Care & Feeding of Your Beard
Hi! I'm Matt. That's me there to the left. I've been growing my beard for almost 25 years now, and during that time I've kept it short and I've kept it long. Short beards are easy. Just slide your preferred guard number on your beard trimmer, remember to oil the blades, and have at it every two weeks or so. A little beard oil every day will help to keep the short hairs from being too prickly, and keep your skin moisturized. But longer beards require a little more daily grooming. Unless you are going for that "John the Baptist" hermit-in-the-desert look, you ought to be taking care of your beard. And let's face it -- unless you are an actual desert hermit, that's not really a desirable look. Even Jesus said not to neglect your appearance, "but put oil on your head and wash your face" (Mt 6:16-17). Your face is what people think about when they think of you. It's what they look at when they talk with you. So let's make it presentable, shall we?
Your beard is part of you. It grows from your body, so to have a healthy beard, it helps to have a healthy body. This means taking care of yourself. Eat well. Exercise regularly. Take your vitamins. Avoid stress. Also remember that everyone's beard grows differently. A lot depends on genetics. So don't waste time comparing your beard to someone else's. Learn to love your beard, and follow the basic beard care regimen below to help your beard be the best it can be!
IN THE SHOWER:
First thing, keep it clean. While it's good to wash your beard with water each day in the shower, you probably don't need to shampoo it every day. Most commonly available commercial soaps and shampoos will strip the natural oil from the hair, leaving it dry and brittle. That's because most of these products are not truly soaps, but chemical detergents made with ingredients like ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonim laureth sulfate and cocamidopropyl betaine. Higher end organic soaps and shampoos, and many hand crafted soaps (such as the ones we make at St. Kilda) will be better for your hair, so use those if you can. These are true soaps, not detergents, and so are much more gentle on your hair, beard and skin.
After you've towel dried your beard, it will be still damp but not soaking wet. This is the best time to apply a beard oil or beard balm. Both of these products soften the hair of your beard, help prevent split ends and fly-away hairs, and also help prevent dry skin beneath the beard. Beard oil moisturizes while beard balm will moisturize and coat the hair. To apply, get a little bit of the oil or balm in the palm of your hand. How much depends on the length of your beard, and how dry your beard is. If you are unsure, start with less than you think you might need. You can always add more if you need it. Start with about a dime sized amount and adjust from there (I need about twice that much for my beard). If using beard oil, just coat the fingers of both your hands with the oil. If you are using balm, you'll need to melt the balm by rubbing it vigorously between the palms of both hands.
How frequently you apply beard oil, and how much you use, is up to you and your beard. Some men just need to use it a couple of times a week. I use it every day, which seems to be the most common application schedule. If your beard is feeling especially dry, you might want to apply a little more beard oil later in the day, but I would think that would be a rare "as you need it" occurrence.
Try not to stroke your beard too much. I know. It's hard. Your beard is awesome. You want to touch it. Who wouldn't? But try not to overdo it. It's bad for your beard and negates all that combing you did to make it look nice and neat. So hands off, ok? (Note: I totally do not follow my own advice in this regard. Beard stroking is one of my major pass-times. So I also carry a comb with me to undo the damage I might do during the day.)
"We shall wear the beard after the example of Christ and our first saints, since it is something manly, natural, severe, despised and austere."
-The Capuchin Constitutions of 1536