To The Root: A Crash Course in Beards- Austin Snyder- Durham NC

To The Root: A Crash Course in Beards- Austin Snyder- Durham NC

Okay, fellow Rooted Gents – it’s self-care week so let’s talk about your face’s best feature: your beard.

A good beard never goes out of style, and even a beard on its worst day is better than none. Your beard says a lot about you, it’s a testament to your individuality, sense of style, and is guaranteed to make you at least 15% more rugged. Okay, that last part might not be true, but we’re going with it anyway.

Grab a beer, or a glass of whiskey, and check out my tips for growing/maintaining a glorious face bush.

Above all else the number one thing needed for having a magnificent beard is patience. Obviously growing a long beard takes time, but so does cultivating a full, healthy, well styled beard. However, the most important time for beard patience is the beginning of the growth cycle. I’d be willing to bet that any bearded gent will agree there is an awkward adolescent stage, especially if you’ve never really grown out your facial hair. Bald patches, asymmetrical growth, uneven thickness, itchiness, these are just a sampling of early beard challenges – I dealt with itchiness and some areas that were slow to fill in myself. You could be blessed with superior genetics and not face any of these issues, but odds are you will run into at least one. Unfortunately, I don’t have any foolproof method for circumventing these obstacles to your perfect beard. Look, I won’t lie to you – when the awkward stage hits, your buddies WILL give you shit for it. This too shall pass. It is said that patience is a virtue, but so are beards. Sack up, soldier on, and do not cave to the ridicule and shave. You can thank me later.

Made it this far? Welcome to the second stage of beard awkwardness, finding your style. I’ve had facial hair in some form or fashion since I was sixteen and have made some questionable style choices in that time. Seriously questionable. I’m not proud to admit this, but I maintained “The Chinstrap” for nearly six of those twelve years. Fully untamed neck beard (it was a playoff beard in high school, give me a break). A truly terrible, albeit short lived, mustache. Tony Stark inspired goatee. All just stepping stones to my current state; what I like to consider the lovechild of Opie Winston and Ragnar Lothbrok’s face fur excellence. Point being, it takes time to find your style. Don’t be afraid to experiment and embrace the journey. (Side note: I would encourage you to apply that last line to just about everything in life.)

So much potential...

So much potential...

#theawkwardyears

#theawkwardyears

My last bit of advice for growing your perfect beard is to find a hair stylist or barber who is comfortable and experienced doing facial hair. Sure, it is entirely possible to style and trim your beard on your own; I did it for several years (see: questionable style choices above). Yet, despite the years of practice, I was never able to perfect fades and blending. There was a noticeable elevation to my beard game after I started having it trimmed professionally. Even the most rugged among us can use a little pampering and, in the words of stubble bearing, style aficionado Tom Haverford, “Treat yo self.”

She literally works magic... I trust no one else with my beard.

She literally works magic... I trust no one else with my beard.

We’ve covered beard growth and maintenance from a high-level management perspective, but what about day-to-day operations? I know, you’re glad I asked. I’m here for you. Shall we?

I’m a huge fan of routines, in all facets of life, but when it comes to routine beard maintenance there are several benefits. Having a regular beard care process, in conjunction with using all natural products, can help soften the hair, ensure healthy hair growth, reduce irritation and ingrown hairs, curb split ends, mitigate dry skin and beard flakes. I’ve outlined my routine and the products I use below, but as I said earlier in this post, don’t be afraid to experiment. Find the mix of products and process that work best for your beard and goals.

There are countless beard care products available on the market, from combs and brushes to oils, waxes, and pomades. I chose two Kent combs (FOT & R7T) based on the company reputation. For products, I was recommended Honest Amish by a friend to help with flaking and dry skin issues. My current lineup includes their slick beard and body soap, beard balm, and slick wax. I highly recommend these products, but also encourage you to look around and find the brand and product mix that suits your beard goals. The important part is sticking to products made with all natural ingredients, particularly natural oils like virgin olive, avocado, palm, coconut, grapeseed, virgin argan and jojoba. These natural oils help condition and soften your beard while promoting new growth.

Step 1: Wash. The base of my care routine is the Honest Amish slick beard and body soap. It’s an all-natural soap bar designed to gently cleanse and enhance the natural oils in your beard, compared to body wash and other soap bars. Standard body wash and soaps are stronger cleansers and can damage your beard by stripping those natural oils. Recommended use is every couple of days, but I use the soap daily to combat dry skin and flaking.

Step 2 (& 4): Comb. Combing can be done at just about any point in your care routine. However, it is possible to comb too often and damage the hair. I find it works best post-wash to get rid of some excess moisture and post-balm to help distribute the oils while aiding in shaping.

Step 3: Condition. If you’re going to be lazy with your beard care and use only one product, make it a balm or a good oil. Seriously. The Honest Amish beard balm is the one product in my arsenal that I won’t ever go without again. Most of these act as leave-in conditioners and help in styling. It won’t give you any hold like a wax or pomade, but if you like a soft style and a healthy beard, get yourself a balm. I prefer balm and recommend using daily on a damp or wet beard.

Step 5: Hold. Once your beard gets some length and volume you may need some extra help keeping it contained and shapely. That’s where a wax or pomade comes in handy. Honest Amish slick wax is the newest addition to my routine - I held out on using wax for a while because I thought it was a little too hipster-ish and pretentious for my taste. Well, I was wrong. It doesn’t have the same conditioning and growth benefits as a balm, but the natural oils and butters do contribute to softening the hair and adding a little sheen. Beeswax provides some good hold to help tame even the wildest of face manes.

There you have it gents. If you made it this far, congratulations, you are now armed with the knowledge you need to cultivate your own glorious face foliage. If you need more help, reach out to your bearded brethren or talk to your hair stylist/barber. And remember, the most important thing is finding your personal facial hair style and embracing it. Take care of your beard, and it will take care of you.

Stay Bearded. Stay Rooted.

 
Austin considers himself an adopted Raleigh native, having lived here for almost fifteen years. A graduate of the NC State Poole College of Management he currently works in finance for a Raleigh-based contract research organization. In his spare time he can be found at the gym learning Gracie Jiu Jitsu, or working on his startup, Osprey Small Business Consulting. He also enjoys traveling and trying new, local eateries with his wife, Kassy.

Austin considers himself an adopted Raleigh native, having lived here for almost fifteen years. A graduate of the NC State Poole College of Management he currently works in finance for a Raleigh-based contract research organization. In his spare time he can be found at the gym learning Gracie Jiu Jitsu, or working on his startup, Osprey Small Business Consulting. He also enjoys traveling and trying new, local eateries with his wife, Kassy.