Earlier this week, the perennially stylish Harry Styles stepped out in Los Angeles with what was quickly dubbed a “quarantine beard.” While the internet applauded his new look, he’s not the only one changing things up: men at home worldwide are putting down the razor in favor of a scruffier jawline—just ask funny guy Will Smith, who took to Instagram to share his facial hair journey. Even my husband, who normally shaves every few days, has developed a new shaggy accessory during the current #stayhome mandate. Moustache styles how to.
“This is the perfect time to grow a beard,” says Sam Buffa, founder of the cool guy downtown barber shop Fellow Barber. “It’s a good time to try something you haven’t tried before and be able to laugh at yourself if you mess up.” Whether you’re a grooming aficionado or a facial hair novice, here are Buffa’s tips on how to grow a beard and wear it well—just like Harry.
Let it Grow
“When you’re growing a beard, you want to try to figure out where and how it grows,” says Buffa, explaining the importance of letting the hair fully grow out before grooming. “Let it run its path for long enough to see where it comes in.” For most, it will take around a week to see results. Next, he advises clients to examine their faces and review their growth pattern. “Everyone’s hair is different,” explains Buffa, “just like the hair on our head grows in different waves and shapes, so do our beards.” This process will give groomers a clue about where to trim things down. “The beauty of having a beard and one of the main reasons guys grow one is that they can accentuate their natural features,” like defining the jawline.
“It’s funny,” says Buffa, “the beard craze had actually leveled off,” until recently. According to the pro, the new trend in beards will lean toward the more natural and less sculpted. “It will be more of this ‘return to nature’ look but stuck in our tiny apartments,” he jokes. As for finding the right shape, Buffa has a suggestion: “Goof around with it,” he says, “look at inspiration from historical photos.”
After pinpointing the places on the face that need attention, Buffa recommends grabbing a clipper and trimming the entire face area. “I am very adamant in our barbershop about not cutting harsh lines,” he says. “You want to try and cut a natural look by staying on the edges of the face.” The expert recommends first timers picking up a set of clippers and slipping on the biggest guard that gives the least amount of trim first. “You can always go over it and take off more hair once you get the hang of the device,” he says. As a general rule of thumb, Buffa reminds everyone to “go a bit shorter” on the area below your chin. “The weight of the beard comes off better and creates a better angle for your jaw—plus, it's more comfortable.” (This is the point in the conversation at which I naively asked if it was similar to contouring and highlighting in makeup. “Exactly!” he replied.)
And if you make a mistake, don’t panic: “You can always take it down to a mustache if you mess up.”
“Once you get to a certain desired length, it's all about moisturizing,” explains Buffa. First, the pro suggests cleansing the face twice daily with a gentle face wash, followed by a beard oil, then a light moisturizer. “The oil will saturate the hair and get down to the root,” to prevent dry skin and ingrown hairs. (Those gifting the man in their life will appreciate Tom Ford’s Vitamin E-infused formula that comes in the house’s cult Tobacco Vanille scent.) Then, the moisturizer acts as a conditioner. But since beards can carry bacteria, according to Buffa, the twice a day cleansing routine is extra important these days.
If all else fails, call your barber for advice. “We’ve been doing a ton of Zoom consultations with clients,” says Buffa. As for weekly DIY maintenance, Buffa recommends trimming two important areas with a small scissor as soon as they get a little out of control: the upper lip and the jawline. But at the end of the day, beards are completely personal; “Some guys like big beards,” he says. “You just don’t want to completely hide your face.”
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