Starting out on the journey of growing a beard can be daunting for some with the amount of conflicting advice found all over the internet. Debates such as to trim or not to trim. What products to use and when, beard brush or comb, the list goes on and on and on.
I'm going to share with you my top 5 tips that I followed when I started on my bearded journey to hopefully answer some questions that people have when first starting out.
TIP 1 - BE PATIENT
It goes without saying growing a beard takes time, in some cases a really, really long time. Everyone has different genetics and some facial fuzz will grow quicker and thicker than others. Queue all the "that's what she said jokes". Don't be tempted to trim your beard for at least 8 weeks and even longer if you aren't blessed with the hairy gene. Step away from the razor/clippers and just let it grow.
TIP 2 - FIGHT THE ITCH
In the beginning stages of growing a beard, you will develop some itchiness. Sometimes it can become unbearable and it's the main reason as to why many shave it all off before gaining any real traction. This itchiness is usually due to dead skin cells. This can be combated by making sure you keep you beard and skin beneath moisturised and hydrated. You can use a good quality all natural beard oil or conditioner to combat this, or if you're strapped for cash you can pick up some coconut oil from most supermarkets which will also work a treat.
TIP 3 - Find a good quality barber
Now that your beard is growing and at a decent thickeness, you'll be wanting to get that bad boy shaped so you don't keep getting referred to a Forest Gump lookalike. The names you will get called on a daily basis will most likely annoy you, but laugh it off as it's a marathon not a sprint and once you have a finely shaped beard you'll find the negative opinions die down.
Now, finding a good quality barber who specialises in beards is a must as most barbers say they do beards but have little to no experience on what you're actually after. I found this out the hard way. I visited two different barbers who both hacked away at my beard until it was almost gone, undoing all the hard work. Ask around and ask other bearded wonders where they go and if all else fails, learn how to trim it yourself. Hard at first but once you get the hand of it you'll thank yourself.
TIP 4 - Don't over wash your beard
A common misconception is that beards are dirty and full of bacteria. This have been proven to be completley untrue. I recommend only washing your beard 2 to 3 time a week with a good quality, all natural specific beard soap or shampoo. The other days you can rinse with water which will be enough to keep the beard in check.
TIP 5 - Styling
So you've followed all the steps and should by now have a pretty awsome beard. This is where you can experiment to get a daily routine that works for you. You can use beard oil or balm or both. On the daily, I use mostly just oil. When I am going out I combine the oil and balm to give my beard a better shape and hold. I only use a comb but many people would suggest combing and brushing. It's really just a process of finding out what works for you and what doesn't.
Last of all don't be disheartened if after 3, 6 or even 12 months your beard isn't as glorious as you would like. Beards come in all different shapes and sizes but if you're patient and nurture it you will be amazed at the end results.
I thought I'd try to address a common misconception when it comes to beard care products and how the scents are constructed. So what is the difference between essential oils and fragrance oils ?
Essential oils first off are 100% natural deriving from a natural source, either a plant, flower, fruit etc. They are put through a steam distillation process to extract the oil and in turn, this creates a scented liquid(oil).
Fragrance oils, on the other hand are synethetically produced to mimic a particular scent, usually comprising of artificial substances.
So what does this have to do with beard care?
Blending essential oils to create a particular scent is often likened to an art form. It is a lengthy process that takes time and a lot of patience, trust me I've had the pleasure of finding this out for myself. Not only do essential oils add scent to a product they also add many different beneficial properties to the end user. For example, Cedarwood EO a common EO found in many beard care products can help to stimulate hair follicles by increasing circulation. Another commonly used EO is peppermint which has many antiseptic properties and can help with things like inflammation. The list of EO and their benefits is literally endless.
So not only are you getting a great smelling product you're also getting an abundance of great benefits for your beard hair and skin.
Products scented with fragrance oils add little to no benefits to the end user other than providing a nice smelling product. That's why many small beard care manufacturers like myself opt for essential oils to create products with, as the beneficial properties of the EO coupled with the wonderful scents that can be created give the best end result for your facial fuzz.
I hope this has been a little insight into why many brands decide to use 100% natural ingredients and continue to create wonderful scents from essential oils. After all, the main purpose of beard care in the first place was only to maintain and nurture the beard hair and skin beneath.