Eric Bandholz, Founder at Beardbrand, talks recent beard trends and gives us some much needed beard growing, maintenance and styling tips.
Since I started growing my own beard, and founded a company of bearding products, I’ve noticed how facial hair has shot up in popularity. It's truly become the realm of the stylish. From models and movie stars to what I call “the urban beardsman”—your average style-conscious beard-wearer—fuller beards especially are sweeping the nation.
Google Trends, which tracks “hot searches” to see what’s popular on the Internet, reports that searches for beards reached an all-time high in October 2013, after skyrocketing in 2012. This spike isn’t restricted to trendy cities, either: the searches at least are nation-wide, and beards are sure to follow.
We can look to a couple of sources to see where this upswing is coming from. Film director Ben Affleck sported his beard while accepting the Best Film Oscar for Argo, and George Clooney attended the same event with his famous salt-and-pepper scruff. What’s more, major men’s magazines like GQ and Esquire have run articles about beard grooming and styles, making the look a recognized part of a stylish man’s repertoire.
Beards have gone corporate, too. Gillette has engineered the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Beard Trimmer and Styler, specifically for those who want tailored and sophisticated facial hair. Although those seeking truly full beards will discard trimmers altogether, this major release specifically for facial hair goes to show how it’s risen in the world.
And in America’s trendiest neighborhoods, beards already reign supreme. A recent section front-page article the New York Times about Williamsburg, currently the most famous and trendy neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY featured its author trying to integrate into the particular world of the borough. When he walks down Bedford Avenue, its central street, he describes the population as “a veritable ocean of beard.”
Of course, these are just some facts and figures about one bearding trend. Really the possibilities are endless. To get in on the trend or start your own, let me share some of my best beard grooming tips.
Beard Growing Tips
Hair is little dead pieces of you slowly coming out of your body. If they lived a good life, then they will exist as a good hair — otherwise your beard will look like shit. So to have the best beard you will start with a healthy diet and foods high in protein.
The higher protein diet will help boost your testosterone, which is a key factor in beard epicness. You'll want to make sure to get your veggies: peas, broccoli, chickpeas, and spinach are especially high protein vegetables. Another way to increase your testosterone is to exercise regularly—lifting weights in particular.
If you eat a perfectly balanced diet, you won't need to take any vitamins or supplements. However, if you suspect your diet is less than ideal you may want to consider adding these beard-assisting supplements: biotin, fish oil, and a multivitamin. Or you could simplify your life and take a vitamin designed specifically for beard growth.
Keep stress and smoking to a minimum and you will be living up to your full beard growth potential.
Beard Maintenance Tips
Once you've got your beard growing at its best, you'll have to take care of it to keep it that way. This starts in the shower: you have to resist the urge to shampoo your beard everyday. Shampooing beards puts a lot of strain on beards because it strips out the natural oils that keep your beard healthy and moisturized. I try to wash only once or twice a week and always use a beard softener after washing. Beardbrand's Wash & Softener are the finest washing products designed specifically for beards.
Immediately after the shower, while your pores are still open, is the best time to add some beard oil to your face and beard. Beard oil is a leave-in conditioner that will help keep your beard soft, shiny, and prevent against beard dandruff. Personally I use Four Vices Beard Oil (shameless plug — it's my line of beard oils).
From there, you'll need to minimize the damage to your beard. Excessive brushing, blow drying, or just stroking can lead to split ends and bald patches. I know, I've got a fiddling OCD habit myself. If you are the type to play with your beard, try to keep objects near by to keep your hands occupied — a stress ball won't bring you near as much heartache. Trimming regularly will help remove split ends and even out fast growing hairs.
For your combing needs, try to get a saw-cut and handmade comb like a cellulose acetate comb. These combs will glide through your beard like a hot knife through butter and create little to no static. If you are a brush person, avoid the nylon brushes and go for a boar's hairbrush. The hairs help redistribute your natural oils rather than stripping them away.
Beard Styling Tips
Now that your beard is healthy and strong, you've got some style options. Besides your natural full beard, your Garibaldi and Verdi are the most common full beard styles. The Verdi is a shorter beard with larger mustache, and the Garibaldi is a full round big bushy beard.
If you can't grow a full beard, I like to say, "grow whatch you got." You can go for the mustache only, partial beard (chops), or goatee. If you've got a nice 'stache then you may want to play around with some mustache wax. There are a lot of options on the market and you'll have to decide which is the best.
A medium hold natural beeswax mustache wax will give you a lot of flexibility, keep your mustache out of the way, but have it still looking natural. Bruce Roe, a world mustache champion, recommends using Brother's Love. It's a crème-based product that goes on easier and stiffens to a hold. It'll leave a chalky residue whereas the wax leaves a waxy residue, so pick your poison.
To help tame your beard you'll want to go with a hair styling product like Fellow Barber Texture Paste. Once these elements are in place, you'll have a kickass beard that's manly, stylish, and just plain awesome.