The best way to maintain a beard
Here's how to groom like a pro
Words— Jeremy Freed
Whether a stylistic choice or just a respite from the tyranny of daily shaving, growing a beard can be an appealing prospect—especially in the chillier months of the year. Despite freeing you from expensive razors and shaving nicks, however, a beard is far from a low-maintenance solution. Instead, a beard requires careful regular trimming, shaping and washing to keep it looking healthy and well-kept. Here are the basics to keep your whiskers in tip-top shape.
“A lot of men will see the beard almost as an afterthought,” says Brian Hurson, proprietor of the Nite Owl Barber Shop in Toronto and a longtime beard-wearer himself. “They'll go to their barber, get a nice haircut and at the end see if there’s time to squeeze in a touch-up of the beard.” Instead, Hurson advises men to think of a beard trim in the same terms as they think of the haircut itself, deserving of just as much time, consideration and expertise. As someone who’s seen enough botched home jobs to know how wrong things can go in front of the mirror, he advises seeking professional help. “It's almost impossible to see the right angle when looking in the mirror at home!” he says. “As professional barbers we do everything from the side. That's how we can get a stronger, more flattering outline to the beard. A line that will accentuate the jaw. By tapering the sides we can make the face look less wide and more angular and masculine.”
While beard hair isn’t the same as the hair that grows on your head, it’s still prone to building up oil, dirt and odour over time. For that reason, you should treat your beard the same as your hair by washing it just as frequently. While you can certainly use any good-quality shampoo for your beard, there are plenty of beard-specific products on the market which offer distinct benefits, like Mammoth Beard Co.’s beard soaps, which are made in Calgary with local microbrews, and Bluebeards Original, which promises to leave your whiskers soft and minty-fresh. “I like to use a lighter body wash and scrub the beard clean with the foam,” says Hurson. “My preference is the body wash from Crown Shaving Co., which is made in Toronto.”
Combing and trimming
Daily combing will make a world of difference in keeping your beard tidy-looking. Then, every few days, touch-up the edges with a pair of scissors and a razor. “Follow the lines when you tidy up and shave around the edges later,” says Hurson. “When it starts to lose its shape and get unruly, then it’s time to book another beard trim service with your barber.”
Oils & Balms
There are a huge variety of beard products on the market, each of which offers its own unique mix of active ingredients and conditioning properties. There’s no substitute for your own personal taste, but for Hurson’s money (and his own whiskers) he prefers to stick to a beard balm over an oil. “The oil is... well, too oily,” he says. “It's more for show and for shine.” A beard balm, he says, conditions your beard, tames stray hairs and leaves everything looking healthy, but not too shiny.