On youthful faces and mature jowls, whiskers are sprouting like we haven't seen for a century or more. And there has never been a time in recent history more favourable for sporting a beard than now. But unless the desired look is Grizzly Adams, facial hair needs beard care, styling and maintenance.
As noble thoughts, the inward being grace,
So noble whiskers dignify the face.
Excerpt from The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsey, 1918
Walk through any major city, and you'll see whiskers, from wait staff at trendy restaurants to corporate people in business in tailored suits. The trend for facial hair is gathering strength and looking like something other than abating. However, to keep beards and faces looking 21st century-suave, a grooming routine that involves trimming and moisturising are essential.
How can you capitalise on this growing trend? If you own a hairdressing or skincare salon, start offering men's beard grooming services and upselling products they can take home to maintain their beard between visits.
Testosterone causes facial hair to be thick and coarse. And the flatter hair follicle makes it curlier. This can result in a dry, unruly beard if not cared for. Fortunately, with the plethora of products on the market, men can tame their wild manes and look refined to boot.
Could you keep it clean?
Just like cranium hair, whiskers need to be kept clean. The best advice is to use a mild shampoo that won't irritate the skin and follow with a conditioner to help soften the beard hair. However, as whiskers are much coarser than head hair, they need more than a conditioner to maintain them and keep them from becoming unruly.
After shampooing and conditioning the beard and moustache, pat dry with a towel, then comb through with a wide-toothed comb to remove any tangles. Finish by enriching with specially formulated beard products that condition facial hair, such as beard oil or beard balm.
Beard oils moisturise the skin under the beard to relieve itchiness. They also leave beard hair soft and manageable and provide maximum visibility for precision shaving around moustaches and goatees.
To use, pour a small amount on the palm and, starting at the tips of the beard, rub into the face, making sure ample is applied to the skin.
Fuller beards with pesky fly-away whiskers call for a beard balm. Containing avocado oil, shea butter, beeswax or another moisture complex, beard balms not only tame annoying fly-aways but also help seal in moisture to give beards shape and keep them manageable. Reputable beard balms will also reverse the effects of razor burn and protect skin from irritation and after-shaving dryness.
To use, scoop or pump a good amount in the palm of your hand (depending on the size of the beard), rub your hands together and apply liberally to the skin and beard. Style.
Keep it trim
Keeping a beard clipped is essential to maintaining shape and well-groomed whiskers, even if the plan is to grow it long. Quality clippers, scissors and razors should all be part of the trimming kit. The next step is finding the right beard style for face shape.
Beards and jaws should work together to achieve a graduated, oval shape. Square and round jaws call for a fuller beard on the bottom to lengthen the face. Rectangular faces need more hair on the sides and less length under the chin.
Growing an impressive beard also means growing a moustache. Keep moustaches neat by trimming around the area under the nose with grooming scissors and sculpting with a medium-hold wax.
To keep the top lip looking chic and moustache hair out of the mouth, a little wax will go a long way and give the moustaches pizazz. Whether the desired look is the classic handlebars, a dashing Salvador Dali, or something not quite as eccentric, moustache wax will help keep the hair nourished and in place.
To use, scrape a pea-sized amount from the tin and rub it between your fingers until it's pliable. Apply to the moustache and style.
Main image courtesy of bestbeards.net
Beard shape guide and illo courtesy of birchbox.com