This post was most recently updated on November 25th, 2018
Are you growing a beard for the first time? Have you tried before but given up due to poor results? There is far more that goes into growing a beard than just letting the hair grow. There are different facial hair development stages and what your growing beard needs at each stage is going to differ. Should you just let the hair grow? Should you trim your beard? Do you need to start using products? The answers to those questions are going to vary depending on which one of the stages of facial hair growth your beard is in.
Many guys hope to have a beard but just don’t know how to go about the process, or how to get past the common problems that arise when growing your beard out. The entire growing process can take weeks and understanding what to do at each stage will make any beard-growing adventure far more successful than just going into it blind. Even if you’re a seasoned pro and are just back at the beginning of your facial hair growth cycle, you might learn something new that will really be able to take your beard to a whole new level.
Congrats. You’ve committed yourself to grow the beard you’ve always dreamed of. Now what? To put it simply, it’s time to wait. You aren’t going to notice anything more than stubble in the first few days— the same as if you just forgot to shave for a day or two.
As the week goes on, though, you might start to notice the lines of your facial hair. Maybe you aren’t quite sure they have the right shape and are tempted to trim the hairs the way you want but PUT THE RAZOR DOWN. The hair on your face needs time to grow and you have no way of knowing how it’s going to look once it’s longer. Trimming, plucking, etc. too early is going to end in a failed beard growing attempt when the hair finally comes in and the shape is wonky because you couldn’t be patient.
Have you been eyeing all those beard balms, butters, and oils you’ve seen online, wondering how on earth you’re supposed to use them? Start studying up, but don’t buy any yet. You haven’t got any beard on your face to use them with. Grab a good moisturizing lotion instead, as the only thing any beard products would do at this point is help moisturize your face.
Key things to remember in Week 1:
Your stubble is heavy, getting thicker, but not quite a beard yet. You might still look like you’ve just gotten lazy about shaving at this point, but it’s obvious it has been more than a few days.
For some lucky people, this is the “sexy stubble” stage, the kind of stubble that women tend to find attractive when they see it on men in the movies. That’s not going to be the experience for everyone, though. You might notice your beard is growing thick in some areas, but thin in others. The underside of your chin is starting to become a forest but your cheeks resemble something more like a stump-lined wasteland after loggers have come through that same forest. You’re starting to notice a mustache, but it isn’t quite connecting to the rest of your face, or even to itself. You look more scruffy than sexy.
You might be starting to worry. You might be thinking that maybe a beard just isn’t right for you. Don’t let it get you down, though. Keep at it. Facial hair doesn’t all grow at the same pace, so you just have to wait for the slower hairs to catch up. As you let your beard grow out, eventually those areas of thinner hair on your face are going to fill in. What if you have a legitimate patch of missing hair? As the hair around it becomes longer, it’ll cover it. Eventually, it will legitimately all even out.
Try to still resist the temptation to trim anything. A lot of guys try to trim when they reach this point, attempting to even out those uneven areas and clean up lines to look less scruffy. Again, that is only going to end in heartbreak and make things worse in the long run. Embrace that scruffy look and just let the hair do what it was born to do.
Key things to remember in Weeks 2-3:
Your beard is getting longer, getting thicker. It may be starting to look less patchy, filling in more, covering your face in a more purposeful manner.
But holy crap does your face itch. Remember all that time you spent shaving before? The ends of the hair are now jagged and knife-like due to your razer. Those sharp ends are long enough to brush against your face, but not so long they can hang down away from your skin yet.
To make things even worse, the natural oils in your skin just aren’t enough now to keep both your skin and your beard moisturized, so your skin is becoming dry. More hair also equals more possibility for dust to get trapped and irritate the skin beneath your hair.
You’ve got sharp hair stabbing your already dry and fragile skin, so what can you do? You could scratch all your skin off or just grin and bear it, but there’s a better way. Go grab some of that beard oil you’ve heard so much about. Yes, it’s finally time to start using products. In fact, if you had been moisturizing your skin the whole time, you might not even notice the same itch that other guys do.
Beard oil has a lot of benefits. Not only can it help with that itchy face, but it moisturizes both your skin and your beard. Your beard will be softer, you’ll have less split ends, you won’t be as likely to experience beard dandruff, and your skin will be healthier overall. If you’ve got curly hair that tends to get frizzy, beard oil will also help keep that frizz down.
Key things to remember in Weeks 4-6:
You’ve reached that stage of beard growth where it is obviously not a mistake or some sort of personal hygiene crisis. You’re obviously trying to grow a beard. It might not have yet reached its full potential, but it’s a beard, not just some stubble you’re going to shave off as soon as you realize just how long it has been there.
Do you still have a couple patchy areas? Are you displeased with the texture of your beard? The volume? Maybe the hair just isn’t as thick as you’d hoped. You might even be one of those people whose beard grows in a different color than the rest of their hair. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to help how your hair naturally grows. Your genes are going to have the final say in how your beard ends up and no amount of magical products is going to fix that. This isn’t to say that your beard can’t be awesome— it can! Just keep in mind that you can’t fix everything. Just take care of your beard and make sure you’re not doing anything to hinder its natural growth. Don’t pick. Don’t talk down to it. Embrace the beard you were born to have.
This is now finally the time to start defining the lines in your beard, to shape around your neck and cheeks. But wait. You still don’t want to pick up your clippers. You want to go to a barbershop and have things tightened up by a professional. Looking in the mirror and trying to cut lines in order to define your own face and beard can be very difficult and may even result in ruining all your hard work! You don’t want to have to start all over at this point, so go have someone else help you out. After a barber has gotten your beard into a proper shape, you can then get out your own clippers to clean up stray hairs here and there, in order to help maintain that shape.
Now is the time to really start buying and trying out a variety of beard products, such as:
Whatever products you use, be sure to do your research. There are many out there so even if the first beard balm you use doesn’t condition how you’d like, try again.
Key things to remember in Weeks 6-10:
This is the stage where your beard is really out of all those awkward stages of beard growth puberty and has moved on into becoming a fully fledged beard. It’s probably still short at the stage, but it’s becoming more defined.
You’ll want to start deciding at this point just how long of a beard you’re going for. You could easily let your beard stop at this point and just keep it short. Or maybe you decided to continue to let it grow and really go for a long beard. If it’s a longer look you’re going for, make sure you’ve got a handle on trimming and styling, as longer styles can get out of control more easily. Going to the barber regularly isn’t a bad idea either.
In any case, the main point here is to decide on your style. What kind of beard is going to best suit you? Whether you’re going for a modern, sophisticated look or you’re drawing inspiration from lumberjacks, now is the time to figure that out.
You may also have to make some decisions about your mustache. Some men don’t want one and will just shave it off, others like to leave it. The length may start to bother you at some point (when hair starts poking into your mouth, perhaps), so you’ll trim it. You might also want to consider getting some mustache wax so you can keep your mustache looking just as great as your beard.
Key things to remember in Weeks 10-12:
As you continue to grow your beard out longer and longer over the months, you may not notice a drastic difference in growth from day to day. This is because the growth is just not going to be as noticeable as it was in the beginning. If you do honestly think your hair has stopped growing at any point, though, make sure you’re trimming off split ends regularly and keeping your beard moisturized. Dry beards with a lot of split ends just don’t grow as well.
You may find yourself feeling proud of yourself at this point. And you should be for making it this far! Strut your stuff and show off that beard you’ve worked so hard for. All that care and planning has finally paid off and you should bask in the glory of your full, long beard.
You may also notice certain things are a little more difficult with your beard in the way. You may get toothpaste in it when brushing your teeth. Maybe crumbs of food fall into it. These minor inconveniences are probably not going to be enough to stop you from feeling great about your beard. It’s easy enough to just clean the hair, after all.
Key things to remember in Weeks 12-24:
You’ve done it. You have a beard. Maybe you’ve even made it a full year! At this point, you may decide to let the beard stick around for a while. Trimming it, styling it, shaping it, and cleaning it have all become just part of the routine by now.
At some point, you may decide to shave the beard back down. This can be done in just as many ways as you can style your beard, really. Maybe you’ll grab the clippers and shave it all off in one go. Maybe you’ll slowly trim it shorter and shorter over a period of a few weeks so that it isn’t such a huge change. Maybe you’ll throw a party and let everyone take a turn hacking away at your hair.
Whatever you decide is fine. Now that you know about the stages of facial hair growth and what you need to go to truly grow a fantastic beard, you can always start right back over.