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Beards 101

Posted 10-09-2021, 12:58 PM
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Growing a Beard 101 | Troubleshooting & Growth Guide

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Introduction:

Ever since the stone ages beards have been a sign of intimidation, honor, and a symbol of masculinity. In fact, in stories of prehistoric men like Otto The Great they were only ever cut as punishment for those who were not worthy of them because of what they have or haven't done. In Celtic tribes, for example, "the beard was so revered that Otto the Great swore by his beard whenever he had something of great seriousness and importance to say. If men were to have to swear on their facial hair today, the world might be a much more honest and trustworthy place."

Much like the mane of the majestic Lion, the beard creates a manlier, more testosterone-infused look by creating the appearance of a thicker, stronger-looking jaw line. Do you want to be among the greats? Do you want to instantly improve your looks while looking older? Well, I can't necessarily make you among the greats.. nor can I "instantly" make you look better. I can on the other hand show you how to grow a great beard from the don't do's to the do right's. This thread is for growing a beard from start to finish (as in you'll never shave again) showing misconceptions to avoid, myths, beard types/styling, beard oils/combs, and how to trim.

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Are you eligible to grow a beard?:

Unfortunately not everyone can grow a beard, but there is more of you that CAN than you think. Although it should be said the kind of beard you can grow is directly tied to your genetics more than anything. In fact, it’s the single most significant factor for why your beard does what it does (or doesn’t do). It will carry over to the coarseness of your beard, to your potential lengths including even the colors. I myself have blonde hair and a orange beard.

Age is the 2nd most important factor, before you give up on your beard how old are you? Your age is one of the biggest factors in how fast your hair will grow. "Males begin to develop facial hair around the age of 13" (hopefully no females are reading this), With the most abundant and fastest of hair growth occurring at between ages of 25 and 35. That pace of growth speed starts to slow down after that age. If you aren't of a decent age let us say about 18-20, you should probably consider coming back to this guide at a later time.. and yes I know some kids in middle school and early high school somehow had hair and beards like APES, don't ask me how they get it so early because they glitches in the system. (Joking, they are actually just lucky or unlucky if they don't know how to properly grow and maintain a beard)

In this thread we will be covering beard myths, styles that affect your face shape (look more skinny or masculine jawed), beard growth ins and outs, grooming tips, trimming, among other things, and a help-desk for you to ask any questions/submit photos for feedback!


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Beard Etiquette & Guidelines:

Yep just like eating at a formal dinner party there is what some may consider a beard culture, if one does not follow with the culture you may stand out like a sore thumb and can not be considered a beard bro. Here are some of these guidelines and etiquette you will want to participate in; some may be further expained later on in the thread.

1. We don't look down on those who can't grow beards well. (For those who need help, help shall be given.)
2. Dismissing the caveman stereotype; we grow with pride and confidence.
3. Just as the hair on your head we will take care of it with good upkeep. (Cleaning; Washing/Periodic Trims)
4. Educate yourself on Beard Matters (This Thread)


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Common Beard Myths:

1. Shaving makes it grow back faster. This is one of the most common ones you will continue to hear all the time, I'm not even sure where this began to start but it needs to end. I think even ladies believe this? and fear it. When you shave your hair, it will begin to grow back like stubble at first. This stubble is hair with a blunt tip, making it appear thicker and or darker; it is not growing faster. In fact your hair goes through four different growing phases, (Anagen, Catagen, Telogen, Exogen) I will touch on this later though.

2. If you can't grow it fast, you can't grow it all. Oh it is quite the contrary on this one indeed! I know of some people with great great great beards! The interesting thing about them is for the first few months they have huge empty spaces and bald spots, you would never guess they could end up growing a huge bushy beard. Time is everything when growing a beard, eventually your hairs will start to cover all your weak spots and you will begin to have a full beard. If not, like others you can style your beard differently to fit into your strong areas.

3. Beards are itchy. Yes, beards can in fact be itchy. Although it will not last long, usually this is a strong reason a lot of people give up on their beard. Well that and not allowing enough time for your beard to keep growing. "It is normal to have some beard itch during the early stages of growth, but this goes away quickly. Beards, in general, are not itchy, and itchiness is more indicative of a grooming problem." When growing your beard for the first time you can also combat this quite well with beard oils and lotions that will soften up your skin. You can range from beard/face wash's all the way to beard conditioners.

4. Beards carry fecal matter. As a lot of beardsmen like to joke, yes we have fecal matter in our beards because we are drowning with the girls. In reality, just about everything can have fecal matter and if your worried about you can WASH your beard just like your hair with beard wash and oils! Problem solved just like that.

5. Beards are hot and heavy. Trust me beards are probably more helpful in summer than sunscreen. They aren't hot either. "Beards help block UV rays from your face and wick away sweat, creating a cooling airflow." What sounds hotter, the sun beating down directly on your exposed skin or being shaded by a magnificent beard on your face? What is going to save you more on a 100 degree day out in the sun? A Long Sleeve shirt or a T shirt. (Labor workers I'm talking to you)

6. Bigger is better. Just like your girlfriend says, bigger is not always better. Lol. Almost directly quoted from someone else; the best beard you can have is the one you can grow and love having. Some people like the beard tight to the face to show off your features, and some others like to hide their weak chins. Which by the way you won't notice until you shave your beard off for some time.. Picture

7. Beards require a barber. This is just plain wrong, many would rather trim their own beloved beards then dare let someone else try to trim it. There are plenty plenty PLENTY of tutorials on YouTube to start trimming the beard the way you want. This varies alot from shaping to sizing.

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Factors of Beard Growth:

Just like growing as a child or gaining muscle there are debilitating factors that can hold you back from your max beard potential.

1. Age - Age is one of the biggest factors as to when you can grow a beard. Don't give up if you couldn't grow one at 20, when you are now 21 or 25. Usually your first signs of facial hair will appear when you hit puberty, which means somewhere between 12 & 16. "When you get to this age, your testosterone levels will increase. With testosterone levels boosted, your vellus hairs will transform into terminal androgenic hairs." Unfortunately don't expect to grow a full beard until much later because you are just getting started. With the most abundant and fastest of hair growth occurring at between ages of 25 and 35. That pace of growth speed starts to slow down after that age. To grow a beard when most of your stunning factors are in place takes about two to four months to grow what is considered a full beard. While beard hair typically grows a 1/2 inch per month, some can experience a full inch worth of growth over the same period of time while some others will not grow a thing at all. Everybody can be ranged differently. Studies have also shown that the average beard will grow to 3 feet long if left untrimmed. It is also typical to say a beard will never grow longer that it is at six years of full growth.

2. Testerone: Did you know that the higher testerone you have the more likely you are to go bald? Dihydrotestosterone is the reason, don't blame me if you now start to notice a lot of bald guys with big beards. The higher your testerone though, the more likely you are to grow more hair on your face and including your body. "In most young men, testosterone production reaches its maximum at about age 17, and levels remain high for the next two to three decades." At that point your hair growth/sex drive will lower.

3. Sleep: I don't think anyone can underestimate the value of sleep can give. "Getting a full eight hours of sleep each night improves the quality of your beard, as well as the growth rate. The body’s temperature lowers during sleep, which leads to increased blood circulation—including circulation to hair follicles and their roots. The more nutrients that can reach the hair follicle and their roots, the better." As for gaining muscle, knowledge, and now beards I will continue to preach the importance of getting a lot of sleep each night.

4. Diet: Just like any other part of the human body as you will see are influenced by these factors so hopefully it is no surprise to you. "The same nutrients that have a positive effect on our heart and other major organs also benefit our skin and hair." A lack of critical vitamins can actually leave you ending up with brittle beard hairs leaving you with a weak appearance. B, C, and D vitamins, as well as zinc and iron, also help keep your beard healthy and growing steadily.

6. Exercise: Exercise is just piggybacking off of testerone really. The more you exercise the more it helps to boost your test levels! Get those squats in!

7. Stress: Stress can carry heavy factors down the road, people do not joke as you notice that stress can make your hair fall out! All in all what is happening is that stress weakens your immune system and with that weakens your hair growth.

8. Smoking: If you are still smoking I would suggest you to attempt to stop, I don't think I need to explain the causes on this one. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28098043/


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Growing A Beard:

Growing a beard is a long process, not for the weak willed. You will start to care for it as if it was your own child, another part of you; one you cannot mistreat. As you begin to grow your beard there will be a lot of ups and downs in different stages. At first people may come to a shock seeing you attempt to grow facial hair telling you they don't like it, don't let it just be a attempt.

Unfortunately for most of us the first month or so will not be a pretty process unless you can pull off the stubble phase with good features. You will want to at very least make it to the one month-two month growth mark with not touching it at all. A difficult but necessary task. As you first begin to grow your beard you may encounter itchiness like many other people. When the hair first grows out, this sharp edge (stubble) can scratch the follicle, causing it to itch. When you're growing out a beard after shaving for a long time, all of your follicles across your face can itch. To combat this you will want to either invest in some beard washes like beard oil or beard shampoo/conditioner, it will hydrate your skin and ease the itching until it goes away a few days later when the hair is softer. You can also do warm water soaking periodically to achieve the same effect.

After reaching a decent point of growth (1-2 month on average, some people will take longer) you will be able to assess your strong and weak points in facial growth. The strong and weak points in a beard can end up swaying what style you will want to go with down the road. For example if you have a weak top cheek line of beard growth you may want to end up growing more of a prominent goatee beard. Picture example (Goatee prominent, lower cheek lines)

Let us take a more ideal approach at first though and down the road explain other options if you don't have perfect genetics. You will also want to consider your face shape strongly in what style you go with if you can grow it. It should be said if you do have weak spots/bald spots in your beard, after a certain length is reached it will begin to cover over from longer hairs elsewhere giving the appearance of a full beard.

Here are some sources of finding your face shape and good styles that can go with it(You can also google and find other good sources, most share the same opinion and you can do your own due diligence):

BeardBrand (2021 Styles Masks)
FashionBeans
RBR

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Maintaining A Beard:

After choosing your style, you will still need to follow some steps to keep it well maintained apart from just washing it. Now this can vary depending on how you will eventually like to style your beard but take notes from other people with very good beards, as you don't want to be the guy with a scraggly beard that doesn't look good or fill in without knowing you could do something about it. This means as you continue to grow your beard, stray hairs (long ones out of nowhere) will appear and it will be best to snip those to keep your beard in proper shape.

An issue I commonly see is a neckline that is shaved way too high! Here is an example, (High Neckline Photo; Example 1, High Neckline Photo, Example 2) both of these guys committed the same crime. It looks great from the front but absolutely horrible from the side and is hard to catch that you are doing it to yourself without seeing these pictures. A good reminder is two fingers above the Adams apple; then if you are growing a long beard you will want to have the neckline level to the goatee length until it surpasses the adams apple which at that point you no longer have to worry about shaving the neck line.

Here is a guideline photo of what a proper neck line setup should be like: Example 1, Example 2

As for maintaining the neck line I usually shave every 3-4 days when you can start to see some stubble coming in. Some people like to keep the neck line a little natural looking as well spreading as far as out a week before each shave.

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Stay Cheeky:

Now as for Cheek Lines you can go down a few different paths to give you a different style and shape to your face. One option which is usually chosen is the line from your sideburns down to your mustache have a slight curve to them. This is a common good looking cheek line option although if you are looking to look more lean you would probably opt to have a straight line instead.
Curved Cheek Line Example, versus Straight Line.
This does leave a natural cheek line as a choice which few people can pull off. Natural Cheek Line Example

As for maintaining the cheek line I usually shave every 3-4 days when you can start to see some stubble coming in.

Trimming:

When trimming your beard you will always want to take a little bit less than you think you need to take. With beards our motto is better safe than sorry and we mean it!

For keeping the shape of your beard once you have the style and goal achieved, we tend to stick with hair trimmers. You can play around with the guards depending on the length you like (1-inch length; 8 guard). You'll always want to go downwards too when trimming a beard with hair clippers, you don't want it to taking up more hair than meant.

As for keeping the sides of your beard in check you slowly use either a no guard setup and go down in a straight line where you want the growth to stay, or you can play it safe and use a 6 guard (or desired length) doing the same. (Great Video Example)

Keeping the length down under your chin (neck growth), you have a few options besides just using the guard you do on your goatee. You can either  straight line back to your adams apple or a typical beard goatee curving up towards the adams apple. (Almost a sparta look.) Here are two examples; (Sparta Shaping), (Natural Shaping). This area of your choice will have a strong influence on what your jawline will look like to others.

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Beard Growth Biology:

While growing a beard may seem simple to some there is actually quite the amount of science behind it. There are three phases which a beard goes through; The Anagen Phase, The Catagen Phase, and the Telogen Phase. For some of us, without these phases we would be left as naked chinless men.

1. The Anagen Phase: This phase is how your hair continues to grow, on your head and on your beard. Inside the hair follicle on your beard the cells inside continuously divide at a rapid rate adding to the hair shaft (growing). Usually this will last 6-7 years predetermined by genetics; this is how we get the average of knowing how long your hair will grow for.

2. The Catagen Phase: The transitional catagen phase is the shortest one in the rotation, lasting usually just 1-2 weeks. During this stage, the hair strand is separated from the follicle and attached to the skin. The blood supply to the hair root stops completely, this mean the hair is done growing.

3. The Telogen Phase: During the Telogen Phase the incoming hair pushes the old out allowing it to fall out (a normal thing for beards to see), in this process the hair stays intact in the skin for 2-4 months, while the follicle is already returning back to the anagen phase and starts generating a new beard hair fiber through the same tunnel the previous hair strand was coming out of.

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Beard Products:

1. Beard Comb: In my morning process the only way I can get it styled right is by first brushing it out, this prevents all the knots/tangles that come with a big beard. Especially if your beard is curly like mine. You'll want to adopt a similar process after your beard reaches close to half of an inch in length, before that it isn't really that necessary as it likely isn't going to be that thick.

2. Beard Boar Bristle Brush: I do not swear by anything as much as I do this. This brush takes out all my curls perfectly and actually allows me to have a beard that I want. Ing.  can only recommend this as my best option if you are going to get anything. Amazing and essential to a lot of beards.

3. Beard Oil: I would like to mention a lot of people think they can't grow a beard without beard oil and that's simply not true. It is a great add-on for cleaning and moisturizing the skin underneath your beard with a good optional scent but you can grow a great beard without it. I personally rarely use beard oil unless for special occasions.

4. Beard Balm: Beard Balm is a interesting weapon of choice, this is also usually used with shorter beards or ones in decent length (1inch-2inch). Beard Balm is designed to be a finishing product for your beard, controlling flyaways and giving you hold throughout the day. Like normal hair styling balm this will serve a similar purpose to give your beard the shape you want.

5. Mustache Wax: Yep, unfortunately those handle bar mustaches you see aren't typically natural unless you have some mustache wax to go with it.


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Miscellaneous Tips:

1. Watch YouTube Videos (BeardBrand): If there is anything I learned the most from was the YouTube channel BeardBrand, they post videos of haircuts from professional barbers doing beard trims which spills just loads of tips. This video here is the epitome of this whole thread. You guys can grow beards! Video Example, Video Example 2

2. Blow Driers: Actually a good chunk of people use blow driers to shape the beard the way it doesn't want to go. If you have trouble shaping an beard (suffering from curls or just uncooperative) there is some techniques to get it to the way you want. This actually includes using a hair drier when it gets long long. Video Example (Once again BeardBrand)

3. Don't be scared to try different styles: As you can see here you can take a great example from [mention=1] , (Omni Beard Cleanup Link)

4. Don't touch your beard too much: Think about the stuff your hands are touching during the day. When you stroke your beard with dirty hands all that dirt and oil gets onto your beard and skin. This includes pulling on it just a tad bit will start to weaken the hairs and be more prone to fall out/not help with growth.

5: When in doubt, let it grow out: Don't get impatient and give up, seriously. When in doubt grow it out. There will be awkward phases just like your normal hair after a haircut. There will also be good stages of it too.

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Help Desk:

Feel free to post any questions you have with growing or maintaining a beard. Kudo points if submitting a picture of a beard for feedback.
10-12-2021, 04:18 PM
What an amazing article and interesting read. Grats.