No two beards are the same, but what every man’s facial hair has in common is that it’s spectacularly unruly when left to its own devices. Hairs will sprout on parts of your face you’d never even noticed before, and some will inexplicably grow at twice the speed of others, leaving an unshaped beard soon looking like a badly-mown lawn.
Achieving a great beard isn’t just about seeing how much hair your face can yield. Growing one is first and foremost a game of patience and dedication, but it also requires a well- trained eye for shaping and an ability to know exactly what suits you.
So with everyday shaving tools to hand, how do you achieve the kind of pristine-shaped look at home that you’d pay handsomely for at your local barbers?
1. Find the Right Shape For You
You might have spotted a beard you ad- mire on an A-list celebrity, but wanting to emulate a style doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right one for you. If you’ve got a narrow face structure with defined cheekbones, heavy growth is going to overpower it, so a shorter beard might do the trick – whereas a wider-shaped face will look proportionate to a big beard.
But a professional barber won’t just look at your cheeks and chin, they’ll take the whole picture into account. That’s where the hair on top of your head comes in. It needs to be of a length that will look right alongside your beard. Try to think in opposites – a long beard should sit underneath a short, neat haircut, whereas a more stubbly beard lets you get away with having a longer head of hair.
2. Trim it Regularly
Your beard’s not going to stay stylish for long if you don’t keep it in check. Not only does regular trimming help your beard to maintain the shape you’re look- ing for, but it stops the ends of hairs from getting too wiry and scratchy.
Before getting stuck in, you should re- move any loose hairs with a good-quality beard brush and then get to work with your trimmer. Start on a much higher setting than you need and gradually work your way down until you’re at the length you’re comfortable with. This will ensure you get rid of any long, unruly hairs with- out making any mistakes that you can’t correct later.
3. Beard Lines
Good beard shaping isn’t just about length and consistency, you need to set clear boundaries for your facial hair. Drawing these lines comes down to personal preference, but whatever thickness of beard you’re going for it’s crucial to keep them clearly defined along your cheeks and under your chin.
Decide how high you want your beard to sit on the sides of your face. Fully shave off any hairs that grow on the wrong side of this imaginary line, using a reliable razor like the Wilkinson Sword Classic Double Edge Razor – with the standard techniques that you’d use to shave any part of your face.
In the same way, draw a U-shaped line under your chin from one ear to the other, that reaches its lowest point just above your Adam’s apple. As a rule, this should be as far down your neck as your beard reaches, and any hairs below this point should be removed.
4. Get the Sideburns Right
It can be difficult to figure out where your beard ends and where the hair on the top of your head begins – leaving this disputed territory looking way too long compared to whichever of the two is shorter.
Try to get into the habit of tapering your sideburns using different lengths on your trimmer. Again, it’s best to start with a higher setting than you need and then work your way down to what looks right. Trimming in this way will allow a margin for errors and let you get used to using the right techniques. Before you know it, tapering will be part of your regular grooming routine.
5. Keep your Lips Clear
Whatever your chosen style of beard, it shouldn’t impede your mouth. Once hairs start growing over your upper lip and into what lies beyond, not only does it look unsightly but it’s unhygienic too. Even with a heavy mustache, it’s both important and perfectly possible to keep your upper lips clear of stray hairs.
Rather than trying to shave this area or use a trimmer to keep the hairs back, it can be useful to have a precise pair of beard scissors on hand to go at them individually.
If you prefer to leave your facial hair to the professionals, read about the barbershop of dreams in our exclusive from WHO IS ELIJAH? Spoiler alert: did someone say onsite gym?