“What can we help you with today, sir?”
Let’s face it, “girl’s dig a trimmed up beard”
However, if you are a first-time beard grower heading to a traditional barbers to get just that, the above question can actually be a slightly awkward question — given you might not exactly be too sure as what it is you are exactly after or for that matter even what to expect.
- Do you tell them the shape and style you are after, pointing to a picture for reference?
- Whether you want it washing or not as well?
- Or just a classic trim down?
Not only that, you might be (and quite rightly so) slightly apprehensive as to what’s going to happen — you have spent a lot of time growing, grooming and caring for that crumb catcher — the last thing you want is someone messing it up. But hey, don’t be, you’re likely in the hands of top notch barber — all is well.
Finding a “Good Barber”
Of course first things first then, and that’s locating a “top notch” beard barber near you.
Now although most barbers do ‘offer’ to trim your beard these days, certainly, at least in my experience, that’s definitely not to say that they are all good. Some certainly have this craft down to a fine art compared to other’s sloppy messes. You could rely on pure pot luck but I would urge you go with the following.
Like most things, reverting to the classic word of mouth is your best bet — go up to a friend (or friend of a friend’s cousin’s housemate or whoever) who sports some awesome facial hair, do they recommend anywhere in town or nearby that does a good trim.
If not, you’ve always got a trusted search engine to rely upon.
Type in where you are from or just a simple “beard barber near me” search— and take a look at all the barber options open to you. Check the reviews, see their opening times and see if you like what they have to offer.
If you get to see a picture, see if they are bearded themselves — not really the best indicator — but if they are keeping care of their beard, in all likelihood they will give you a mean trim (that said, some of the best trims I’ve had have been from women and beardless chaps, so it’s not a huge point to go on).
Found what looks to be a good’un? Yep, great. Book an appointment and you’re away.
So what do you do when you get there.
Well, remember this, the barber just wants to help you and your beard best they can — so it is best to make the most of them whilst you are there shaping you a badass beard. That’s why we’ve devised the following questions to ask them: so you can benefit from specific one-on-one advice for your beard from an expert and also to leave with a beard trim that looks freaking epic.
“What beard styles (or styles) do you recommend for my beard?”
If you have got something in mind already, let the barber know — a visual aid (a photo on instagram or pinterest will do the trick) rather than just verbally will let you know you are both clear as to what the general plan of action is. Plus, it just helps not only the barber but you as well in explaining exactly what it is you are after with the beard trim: whether you want it straightening, incorporating a beard fade and so on.
Of course, stay realistic if you show him a Madison Rowley type beard and you’ve got a patchy 8 week old beard, no barber in the world is helping you out with that. Try to think about the shape with where the cheek and necklines flows, the density of beard (how curly or straight the beard is) and so on.
For me though? Especially if you are new to growing a beard, I would just leave it to the experts.
You see, what beard style you are ideally after — and what beard style best suits you within the limits of your beard growth capacity could be slightly different.
(Yes, we all want a Madison or Gareth May beard if we could, but quite frankly though some guy’s beard-growing genetics just ain’t up to it.)
A barber will typically know what type of beard is better suited to your facial shape and have a better idea as to what styles can help you get the right complimenting aesthetics — for both the beard and your face and basically just get the right overall look, spot on).
Plus, they will also be able to judge by your beard itself — what shape it can look good in. For instance, you might be particularly weak around the cheeks, so they might suggest want to bring it to a goatee and so on.
Of course, they are there to work with you — so if it is your first visit, this would be a great time to set up some beard goals with them too (for the longer term) on what you ultimately want to achieve (like I said before bring up a picture on your phone, just for the ease of explanation on what you are trying to go for — especially if you aren’t quite there with the terminology).
Just before you get started
If you watched the Carlos Costa video above with Beardbrand taking a trip down to the barbers you will notice how much he specifically wants to part with. The least amount you should be asking really is for a 10mm or so, for the sake of just looking healthier and cleaner (like we discussed above) — this is generally for a tidy up.
However, if it’s a more of an overhaul, it’s best to specify exactly again visualise with your fingers to show much you’re talking.
Also, let the barber just know you are new to this game and haven’t had your beard trimmed before. Inform them how long you have been growing it for and they should be able from there to get an idea as to how quickly you are growing your beard — if it’s taken a while make sure they know that you don’t want a lot of length taking it off, as it’s been slow to get this point.
Describe a shape of the beard you want to go for as well, whether it be round like Carlos specifies or if you want it more angular. If you don’t specify, I found a lot of barbers tend to give you the pointed look — which personally, I’m not too much of a fan of, certainly with my face type.
Let them know about how you want the mustache to work with the rest of your beard too, are you going for a beardstace look (like a bit over the top) or do you want it reserved and blended in with the rest of the beard?
At this point, the beard barber should be running through with you, exactly what you are after — basically to clarify you are on the same page with the trim. Now, just sit back and relax.
“How Should I Trim My Beard In Between Appointments?”
Your barber should be able to give you some great pointers and very sound advice regarding the trimming of your beard to make sure the style he has formed for you lasts and basically help you keep it well-groomed (even whilst you plan on growing it out).
Specifically you will want advice on which points of your beard are better for beard trimmers (such as the neckline and cheek lines, and also how to approach these) and which areas require the detailing of snipping with a good pair of beard scissors (around the top of your lip, at the moustache and so on).
Although your ‘major beard trimming’ will should be done by your barber (especially as your beard gets on the longer side) it’s important that you at least carry out some general beard pruning of your own. Not only because it gives a fresher and healthier looking beard but it will also prevent your beard becoming riddled with issues later on as well (such as beard split ends etc.).
I’ve gone into detail on trimming a beard yourself here in more detail, but the general low down is basically as follows.
Shaping and Trimming a Beard (Top Ups)
Make sure, you are using the right tool for the right job. If your beard is pretty short anyway, you can get away with a beard trimmer and just vary the lengths as needed. Plus, they are much handier for defining lines amongst your cheek and neck as well.
Remember though, it’s always best to ‘under trim’ rather than ‘over trim’ — as the latter usually ends up with you having to grow a beard again from scratch. So take it easy when you’re taking a trimmer to your precious man mane (and only go about it when it’s dry, it will turn out a lot different than you planned if you tackle your beard when wet).
For most readers, you will want to be picking up a decent pair of beard scissors (something like specialised sanguine one’s are ideal) and then basically follow the outline that the barber has made in terms of the beard’s structure.
Stand in your bathroom, light on, mirrors at the ready and slowly get to work. Cut your beard when dry, so there is no deception in the actual length of your beard that tends to happen when wet. Prep the beard with a few splashes of beard oil (makes it easier to work with) and a comb and fluff out to have some separation of the hairs.
Be sure to also take out the odd pesky beard hairs that have outgrown the pack by combing out your beard, resting the comb against the beard and cutting the strays. Comb back and repeat. You don’t want to ever be cutting into the actual bulk of the beard — instead across it (like anything, you’re going to get better at this, the more times you have a go at it).
Whatever you do on one side of the beard, try to even it up on the exact opposite side too. Don’t stress too much, besides the best thing about beards is — if you do make a mistake — let it grow out and then have another crack at it. Keep the cuts small, re-evaluate the shape and you can never go too badly.
I tend to make a habit of trimming my beard frequently but in short spirits, rather than one big shape back as you tend to lose that shape that the barber made for you — and I’m speaking from experience here — it can all go horribly wrong.
Give the final touches by properly defining your cheek and necklines and give your beard a quick wash through.
“Which beard/shave products do you recommend?”
Now although we have covered before what beard products are “must haves” for your beard grooming kit.
Your barber should be able to recommend specific ones for your beard (that might even have some stuff in stock). For instance, if you have a particularly rough beard, they might recommend that you apply a certain beard oil amongst other ways to go about softening it up (if only for your partner’s benefit) such as using a beard balm throughout the day and the oil just at night (best right after a shower and so on). Plus, what’s the difference between the oil and balm?
If you are wanting to achieve a particular beard style, they might point you to a wax or balm that offers a strong hold to help keep it in place throughout the day — whilst also getting other potential stray hairs to stay in place as well.
How do you go about keeping your beard cleaned in the best manner? See, when it comes to washing your beard of grime and dirt too, they will often point you to the way of a proper beard wash rather than just plain old regular shampoo — and should also be advising not to wash it all too often either.
Not only this though, they should go on to explain how to best USE the products too for the maximum benefit. It’s a prime time to find out other aspects too, whether to opt for a beard comb or beard brush, what is the direction to use them in, whether you really need boar bristle brushes and so on? Although, we discuss a lot of it here (and try our best), it’s a little different having someone one-on-one showing you how.
(Side Note: if you are having any beard problems, and aren’t sure on something — do let us know — I genuinely do want to help you out, shoot through an email or leave a comment below).
Make sure you do inquire about shaving products too, because unless you are going for a full on yeard, you are going to have to tidy up that neckline and cheek line every once and awhile. And there’s no better way of going about it than with proper shaving products — and what better person to ask?
“[insert beard problem] how can I tackle this?”
Your barber will be able to sort most of your beard problems out right there and then too. So it is a great time to air them out on what you are struggling with and what aspects you are unhappy about with your beard.
Whether you are suffering with a case of beard curl (also known as beard wave) in which case they should be able to offer specific advice on how to fix it — there it is typically with a hair dryer and brush technique or a case of beard dandruff (read here to sort that too).
Or you might be wondering why your beard might be growing in the wrong direction and unevenly? Well, hopefully that’s why they should be sorting out right there and then.
They know will know what’s wrong, and will just advise you to just brush it and comb it in the right direction (different areas of your beard want to be heading in slightly varying directions) — sort of like training your beard.
Besides, if it is a beard shaping issue — that’s what they are there to do. Plus, any other general questions you might have about beards, how long it grows every month, what to expect in the future and so on.
Ultimately though, they just want to help you achieve the best look for you and your beard. Become a regular patron there, book the same barber (better still if you strike up a friendship) and they will get to know your beard traits and exactly how you like your beard trimmed.
“What hairstyle would best compliment my beard?”
An aspect that I think often goes a miss, is how your beard works with your actual haircut. I mean since you are at the barbers, chances are you’re probably going to get the hair on the top of your head cut as well.
Do certain hairstyles look good with certain beard styles such as the “full beard” + “man bun” look?
Is a “goatee” with an “undercut” a bad way to go for you? (There’s a whole lot of inspiration to be taken from instagram and the like).
Again, the barber will be able to have a sound idea as to what can work and what won’t — taking into account the different ratios of hair (the balance), how your facial/head shape works and the thickness of your beard/hair.
“When should I book my next appointment?”
Of course, I guess the answer to this question basically boils down to things:
i) How well can you keep your beard maintained whilst away from the barber?
ii) How fast does your beard grow?
If you head to barber for a haircut every month or two, then for your beard it should be about double or triple that. More, if you’ve got a particularly fast growing beard or have a habit of messing up the trim of your beard — and less if you’re on top of it.
Discuss it with your barber and what the next steps are with your beard and style.