Ultimate Guide to Beards including Beard Oil and Maintenance

 

Beard activity might have declined since peak hipster (circa 2015) , but facial hair will always be a mainstay of male culture. Part of the overall decline may be linked to the long-term effort required not only to grow, but also live with enviable face fuzz.

Portrait by  Mean Shadows

Portrait by Mean Shadows

In the ultimate guide to beard we cover:

- The History of Men’s Beards
- Beard Cleaning 
- Beard Maintenance and Grooming
- Beard Styling - Keeping Your Beard in Check 
- Long-Term Beard Maintenance 

The History of Men’s Beards

Beards have been grown since the beginning of time for warmth and protection from the elements from wind and rain. More recently beards have been used as a fashion extension to show creativity and as a sign of masculinity by increasing the prominence of one’s jawline.

While the voluminous beards seen on every street are less commonplace, many men are continuing to experiment with varying lengths of facial hair.

But just like the finer things in; life, relationships, classic cars and collections, they require dedicated effort. When you decide to grow, it’s a long-term commitment that needs work to maintain non-crusty facial features.

How to grow a killer beard

Before you start, don’t be naive to your genetics. If you struggle to grow facial hair then a beard might not be for you. You need to be able to grow a face of stubble to grow a beard, if not, it might be time accept the situation. If you can grow, read on.

Beard Cleaning

When you shave every day, you remove the skin as well as hair. If you don’t shave, the skin that naturally sheds isn’t removed and stays on your face/beard as a flaking mess.

“A lot of people think beards give them dry skin. Most of the time it’s not dry skin it’s a build up of shredded skin that's not been washed out correctly. “ The Barberfly

Beard Shampoo and Conditioner

Unless you’re going for the crusty crumb filled beard look, cleansing and conditioning your beard is a must. But the quality and aggressiveness of commercially produced shampoos can contribute to dry skin, especially when products use irritating chemicals.

We suggest using a natural, gentle shampoo that doesn’t contain petrochemicals. Cleanse and condition as you would your hair, but start with one or twice per week to avoid over washing. Our natural shampoo for hair is also perfect as a beard shampoo, especially when partnered with our hair and beard conditioner.

Beard Maintenance and Grooming

Beard oils are typically a blend of extracts from plants, fruits or vegetables; from coconuts to grape seed oil. In the purest form,  these pure essential oils, which vary in quality, have both therapeutic and beneficial properties. Lavender, for example, is the most commonly used essential oil in aromatherapy for its relaxing and therapeutic properties.

Balms are essentially the same as oils but are water based which mean they require more preservatives or filler which essentially dilute the product. So in the purest sense beard oils are better than balms.

Beard oil vs Beard clay

Our beard clay, aka Reggie’s Hair Clay, blends the powerful, therapeutic properties of pure essential oils with kaolin clay. This natural clay provides a base which helps reduce the greasiness from a beard oil into a nourishing easily absorbed formula. Producing a beard clay is tricky which is why so many beard products are focused around beard oils.

Reggie’s Hair Clay by Hodges

Developed for hair and beards, our hair clay produces a natural, semi-matte finish with a versatile hold. The certified organic, vegan formula is handmade in Britain and nourishes hair with its all natural formula.

The active natural formula includes Kaolin, Coconut, Argan, Mango, Apricot, Candelilla, Almond, Grape, Vitamin E extracts. Get a closer look in our journal on Reggie’s Hair Clay.

How and When Should You Apply Beard Oil?

Beard oils are the industry standard to condition, promote growth and maintain a healthy beard. But oils are by their very nature oily, but what are the other options?

Our beard clay is designed for daily use to keep your beard in peak condition. While you don’t need to wash/condition your hair every day (we recommend starting with 1-2 washes per week) we would suggest daily brushing and clay/beard oil application.

How to use beard oil or clay

For best results start with an air dried beard for maximum absorption. Scoop a pea-sized amount of product into the palm of your hands and rub together to heat and activate the product. Using your fingers, apply the product to the full length of each hair for maximum exposure. Add more product to style, if necessary.

Shot by  Clem Onojeghuo

Beard Styling

In terms of beard styling, much like hair its a personal preference. We suggest finding yourself a good barber and ask their advice on styles.

To get the knowledge on beard trims, we spoke to The Barberfly aka Vivienne Howe at one of our regular spots, Milano Barbers in Kingston upon Thames, SW London. See @The_Barberfly on Instagram for more.

Expert tips from The Barberfly, Vivienne Howe

I love beards because of the skill of barbering involved. The trimming and shaping of a beard are very satisfying and if I don’t trim agents beard with a haircut I feel like I haven’t finished my job. 


Beards come in so many lengths, densities, textures and hair types. Knowing and understanding all these factors will help you decide what is best to use on it, how to groom in between visits to your barber and how often you need to visit the barbers to really keep it looking it’s best. 

Once you’ve had a trim with your local barber, Vivienne recommends using a bristle brush is to keep your beard neat and tidy by flattening down any stray hairs. If you have a resistant fluffy beard use a beard product in combination with the brush to tuck away any strong strays.

Some prefer a more natural, cave-man style while at the other end of the scale, many prefer a groomed finish with neatly trimmed edges. A good Kent Comb or brush and premium styling products will also prove invaluable to keep your beard in check.

Long-Term Beard Maintenance

From day one of growth, exfoliate your skin to prevent ingrown hairs and to cleanse/remove dead skin. Continue to moisturise the skin around your skin on a daily basis to prevent dry skin. Once your beard gets to a reasonable length, use a gentle, natural shampoo periodically (according to hair/skin type) to maintain the moister balance of the hair.

Always comb or brush your beard after cleansing to prevent stray hairs and improve manageability. After showering, dry as you wish and comb or brush through to prevent any knots, then finish by applying a small amount of beard clay from base to tip to nourish and maintain the moister balance of your bead.

Tips from committed beard owner, Tom Cook

We spoke to long-time beard owner and corporate man Tom Cook and ask his top tips for keeping his beard under control in the boardroom.

tom-cook-beard-hodges.png

“I think it’s fair to say my beard was pretty impressive before a barber went awol with these clippers (that’s a whole other story). But if you grow a beard of years, you do get to learn a thing or two about maintaining facial fur that doesn’t scare people away” says Tom.

Don’t touch it. People forget that hands are naturally greasy and come in contact with so many surfaces. I found that not playing with my beard really helped to keep it clean.

Always carry tissues. You never know when you might need to remnants of a long lunch.

Also really learn how often you need to wash, comb and apply a product to your beard. I really like the Hodges products because they are natural and actually benefit my beard with the natural ingredients.

Beard FAQ

Why should I use beard oil?

From a week's worth of stubble to longer growths, facial hair can be wild and irritating for your partner.

Can I Use Coconut Oil Instead?

Absolutely you can use coconut oil instead of beard oil and it will perform the basic form of nutrition plus it may help to relieve dryness. Of course, if you want the best, we recommend our beard clay as a complete beard product.

Can I use a beard oil/serum on my face?

This is often recommended and the answer depends. Whilst one would imagine that every beard oil is suitable for facial skin, do consider the ingredients and avoid the delicate eye area if you are going to do this. We would recommend however using a separate moisturiser, designed for the application.

What’s the best way to keep my beard moisturised, but not greasy?

Maintaining the natural moisture balance for beards, or hair in general is key to prevent dry or greasy hair/scalp. Start with a gentle yet moisture-packed cleanser and conditioner and adjust washing to suit. We then recommend our beard clay, which uses pure essential extracts like beard oils, but without the greasiness. Also, don’t play with it (thanks Tom for this tip).

We hope you’ve enjoyed our article on The Ultimate Guide to Beards including Beard Oil and Maintenance. Massive thanks to Tom and The Barberfly for helping out. If you guys think there's something we’ve missed, do let us know in the comments or drop us an email.