"How to Grow a Beard" is typically the first question a budding beardsman asks himself.
The short answer is, stop shaving. But there's more to it than that. Particularly if want the kind of beard you're picturing when you look in the mirror. For the best results, your beard needs special care and styling. Lifestyle changes are involved too. These "added extras" are why we've decided to create this beginner's guide on how to grow a beard, covering everything from ditching the razor to healthy living to trimming your facial hair.
But before we get into the process, just why is it that us chaps grow, and want to grow, beards?
Why do men grow beards?
Genetically, evolutionarily, psychologically and physically, speaking, why is it that men grow facial hair and decide to keep it?
Genetically, it’s to do with testosterone. Facial hair follicles respond aggressively to testosterone and men are genetically engineered to produce more testosterone than women. Which is why we’re the ones that get to have beards.
On the evolutionary front, BBC Future found that it’s to do with sexual selection. Not in an “ooh, look at that fine beard. Damn he’s fine.” kind of way, but in a mating sense. They found that women perceive men with beards as being older, stronger and more aggressive than others. And because they’re more dominant, other men stand aside and give up their mating opportunities.
As for psychologically and physically, well, this is something we’ve looked into. We even dedicated a blog post to it. It turns out there’s a bunch of reasons why men choose to grow beards.
One of those reasons is probably why you’re here, reading this post. So, let’s get to it: how to grow a beard.
1. Stop shaving and have patience
Ditch the razor.
Stop shaving completely for at least four weeks — that’s when a beard typically starts to show itself as a beard. Let your facial hair grow.
You didn’t need us to tell you that, did you? It’s how to grow a beard 101.
But the stopping shaving part isn’t the key point of this first tip, it’s patience. When we reached out to the Mo Bro’s Community on our social platforms for their number one tip on how to grow a beard, patience was by far the most popular reply.
The importance of doing nothing can’t be understated, especially early in the early days, because this is when your beard is at its worst. Facial hair grows at different speeds and thickness all over your face. Four weeks in, it might be all over the place. Your moustache might grow faster than the hair on your chin and the left cheek might look like it didn’t get the same memo as the right cheek.
Your beard might also attract strange looks early on and you’ll almost certainly get people questioning your decision.
Don’t worry about it. Just let the hair keep doing its thing. Even when the itchiness strikes. Remember, you’re playing the long game. And any push back — from your skin not enjoying the sensation of a beard to people’s reactions — will all be forgotten in a few weeks when mere mortals are awe of your presence.
Dealing with itchiness
In the first week or two, your beard will get itchy. It’s irritating as hell and it’s why the majority of men go back to shaving. In fact, itchiness is one of the reasons Mo Bro’s is even a thing. During a Movember challenge back in 2014, Mo Bro Kunal's face was so itchy during the first fortnight that he called it a day and picked up a razor. He couldn’t handle the irritation, so he set about creating beard products with his two brothers as a solution. Talk about extreme, eh?
Thankfully, it means you now have a solution for when the itchiness does strike: Mo Bro’s Beard Oil.
Beard oil won’t prevent the itchiness, but it will put it stop it when it comes.
When you feel an itch, try not to scratch it. Easier said than done, we know, but scratching can cause small cuts that can become infected. Instead, massage some beard oil into your beard to soften the hair and soothe the skin behind it. Doing this daily will also help keep your beard healthy during the early weeks.
2. Focus on your health and well-being
When we're asked how to grow a beard mentioning to focus on your health isn't an answer most people think. Eating right, sleeping well and getting plenty of exercise will benefit you immensely whether you’re growing a beard or not, but looking after body and mind has the added benefit of promoting strong beard growth.
Hair is built mainly of protein and, if it’s healthy, it’ll be coated in oil and fats —the good kind, not the kind your takeaway chips are soaked in. So a healthy beard, much like a healthy body, needs a balanced diet of protein and healthy fats.
You can get these things from foods such as:
- Chicken and turkey
- Nuts such as walnuts, cashews, pecans and almonds
Vitamins are also important in helping the hair grow thicker and faster by providing the right balance of oils, boosting the immune system and improving blood circulation. Here are the vitamins you need along with some foods to find them in:
- Vitamin B9 helps with thicker hair and can be found in cereals, nuts and green leaf vegetables.
- Vitamins E, B5 and B3 help improve blood circulation and can be found in chicken, fish, beef, egg yolk, avocado and whole grains.
- Vitamin A maintains hair follicles and serum and can be found in carrots, broccoli and green leaf vegetables.
- Vitamin C improves the immune system and can be found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, green peppers and dark green leafy vegetables.
When you sleep, the level of growth hormone in the blood increases, which speeds up cell reproduction and hair growth. Rates peak at around 2 am, so aim to be sound asleep before then.
All in all, you should try to get eight hours of sleep a night.
Exercise gets the blood pumping, which improves metabolic rate and sends all of those hair growth-stimulating nutrients to your face. Any exercise is good exercise, but aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity a day — running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, playing sports, those kinds of things.
If you want to boost testosterone to enhance beard growth, consider high-intensity exercise like sprinting and weightlifting. Not both at the same time, though. That would be dangerous.
3. Maintaining your beard
For your beard to grow healthily and look the part (i.e. like you weren’t raised by wolves), it needs looking after. This means regular washing, conditioning, oiling and brushing.
We know this sounds like a lot of work, and it is. But it’s worth it. Plus, it’s only time you would have spent shaving anyway, and there’s no risk of slicing your face open with this routine.
Aside from the question how to grow a beard, the thing we get asked the most by bearded brothers is “how do I care for my beard?” So we came up with a process that you can carry out as soon as your facial hair starts showing through. We called it the “Mo Bro’s 5 Step Process.” Clever, huh? Because we’re the Mo Bro’s and there are five steps…
Anyway, we’ve gone into depth on each of these steps in another blog post which you can check out here, but here’s an overview of what you need to do.
- Step 1: Wash it — Ideally, twice a week (more if your beard is full of dirt) using a beard wash. DO NOT use regular shampoo on facial hair. Shampoo for your head is designed to remove the serum from the hair, beard wash is developed to preserve it.
- Step 2: Condition it — Apply a beard conditioner after washing to soothe and hydrate the hair so that it stays healthy and manageable.
- Step 3: Hydrate it — Apply beard oil daily to moisturise facial hair and the skin underneath. Oil will also help keep dandruff at bay.
- Step 4: Style it — While you might not have anything to style in the early days, a combination of beard balm, beard butter and beard wax will help keep facial hair in peak condition. Balm works a lot like beard oil to moisturise, condition and soften the beard. Butter nourishes facial hair, leaving a light hold and a matte finish. Wax is purely for styling — twizzling the moustache and keeping frizzy hair in line. You can apply all three daily, as and when required.
- Step 5: Comb it — Comb or brush your beard every day in a downward direction. In the early days, this helps to train the hair to grow in a downward direction, rather than all over the place like a crazed scientist. In the first three months of growth, use a beard brush. Once the hair is longer, upgrade to a comb to remove knots.
4. Shaping your beard
Once you have substantial growth on your face, you can start to think about shaping your beard.
Now, taking scissors to your facial hair can be an intimidating task at first. But it does get easier. The key thing is not to over complicate things.
For the first trim, we recommend finding a good barber. Have your beard professionally trimmed every 3-4 weeks so that all you need to do at home is maintain it. Plus, as the barber works their magic on your mane, you’ll pick up a few tips on how to keep hair in check between visits.
- Wash and dry your beard, then comb it through to remove any knots before trimming.
- Follow your natural cheek line when shaping your beard and only snip away stray hairs using a good pair of beard scissors.
- Avoid trimming too close to the area between your chin and neck. Visualise a line that curves gently from behind one ear to the top of the neck below your jaw and back up to the other ear. The line from the sideburns should continue straight down to meet that curve. To work out the midpoint, place two fingers above your Adam’s Apple. Anything below that can be trimmed.
- Rather than trim the moustache, comb it out from the middle either side so that hair doesn’t encroach on the lip. From there, snip away only the rogue hairs that won’t play ball.
- Use beard balm and wax to tame and shape your beard into the most suitable style.
You’re a Mo Bro now
There's your answer to how to grow a beard. Growing a beard essentially comes down to three things:
- Let it grow
- Keep it clean
- Live a healthy lifestyle
There are no special tricks and magic potions. It just takes patience, good products and proper care. The reward for that is you looking and feeling better than you’ve ever done.
Now you've got a good understanding on how to grow a beard, why not check out some of our other blog posts of beard and moustache care.