John Swartz, on how to go from clean cut to bushy beard without raising any eyebrows at work.
So, you want to grow a beard. There’s nothing to it but to do it, right? Well, that all depends on whether or not you can grow a beard but also on your lifestyle and whether or not you can get away with having one.
In my experience, the hardest part of beard growing is that middle stage when you’re between rugged stubble and full beard — especially at work. And what if you want to go big? The trick is to ease your co-workers and supervisors into the beard’s “bigness.”
The best way to do this is through good timing at the start and proper grooming throughout the process. Here I’ll take you all the way from babyface to Grizzly Adams (OK, maybe not THAT far) and what you need to do to make the process as easy as possible.
1. Start the stubble
When it comes to the workplace, the more time you have between your last shave and your next face-to-face the better. Obviously a week-long vacation is the perfect time to start a beard, but you may not want to wait that long. Many men can get away with skipping a day of shaving in the office (and you know it if you can’t). I’ve found the best day for that final shave is the day before a long break — Thursday morning before a Monday-off three-day weekend. You’ll show up to work on Friday with day-old stubble, but it shouldn’t show too greatly. Come Tuesday morning, you’ll have five days of growth. That should be enough for your facial hair to look more beard and less hangover.
2. Shape the beard
In the first few weeks, this upkeep is crucial. You must maintain proper beard lines across your cheeks and neckline. In this stage, the outline of your beard is very visible. It’s important to keep clean lines, especially if your beard grows low on your neck or high on your cheekbones. It may be worth it here to shave your beard’s outline daily during these few weeks. By now people will definitely begin to notice your beard, and you’re likely to start fielding comments and questions about it. If you keep it well shaped, it should be well received.
3. Control the poof
After your beard has a handful of weeks under its belt, you’re likely to see it starting to poof out from your cheeks long before you see any real extension from your chin. This is where your choice of products comes into play. I’m personally a fan of the Beardition line. Specifically here, you might choose the beard oil. Add a few drops to your palm, rub your hands together and then rub it into your beard finishing with a few downward strokes. Another tactic you can use to detract from your beard’s expansion is to let your hair grow out a tad during this phase.
4. Now you’re the beard guy
There are “men with beards” and then there is “the guy with the beard.” If you’re going for a beard that stands out among the rest, this is the stage where you’re going to start seeing that distinction. As you start to maintain a beard that is full, thick and extends several inches below your chin, you’re going to want your beard to be comfortable for you as well as anyone who touches it (that special lady perhaps?). Again, proper selection of products here is key. There are countless made-just-for-beards products out there. Again, I’m partial to the Beardition line and I also use their beard shampoo and conditioner in the shower and apply a dab of oil after. Do this and anyone with the courage to ask to touch your beard (and you’ll be surprised at how often you get this request) will be amazingly surprised at how soft it is. But more importantly, it will be soft for you and comfortable to wear.
So now you have a step-by-step process on how to go from a clean shave to bushy beard without raising too many eyebrows in the workplace. Are you the guy with the big beard? I’d love to see photos.