Throughout my adult life I have often been asked, “How do you keep your beard so neat?” “Your beard is always just the right length and the lines are so straight. How do you do that?” While it is always flattering to hear, makes me smile, and even chuckle a little bit, it’s really not a difficult thing to do and it doesn’t take a lot of time. Here are my tips and advice on how to get a perfectly trimmed beard.
Since I’m certain any guy can do it, I thought I would share my process (and tips) to help you achieve the same results. Now, before I begin I must preface that this is not a fancy tutorial in beard shaving, and to be very honest I skip many of the pampering steps. While I enjoy a little indulgence every so often, I, for the most part, keep the routines in my life simple and easy. (Surprised?)
The ease or difficulty of shaving varies from person to person and has a lot to do with each person’s individual skin and hair type (e.g. – is your skin sensitive? is your hair coarse?). I think I may be a little lucky in this area because while I have a full beard, it’s not super coarse, which makes it easier to shave. My skin on the other hand is on the more sensitive side so I typically will not shave every day. I will trim-up and shave every 1 to 2 days depending on what I have happening in my schedule.
With the exception of traveling (since I don’t have my shower mirror), I almost always shave in the shower. I do this for two reasons…(1) it keeps the mess contained and the cleanup a cinch (no random whiskers all over the sink area), and (2) when it’s time to shave your skin and hair stay softer and more hydrated in the shower’s warm water and steam, which makes it easier and healthier to get a closer shave. Now, I know many of you will say it’s bad for the environment to shave in the shower, but you don’t need to keep the water running. The beard gets trimmed before the water is turned on, and while you’re shaving you can simply turn the shower head control to “pause.” This will conserve water, but still give you a stream to rinse off your blade.
To begin, get yourself situated in the shower (or near your sink, if you prefer) and trim your beard length using an electric trimmer. Start by trimming up against the grain of the beard, but be sure to go in a couple different directions to get those wild spots and crazy whiskers.
Now, there are lots of different models of trimmers out on the market; some are plug-in, some have interchangeable attachments, some have built-in attachments, etc. I personally prefer one that has a rechargeable lithium ion battery and a built-in attachment since it is less hassle and stuff to store. The particular trimmer that I’ve been using, the Conair Super Stubble, provides an incredible range of measurements to get just the right stubble. It has a digital monitor that allows you to adjust the closeness of your trim at the press of a button, as well as lets you know the exact time remaining in a charge. It also glides very well across the face, doesn’t get caught in any of my whiskers and generally provides an even trim.
**Neat Tip: When trimming your beard, take an extra minute or two to trim around your ears. This little clean-up keeps you looking barber fresh just a little longer and can help extend time between haircuts when you are in a pinch.**
Once you’re done, clean off your trimmer in the shower (or directly over the sink). Use the brush that comes with your trimmer to get it nice and clean, or if it is water-safe like mine, just give it a quick rinse in the shower. Cleaning your trimmer well is an important step because it truly helps to keep your bathroom a little neater, which will make your significant other much happier. 🙂
Next, it’s shower time. Go through your typical shower routine to allow your skin time to hydrate and your beard time to soften. Once you’re done, prep the skin by washing your face to remove any bacteria and dirty oil. Then apply your shave gel, oil, cream or foam. I typically use a cream or an oil since I find it coats my beard better and allows me to still see my beard so that I can create clean lines on my face.
Rub the cream or oil in and let it sit for a at least 30 seconds to soften things up a bit more. Now, it’s shave time. We start on the neck and shave down with the grain in the direction your beard grows. To create a nice contour line under your jaw, feel along your jawline and use your razor to mark your line about a thumbnail length in from your jaw. This will hide the line under your jaw and should prevent the line from coming up too high when you smile or laugh.
After you’ve gone around your entire jaw, it’s time to contour the top of your beard. This can get a little tricky and there are different ways to do this. I’ve personally found the easiest way for myself to create a nice line is to use my hand as a guide and shave up against the grain. Since this part of my beard is thinner I shave against the grain right away. It also allows me to use the edge of my razor to create a nice strong line. Side note… Since I’m right-handed this is typically easier to do on the right side of my face. However, over the years, I have found the line is also cleaner on the right side of my face because the hair grows in more evenly on the right side vs. the left side.
Now that the initial shave is done, I revisit the area below the jaw to clean things up on the neck. I re-apply the shave cream to protect my skin and soften things up again. Then, I begin to shave upwards (and sometimes to the side for those crazy, swirly patches) against the grain getting all the spots I can to make it as smooth as possible.
Once I feel I’ve gotten all the spots I can (or that my skin can stand for that day), I give my face a final rinse, splash a little witch hazel on to clean the pores and the skin one more time and finally apply an aftershave lotion or balm for a final layer of protection and moisture.
So, there you have it… all the secrets and tricks to keep my beard trim and my lines straight. I hope you found this little tutorial helpful and that your next shaving experience is just as quick and easy.