PHOTO COURTESY OF EARTHPORM

If you have ever attempted to grow a beard, you know the journey is not always a cakewalk.

Sometimes it doesn’t grow in right, or you keep shaving it off because you can’t seem to stay committed to the idea. Men who have successfully grown--and maintained--a beard know how much patience, commitment, the right kind of tools, and attitude it requires. Writers Rodney Cutler of Esquire and Steve of beards.org collectively give us 9 tips on how to get your beard where you want it to be.

#1: Commit to it

Perhaps the most important tip on the list. Once you make the decision to start growing, stick with your plan! If you do this you will have nothing to lose! Experiment and have fun! If it turns out not to be for you, it’s not the end of the world.

#2: Pick a time

It is important to pick a time where you know you will be relaxed or perhaps if you are looking to do something different. Now that fall is approaching, it would be the perfect time to try something new. Be brave.

#3: Stop shaving

This tip might seem obvious but it is critical when you are just beginning. Steve recommends refraining from shaving and sculpting your new fuzz for at least four weeks. Steve warns that if you start to shave and sculpt too soon, you may accidently cut more off than you would like. So relax, put away your razor. However, if you would like to keep your five o’clock shadow neat and under control, Rodney recommends using a stubble trimmer everyday or two like Philips Norelco Stubble Trimmer ($40).

#4:  Define your neckline

Steve recommends that once the four weeks are up, you should consider defining your “neckline” which is located along the bottom of your beard around your neck. Steve recommends having this done by a professional stylist or barber or even better, a stylist who specializes in beard styling.  Once your neckline is defined, Rodney recommends trimming and cleaning up that area with the Oster Voreq ($60) every three or four days.

#5: Don’t let itching ruin everything

If you are itching, do not despair. This is only temporary! In the meantime, Steve recommends using regular shampoo daily and occasionally a conditioner. If this is still not enough relief, apply baby oil or a moisturizing lotion to the itchy areas.

#6: Give your beard some TLC

Once your beard is a little longer and scruffy, it is time to maintain it! Rodney suggests trimming with something that has a heavy-duty motor like the Wahl Designer ($65) once or twice a week. He recommends first combing your beard down to get rid of unruly edges, then against the growth to poof it up. This allows your beard to be easier to cut. Do this before you begin shaving.

#7: Good hygiene

Most men wash their beards with either regular shampoo or soap. Pick one and use the one that you like best. But if you want to avoid residue, Rodney suggests using a wash that is specially formulated for washing beards like Bluebeards Original Beard Wash ($14). Once your beard is nice and squeaky clean, gently pat your beard dry with a towel--don't blow dry it.

#8: Don’t give up

Steve recommends setting a goal for yourself. He recommends waiting at least six weeks before making the decision whether or not to get rid of it.

#9: Have confidence

Once you have your beard, rock it! Do not let anyone else’s opinion ruin your groove--it’s your beard and it only truly matters what you think about it.

Having a change of heart?

If it turns out that having a beard is not for you, not to worry--however, you need to be especially careful. Trim away as much hair as you can first before making the big shave.

Growing beards can be a tough and committing process. But in the end, you will have something to show for it. If this is your first time truly committing to growing a beard, it takes a little bit of confidence and courage. If you succeed, great. If you found that it was not for you, then you can’t say that you didn’t try!

What do you think it the hardest part about the growing experience? Leave a comment below.