the hardest thing about growing a beard

The most difficult thing about growing a beard is dealing with the comments of others. Okay, that may not be THE hardest thing, but it is definitely among the most difficult. Depending on your situation, you may find that the comments on your new beard are all supportive. That would be the best-case scenario. And that scenario does happen. In the worst-case scenario, however, people may declare all-out psychological warfare in an attempt to defeat your beard-growing efforts.

People are resistant to change and they all have opinions. When you grow a beard, you are changing the image that they have of you and they often would prefer that you not do that. They usually also have an opinion on beards that they feel compelled to share with you, like it or not. It’s often surprising how free people feel to criticize a new beard when similar criticisms of other physical features would generally be considered off limits. What should you do? Be prepared to stand your ground. When growing a new beard, make a commitment to yourself to see it through for at least six weeks. Make it a steadfast rule that you will not cave in, no matter what kinds of remarks or complaints are lobbed at you. You must psychologically prepare yourself for an onslaught of comments. Stand firm. Grow your beard!

Far too many newly-grown beards get hacked off in fits of self-doubt after receiving some insensitive, negative comments. Don’t let this happen to you. After people learn that you are not spineless and that you are committed to growing the beard, the commentary will usually ease up. It may even all become positive feedback. Some of the harshest critics may find that they actually like your beard! You’ll never learn that, however, if you let the beard critics win.

87 thoughts on “the hardest thing about growing a beard”

  1. My Father has had a beard all my life, so of course I have grown a beard or two or many in my day, normally a trucker hat accompanies it, and the occasional cowboy shirt.

    But I am about to take on an endeavor I have yet to have experienced. I am going to grow my beard until June 2008!

    At this moment I have a good inch and a half growing, so we
    will see what 7 months brings a man. I also convinced my brother
    to join in.

    Of course our wives may loose all interest in us, but with all great beards comes sacrifice.

  2. Graham,

    LOL! The jest about your wife was just a jest, I’m sure, especially if a few of your previous beards were grown during the marriage.

    Seven months will bring interesting results.

  3. In Response to Richards comment from June 2007, I couldn’t have articulated it better when you referred to a beard being a “filter” for women or people who are superficial in intent. Being someone who has bordered on, or shall we say been eccentric, I have on quite a few occasions grown my beard to achieve “mountain man status” for various reasons, ranging from a finish line date arbitrarily picked out of the air to the culmination of some personal goal achieved, to no definite time frame or particular reason whatsoever…Hey we all know it’s a man thing. It’s beautiful to have such a bearded brotherhood. I too have had to stand my ground and sometimes in doing so and speaking the truth have alienated individuals who for some reason thought I would just tolerate their comments…but for future reference they reserved their hasty comments or canned them all together. Nevertheless, I have found that my growing a beard was the one true way to find out someone’s true nature and heart. I still maintain that I have had the utmost love and respect for those individuals who never questioned or criticized my choice or were ever rude. Now, I didn’t mind the occasional innocent question as to what made me “decide to grow a beard?” but rude behavior never warranted any explanation. I’ve done this in a corporate office setting as well as in a more relaxed work environment. In fact the way to really tell a woman’s heart is how she treated me all along, with or without the growth. Often times I would do a complete 360 and shave off everything, sometimes shocking people who had never seen me without it and didn’t recognize me. The “complete makeover” mission. I’ve done this at work and people thought a new employee was hired and I would go around asking different women out, having to disguise my voice since it is deep and a giveaway. It would last for about 2 weeks. However, several women still wanted some facial hair and would ask me why I removed everything. Usually I never gave any explanation for growing my hair out ( Usually to make it grow back thicker and more evenly after several months). I did take exception to those who told me how to wear my beard i.e. thin moustache, sideburns etc….By the way, I cut my own hair and beard and have seen the full gamut of styles and have worn many of them unbeknownest to those who choose to offer constructive criticism. Nevertheless the women who accepted me for me always ranked at the top of my list. Women, bless ’em. You gotta love ’em because with the right women they’ll accept you for anything, good or bad but in this case it’s good.

  4. I started growing a beard on Boxing Day and its coming along nicely. My wife loves it as it doesn’t scrape her face anymore (like a day or two’s stubble in the past). I’ve had a couple of friends give me raised eyebrows but most comments have been relatively neutral.

    One guy made sure he asked my wife what she thought of it before commenting (which was very wise as he avoided putting his foot in it) but that made the resulting “oh its wonderful! great!” sound a bit superficial).

    Interestingly it all started over Christmas, when I hadn’t shaved for a few days and my mum suggested I just let it grow – so I thought “why not?”. The funny thing is she’s always telling my brother to shave as he’s somewhat hairier than me but tends to look like a bum when he doesn’t shave.

    Anyway, I’ve noticed the hairs on my cheeks are relatively sparse and have yet to fill out (I’m hoping they will soon!). My tache doesn’t connect to the rest of the beard and has a sparse gap in the middle (the groove between nose and top lip).

    But overall I actually quite like the effect and we’ll see how far it’ll go. I don’t want to go for the mountain man look – its got to be presentable in an office and for visiting clients. Any suggestions for a good length (to achieve “filling out” of sparse areas but not getting huge)?

  5. Rob, for “office standards” I’d suggest keeping your beard no longer than the thickness of your fingers. That length would be good for the later fill-in by the sides (which will happen in time).

    I don’t know what prejudices the strangers around you have, but many men here in the Los Angeles area give me frankly disapproving or challenging glances on the street when my beard gets beyond finger thickness. I just keep whatever expression I have on my face at that moment, which makes them look away first.

    You might want to alternate between using a cheap beard trimmer with a “guide comb” set to your fingers’ thickness and using just your fingers and scissors, to see which way works better professionally. If finger thickness is too long, then you’ll need to stick with the beard trimmer.

    About your mustache: A gap in the septum groove and a lack of connection to the beard might work to your advantage because it lets people see most of the movements of your lips and cheeks during conversations, for those all-important nonverbal cues.

    The following may or may not be useful for you: My ‘stache is the “pencil” type when I leave my upper lip completely visible. That is a visual imbalance against my beard that I cannot stand! My ‘stache in pencil mode also slants in a way that looks like a snarl when my face is in neutral. For those two reasons, I keep my ‘stache long and full enough so that it leaves the lip visible when I’m not smiling, it covers the lip when I am smiling, it looks balanced with the rest of my beard, and its bottom edge goes straight across when my face is in neutral.

  6. I started growing my beard last April 2007. It is now January 08 and I haven’t shaven. I have grown to really love having this much hair on my face. I doubt I will ever shave it now, and hope to have my own ZZ top beard in the next few years!

  7. How can I train my beard to grow straight down. My right side grows to the left and my left frow up

  8. Hey Steve,

    My beard has gotten really long over hte last month. It is so awesome! I can use it as a substitute for a towel!

  9. Anyone gets weird on my beard, I always reply:

    You should be thankful – you really don’t want to see the face lurking underneath this

  10. The hardest thing has to be that women hate beards. To me this is as ridiculous as if I hated breasts, and I simply don’t understand it – I’ve pondered many hypotheses, mind you, but it still drives me nuts. Although the ones who do like beards are a treat – if you can find one, and if she’s not some dumb slut (unfortunate personal experience). I’m a purist, you might say – no trimming (well, a very little bit of my mustache, but not so it “looks” trimmed, because I want to be “kiss ready”:P), no shaping, ‘wear it long, brown, curly like a “tribesman”. Hence, women hate this even worse, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let anyone keep me from being me! I’m sure all of you feel the same way. ‘Guess I’m just lookin’ for that sweet woman who’ll pet me like a dog:) All of you who are new to your beard, I encourage you to say with it! If you’re lovin’ it bushy, give it about 4 years! At present I’m about 6 months in to my new one – I had grown my previous one for about 4.5 years. Why did I cut it? Well, I also had nipple length ( and very thinning) hair, and I felt I needed a full “ritual” shearing – now I shave my head every day, and grow my beard, and it’s a yin-yan thing that I absolutely love. But I digress. We gotta fight the power, guys, I’m so sick of beards being considered something to be “cleaned” up – what’s the next stupid fashion, humans start removing “unsightly” fingers? (laughing)

  11. Hi guys…

    I’m facing a problem with my beard growth. Beard on my chin is not growing and it only patchy on Chin and moush..
    How can i increase my beard growth on chin?

    please share ur advise

  12. i am almost 11 months into growing my beard without cutting besides pulling at it lol

    but i havent had one person tell me that they like it…everyone who has somthing to say about my beard is either “when are you going to cut it”…”haha you like a caveman” or majority of the time is just “bad” looks lol

    it takes a strong willed person to grow a beard

  13. Chris,

    I’m sorry to hear that people have not been supportive and have been unkind to you. Hang in there, though. Don’t let people like that get you down. Good luck to you.

  14. Ok to start with Psychological studies claim that women tend prefer guys with a beard. My opinion on that would be it’s simply a personal prefernce and possibly changes with the present day fashions and trends and certainly does not apply to the majority.
    on the note of Uk psychologists trying to prove that a man who grows a beard might have something to hide may apply to guys who normally don’t but out of the blue or on a rare occasion as a major change approaches does grow one. I’m saying that with a bit of experience.
    Would like to know what everyone thinks…

  15. Ryan said: “The hardest thing has to be that women hate beards.”

    My reply is that if a woman doesn’t like you because of your beard she will find another reason to not like you if you shave.

    Thamara commented that: Uk psychologists trying to prove that a man who grows a beard might have something to hide”

    My reply: Having a beard makes you stick out in a crowd of cleanshaved faces. If I wanted to hide, I would conform to the “norm” and I use the word lightly.

  16. I would agree on the strong willed part. it sure take some Faith to hold these babies on our faces. i think beards are a excellent way of filtering out your friends and future spouses or present ones. mad props to all who grows these beauts. i love how facial recognition doesn’t work on babies faces and men with beards… fyi

  17. Been growing my beard for about 16 days now and hope to have it fully formed for an annual college reunion on December 12th. After 26 years I’ve finally grown a pair of balls and taken the beard plunge. However the neck itching was too much to bear so I shaved it off from my jaw line down and now I regret it as the rest looks a bit pathetic. If I’d found this support group earlier maybe I could’ve resisted being such a pussy and stuck it out or trimmed the neck line in a better way. I feel like I’m about to hit the neck version of ‘The Wall’ so I need all the support I can get dudes!

  18. ive been growing and shaving beards for a while and i guess by definition, working in a motorcycle shop is an extremely forgiving environment! let it grow and be proud!

  19. I am actually attending the same college reunion as Michael who posted on Novemeber 17th. I have yet to have had anyone mention my growth in a negative sense, like michael I too have been growing mine for close to three weeks now and the itching is getting to be very annoying if Im honest. I resisted shaving below my jaw line ( below my jaw seems to be the place with the worst itching ) but I feel I might have found the support on this website that I needed. Does anyone know of any practical solutions to this problem or is it just a necessary evil that must be overcome??? Keep up the good work my fellow ‘Beardies’ !!!!!

  20. I’m growing my first ever beard for November (or Movember), I’m 28 and I never thought it would come in so well. i love it and I’m thinking about keeping it for a while. Of course he wife hates it but i am standing strong. I’m less than 3 weeks in and she wants me to shave it for a banquet we are going to tomorrow night. I told her I would trim the “strays” and brush it down but it is staying for a while…….. she will get used to it.
    Grow on.

  21. Michael: Keep growing!

    Nick: Good to hear that!

    Martin: Just commit to man up and make it through the itching stage. Try applying some moisturizer or other skin-care products that are meant to help relieve itching.

    Cory: That’s great. Keep growing!

  22. As someone who was blessed with facial hair from an early age, I have received my fair share of negativity from others concerning my beard. I didn’t let it get to me and I persevered through many verbal onslaughts. When my beard finally came in fully and that last section connected (the mustache never came down quite long enough) I don’t think I had ever felt so happy. Though I’ve experimented with different styles since then, whenever I invariably get back to the full beard I feel so comfortable and complete. To all those contemplating a beard, I wholeheartedly encourage growing it out. This is something all men should do at least once in their life because it’s such an awesome experience. Persevere and keep your eye on the prize! It is definitely well worth the effort.

  23. I grew my my first beard over christmas break so when i got back to university it was a big shock to everyone and luckily enough I got all positive comments. I let it grew for about 2 month. it got nice and full.
    I recently shaved it which felt very nice to but miss it at times. I also got positive comments when it was gone. So the people who didn’t think much about it kept their comments to themselves which was also nice in a way. At first it felt strange as if something was missing but i got used to it. Now I have a light scruff is growing back and I love it.
    Growing a full beard it definitely an experience that every men should try at least once. You’d be surprise of your reaction once you shave it off

  24. I have resolved today to try and grow my first beard. Although I can’t grow a full beard ( sides and bottom of mouth, mustache unattached) I have resolved to let it grow the recommended 6 weeks. I really wish there was a way to make it grow fuller, but I will wait and see how this looks. At 21 yrs old I hope to grow a full wire brush some day.

  25. Im 17 and i want a sweet full beard but under my bottom lip and off to the sides of the corner of my lips are bald! haha ive been growing my beard for two weeks and ive been wondering if theres any tricks to make sure it grows in nice and full, i want to get a jump on it and make sure it grows good, any suggestions???

  26. Hey, just wanted to say thanks to the guy who said to scratch with my knuckles and thanks to whoever suggested moisturizing like crazy. I’m not sure which one worked, but it’s a huge help. Especially since my facial hair grows so slowly. It’s gonna take me forever to grow this damn beard and I’d hate to spend half of forever itching like a bee attack.

  27. Hey,
    I am growing a beard and it’s been three weeks now. The hair is long, but the problem is that it’s growing straight and not bending like it’s supposed to. so now i look pretty much like a porcupine, especially on my cheeks and mustache. Does anybody have a useful advice for me?

  28. Hello fellow beardsmen,

    Growing a beard you can be comfortable with is like any other endeavor you will undertake. It’s all a matter of the effort you choose to put into it. Any hair on the body will take whatever shape it damn well pleases as it grows, so you have to be dilligent about the desired results. I can only speak for myself here, but being part Greek, it wouldn’t take very long for my beard to start looking like King Leonidas leading his warriors against the Persians. I’m part Portuguese as well, so I’ve got the double whammy. I’ve learned I have to ‘train’ the hair to grow in the direction I want it to. That means rubbing the beard in a downward fashion during its

  29. (continued) initial phase. Treat your beard like you would treat the hair on your head. Shampoo it with a quality product, and CONDITION IT AS WELL!!! There’s nothing worse than a beard that won’t stop itching all day. I found a great product that can greatly reduce the itching and give you the control you need while you try to get that beast under control. It’s from a company called Kiehls and it’s called ‘Sunflower Preserving Conditioner’. You can use it throughout the day and it’ll keep the itching from driving you crazy. It keeps the beard hair supple and perceptive to shaping and grooming. just my 2 cents. Happy growing!!

  30. I started a Van Dyke back in November, much to the wife’s chagrin. So I have a good start, but 5 weeks ago, I decided to go for the full beard. Now I’m getting urges to pick up the razor and shave, I’m looking at a lot of shaggyness and grey areas.

    One good point, a new barber, without asking, will trim the goatee to help with the changes in growth.

    Glad I found this web site. In this commitment and long haul stage, there’s a lot of support.

    Thanks, Guys!

  31. I have two months with my beard,i’m not discouraged by what people tell me,except right now i am considering trimming each side of my beard,so that i can look cleaner.what encouragement is there for me to receive.

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