Definitive Men's Beard Grooming Guide

So you’re a beard novice. You want a beard to rival the greats but you’re scared of falling to the side of homeless chic rather than hirsute hero. Well, bearded brother, fear not. I’m here to lend a helping hand with my definitive men’s beard grooming guide.

I can name the two times in the past 7 years when I haven’t had a beard; one was when I have a bad skin month, let alone day, and decided to shave off my beard so I could give my skin a fresh start. The second, in a more amusing light, was after a drunken shaving accident when I tried to trim my beard using a body shaver. Idiot.

I love my beard. I love what it does for my face shape. It’s not something I can see myself changing anytime soon. And the men’s grooming community seems to feel the same. While the buzz around beards has died down, it’s not due to lack of favour, but merely that it’s now become mainstream to have beard. Men from all walks of live are following the hirsute life.

Definitive Men's Beard Grooming GuideHow to look after your beard

The biggest bitch when it comes to beards is growing one. It can be itchy AF and there will be days when you’re going to look slightly feral – all depending on how long you wish to grow it. I always keep my beard trimmed close to the skin, longer that stubble, but not long enough it’s growing away from my face, it lies flat.

There is, unfortunately, no magic solution to banishing the itching, it’s part of the process, but you can definitely minimise it to the point of it not being an issue. It’s all about maintenance. If you keep on top of washing, conditioning and grooming you’re beard you’ll be OK.

Yes, I said washing. You have to treat your beard like the hair on your head. It needs washing – with a decent beard wash I might add, though you can use regular shampoos and conditioners – and it need nourishing with oils and/or balms. It also needs a good comb every now and again with a beard brush. But more on the tools later. Washing your beard is going to help keep it clean from dirt which in turn is going to reduce potential irritants on the skin. Following on from that, a good oil or balm is needed to then soften and nourish the hair.

What’s the difference between a beard oil and a beard balm?

Basically, a beard oil is used to nourish and soften the hair, but it won’t really help shape it. Oils are also great odourisers for your beard. Opt for one scented with essentials oils and you’ll have people eager to get up close and personal with your face. The benefits of using beard balms on the other hand is that acts like a leave-in conditioner softens and tames the hair and wayward strays. Balms are a lot lighter than oils, and my personal preference.

If you really want to shape and tame your beard, consider a beard wax. I sometimes, after styling my hair, will wipe my hands on beard, so to speak, so any final hair styler residue will help keep my beard on form.

I’ll go into more depth on the differences between balms and oils in a later post.

Beard grooming tools

Definitive Men's Beard Grooming Guide

Once you’ve got your beard shampoos and beard oils and balms sorted, there are a couple of additional pieces you’re grooming kit is going to need; a beard brush, trimming scissors and razors.

Getting into the habit of brushing your beard is going to help manipulate the direction of growth of your beard. It’s going to help shape it and keep it looking tidy. I also find it really helps with any irritation. It’s then, once combed, you can spot any stray hairs not playing ball and use the scissors to trim them. Use a razor to line in your beard and keep it looking fresh.

If you’re looking to learn how trim your whole beard. Check out my YouTube tutorial below.

Definitive Men's Beard Grooming GuideCommon beard grooming questions answered

What’s the best beard style for my face?

One of the most obvious questions, will any beard suit any guy? The answer is no, unfortunately. So here are some loose guidelines to finding one that suits.

Oval face shapes
Guys with oval face shapes are lucky, their face shape will allow any beard style they desire. Lucky bastards.

Round face shapes
Gents with overly round face shapes need to avoid adding any additional width, so my advice is to keep the sides short and let the chin hair grow longer. This will elongate your face shape.

Square face shapes
Similar to above, avoid extra width, so short on the sides and long at the bottom. Trim in a rounded shape as it grows to give the overall facial silhouette a more oval shape.

Triangle face shapes
If you face is wider at the bottom than the top, then opt for shorter beard styles so you don’t accentuate the imbalance. If you forehead is wider, opt for a longer beard and square or round off the shape to balance proportions.

How do I combat patchy growth?

Patchy growth is the devil to all men seeking the roar sexual prowess a beard doth bring (too much?). But there is a simple solution; only trim the faster growing hair, allowing the shorter hair to catch up. If you find you have patches that don’t grow at all, consider changing the stile, from chin straps, to goatees and mustaches.

Definitive Men's Beard Grooming Guide

What do I do about my beard neckline?

A rough guide for most is to have the hair stop about an inch above your Adams apple. As always, there are exceptions to the rule. I have a high Adams apple so there isn’t an inch of neck above it to work with so I tend to follow the rule of making sure there’s enough on my neck so that if I push my chin down, hair still covers the double chin. As a note – lining in your beard on your neck with a razor is also the best way to keep your beard looking sharp. A lot of guys forge to line in their beards, and that’s where they start to look messy.

How often should you put oil on your beard?

It’s very much down to personal preference, most people use it daily. But I’d say every other day at a minimum, otherwise you’re not going to see the benefits.

What is the best way to wash my beard?

I tend to just do it in the shower for convenience, but over the sink works too!

Definitive Men's Beard Grooming GuideHow many times a day should you brush your beard?

As much as makes you feel good! For me, it depends on how irritated I feel. Usually I do it once or twice; always in the morning, then sometimes at night if irritation has picked up.

What is the best beard brush?

There are loads on the market, and I’ve not necessarily come across any bad ones, but I do like the harder bristle ones like this one from MrNatty.

How long should you let your beard grow?

Totally a personal choice. I think too long and you hit Gandalf territory. So unless you want to give off elderly wizard vibes, I’d to around four fingers in length from your chin at its longest.

Can all men grow a beard?

Unfortunately the answer is no, a lot of it will come down to genetics.

When should you shape your beard?

You should try and manipulate your beard as it grows, don’t wait till it gets to the length you want to start, you’ll look messy.

Do you shave your neck when growing a beard?

As mentioned above, yes! This keeps your beard looking sharp.

How should I groom my beard?

There are so many ways. My only note is not to use those electronic shavers with the adjustable sizing. As you shave the contours of your face you won’t apply the same pressure so it always looks uneven. If you want a full trim, but no stubble, I recommend using a shaver over a comb.

How do you apply Beard oil?

Apply either by adding it to the hand first and then massaging it in. Don’t do what I did and try and apply the oil directly to your beard, it will drop off onto you before you can rub it in. I did this and ruined a shirt.

When should you put on Beard oil?

I tend to prefer night time so it has time to settle in and absorb when I’m not getting sweaty.


Written by Neil Thornton
London-based coffee drinker. Editor by day, blogger by whatever time he finds spare.