If you can’t take this government-mandated time at home to grow out a kickass self-quarantining beard, how will you even remember this all happened? (Oh right, the emotional and possibly catastrophic physical and/or financial toll it will take on your life and the lives of your loved ones).
But back to that beard!
There’s a way to let your grooming go during this time without letting your facial hair take over your face.
Below, check out the essential steps of beard growth and maintenance in this WFH grooming survival guide:
Great beards, like great wardrobes, are curated. They don’t just happen.
I know, I know. This beard is supposed to be about making your life easier, not adding more work to your routine. And we’re getting to that!
You can give your skin a much-needed break from the daily razor use by growing a beard, but you’ve gotta be strategic if you want this thing to look sophisticated, not like the abominable snowman guessed your Zoom password.
Vaughn Acord, hair stylist and founder of men’s grooming line V76by Vaughn, says, “Once you have a few days of growth under your belt, think about what you want your end look to be. Do you want some stubble while looking professional and kempt? Or are you trying to go for a full beard?”
(Note that your self-isolating status should be taken into consideration here. If you’re shacked up with a quarantine paramour, they might not be so into perpetually prickly stubble, no matter how good it looks.)
For a well-groomed beard, Eric Bandholz, co-founder of online “beardsmen” resource and retailer Beardbrand says to focus on two key areas:
1. The neck line
2. The cheek line
“The strategy for the neck line is to be approximately 1 or 2 finger widths higher than your adam’s apple and to create a line towards the corner of your jaw.”
He warns that most guys will take it too high and wind up with a neck line that follows the chin, aka the dreaded “chin strap.”
Similarly, when it comes to your cheeks, the goal is to take away the least amount of hair possible to give you a gentle curve towards your lips.
“Lots of guys will worry about it being uneven and then end up taking their entire beard off one side at a time. If you actually look at your face, you’ll start to realize that your eyes, nose, eyebrows, and ears are all unsymmetrical. It’s ok if your cheek lines are slightly uneven. No one will notice.”
The tl;dr? When it comes to beard trimming, less is always more.
“When growing out a neat beard,” Bandholz says, “I like to use the trimmers every day on the same guard length in a downwards fashion. Then after about a week, grab a longer guard and do the same thing. This will give time to the slower growing hairs and you’ll have a more even-looking beard with less stragglers.”
Growing a beard isn’t a free-for-all, V76’s Acord is quick to remind.
“It still takes upkeep to create well-groomed facial hair. The frequency at which you clean up your beard depends on how fast or slow your facial hair comes in. Be sure to take a good look at it each day (especially before your video conference calls) to determine if you need to tend to it.”
And be patient! It can take up to two weeks of growth for the hair on your face to start feeling softer. Just keep those #beardgoal pics pinned to your vision board as you move through the prickly, sometimes itchy growing-out phase.
Try a beard wash in the shower, and follow up with a beard softener. They’re like shampoo and conditioner for the hair on your head, but formulated specifically for your beard.
And don’t be afraid to really commit some time on that second step before rinsing.
“The longer you leave a beard softener in your beard,” says Bandholz, “the softer it will get.”
Be sure to follow your daily moisturizer application with a beard oil, which will help hydrate and protect both your skin and your hair.
This is especially important if your beard is on the shorter side, as the oil will lock in moisture and keep it soft to the touch.
If you wind up with a pandemic beard that’s l-o-o-o-o-ng, use a beard comb with the oil to help distribute the product.
“It’s easy to let things go while we’re all stuck at home,” says Acord. “But taking care of yourself, even with nowhere to go, will help keep you in a routine, and believe it or not, could help your mental health.”