Feed Your Beard

Whether you think you know what you’re doing or have recently undertaken your first facial hair project, we hope you’re open to suggestions.

This isn’t advice on how to be fussy, girlie, anal or Bieberish. It’s about how to keep your beard happy, and the kinds of mistreatment that can cause it permanent damage.

Your beard has a lot of responsibilities. Here are some random thoughts on how to put your manliest face forward.

Take Care

Just pay some attention to it. Your beard won’t act like its primary purpose is making your life miserable.

  • Razor-burn is probably the number one nemesis of every guy who ever shaved a whisker. It’s like a facial invasion. Razor-burn has lots of sources. It could come from using blunt shaving blades, dry shaving, shaving too fast, pressing the razor too hard or shaving against the grain. The best thing you can do is keep your skin moist before you shave (shave oil), while you shave (lots of lather) and after you’re done (moisturizer).
  • Men actually need to exfoliate their skin more than women do. Male skin does more sweating and is really good at holding on to dead skin cells, oils and dirt. Guys just get dirtier, too. When you exfoliate you’re giving your skin an intense but soft scrub. You don’t have to do it all the time, and it’s not hard if you do. An exfoliating scrub with micro-particles does the work for you.
  • Got zits? If they’re hidden by your beard, don’t just ignore them. Thoroughly wash your face and beard with products made for the face and beard. Pre-shave use a beard-softening shave oil (it won’t be oily). Post-shave apply a non-oily moisturizer (there are lots made for acne).
  • Shaving is no easy task when you have acne. Taking a sharp object to irritated and bumpy skin is only going to make it worse. The only way to manage it is with extra special care. Take your time, and don’t press that razor too hard. An incised zit can cause permanent damage.
  • Don’t use dirty razors or towels when you shave. They can lead to infection in your hair follicles. If that turns into puss-filled bumps and abscesses, you’ll be heading to the doctor for antibiotics.
  • Dry skin has lots of causes including low humidity, sun exposure and harsh soap. Your skin’s pores get dried out, and they act like a sealant on your skin. When skin turns flaky or red, or develops ingrown hairs, it’s pissed. You’re not helping by rubbing, picking and scratching. Apply non-oily moisturizer all over your skin after showering, if not more often.
  • There’s nothing more painful than an ingrown hair. If you’ve even had even one, it ought to motivate you to take precautions against having a second. An ingrown hair is usually the result of a shaved whisker growing sideways or curling back underneath the skin. Before you go digging in with those tweezers, take a hot washcloth to the area to draw the hair to the surface. Then you can retrieve it with the tweezers. Just don’t dig down and break the skin.

You aren’t proving you’re a bigger man by putting up with facial hair problems like frizzy, itchy, or flaky whiskers. If you had a sunburn or stinky feet and you knew what to do for relief, you wouldn’t just ignore the problems. It’s even worse if you ignore them on your face. Everyone can see them.

Random Thoughts on Wet Shaving and Dry Shaving

  • A wet shave will give you a closer shave than one with a trimmer.
  • Rinse your blade under hot water after every few swipes with the razor. You want to get those whiskers and dead skin cells off that blade before pressing it up against your skin again. Think of what you’d be injecting if you did nick yourself.
  • For a closer shave, add another layer of lather and run the razor over it again. You’re making your skin more pliable. When you apply the razor you’ll be snipping off those hairs that much closer.
  • Clean your equipment before you put it away. Rinse the blade to get rid of whiskers, shaving cream, skin cells, and any other accumulated gunk. Don’t use a tissue or towel on the blade. You’re helping it to get dull faster.
  • An electric shaver is harder on your skin than a razor blade. The shaver is equipped with moving blades with perforated metal heads that crop the whiskers close to the skin. The ends of the hairs are often left with pointy tips that love to grow back towards your skin, causing itchiness and ingrown hairs.
  • Help your trimmer do its job by giving it a dry beard to work with. It’s a lot easier for its blades to chop off and then spit out dry hairs. Yes, this is just the opposite of what to do with a wet blade. Even dry shaving you can prep your beard with an alcohol-based shaving oil. The alcohol with help to absorb any moisture and oil on your skin. If your skin is very dry to start with don’t use a pre-shave oil. Its alcohol will only aggravate dry skin.
  • Keep your trimmer clean by clearing out shavings. Yes, that’s what that little brush is for.
  • Trimmer blades do get dull, just not as fast as razor blades. If you catch yourself pressing the shaver hard up against your face, check the blade.

Don’t Be So Cheap

You know you’re going to need to give your beard lots of time and attention. It deserves to be indulged by skincare and shaving products that are more than a bar of deodorant soap, a can of foamy chemicals, some hand moisturizer and a cheap aftershave. If you’re making your argument for sticking with those kinds of products based on your budget, here’s some math for you.

If you’re squirting yours out of a can, you’re probably using too much shaving cream. Manufacturers design the cans that way. You might like how fast the stuff shoots out at you, but you’re also wasting a lot of foam. Figure that a $6 can of shaving cream lasts a few weeks. A $20 tub of high-quality shaving soap can last 6 months or more. There are even shaving soap bars that you can find for $5 or less. They’ll require a few runs with a shaving brush to get a lather going, but who couldn’t use a little workout at the mirror in the morning?

If you’re going to make an investment in basic, quality products, look for product packs. If you’re not sure about what brands to buy, lots of manufacturers sell travel packs and sample sizes. You’ll also get an idea of how long these quantities will last.

If what you’re spending on shaving is a really big issue for you, pay attention to how much product you’re using. If the manufacturer recommends amounts, you can bet they’re suggesting more than you need. Don’t be lazy. Run your own tests. It all adds up.

There’s that math again.