you can use in combination with a straight razor or edger to clean up the border between your beard and the hairless part of your face. It'll help make the lines look cleaner and will help to prevent razor burn from occurring.

Make sure to comb your beard once a day, only for a few minutes. Buy a nice fine-tooth comb; for a curly coarse beard this will help to do away with any knots and make it appear smoother. A natural bristle brush can be used for longer beards, but whichever way you prefer, regular combing stimulates healthy hair growth.

Buy a good beard oil or beard balm that you can apply to your beard, either when you comb it or afterwards. Rub a few drops in your hands and apply all over and behind your beard – and in the case of beard oil, be sure to massage all the way to the roots and skin. Your hair will thank you."

What is the difference between razor bumps and ingrown hairs? How do you remove and prevent them?

Craft Culture Co.: "Razor bumps occur when the hair that's growing above the skin loops around and reenters the skin where it becomes trapped. Ingrown hairs on the other hand never grow above the skin, instead remaining trapped under the skin. Ingrown hairs can occur when the shave is done too close to the skin or even cut below the skin. To prevent this, you shouldn't overstretch the skin when shaving and should try to make sure that your multi-blade razor, if you use one, is clean. Razor bumps occur partly due to one's natural hair type. The shape of extremely curly hair can cause it to re-penetrate the skin. If you shave closely, the sharp ends of the remaining hairs can be extremely sharp and pointy, making it easier for them to reenter the skin when they curl.

For an immediate solution to ingrown hairs and razor bumps, apply a hot towel to open the pores, then gently break the surface of the skin with tweezers or a sterilized needle to get the hair to the surface. Resist the temptation to remove the hair altogether. To prevent them from recurring, exfoliate your skin gently once or twice per week to discourage the skin from growing over the hairs. When shaving, always glide the blade in the direction of the hair on the first pass. If necessary, stop shaving so close for a while, as doing so risks aggravating your skin further. A trimmer or clippers can trim your facial hair to 1/8 in. above the skin and may be a better solution for those often troubled by ingrown hairs or razor bumps.

Practice good hygiene with your grooming tools by keeping them separate from others’ equipment and cleaning them of germs and rust. To combat infection try an alcohol-based toner on your skin. Dab it on a cotton ball and gently wipe it on the areas where you’re experiencing razor bumps or ingrown hairs. Do this after you have already cleaned your face at least twice a day. 

Ingrown hairs and razor bumps will heal over time without the need to actually extract the hairs. However, if they persist, you should contact a dermatologist."

Common mistakes when shaving

Craft Culture Co.: "There are a myriad of mistakes commonly made when shaving. Here are some of the most frequent to be avoided:

  • Using an old blade- This blade will irritate your skin and cause some damage.
  • Not using the correct after-shave- Use an aftershave that is light and has natural ingredients in it such as tea tree oil. You should use an after shave that has hydrating properties. 
  • Not letting the shaving cream soften your skin - Once you put the shaving cream on your skin, don't shave right away. Leave it there for a few minutes so that your skin can become moisturized and softened. 
  • Shaving before a shower -The best time to shave is right after a shower, as that is when your hair is the most moistened. It will make the hairs easier to shave and will lead to less irritability occurring. 
  • Shaving with cold skin – If you take cold showers or shave without showering, be sure to warm your skin with hot water first. Shaving cold skin increases the likelihood of cutting into your hair follicles, giving rise to what we call a blood spot. Also, it’s more likely to generally irritate the skin.
  • Not lubricating properly – Using a shaving product that dries too quickly will result in poor lubrication and more scraping and damaging of the skin. Preparing your skin before shaving with a pre-shave oil and using a rich shaving cream will provide all the lubrication you need for a comfortable shave.
  • Shaving too often - Occasionally take a week off from shaving. Use a trimmer instead if you have to. Your skin needs a break and constant close shaves will strip your skin of its natural oils and protection layer.
  • Shaving against the grain, especially on the neck –Not observing the natural growth patterns of the beard, particularly on the neck, and shaving against the grain on the first pass often results in irritation.
  • Pressing too hard with the razor blade –This will scrape layers away from your skin, evidenced by pain, cuts, and redness. Don’t be in a hurry, but allow your razor to glide gently over your face.
  • Exfoliating your skin after shaving - If you use an exfoliating lotion everyday, don't do it right after you have shaved. Your skin already has been through trauma and rubbing it will make it more irritated."
Read more: Why His Beard is Not Like Your Hair