Cold weather is coming on, and you’ve decided to let your beard grow out. We, the rugged outdoorsmen (and women) of Packer’s Pine, support this decision unconditionally. Whether it’s your first or fourteenth time growing a full beard, we have some advice to counter some of the issues you may face. While beards take less daily maintenance than maintaining baby-smooth skin, there’s still some work to do.
The most common complaint among men who are letting their beards grow for the first time is that they can’t get past the itching. This stage of beard growth typically begins toward the end of the first week and can continue for several weeks after. Some itching, particularly early on, is normal and expected. You are growing accustomed to the sensation of having hair on your face and neck, and the new growth hasn’t had a chance to soften yet. With time, the new hair will soften as it’s exposed to the environment, offering you some much-needed relief.
Itching that persists longer than a week should be addressed. Does the skin beneath your beard seem dry? Flaky? Inflamed? The most common culprit for itchy beards is simply dry skin. Adding a conditioner or a beard oil can help soften your beard, as well as maintain moisture on the skin beneath it. Apply your oil after exiting the shower and use your fingers to fully work it through your beard and into your skin. This will help keep the moisture from your shower against your skin, where you need it.
Another common complaint is that growing a beard leads to dry, flaky skin and dandruff. Unfortunately, this is a misperception. In most cases, the dry skin beneath the beard existed before the beard itself. The beard simply collects more dandruff and flaky skin, particularly when it’s not groomed or cared for properly. If you find that your beard is full of flakes, you should begin by evaluating your hygiene. Are you washing your beard regularly? Moisturizing? Combing and brushing? If the answer to these questions is “No,” then you need to begin implementing those steps regularly.
You can wash your beard with a shampoo for sensitive skin or dry scalps. For significant flaking and itching, you can use a gentle anti-dandruff shampoo, such as a natural pine tar formulation. After cleansing your beard, be sure to use a leave-in beard conditioner, oil, beard balm, or other emollient to help seal in moisture. Additionally, using a stiff-bristled brush can help you distribute product evenly throughout your beard, as well as remove loose skin flakes and dandruff. You should brush your beard daily, at a minimum.
Too many men put off growing a beard because their facial hair is “patchy.” Nonsense! You grow exactly as much facial hair as nature intended, you simply need a new way to style it. It’s true that not everyone has the ability to look like Robert Redford as Jeremiah Johnson, but most people with facial hair have the capacity to pull off some style. Consider alternative shapes, like a goatee, Van Dyke, or a luxurious mustache.
If your beard isn’t as full as you’d like, a little shaping can give you a masculine look that removes patchiness from the equation. For a perfect example, look at professional strongman Brian Shaw. Shaw alternates between a goatee and a beard that’s been groomed to highlight his jaw and chin. It’s a strong look for one of the strongest humans on earth. It could be a strong look for you too.
We love a beard at Packer’s Pine, really, but we’re the first to acknowledge that they need to be cared for. There’s not much less appealing than a man with some scruff that has never seen soap, brush, or trimmers.
To avoid the “sleeps on a sidewalk” look, simply start a care routine. Shaving the edges of your beard should be done daily, to give it a professional, clean edge. Trimming and shaping should be done at least every other week, if not weekly. Cleaning and grooming should happen daily, at least. Depending on your lifestyle, it may not be a bad idea to keep a comb in your car or backpack so that you can keep your beard looking tidy throughout the day.
This problem is particularly common among men with curly hair. The good news is that the ingrown hair problem is often temporary. As hair grows out from the face, there is a chance that the hair kinks or curls back toward the skin. This causes inflammation and sometimes bacterial build up. For men with curly hair, the chances of this happening are greater, as the hair will naturally grow in an angle that may curl it back toward the skin. As your beard gets longer, the risk of ingrown hair decreases, as your beard hairs have escaped the follicle.
In the first few days or weeks of growth, this may be a problem. Softening your beard with warm water, warm cloths, and maintaining good hygiene will help open the pores and encourage the hair to leave the follicle. Once your beard grows out a little, the problem should resolve. Using single bladed razors or trimmers for your touch ups and shaping can also help.
A beard is a beautiful thing, and we think every man should give it a shot. Hopefully these tips will help men finally embrace their natural look.