Today, a well-kept beard is one of the greatest assets a man can have. But the key here is “well-kept”. If you’re walking around with a beard that looks like it could possibly be home to a family of small birds, you’re doing more harm to your appearance than good. With a great beard comes great responsibility. And that’s why it is absolutely essential to learn the proper technique for how to trim a beard. So read through this quick guide to get the basics.
Step #1 Gather Your Tools
Beard maintenance requires a few essential tools. And it’s important to make sure you get high quality, well-designed versions of these tools. A dull pair of scissors is going to create an uneven and ragged cut. A cheap set of clippers will pull and rip and cause all sorts of damage that you don’t want.
So it’s important to make sure you do your research and find the absolute best beard trimming tools. They will last longer, perform better, and keep you looking your very best. With that said, the key tools you will need are:
- Small comb or brush (for getting out those stubborn tangles)
- Fantastic clippers (for trimming)
- Small pair of scissors (for your detail work)
- Beard oil (for conditioning and finishing)
You will learn more about what each tool is for as you read through the steps for how to trim a beard below. Each of the 4 remaining steps will involve one of the 4 tools above.
Step #2 Brush Out Your Beard
Use your comb or brush to brush out your beard. Even if you have a relatively short beard, you absolutely cannot afford to skip this step. Because brushing does more than just detangle. It also ensures that each hair is settled into more or less the same direction.
The hair of a beard tends to be more coarse and wiry than the hair that grows on the top of your head (or even on your arms, legs, and chest). So in the span of a single day, it can end up curling, bending, and twisting itself up with the other hairs in your beard.
That means that come trimming time, each hair has taken on its own individual personality and gone off in its own direction. So if you were to just head straight for your clippers and start trimming, you’d end up with an extremely uneven beard as some hairs would get totally lopped off while others escape the clippers altogether.
So never skip the combing step with your beard. It’s an important pre-trim step to make sure that when you are ready to trim, you can be sure you have even and equal access to each individual hair that makes up your beard.
Step #3 Evenly Trim Your Beard
This is probably the most important step in the whole process and also the most difficult part of learning how to trim a beard. Each set of clippers is pretty unique. And they are going to come with various settings for you to choose from. Each setting is geared toward helping you achieve a particular length.
Setting #4, for example, will trim your beard down to half an inch in length. If you already know exactly what length you would like, that’s great. Just choose the setting that matches that and go to town. If you’re still new to the world of beard ownership and maintenance, you’ll want to play around with the different settings.
In the latter case, you’ll want to start long and gradually go shorter until you find a length that suits your face and your style best. That means your first beard trimming session is going to be a bit more time consuming than the ones after. You want to make sure you take the time to carefully and evenly trim at each particular length.
That way, you will be able to get an accurate sense of what a well-trimmed beard at each length will look like on your face.
While trimming, it is important to start at the top of your beard line and trim in a straight, controlled downward motion to the edge of your chin. Everything from the bottom edge of your chin down should be treated as a separate process because your neck needs its own maintenance.
So always go downward. And always go slowly. This is not a race. If you’re doing this in the morning before work, make sure you give yourself plenty of time so that you don’t feel the need to rush through. Because rushing will lead to an uneven trim. And uneven trim will look terrible.
Most people prefer a faded look at the top beard line on the cheeks as well as at the bottom line on the neck. To achieve this fade, use a two sizes smaller setting (compared to the main setting you are using for the rest of the beard) for the very outer rim of your cheek and neck. Then use a one size smaller setting for the area just below that outer rim. Finally, switch to your main setting for the rest of the beard.
Step #4 Do Your Detail Work
Once you have trimmed it to the desired length (including the fading on your neck and cheeks), it’s time to put the finishing touches. Grab your beard scissors and clean up any stray bits or uneven sections. This will give your overall beard a more natural finish so that it will look more like your beard just naturally grows to perfection.
A pro tip here: your beard scissors should be dedicated beard scissors. Don’t use them for anything else. This will keep them sharper for much longer and it will keep your beard cleaner as you avoid cross-contamination.
Step #5 Nourish Your Beard with Beard Oil
At first glance, this might seem like a non-essential. Beards don’t really need to be nourished, do they? But, in reality, they definitely do. The beard oil is important for quite a few reasons:
- Helps train your beard so that the hairs don’t start going wild and twisting in all different directions.
- Moisturizes your beard to give it a glossier, fuller, and overall healthier look.
- Prevents the itchiness and discomfort that often comes with a beard.
- Prevents ingrown hairs by nourishing your skin and by encouraging the hairs to grow straight downward (instead of curling back which is the main cause of ingrown hairs).
So you really cannot afford to skip the beard oil. To apply it, dab some oil onto your hands and pat it onto your beard. Then, use a comb to distribute it evenly throughout your beard. You do not need to use too much. And we recommend starting with a little and gradually adding more until you have evenly coated (but not totally drenched) your beard in beard oil.
Optional Extra Steps
The steps above reflect the basic, essential process that you absolutely can’t afford to skip. But in addition to that basic process, people have developed their own personal tricks of the trade to take beard care to the next level. Some find these extra steps to be just as important as the basic ones and others will say it is totally unnecessary. Here are some of the extra steps you can try:
- Shampoo and condition your beard before brushing.
- Wrap a damp, hot towel around your beard to open the pores and soften the hair follicles before trimming. This will make trimming easier and tame the hairs so they are more cooperative.
- Wrap a damp, cold towel around your beard to close the pores (or pat cold water on your face/beard with your hands) to close the pores again after shaving. This will prevent redness and ingrown hairs.
- Use a traditional straight razor and shaving cream instead of the clippers for your neckline.
- Train your beard in between trimmings by brushing 1-2 times daily (and conditioning when you shower).
- Eat more protein in your diet for a glossier, fuller beard.
Our advice? Try them each out in your own routine and decide for yourself if they make a real difference. If you like the difference, stick with it. And by doing so, you are officially creating your own unique process for how to trim a beard that best matches your beard style and preferences. Welcome to the elite ranks of smart and good looking beard owners!