How To Grow a Beard your Friends will Envy
The era of the beard is here to stay.
Let’s skip the intro and dive right in, shall we?
Shave. Yes. That’s right. Shave. The goal here is to begin this endeavor with a solid foundation. Have you ever been to the Apple Store to troubleshoot your iPhone or Mac and had a technician suggest that you get a fresh start by reinstalling a clean copy of the operating system because the issues were too widespread to identify or address individually? That’s a mouthful, I know. What I’m saying, is that sometimes, the best method for repair is destruction. To use another analogy, some plots of land are better off having the building resting on them be demolished, rather than renovated. This applies to your face, gents. So trim the beard off, lather up, and stroke that new blade across your face like a farmer pulls a tiller. The goal here is to shave in straight lines parallel to one another. The hairs tend to follow the path in which they were cut, so if your shaving in all sorts of directions, the hair will as expected, grow in random directions. So what? Well, by the time you have any semblance of a beard, you’ll notice it will be completely unruly and you’ll end up looking like Tom Hanks after months on a remote island in Castaway.
Now that you’ve shaved, the next few weeks are going to require diligence and discipline. Each day, following a close shave, you will need to exfoliate and moisturize. And exfoliate and moisturize. And exfoliate and moisturize. Whether or not you maintained your beard with oils and salves, conditioners and frequent brushing, or not, chances are that your face is sapped of moisture and thus, covered by a thin layer of dead skin cells. Yes, it’s mildly disgusting, but it’s science. Turns out that an unexpected byproduct of daily shaving is exfoliation. Obviously, when you have a beard, this doesn’t happen. So on top of the shaving, we’re going to add an exfoliating face wash to the regiment. Either pony up for some Kiehl’s, head into the women’s beauty product department in search for a good face scrub (feel free to pretend that you’re lost and looking for deodorant if you’re at all embarrassed), or make your own. I received a large tube of a facial scrub from Kiehl’s as a Christmas present from my brother, but as much as I enjoy how wonderful my face feels after the shower, I won’t be purchasing it again. I can’t justify nearly $6 per ounce. Instead, I’ll be buying a quality-but-affordable face wash (sans scrub beads — they’re awful for the environment, but that’s another post for someone with more knowledge on that topic to write) with or without a pumice (sometimes listed as ‘volcanic rock’ or the like).
Here’s where we get a little adventurous.
On your next trip to the grocery store, look for cheap coffee that comes as whole beans in a light roast. They’re typically called something like ‘Breakfast Blend’ or ‘Blonde Roast’. Grind these beans to a consistency finer than what you’d use for brewing in a French Press so they won’t clog your drain. Trust me here — I learned this the hard way. Pour these into a plastic bag and take them into the shower with you. You can either blend the grounds into the face wash or like I do, with dry hands, apply them to my wet face, rubbing in a circular pattern. Heck, if you have enough, use it on your whole body! Your significant other will be quite impressed with how smooth your skin is. These grounds are not only biodegradable, but they’ll leave your face (and shower) smelling great. Give it a try if you’re skeptical.
With your body dry, and towel wrapped snuggly around your waist, apply a high-quality moisturizer. This, my friends, is not where we can afford to skimp. Cheap moisturizers with negate the hard work we’ve done with shaving and exfoliating by clogging your pores with garbage. I use a few by Kiehl’s and Baxter of California. Even the original Nivea is great in a pinch.
Repeat the shave → scrub → moisturize routine until it becomes ritual. Do this for 21 days. During these three weeks, drink a ton of water. And once you think you’ve had enough water, drink more. Believe it or not, your body does a better job of repairing itself and moisturizing the skin internally than we can do externally with even the most expensive products. Keep your salt and electrolyte levels high as well so that you’re retaining and absorbing the fluids.
Twenty or so days later, provided that you follow these guidelines to the letter, you’ll have constructed a rock-solid foundation for which you will sow your seeds. Wait. I’m combining analogies here. I think you have a sense of where I was going with that.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to me for more tips or to share your progress!
Farewell gents and happy beard cultivating!