Aspiring beardsmen ask me all the time, “Is it better to trim your beard when you’re growing it out?” And so, I decided to set down my chainsaw, wipe off my brow, and answer this age-old question once and for all.
There’s a myth alleging that a beard will grow faster if you trim it regularly. Well, that’s just not true, my fellow beard scholar. It will neither make your beard grow faster nor thicker if you’re continually pruning it.
Trimming is fine, of course, if you want to maintain a shorter beard of a consistent length. Sometimes it’s a good idea to match your beard with the shape of their face. But this piece is about whether to trim when you’re in it for the long haul. I can assure you that men with burly beards don’t spend much time manicuring in front of a mirror with tiny scissors.
Dermatologists say there is no correlation between trimming or shaving and the rate of growth, or increased volume. Scientists concede, however, that there is a measurable increase immediately after mowing your face, but that it’s followed by a period of decreased production, resulting in no net increase. Think of your beard like a lawn. You don’t want it to go dormant.
The long and short of it is, if you’re really serious about producing an impressive mane, just let it grow. In fact, the only time you should think about trimming is for shaping purposes. But even then, you should probably leave it to a professional beardsmith until you know what you’re doing. It never fails—When you try to trim it yourself, you go too fast, and irreversible mistakes are made.
Now, if you’re one of those guys who has no distinguishable land mass separating the hair on his face from the hair on his chest, you’re not alone. Go ahead and clean that stuff up. But don’t go too far. Trimming to the neckline is fine. Avoid the temptation to go overboard by shaving to the jawline. You’ll turn your beard into a runt.
If you are going for a year or beyond, just leave it completely alone for the first year. And if you do decide a trim is necessary at that point, remember that it’s going to deal you a setback in terms of how much time you’ve spent sprouting the thing out. Every time you look in the mirror, you’ll see that you’ve lost some of that progress, and it’ll make you a little sad. Be prepared for that inevitability.
That’s not to say there isn’t a place for trimming, aside from just shaping. If you haven’t been conditioning your beard with guilty oils or balms, or you’ve been using a cheap plastic comb on it, you may have developed split ends down there. They’re only going to get worse, so if your ends are splitting, that needs to be nipped in the bud.
And bad ends can become an issue the longer your beard gets. That’s because the sebaceous glands in your face can’t keep up with the natural oil your beard needs from root to tip, which can result in dry, brittle ends if you don’t maintain a strict oil and/or balm regimen.
For those of you who’ve already nurtured a glorious shrub on your face and avoided split ends, but swear it suddenly stopped growing, you’re partially correct.
Just like any other sort of hair on the body, there is such a thing as a terminal length for beards. While your beard never actually stops growing, individual biological factors influence when a hair decides, “This is as long as I’m going to get, bub.” Like the hairs on our legs and arms, there’s a point at which our faces say, “That’s long enough to serve a purpose, kid.”
Before you reach this point, I recommend trying an all-natural growth oil which helps beards burst past terminal length. It does so by providing strands with nutrients and keeping everything nice and healthy and moisturized.
Otherwise, this is when regular trimming, once every week or two, will keep a long beard looking its best. If you’re using proper grooming scissors, make sure they’re sharp, or they’ll produce new split ends. If you’re using electronic clippers, be certain it’s freshly oiled and free of whiskers and other debris.
And if you still believe there must be something that will help you grow the most amazing beard possible, there is—eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, and using all-natural growth products.
But for God’s sake, until your beard is long enough for you, put down the scissors. Don’t make me send the beard fairies after you. They’ll loot your house of grooming products, and tell you how disappointed they are in you, which is more devastating than you might think. Those little bastards can rip your heart out with a single glance.
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