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The beard trend has been booming since men bid farewell to the ‘Metrosexual’ and welcomed the ‘Lumbersexual’ to the table around 2014. Today, the beard is pretty mainstream and all lengths and sizes are fair game from the 5 o’clock shadow to the ZZ Top fur curtain. Many guys, however, still are in the dark on how to properly groom a beard. We spoke to Jeremy Pelser, a bearded barber at Blind Barber, a grooming mecca with locations in NYC, Chicago, and Los Angeles to learn more about how to keep our facial hair in tip-top shape.
What is the biggest issue most men have with their beards?
"There are two things: Not trimming the hair below the jawline and dealing with flyaways.
If you tug on your earlobe, your fingers hit that area of the jaw where hair can grow out and make the face look unruly. As soon as I clip that on a client, they can see a difference. It takes the face from square to round.
We live in the social media age and people post pics of perfectly coiffed beards with not a hair out of place. This just isn’t normal and the pic is probably doctored. Still, you don’t want an unruly beard so every guy needs to comb their beard just like they comb the hair on their head."
Is it a thing to match your beard with your face shape?
"If your face shape is oblong, you probably don’t want a really long beard that will accentuate that length. While I believe everyone has their own, wonderful look, many people try to go for that ideal oval face shape. Same goes for someone with a round face, they would do well with a longer beard because it contours your face. But when you talk about a square, pointy, or round beard it is just about a preference and what looks good on you."
How often should a man trim his beard?
"As a barber I get lined up once a month. Even as a skilled barber I need someone to do my line underneath my jaw. Within that month I will clip every two weeks. Facial hair usually grows a quarter to half an inch per month. Again, it is a preference thing. If you like a really close beard, come in every two weeks."
What is lining up?
"It means contouring your beard to your cheeks and jaw. It can be done either in a semi-circle shape around your jaw on in a V-shape down to your Adam’s apple. To do this I use a straight razor because it takes off a little skin (like microdermabrasion) so it really makes your features pop. As for the cheeks, I like to line my beard up pretty high since I have such a full beard, but it really is a personal preference. No chinstraps!"
Any tips for the neckline?
"I get a lot of guys who want to fade in and not get lined up. So the hair is shorter on the cheek and gets longer down along the face. Same on the neck, the lowest part of your neck is short and the closer to the chin it gets longer."
What about neck hair?
"There is no reason to grow out the hair on your neck. It doesn’t grow down, it just grows out."
Should men wash their beards daily?
"I use a beard wash. Your beard is basically body hair, so you don't want to use shampoo on it. I use a beard wash called Mr. Natty about twice a week. It is essential to wash your beard. There is food that gets stuck in there and generally there is lots of traffic in that area. You don't want to wash every day because it strips the oils."
Is there a different process in trimming the mustache?
"Yes, mustaches can be bushier so I usually cut them a little shorter with a shorter guard on my clippers or I use scissors to take the weight out. I always cut the hair above the lip so it doesn’t go into the mouth. When you trim around your lip, relax your lip. Don’t smile or pucker."
How about beard oils and moisturizers?
"Kiehl’s Argon Oil is my go to. It is a dry oil and it keeps my beard nice and healthy, plus it adds a little shine. I never rub it deep into my beard because I don't want it to get on my skin or I will break out. Combing it in does the trick and helps with those flyaways we talked about."
Finally, any grooming accessories you recommend?
"I like a wooden beard comb. It’s gentler on your beard. As for clippers, Andis Slimline Pro Trimmer is my go to. It comes with little guards as well. It’s great for neck, lips, and cheeks before I go to my barber for the monthly overhaul."