Beard trimming seems like a fairly simple task – find trimmer, pick length, scythe off overgrowth – but if you want your beard to look well maintained, you’ll have to put a bit of thought into the process. Instead of treating your face like a lawn, you’ll want to treat it like a garden – prune and cultivate it carefully.
We talked to Mac Ashraf-Zadeh of Fellow Barber in New York City, who advised us that “the best thing to do is to kick-start this process with a trip to the barber.” According to Mac, a man with a professionally shaped beard is likely going to have an easier time trimming than someone who is reinventing his face every time he busts out a razor.
Here are Mac’s rules for better beard upkeep.
Grab a wide-tooth comb and brush your beard against the grain to lift it out of its natural fault. This will give you the most even trim and stop the hair from growing in various directions.
Finding the Edge
Beards are not perfect, as evidenced by the few follicles that grow well outside your face forest, usually somewhere above the cheek line or on the side of your neck. They are easily removed with a simple cartridge razor (dry if you’re not sensitive) or the shaping tool on your trimmer. But keeping your cheeks clean shouldn’t mean creating a fake line (unless your beard is growing above your mustache). If your face starts to sprout fur, go to a barber and have him find a line that suits your face. Otherwise, you’ll want to let the beard define itself.
Trimming the Sideburns
How far up you go is your call, but remember not to use your ears as a level. Mac, who has seen enough ears to know, points out that “most people’s ears aren’t even and using them as a measurement will make your facial hair reflect that.” He suggests that you take a step back and “try to match [your sideburns] up as best as possible by eyeballing it in the mirror.”
Dealing with the Neck
There are two schools of thought here – going au natural versus creating a border. Either way, neck hair shouldn’t be treated the same as what’s on your face.
We don’t advise creating fake lines, which can look uneven and unnatural, but if you need to keep the neck clean and tight for work, it’s best to have someone try to find a line. “It’s nearly impossible to make a clean, symmetrical line yourself,” says Mac, who urges the hirsute to tend that boundary on a regular basis.
The all-natural shape is infinitely easier, and if you follow this advice, you might even get away with it in more conservative offices. Shorten the guard on your trimmer by one or two levels for the neck and just under the jaw. Think of it as a beard fade. It will make you look more sophisticated in general and better define your neck
When you’re done, rinse your face so the loose hairs don’t end up on your shirt or in your breakfast. If you have a bit more time, conditioning and adding some beard oil is always a good call.