Some light thoughts on beards
I haven’t been writing much recently. There’s good reason for that, as my family and I have been relocating to Nashville over the last couple of months. As you know if you’ve ever moved it can be a hectic and draining process, especially when you throw jobs and kids in the mix.
So forgive me if I’ve been absent.
Usually I write about more serious things involving the Church, faith, theology and such. But I’ve been asked by several people to write about this subject and so I’m going to. After all, it is my blog and I suppose I can write about whatever I want. And it’s early and my kid got me up before daylight so this is what happens.
About five years ago, my wife and I owned a CrossFit gym in North Carolina. We decided to do a “No Shave November” contest at our gym. So some of the guys and I began to grow beards. By the end of November, I had a decent beard going. I told my wife I wanted to keep the beard going for a bit.
She agreed, much to my surprise, to let me grow it for six months. So for six months, I didn’t shave or even trim or shape it. I just let it grow. By the time I got to the six month mark I had some growth going. I discovered fairly early on that beards need to be cared for; unless of course you want to look like a homeless version of Gandalf.
Some buddies of mine who had beards gave me some suggestions for beard care products and so began my experience with several different brands. Heck, I even made my own beard oil for awhile. So I got to the six month mark and thought, ‘I’m going to miss my beard when it’s gone.’ I mean, we had become friends. We spent a lot of time together and by this time my wife was joking that I used more product in my beard than she did in her hair.
Probably a lot of truth in that.
But I told my wife, “I wanna keep this going.” She said, “How long?” I looked at her and thought, ‘she’s gonna kill me and I may sleep on the couch but oh well, here we go.’
“One year,” I said.
Shocking me completely, she said, “Just take care of it.”
I was like, ‘yes!’ So I set out to learn about beard care products and yeards. At the end of the year, I was in full on ‘unabomber’ mode. I had a really serious beard going and I loved it. But I also knew I had to shape it a bit cause it was pretty shaggy.
Almost five years later now and I’ve been clean shaven once during that time. I’ve learned some things about growing a beard and taking care of it.
1. Be patient.
Growing a quality beard takes time so be patient.
2. Find a barber that knows how to handle a beard.
This is a big one here. I’ve gone to barbers over the years that have no idea how to handle a longer beard and have chopped it up with clippers. I won’t let someone touch my beard with clippers now. Well, except to fade in the sideburns. Heck, a lot of the guys I’ve seen over the last five years can’t even get the cheek line right. Your barber matters. Find a good one. Unless of course you’re going to do it yourself and then you’re a better man than me.
3. Your wife better be on board.
Do I really need to say more about this? Your wife needs to be on board. And don’t give me your crap about ‘Oh, be a man and take charge of your house’ or any other such nonsense. What your wife thinks of you matters and you’re going to be leaving beard hairs lying around and she has to kiss you with that man-fur around your mouth so make sure she’s on board.
4. Clean up your beard hairs.
Listen, your beard will shed some. Clean up after yourself. I’ve tried to be really aware of this but some have fallen through the cracks. Let’s be real, hair lying about the house is not super yummy so clean your hair up men.
5. If you’re going to grow a beard, commit to the beard.
I personally think that dudes that have this stubble thing going should repent or turn in their man card. Commit to the beard. This whole looking like you’ve just misplaced your razor for a few days look it not manly. Grow a beard or shave your face. I’m not saying not to shape and take care of it. I’m saying be a man and grow it or shave it off.
My four year old daughter said to me one day not too long ago, “Daddy, boys have beards.” I said, “No baby, men have beards. Boys shave. Know the difference.” Being my daughter, she looked at me gravely and said, “Okay daddy.”
My daughter knows me well.
6. Use good beard care products.
Now there may be much debate about the best products out there. There are so many companies and groups out there making this stuff now that it’s hard to differentiate between them. However, I’ve used a bunch of different groups and products over the years. So we’ll start with what I’ve learned and then I’m going to rank the products I’ve used.
Beard oil is kind of up to you. Here’s what I’ve learned. Oil tends to work better for me the longer my beard is. When my beard was shorter or just growing oil seemed not to be as effective. The point of the oil is to take care of the skin underneath the beard so that your beard can grow in healthy. So beard oil matters. Viscosity is important. For me, I tend to like heavier oils since I have a heavier beard. But I’ve used some lighter oils that weren’t bad also.
Balm, for me personally, is where it’s at. Balm is pretty much oil with beeswax added to give it some longer conditioning abilities and some hold. Now, that’s really simplifying what balm is but I don’t wanna get too into the weeds here. I’ve used more balm than I have oil. Balm is also good for the skin as well as providing conditioning and softening for the beard hair itself. Hold, shine and smell profile matter here so choose wisely.
Beard wash is the last thing I’ll talk about. Don’t, under any circumstances, use regular shampoo and conditioner in your beard. Beard hair is different texture than your head hair and so you need different care for it. Find a quality beard wash to use. For me, I only use the beard wash once a week. What I’ve found for me is that it’s good to let the natural oils in your beard and skin go for a few days and you can still be clean by washing your beard out in the shower. Just scrub your fingers briskly under the shower. This rubbish about some articles out there saying that beards contain poop is stupid. If your beard has poop in it, you have some deeper issues.
I’m not going to comment much on beard combs or brushes. There are lots out there so find one that works for you and get it. You do need to comb and/or brush your beard. If you’re going to grow it, take care of it.
Ok so last thing I want to do is rank the products I’ve used so far. No one is paying me to advertise for them and I’ve used several different brands. But if you own a beard care product company and would like for me to advertise for you, I’d be happy to test your product out and see what’s up (insert smiling emoji here).
So here we go:
For my top spot, I’ve got to have a 1 and a 1a. Both of these products are very high quality and well priced.
1 and 1a:
1689 Beard and Mountaineer Brand.
The owner of 1689 is a personal friend of mine and I can tell you that not only does he have quality products but he is also a good man. I don’t know the guy who owns Mountaineer (Mr. Mountaineer) but I know he has a quality product at a fair price so I recommend both of these guys enthusiastically.
2. Honest Amish
Don’t know these folks personally and have only recently used their products. But I am very impressed with both quality and pricing. The stronger hold balm is especially good and gives lots of shine to your beard. The scent profile isn’t as good but the quality is.
3. Mod Cabin
I used these guys early on and was very pleased with their products. They’ve got some good stuff and lots of variety.
4. Burton’s Beard Oil
It was actually hard for me to decide between this brother and Mod Cabin for my number 3. This product is really good also. Their oil has a lighter viscosity that I actually like and their scent profiles are on point. The IPA and Pacific are my favorite to date.
5. Reformed Gentlemen
This is a smaller company run by a pastor that I’m getting to know. While there is room for improvement his oil is good and the balm is pretty good also. I recommend the Pioneer scent; it’s quite lovely.
This is by no means an exhaustive covering of beards or beard care products and not really my usual thing to write about. However, this is my offering for you today. I hope you've enjoyed!
Be well and beard on!
Soli Deo Gloria!