11 Beard Growing & Grooming Tips Noobs Get Wrong

If growing a great beard was as simple as never shaving, wouldn't every guy have one?

Beard growing tips - 11 Beard Growing and Grooming Tips Noobs Get Wrong

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What is this?

Growing a beard for the first time can be a bit like asking out your crush: everybody’s got an opinion about the best way to do it and the stakes feel super high.

With a beard, the stakes are high… get it wrong and you have to start over, or walk around with a funny-looking face.

Luckily, brave souls have gone before you. We’ve canvassed the internet and asked Primer contributor (and be-whiskered gent) Shane Martin for the top mistakes guys make when trying to grow a beard.

1. Not Brushing Your Beard

If you’re like me, you can’t remember the last time you combed your hair. I actually have combs built into my body: my hands. Don’t make the same mistake with your beard, however, as regular brushing is actually super important.

First, brushing your beard helps train it to grow how you want. Then there’s dandruff – just like with your hair, beards get dandruff and regular brushing can help remove and prevent it. Finally, brushing distributes oil – both beard oil and your body’s natural product – thereby moisturizing your face fur.

Shane recommends starting with a comb for shorter beards and progressing to a brush when it gets fuller and longer. Learn more about the importance of beard brushing, and pick up a boars hair beard brush from Beardbrand.

2. Believing the “Shaving = Faster Growth” Myth

It’s such popular knowledge that I believed this one until doing the research. It turns out that shaving too often can actually make it harder to start a beard and that hair growth is mostly down to genetics. Some studies indicate that diet can also play a role.

For those looking for the nitty-gritty research, Tools Of Men has a great takedown of this myth.

3. Skimping On A Trimmer

As you’ve probably intuited by now, having a beard is kind of a lifestyle. It involves daily grooming, upkeep with different products, weekly trimming, and plenty of trial-and-error learning. If you’re trying to do all of that using a cheap-o trimmer with a laughably small battery that tugs at your face, that lifestyle will be one of annoyance instead of pleasure and pride.

brio beardscape beard trimmer

Brio Beardscape trimmer – Primer readers get an exclusive discount

Shane reports that he trims his beard every 7-10 days and – before discovering the Brio Beardscape – replaced trimmers every 7-12 months on average. That’s an insane rate of turnover that speaks to the poor build quality of many consumer beard trimmers.

The Beardscape solves this issue with an oversized battery that delivers power for weeks, meaning you don’t have to worry about charging after each use. If you’re going on the road for business or fun, it also means not having to bring the charging base – handy if you travel frequently for work and every cubic inch in your carry-on is premium real estate.

For Shane, this trimmer was kind of a godsend. First, it addressed his previous issues with reliability and build quality. The Beardscape uses a ceramic blade that stays sharp and lasts longer than a traditional stainless steel blade. Ceramic is also low friction, resulting in less vibration translating into your hand, less wear-and-tear on the trimmer motor, and much more longevity.

brio beardscape

Brio Beardscape has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon

Another feature of the Beardscape that Shane highlights: Out of the box it’s ready to grow with your beard. The adjustable blade works equally well on stubble or body hair, and it comes with a range of guards, from 1 mm to 18 mm – so your tool is ready to grow with your beard.

Start with the right tool, and you’re more likely to see the job through. Primer readers get an exclusive discount making it cheaper than Amazon.

4. Shaving Too High On The Neckline

It’s common for new beard owners to worry about tidiness. The risk, however, is that you overdo your grooming and shave too high on the neckline. The result simply looks… off.

Here’s a handy rule to avoid shaving too high: imagine a line that runs between your ears, passing underneath your chin in a U shape. Everything forward of this line is “in.” Everything behind the line should be trimmed. If you’re still not sure, Shane recommends a trip to your barber. Have them help you out the first time – once you have a sense of what’s right, it’s much easier to duplicate on your own.

where should your beard end on your neck

5. Ignoring or Over-trimming Your Mustache

Bonnie & Clyde. Han & Chewie. Zorro & Bernardo. Your beard and your ‘stache are partners in crime on your face and one of the most rookie moves is to nurture your beard and ignore your lip brush.

An untidy mustache can ruin an otherwise excellent beard. Similarly, over trimming your mustache can unbalance your look. Beard and mustache should appear to be the same fullness, regardless of the length you choose for each. “Appear” is the keyword here – often, beard and mustache will have different body or volume. As a result, you’ll need to use a different guide for each.

6. Letting Your Whole Beard Grow At The Same Rate

We see a lot of guys with gross beards. Some parts are really long, others way too short. That’s because different parts of your face can grow at different rates; or because of more fullness in certain spots appear like it’s growing faster than other spots.

During his bodybuilding competition days, Arnold Schwarzenegger famously would analyze his body in the mirror to see how different muscles were contributing to his overall shape, and then choosing to build, or ignore, certain ones to improve that shape. Your beard is the same: It’s a final sculpture made of various parts that aren’t the same fullness and length. Analyze the overall shape of your beard and how it’s altering your face, and trim certain areas accordingly. As Shane explained his own process, your beard can noticeably alter the shape of your jawline and face as a whole.

scraggly beard bad

7. Not Giving It Enough Time

An informal survey around the office confirms the online consensus: most beards take 2+ months to get going. For some, it’s much less. My buddy Pete can go from clean-shaven to a short beard most men would envy in a week. Myself – I couldn’t grow a beard to save my life. It just depends.

If you’re serious about growing a beard, don’t get discouraged. Shane has been tweaking, changing, and polishing his for 10 years.

beard before after 10 years

8. Using Regular Shampoo On Your Beard

Shampoo on a beard is like using bar soap on your face. It strips out natural oils your beard needs to be moisturized. Additionally, it’s your face underneath that crumb duster, so you want to treat it right, too. Instead, use beard wash. If your beard is extra bristley, condition it with beard softener.

9. Using Heat To Dry Your Beard

Depending on the size of your beard and the density of growth it can take a minute for your beard to dry. It’s common to hear about guys using hair dryers, but blow carefully – using heat on your beard after the shower will dry it out and make your hair brittle and frizzy.

According to a study cited by Zeus Beard, a 2011 study found that using your dryer’s coolest setting at a reasonable distance is actually better than letting it air dry.

10. Not Knowing When To Quit

Ok, we just told you to give your beard time … to be patient … keep the faith.

But for some of us, a beard just isn’t in the genetic cards. The best we can do is ever-longer adolescent scraggle that never fills in. If you really want a beard, it’s important to find out for yourself if you can do it. But it’s equally important to accept reality if you’re never going to have competition-winning face fur once the experiment runs its course.

So how do you know when to throw in the towel? Reddit’s Beard Advice thread recently supplied the answer. After about 12 weeks, as user BakerBalls recommends:

As a rule, whenever you can count the hairs in a particular area, it's not worth growing out.

Think about it: if you can count 5, 7, or even a dozen individual hairs on your cheeks, chin, or lip after a reasonable amount of time… is that ever going to become the fulsome combat beard you see on Instagram? And it may just mean that a full beard isn't for you, but if your mustache and/or goatee grow in nice and thick you can still rock those and shave the rest.

11. Not Checking Your Trimmer Setting

It’s an obvious one, but don’t dive in and trim off too much. Measure twice, cut once! Bear forums are full of bearded brethren who have lost months or years of growth because they accidentally shaved a chunk out of their beard and had to trim the rest to compensate.

beard half shaved

What Tips Would You Give The Proud Owner Of A Developing Beard?

A big thanks to Brio for supporting Primer's mission and for giving Primer readers an exclusive discount on the Beardscape trimmer, making it cheaper than Amazon! Click here to check it out.

Stillman Brown is a writer and TV producer who has created prime time content for National Geographic, Discovery, Travel Channel and many others. His interests span science & the natural world, personal growth, and food. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

  • John Waldowski

    I have had a beard for as long as I can remember and I won’t even trim it myself lest I look like the fellow in that bottom picture. I always have my barber take care of it for me.

  • KTemp

    I’ve had a beard for a while now but I’ve developed a bad habit of plucking those annoying stray hairs out of my face. I’ve found that keeping it brushed and trimmed helps because there are less strays. Does anyone have any surefire ways to break this habit for good?

    • browneagle44 ロベルト

      Do you use any oil or wax?

      • KTemp

        Not on a regular basis, I haven’t been able to find one I really like. I do know I prefer a cream over oil though.

        • browneagle44 ロベルト

          Oil is a good base (using Duke Cannon’s best damn beard oil right now, because it’s a ton of oil for about the same price as beardbrand). If you have trouble with the hair not being as “straight” as you’d like, apply a small amount before going to bed and that should help. I use oil as a conditioner when I get out of the shower- a dime or nickel-sized amount, followed by a dry with COOL air (I like the hand brush from Esquire Grooming, because it combines a brush with a slow, cool air hairdryer), comb it through to straighten, then follow up with a light amount of cream – I’m using Cremo’s beard and scruff cream and use about a dime-size amount. Comb/brush it, then get dressed while that sets up. About 2-5 minutes later I’ll apply a wax or balm – right now I’m using either Beardbrand’s utility balm, which works great as a pomade as well, or Duke Cannon’s beard balm. A small fingertip-size amount usually takes care of any frizz or strays. If there’s any stragglers left over, I touch up with some barber shears or mustache scissors, then I’m out the door. If you find yourself taking a lot of time or using a lot of product, it’s time to either bust out the trimmers or head to the barber for a cleanup. You’re never going to be 100% stray free, but you can minimize it and embrace the natural, imperfect beauty of facial hair.

  • Ben

    Question I’ve never found a good answer to: If you decide to grow in a full beard such as the Bandholz style do you trim your neckline or will you need it as a foundation later on in the process?

    • browneagle44 ロベルト

      Absolutely trim it. It looks more polished, and (to me) it’s much more comfortable

  • https://www.instagram.com/howhardcouldthatbe/ Scott Ingalls

    Fantastic advice, Stillman! I would like to add something from the “ASK ME HOW I KNOW” file: the “DON’Ts and DON’Ts” of dying your beard. When I grew out my beard, I found out that it was virtually all white, so feeling like I deserved a beard that matched the black hair on my head, I dyed my beard! And, it looked terrific! ..for maybe a week or two?Then, a symmetrical little eighth inch of white crept up, in a perfect line, under my dyed black beard, and that looked very obvious, and very un-terrific.
    I rushed out and bought a beard dye kit that had a little brush, and got in there, and dyed those white roots. Problem fixed! …Until, a few days later I was told to shave off my beard completely by someone I had to listen to. Funny thing: that that dye didn’t just work on hair! It was also very effective at coloring my cheeks!
    It looked like I had gotten wasted, or lost a bet, and drew a beard on my own dumb face with a sharpie pen, and then tried to wash it off with a brillo pad. Those marks did not wash off or even diminish for well over a week. So, my “DON’Ts” for beard dying would really be just one big umbrella “DON’T”, but if you “DO”, then “DON’T” assume that beard dying is anything less than a once-a-week obligation, and definitely “DON’T” shave off a dyed beard completely unless you know what darkness lies beneath!

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Haha!!! Oh no!!!! Such a great story, we heed your warning!

      • browneagle44 ロベルト

        Eeeeeeesh. I used to use Henna to even out my hair when my hair started going silver, and even though the dye would last about 6 weeks on average, I’d have to touch up at least once a week to compensate for bear growth. It’s easy to blend when you have lighter hair, but I can understand how darker would be more complicated!

  • J Lee Glassburn

    I was encouraged to grow my beard by my lady about 10 years ago. I’m so glad I listened to her. I agree with almost everything in this article. I will add that not washing your beard everyday will help tame it. Your lifestyle, job, diet and skin type are all going to be factors in this, but I wash mine about twice a week. This allows the natural oils to work through your beard and condition it. Leading to a much tamer beard.

    I also think bullet point 10 on this list should come with a caveat. My beard is thin and patchy in certain places but I rock it with confidence and get plenty of compliments. I used to only feel comfortable with a goatee but two things worked together to change my mind. One was a woman saying she thought of beards like breasts on women. (Well, they are secondary sex characteristics) Not all are equal. You work with what you’ve got. We can’t all have a Jon Hamm beard. The other thing was seeing a picture of Keanu Reeves with a beard. Man, if that guy can rock his beard with confidence then so can you. If your beard doesn’t come in full and lush but you still want to rock it. Then doing so with confidence will make what you have look great! Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to shave it.

    I’ll also say this, even in my 30s I’ve seen parts of my beard fill in. So puberty doesn’t end with your teenage years. Now if only I can grow three more inches. I really want to be 6’0″!!

    • browneagle44 ロベルト

      Right there with you. I’ve had a beard for 9 years, and I feel happier with how it grows and looks in my 30s than I ever did in my 20s. Part of that is definitely experience, but it absolutely grows fuller nowadays.