Archive for February, 2011

don’t fear the beard when it is your own

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Steven, bearded adventurer

Many of the beard-growing mistakes that I see again and again may often be blamed on some extent to fear, anxiety, and a lack of confidence.  Don’t fear the full beard when it’s yours.  If you’re going to grow a full beard, go all in.  Otherwise, why bother?  You’re growing a full beard, for crying out loud.  Show the world that you aren’t afraid to do it right.

For so many men, growing a beard is such a huge stretch out of their comfort zones that they are afraid to embrace the experience fully.  They timidly grow out a full beard — and deserve commendation for that — but then stunt its growth or mutilate its shape out of some sort of fear that they’re going too far.  For some, letting the beard grow in fully will surely make them look just like ZZ Top or Rip Van Winkle.  We surely can’t have that now, can we?  Except, of course, letting a beard grow out a little beyond the stubble stage is hardly the equivalent of a ZZ Top beard.

Some of the most common beard-growing mistakes for a full beard are:

These errors do not plague new beard growers exclusively.  Plenty of veteran beard growers commit these mistakes all the time, too.  Let’s take a look at each one.

Cheek line

What’s the fear?  “If I don’t keep this cheek line down way low, I’ll look just like a wolf man.”

What’s the result? All too often, the result is a butchered beard that looks stifled and unnatural.

What to do?  Look at it this way.  Give your natural cheek line a fair chance.  And don’t be afraid to do so.  Some fear that their natural cheek line reaches all the way up to their eyes.  Usually, this is an exaggerated perception.  If your natural cheek line really is too high and you really do look exactly like a wolf man, then go ahead and lower the cheek line.  But don’t go too far.  If your natural cheek line is not truly that of a wolf man, but is a bit ragged and you’d prefer a neater line, go ahead and define a straighter cheek line.  Just take off what’s needed to define a neater line.  Don’t go too far!

Neck line

What’s the fear? “I’d better define the neck line way up high, otherwise this beard would be too big.  Besides, I’ve seen plenty of other guys with neck lines up high and they must know what they are doing.”

What’s the result?  A neck line that’s too high makes a full beard look truncated, unnatural, unflattering, and even “clown-like”.

What to do?  Think about this.  The idea of growing a full beard is to grow the full beard.  Why should the underside of the chin be clean shaven?  Some even have defined the neck line to be above the jaw.  That’s not a full beard.  It’s a full beard with the bottom part missing.  Don’t do this!  Instead, follow the guidelines for designing a neck line for your full beard.

Not permitted to fully grow

What’s the fear? “My beard is already an eighth of an inch (3.175 mm) long.  People will think that I’m ZZ Top!  This has gone too far.  I’d better trim it down.”

What’s the result?  Fear of letting your beard fully grow out results in essentially a stubble beard, or  maybe just slightly beyond the stubble stage.  That is pretty much just an extended unshaven look.  To see what your beard really looks like, let it keep growing.  If you look with an objective eye, rather than having a knee-jerk reaction based on lack of confidence, you can tell when it’s approaching the length limit for what you consider to be acceptable for your situation.  Even then, you might be safe in going longer.  The point is that too many are growing about an eighth of an inch (3.175 mm) and thinking that they’ve grown a real beard.  Well, keep growing and you’ll eventually see what a real beard can be.

What if I really want a low cheek line, high neck line, stubble beard?

If that’s what you really want, go for it.  Just make sure that it is what you really want and it’s not your fears calling the shots.

I am afraid that a fully-grown real beard with proper cheek and neck lines is too extreme and would not look professional.

A properly cultivated and well-groomed beard can always give a professional look. It can even enhance one’s professional appearance.  Just do it right.  Be prepared for uninformed comments.  That is, be prepared to brush them aside.  People feel compelled to comment and usually just say something without thinking.  Don’t worry about that.  Keep growing.  Grow a proper full beard.  Don’t give into your fears and grow a butchered, stunted beard.  Which one looks better and more professional?  You decide.

Steven, bearded adventurer

Steven, bearded adventurer

Steven, bearded adventurer

Steven, bearded adventurer

Steven, bearded adventurer