Hello and welcome! Today, we’re here to discuss something that anyone with any degree of facial hair (which is to say anyone not completely clean-shaven) has to, or should, at least consider. While there are a few select folks in the public eye who may seem to be championing the “just-never-touch-it” approach to growing out facial hair, this tends not to work out so well in the vast majority of cases. Whether you’re just looking to add a little accent to your face in the form of a moustache or goatee, you’re interested in the full, yet cropped beard, or you’re going for some serious length, you will still want to abide by some general guidelines for how to trim your beard. There’s no need to be reluctant when it comes to a bit of facial hair maintenance, as you’ll see very quickly just how beneficial a little bit of trimming can be, and, conversely, how people will begin to give you a wide berth while walking in public if you neglect your basic beardly duties.
It may seem painfully obvious, or perhaps oddly counterintuitive, but the first order of business when it comes to cleaning up any arrangement of facial hair is to just let it grow. You can’t be trying to pare down your beard before it’s had sufficient time to develop. Allowing for at least a few weeks to about one month of growth should prove ample for a solid foundation of whiskers upon which a really nicely maintained beard will be capable of growing. If you have a tendency to jump the gun on projects that require more than just a bit of patience, then you may want to go ahead and hide your beard trimmer and scissors until you’ve allowed about 4 weeks of beard to emerge. Everyone’s beard will come in differently, but this amount of time should allow most to reach a point at which even the weaker, thinner spots have come in well enough. So, long story short, don’t go trimming anything before you’ve got enough to trim. Think of it like a sculpture; the sculptor doesn’t take little bits of clay and make one ear, one nose, one lip and then assemble them; a sculptor amasses the total amount of clay that will be required to complete the piece and only then does he begin to etch away at it with mastery and vision.
Okay. So, it’s been four weeks or so, and now you’ve got about enough scruff to begin sculpting your masterpiece. Now, the aforementioned accents, namely the moustache and goatee, are each a deceptively nuanced style, and as such they require more special attention than we can give them at this time. So, we’ll be coming back to moustaches and goatees in a later piece that will focus exclusively on the subtleties and intricacies of these multifaceted facial hair arrangements. For now, however, we will focus on how to properly and effectively trim and maintain a full beard, whether you’re interested in the cropped or lengthier variety. In either format, longer or shorter, the first thing that you’ll want to consider, and consider carefully, is the perimeter of your beard. A common and all too tragic misconception of beard growing and wearing is that the beard simply stops wherever the beard actually stops. For perhaps one percent of one percent of the population, this is the case, but for the other 99.9999% of us, allowing the beard to grow to its manifest destiny is like hopping on the back of a wild stallion; you will get bucked. Perhaps not to the point of critical spinal injury, but your next potential romantic endeavor will very likely be cut regrettably short by an altogether unimpressed individual.
As far as your beard’s perimeter is concerned, there are two major boundaries that you’re going to have to keep in mind: the cheek-line and the neckline. Now, before you read that last line and leave your computer to go grab your trimmer or razor and begin drawing those lines, STOP and please continue, if only for just a little while longer. There’s a delicate balance that should be aimed for when attempting to establish either the upper or lower bound of your facial hair, and these lines should not be established arbitrarily or in haste, like the colonization of Africa. Just as in Little Red Riding Hood, one can trim too much or not enough when attempting to reign in his beard, but you’ll know when you’ve found that perfect middle ground. That’s why it’s important to only take little by little, rather than going in full bore and realizing only too late that you overestimated by ¾ of an inch. A neckline that wanders too far toward your collar will make you look like some kind of animal, while one that strays too far toward your chin will make you look like a buffoon of another sort. Although the tidiness of the neckline may be negligibly more important than that of the cheeks, that’s hard to say, and doesn’t matter much, because anyone with sufficient self-respect will see to the drawing of both with attentiveness and precision. On the cheek front, you only want to trim up from the point at which your whiskers begin to lose the density that occurs around your jawline, chin and moustache. This will give a sharp, clean and contained look, rather than allowing your beard to fade away into peach fuzz somewhere around your eyes. The thesis here is simple: keep your densest beard looking its best by drawing sharp, contrasting lines along neck and cheek, so that a thick beard immediately shifts to bare skin, and vice versa.
While establishing those bounds, along neck and cheek, is arguably the single most essential element of maintaining a handsome and gentlemanly beard, there are other factors to consider. As was mentioned earlier, the perimeter of one’s beard applies to the longest and shortest of whiskers alike. Trimming those whiskers to a preferred length, however, will require very different approaches, indeed. The only similarity amongst all of the differing techniques is that the beard should be dry and recently brushed out, so that each and every hair can be adequately attended. While most beard trimmers come with a variety of combs of different lengths, the longest will usually only leave about one inch (or so) of whisker, and that might be fine for a good deal of guys out there growing their beards. It makes for a quick and easy beard trim, where one can either use one comb length all across the beard, or perhaps use a slightly longer comb on the chin area. The former may be preferable for a gent with a slightly longer, narrower face, serving to add width without further lengthening the face. The latter may be more appropriate for a fellow with a wider or rounder face, and one who isn’t looking to further accentuate the spherical nature of his head, but instead create the illusion of narrower length. Finding the right shaped beard for your particular face may take some trial and error, or you may get it right the very first trim, but a large part of that will amount to your own personal preference.
There are really only two primary reasons that one might employ the use of scissors in the trimming of his beard, and they exist on what amounts, more or less, to the poles of the difficulty spectrum of beard trimming. The far less risky of the two would be the trimming of the moustache in a simple, straight line just at or beneath the line created by the upper lip. By just trimming all of your moustache hairs to the same length, you’ll maintain a clean, tidy look and avoid chewing on low hanging whiskers during mealtime. The drastically more involved scissor-based procedure involves trimming the length of your whiskers after they’ve exceed the longest comb of your beard trimmer set. When this occurs, after about 2-3 months, you may want to employ the services of an expert barber, or, if you’re daring enough, you yourself can attempt to snip the outliers and generally tighten up your beard’s edge (in a three-dimensional sense, as you’ll see that your beard will develop volume beyond just its surface area). This can be a rather counterintuitive and deceptive endeavor, so please heed our warning when we say just a very, very, very little at a time.
That’s more or less all that you’d need to know about how to trim your beard, but, like we said, there’s ample nuance to it, and you’ll probably end up doing something that you wish you hadn’t. So, just keep that in mind as you move forward with your beard maintenance – remember, only a little at a time – and you should be able to correct even those unforeseen, yet inevitable foul ups. Whether you’re looking to wear a beard that’s only a couple millimeters off of your face or one that’s a couple feet off of it, these basic instructions should prove helpful in making sure that you look your best. Thanks for reading. Now get out there and make sure that you’re keeping your beard in check!