I‘ve had a beard for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was old enough to desperately cling to the teen tash and scrappy goat hairs that sprung from my otherwise rotund childish face. The voracity of my testosterone (or desperation) was such that for a while, I was the only pupil in high school rocking facial hair.
I’m not really sure where my obsession with facial hair “sprung” from, but from a very young age I was imagining and envisioning myself with facial hair, going as far as to make it a feature on any character I embodied on video games or otherwise. Over the years, my reasoning for having one has ranged from being self-conscious, to an acknowledgement that it grants me more “social intimidation” that is, it makes me look more masculine, and therefore more assertive and aggressive, two things that I often find myself not being. However, I have found that the beard has also helped me attain that when I have needed too.
As my self-perception, tastes and projection has changed throughout the years, so to have the styles of my facial hair. Ranging from the teen goatee, to the slightly-older teen chin-straps. Following this then came a shortly trimmed beard before I hit my 20s as my weight dropped. Coinciding with the weight loss I began to experiment with styles, wearing a horse-shoe for a while, and then finally deciding to just “see what happens.” This led to a (if I do say so myself) very impressive beard, that I would have wagered could have stopped bullets, though I am very glad I never had to test that…
Eventually, as with all things, I got bored, and shaved the whole thing off. However, I very soon realised the error of my ways and good ol’ bullet blocker is back. So, while I consider myself an advance beard wearer, I would say that when it comes to looking after and maintaining my Amazonian jawline, I am very much a novice, after having bouts of dry skin, painful itchiness, and the occasional day of really dry unpleasant feeling hair, I did research and took the plunge into the wondrous world of beard-ducation. I am now aiming to win myself a degree in “beardology”. (if only that was a thing!)
Below you will find a charting of (hopefully) potentially friends, allies and study partners, as I chronicle the beginnings of my exploration, call me Columbus!
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly II want to talk about combs and brushes. These nifty little fellows are your foundation, without these the whole grooming application, and process would fall apart. However, take the time to look around and invest in a good quality item, and you’ll make the whole experience a much happier one. I use a selection of sawtooth combs and bristle brushes, from a company called Kent Brushes, so that might a good place to start.
I found Kent by chance a while ago when I began to get into the tash styling scene. Unknowing of where to look, I took to Ebay typing “moustache comb” in and choosing to purchase what turned out to be a Kent comb because it looked nice, while being pleasantly affordable. Yet, I was even more pleased to find that it was just as nice to use, as it is to look at.
The moustache comb comes, as most Kent combs do, in a rather gentry looking tortoise shell colouring, and are all handmade, it feels and looks like an upmarket product for a modest price. I find that it is very light, although given its diminutive size was not too much of a surprise, the teeth of the comb are small and closely placed so that it can catch and tame any errant hairs. Due to the comb’s small size, they are perfect for the travelling beardsmen, taking almost no room up in your pocket. Perfect for keeping your rebellious moustache in place during a night out, especially one that involves food.
Following on from this are the larger brushes which I use on my beard. Here, I find that they work great, so far experiencing very little snag, despite the curliness of my beard, and no skin irritation from them. I have heard some chatter about the wider spacing of wooden combs being more suited to thicker, or curly beards, but I’ve been more than satisfied with my standard large to medium Kent comb. Although there are the obvious benefits to combing hairs, the beard comb is also used during the application of oils, which I will get to later.
However, the champion here for me is the Bristle Brush! (Mine is also Kent.) Good golly Miss Moly, I love this thing, my beard loves this thing and if my beard had a wife, I’m sure she would too. At first, I was rather speculative, some advice says to use them, and others don’t and to be honest I saw very little purpose for them that couldn’t be otherwise fulfilled by a comb.
Boy was I wrong, and I don’t admit that often. Firstly I want to say that a natural, often animal bristle is better than a nylon, or synthetic one, the natural oils in the bristle add to the natural oils that are stimulated in your own hair through combing, and give your beard a rather nice shine, and with regular use, a wonderful softness. The brush itself seems to be fantastic for shaping or sculpting a beard. I have managed (and entertained myself for far too long) to get some really crazy sweeps going on. It offers no irritation to my hair at all. I often use mine to help tease my hairs out of knots if they are being stubborn, as well as shaping my “do.” They are great for giving your beard volume, shape, and shine. Therefore, they are great, no matter the length of your beard, even a shorter beard wouldn’t scoff at some extra shiny magicalness. Why more people don’t use these little beauties I don’t know!
However cost wise, Bristle Brushes seem to be rather sporadic ranging from single, to triple figures, do your research, but remember natural is best!
Soaps? Comes the befuddled cry of many a person, or at least that seems to have been the case when I explained to my none-bearded, and occasionally female friends. Why do you need beard soaps? Can’t you just use normal shampoos, and conditioners? The answer, is you can, but you probably shouldn’t. Beard hair is different to head hair, being thicker coarser hair. Obviously being on your face it is exposed to more pollutants than your head hair, smoke, tobacco, food, toothpaste, saliva ect come into direct contact more often than they would your head hair (I hope.) Therefore, it makes sense to use a shampoo more suited to dealing with these tasks.
Again on a personal note and to illustrate, when I was having trouble with skin irritation I thought that maybe a hair shampoo would help moisturise the dry skin, and ease the irritation, as it does on your head. However, I was grossly and dramatically wrong, and found that instead my skin became more irritated, which led to my beard being dramatically trimmed to deal with the problem.
I imagine there are many beard shampoos on the market, though through my research I have only seen one name come up again and again; “Beardsley” So like the intrepid explorer I set out and purchased Beardsley’s “Wild Berry” shampoo, mostly because I’m not sure what the other scent, “Cantaloupe” is. *note, I also bought Beardsley’s conditioner, which was also great, and all the above “shampoo” talk applies there also.
I found that Beardsley’s Wild Berry Shampoo was great on first use. It spread well through my beard, meaning that I didn’t have to use very much at all. My beard was softer after use, and had less frizz after the shower which made it easier to shape, and tame. The lack of frizz and untamed hairs stays true throughout, ensuring that your beard will look grand all day.
The shampoo also tasted “better” than other, hair based shampoo. That’s not to say I am about to replace my desert with a portion of Wild Berry shampoo, but gone is the bitter and foul mouthed experience of accidently eating, and then gagging on shampoo designed for your hair, a small but Important factor!
What is beard oil? Well other than the obvious answer of “oil to massage into your beard hair” it works with your hair’s natural oil to keep it soft and shiny, and gradually moisturising your skin as it is absorbed. The oils also help to accentuate any colour variation that takes place in your beard. For example, my beard normally without any oil, is a darker brown, almost black. However, with the beard, the golden/auburn hairs pop alive, making my beard have a wonderful golden glow!
My beard oil of choice is Captain Fawcett’s Private Stock chosen because it was a product which came up time and time again as being highly recommended when I was researching. The oil, which is made from natural ingredients, has a gentle peppery scent and sits nicely under your nose all day. For those looking for a touch of boutique class, the product is handmade, and comes in a glass bottle, with a “dropper” top. Thus, you will always use just the right amount of Oil, and not waste any, making your money go further.
I have also found the dropper useful for measuring how much oil I can use to give specific results. I have found that around 4 drops is fine for a daily use for a beard of my length. However, this product can be somewhat expensive, it is probably the one I am most happy with, vastly contributing to a healthy looking and healthy feeling beard. I feel it is certainly a product that is worth the investment if a beard of any length is going to be sitting upon your chin for some time, especially when you consider how sparingly it can be used.
Piqued your interest dear reader? Need to know how to “use” your oil? Here is how I do it. The best time to apply your oil, as with most skin or hair products, is after the shower, when your hair is flatter, less tangled and your skin is supple, and pores are open. From here, roughly towel dry your beard, it doesn’t have to be entirely dry, but, water and oil do not mix, so ensure the excess water is gone. Now apply as much oil as needed into the palm of your dry hand, and rub your hands together, distributing the oil. Now rub your hands across your beard, once you are satisfied run your fingers up through your beard like you are back combing it, and if your beard is long enough, enjoy looking like an octopus. When you have finished amusing yourself repeat this process with a large beard comb, reshape if appropriate.
Ahh moustache wax, probably the most fun and infuriating of the beardy bunch, fun because well, you get to attempt lots of crazy styles, and stretch your lips into weird faces in front of the mirror. Infuriating because if you get the wrong wax and find it isn’t strong enough it falls straight out at the mere mention of moisture, and the whole process loops to lunacy!
Before my bullet blocking beard, came my gentry styled moustache, like I said this is where the fun is and it’s about time the gentleman took the moustache away from the porn star, viva la wax! When I began my journey as a moustache connoisseur I chose “Bounders” wax, to be my champion and protect me from the vile overlords of stray hair, and for a time he was true. Sadly he was not strong enough, though he meant well. Bounders wax is only a medium strength wax, meaning that if your moustache becomes wild, and is rather difficult to tame, or you have thick, curly facial hair, or indeed you want to pull off the craziest styles, Bounders may not be for you. That isn’t to say it’s a bad wax, for the time that it worked for me, it was great and the slight honey scent of the beeswax was fantastic under my nose all day.
However, now I use Captain Fawcett’s “Expedition strength” which is to say it’s strong. In true explorer fashion the tin claims that it can survive a “day in the tropics” The sandalwood scent of the wax, is heavier than I am used to, but still pleasant throughout the day. Importantly though my moustache now holds its shape, and can be wrestled into tighter points and curls. I have been recently been putting this wax to the test, with various drinks, rain, humidity and even a day at the gym and found it to be preforming as I would want it to, when I would want it to. Captain Fawcett also has less potent waxes, that come in Sandalwood, Lavender, and Ylang lang, Im very tempted to try this line of wax too, if only for the extra choice in scent.
While I cannot really recommend a wax, since it mostly comes down to how the wax behaves with your hair, and what you want to achieve with it, I heartily recommend that if you have something to wax, you give it a go. Although, I do recommend that you take the time to ensure that the product you are buying is made from natural products, having artificial products which may cause irritation that close to your face, skin, nose and breathing “path” all day will not be nice, especially with continued inhale.
After a week of continued use with these products I can happily report that dry skin and beard dandruff is no longer a problem. My beard has remained soft, and shiny throughout. However, I feel it apt to warn you may waste many an hour stroking your beard like you expect it to purr. I have also noticed that there has been increasingly less hairs breaking off, or being pulled out with the comb at the combing stages implying that my beard is now stronger and healthier than before. Once again, and finally, I can heartily recommend these products for the interested (and bearded) party.
I also feel that it is perhaps worth mentioning that all of Captain Fawcett’s products are made in the UK, so you get to support a British business while you don a dapper looking beard! Gent on chaps, gent on!