You don’t just wake up with a full beard, unless you fell asleep for 20 years – or at least napped for the two to four months that it takes an average man to achieve full-fledged facial hair. Growing a beard is a journey. If you’re one of those guys who is letting things go for the first time, or the kind of fella who has never made it past the itchy stubble phase without turning back, here are five things that can happen on the road to Whiskertown.
You Realize Itchiness Isn’t a Permanent Feature
Every time you shave, you sharpen the end of the cut hair. Now that you are growing out your beard, those sharpened bristles poking out of the follicle are also poking the skin. With about 30,000 hairs on your face, scratching at it only makes it worse since you are raking the dead skin you used to scrape off with the razor right into a follicle already irritated by those little hair spikes. Instead of swiping at the stubble, reach for that bamboo scrub for the kind of abrasion that can handle the itch and the grime. Once those sharpened points grow far enough away from the skin, they won’t poke it as much, especially if you soften it up with beard oil or conditioner.
Of course, you’ve still got to take care of the skin beneath the beard. If you let it get too dry or dirty, you are going to be sporting some flaky debris in that newly fluffy fringe. And don’t forget the rest of your face; otherwise, it will be dumping dry skin and general gunk in your beard. Treat those parched pores to an oil-free moisturizer for dry skin.
You Discover Beard Hair Is a Different Beast
Even though they might meet up for a party on your sideburns, the hair on your face can be pretty different from what is sprouting out of your scalp. As a Business Insider article explains, bearded hair can be a different color and have a different texture (typically wirier). What many people don’t know is that there is often quite a bit of variation within the beard itself. Pull back the curtain on the first stage of beard growth, especially if you are younger, and you might discover a pair of hair types. As you get older, the darker, coarser hairs gradually replace the lighter vellus hairs. If you want to give your peach fuzz a chance to be a part of a full beard, you’ve got to get your timing right.
You Learn Why Beard Litter Is a Real Concern
Your beard is going to be a great guard dog against the sun and wind, but you’ve still got to pick up after it. And there’s going to be more debris than just beard dandruff and regular ol’ flaky skin posing as beard dandruff. You might leave less bread crumbs behind, but that’s because they are hanging out in the flavor saver. What you will leave behind is a trail of shed beard hairs. Put in a little community service by staying clean with a charcoal face wash and be the kind of good citizen who invests in a comb or brush.
You Notice a Beard Can Open Doors
Your beard probably won’t literally open any doors. If it does, you should probably enter one of those innumerable beard contests out there. But growing a beard can expand your options. The number of facial hair looks at your disposal has increased exponentially. Be prepared for other bearded men to raise their chins in your direction in a grave salute. The brotherhood of beard growers is a large one. Even though beards have a long history of being banned, taxed and relegated to hipsterdom, more than half of the world’s men have some kind of facial hair. And if you are growing a beard in the hope that some new romantic prospects might open up, you might be encouraged by a recent survey from researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia. Women rated beards high on the attractiveness scale, so long as the beards were clean.
You Recognize the King of Whiskers
Pretty much every guy who sports a beard has wondered how far they can really take this thing. It’s going to be pretty hard to grow that beard down to your toes. The average beard taps out at three feet long. There are some workarounds though. Hans N. Langseth, the King of Whiskers, kept the dead hair curled around a corn cob and managed to hold onto the kind of 17-foot beard that fascinated children could use as a jump rope. After his death, it was donated to the Smithsonian.
If you are just beginning to grow your beard, you aren’t going to need to think about that Langsethian corn cob trick for quite some time. There’s a reason that movie montages lean on beard growth as a yardstick to measure the passage of time. And if you’re well on your way to an established beard, don’t be afraid to pass on any of the wisdom you learned along the way.