By Cody Fenwick
Photo courtesy of David Goehring.
Dragging sharpened metal blades across one’s face, whether motorized or not, is hardly a pleasant way to spend time. Facing the fundamental unpleasantness inherent to the art of shaving leads many of those with facial hair to consider growing a beard.
While a worthy choice, one must not mistake growing a beard for an alternative to hygiene, as the distinguished British comedian David Mitchell once quipped. Instead, I must drearily admit, cultivating one’s facial hair is an endeavor to be pursued with due care and attention.
Admittedly, beards come in many fashions, making it difficult to personally dictate any one in particular. But proponents of the clean-cut style may argue that, for instance, a mustache should be wisely kept short to avoid a baleen-like meal strainer best suited to marine mammals. Though there is some disagreement on this topic, the kempt-mustache norm suggests that the hair ought to be trimmed to the same length, rather than letting the hairs on either side of the mouth grow freely.
Proper grooming scissors, advisedly with a rounded tip for safety near sensitive facial features, are an incredibly useful–if admittedly bourgeois–purchase. These will doubtless prove handy when the hair of one’s ears or nose grow more swiftly.
Many men will find their sideburns far bushier than they wish; an even trim with scissors and a comb on either side is a quick remedy, while still allowing a regal beard length below the chin and jaw.
Some shaving and shaping will still unfortunately be necessary for most, mostly higher up on the cheeks and from the neck to the under the jawbone, in order to present a finely crafted beard. Depending on the desired degree of ruggedness, some stubble in these areas may be acceptable. For those who live in the woods, the 19th century, or certain parts of Brooklyn, this step may be skipped altogether.
Modern beards are sometimes kept quite short and trimmed with precision. Though it’s not my personal preference, it is common for these beards to be trimmed right up to the jawline, rather than just under it.
Finally, it’s important to remember that any beard of substantial length ought to be treated as one would any other luxurious locks. Though there are many types of beard hair, just as there are for hair of the scalp, some shampooing and conditioning is necessary. Along with trimming away any split ends, lathering and washing regularly should help keep your beard from becoming wiry and unappealing.