Eric bandholz2

Facial hair: a man’s biological cozy.

Now that winter is upon us, the way we conduct ourselves will change. Ditching the t-shirts and shorts for flannels and hoodies is just the start, though. Swap out that baby face for something a little more robust. Grow yourself a beard!

Beards are manly, and recently have become acceptable again. A beard can add character or can become a character itself. Just like the hair on your head, you need to take proper care of the hair on your face.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you think growing a beard is for you:

One: Set the foundation. Great hair begins with great skin, so take care if your face. Make sure you are washing your face twice a day (morning and night), exfoliate at least once a week and moisturize with a face lotion, preferably with SPF (two birds, one stone). Keeping your face from getting dried out will help with the itch that comes with the early stages of beard growth.

Two: Don’t shave! The age old tale that shaving promotes more hair growth has been debunked; shaving your face only cuts the hair that has already grown through the skin, but has no effect on the hair beneath the skin. Resist the urge to shave!

Three: Do maintain! While not shaving your face is the first step in growing your face-warmer, you want to maintain it by shaving the areas where hair is unwantedly sprouting like the lower neck and upper cheek areas. You don’t want to look like a Neanderthal.

You can use a cheaper disposable razor — one with a single or double blade — for more precision. You want to sculpt the hair line to your liking on the cheeks, or wherever the hair is most even in thickness. You want to to avoid the despised neck beard as well, but don’t trim too close to the jaw line.

Four: Get healthy. A health body bears a healthy beard. Taking in more vitamins like Biotin can help promote healthy hair. Invest in a daily multivitamin; most of them contain Biotin and other nutrients that you’re probably not getting but should be. Changing up your diet can really help out as well (again, a healthy body bears a healthy beard).

And start working out. Cardio is always good, but weightlifting burns just as many calories, aids in building muscle mass and promotes testosterone naturally in the body. Men with higher levels of testosterone have been proven to be healthier and in better physical shape and at a lower risk for depression. Testosterone also promotes hair growth.

Use growing a beard as an excuse to turn over a new leaf and live a healthier life.

Five: Keep it clean. If you are using a bar of soap to wash your face, even if you are not growing a beard, stop now. Facial soaps exist; they are made specifically to care for the skin on your face, which is much different than the skin on your arms and chest. You can use any store-bought face soap to clean your face and beard.

With that said, once your beard reaches a reasonable length you may want to avoid using facial soaps as well. Soaps made specifically for beards like those sold by Honest Amish (honestamish.com) are crafted from organic all-natural ingredients like virgin olive oil, coconut and avocado to provide a gentle clean that doesn’t rob your skin of oils that are actually good. Beard-specific soaps keep the skin under your beard from drying out and causing itching.

Six: Stop that itch. Once your beard has gotten to a reasonable length you may want to start using beard oils. Beard oils help keep your beard looking and feeling healthy and (in some cases) smelling great. Beard Brand (beardbrand.com) offers all-natural beard oils that can give your beard a healthy shine, keep it soft and smelling like the most rugged lumberjack. Try the tree-ranger beard oil.

Seven: Trimmers be damned. Using an electric trimmer is perfect for keeping your facial hair at a reasonabe length, close to your face and neat, but if you’re going for the gold and growing it out, avoid any and all accidents that could happen while using trimmers. Invest in a pair of small facial hair trimming scissors. They’re dulled at the tips so you won’t stab yourself, and they offer a greater control of what you are cutting.

As the hair on your face gets longer, you may notice tangles and knots forming.Use a small brush or comb regularly to keep the hair tangle free. Also, using a comb on trouble areas like the mustache will train the hair to fall the way you want it to.

Seven: Bad beard day? Don’t get discouraged, everyone is susceptible to bad hair days, and now that you have a beard you’re having to care for two ‘dos. Using a beard wax — something that doesn’t have petroleum or that is made for your hair like pomade — can keep those stray hairs from sticking out all over you face, and a mustache wax can help keep those wiry whiskers out of your mouth and out of your food.

Eight: To “yeard” or not to “yeard?” How long do you let the masterpiece growing on your face grow? That depends on you. Many individuals with facial hair come from different walks of life. If you can get away with it, why not let it grow for the entire year?

Nine: Knowing when to call it quits. Not everyone can grow a beard; some men are just not genetically gifted with luscious facial hair. If after a month or two your face is still patchy, it’s time to scrap it and shave it off. Or, if you’re brave and think you can pull it off, keep a mustache or a goatee. Just remember to take care of it.

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