Nothing says “I’m a man, dammit” like a face full of hair. And unlike a Harley or a cowboy hat, it’s something that every post-pubescent guy can pull off, in some form anyway. Done right, the beard stylishly communicates confidence, wisdom, ruggedness—and all that manly goodness. If you blow it, on the other hand, you might end up with that whole “I just tied a woman to the railroad tracks…muahahaha” vibe. And for beardsmen of all pedigrees, matching appropriate style with face-shape is just as important as knowing how to maintain it.
See What You’re Dealing With
Regardless of your long range facial hair plans, grow it out for a few weeks before styling. Since follicles sprout at different rates across your mug, giving them ample time to fill out will offer a better idea of what styles you can pull off. You want a full canvas to experiment with. If things look too patchy after two weeks, remember it’s okay to give up the dream. One tip: doing this on vacation will help you to avoid questions like “Running late?” and “Is everything alright at home?”
Of Styles and Seasons
Hell, it’s winter and we’re animals. Boasting optimal facial insulation and exuding confidence born of experience, the full beard is your defacto chilly-month mane. And if you’ve got solid coverage from cheeks to chin, you can’t go wrong with the all-over approach. But, as ever, growing one isn’t quite as simple as just shelving your razor.
A round, wide face lends itself best to the full beard (and all types of man manes, really). You can do just about anything you like. Or, for a slimming effect, you’ll find it best to keep cheek coverage around medium length, while letting the follicles grow fuller and just a little bit off the chin.
For a narrower mug, things get a little trickier. You can try keeping cheek growth a little fuller to fill out the middle of your face, but be warned that this can end up looking unnatural if you overdo it; you might find you’re better off going thinner. If your face is long in addition to being narrow, you should end your beard at (or slightly off) the chin in order to conform to the contours of your face. Conversely, if it’s squat, grow the chin out a little longer for a lengthening effect.
Let It Grow
Finally, the full beard works best when grown out. If you’ve got a gaunt face and strong chin, you’ll be better off trimming more closely—a Galifianakis will overwhelm your features. But in general, don’t get too cute; the woodsy vibe is in this year. Trim only once every 3 to 4 days to maintain shape, and let that bad boy bulk up. Use a light shampoo (regular soap dries out the skin under your beard) as well as a moisturizing conditioner, and comb regularly for uniformity and softness. Oh, and don’t colour…people will notice.
Above all, remember: You’re a man and this is Canada. Like the frontiersmen before you, your beard is no mere statement of style—it’s a tool for surviving the elements.