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Beard Maintenance Basics Part 1: Hair Products

This is a guest post from David Ford of Man Man Essentials.  Enjoy!

In a previous article we discussed the fact that beards are not just a trend, and that in fact, our Gents Place stylists have for some time been seeing a change in workplace rules to accommodate this growing preference among men.  With some of our locations returning to active service, we wanted to cover some basics for keeping that beard looking and feeling its best when you can't come in to see us.

The Cornerstone: Shampoo

Many shampoos will remove the sebum oil that your beard needs to look its best, whereas that oil needs to be removed from the hair on your head to avoid an oily look (and feel!).  Hence, you need a wash formulated explicitly for beards, otherwise over time your face will feel dry and tight after washing it.  A dedicated beard wash lathers, smells, and cleans better than regular hair shampoo. Beards don't need to be washed every day.  I recommend no more than three times a week and use about a nickel-sized dab on your palm to lather up with. 

Up Next: Conditioner

Beard conditioners help soften and add shine to your facial hair by restoring moisture lost during the washing process. Applying a liberal amount (a dab about the size of a quarter) and letting it soak in for two to three minutes will leave your beard feeling softer.  During the winter months, if you live where there might be harsh weather...forgo the beard wash and use just a conditioner. You will thank me! 

The Finish: Beard Oil

If you purchase nothing else for beard maintenance, this is the one product you can't do without.  Without a good quality beard oil your beard will feel dry and crunchy. It will become prone to snags and breakage while combing or brushing. Just a few drops worked into the beard right after a shower and your facial hair will be rehydrated along with looking and smelling good. 

I'm not knocking the brand, but there is a certain Arkansas-based chain that is known to carry some, let's call them budget-ranged beard oils, and these usually use a heavier carrier oil, such as olive oil.  The problem is while these heavier oils are likely to keep the cost down, they have such a high viscosity they tend to just sit on the surface of the hair instead of getting absorbed. They are also more likely to stain your clothes. 

When examining ingredients, look for jojoba oil. I usually recommend a concentration of at least 50%, but not all the labels will list a percentage. So just look at the ingredient list and make sure jojoba is the first or second on the list.  It's a lighter carrier oil, and therefore it absorbs quickly into the hair strands. It also most closely mimics our skin's natural oil. Every time we wash, we are removing some of the beneficial oil. Why not replace it? 

The whole purpose of beard oil is to replace the beneficial and natural oil that's removed when washing your beard.  

Besides the carrier oil that provides the base of the product, beard oils often contain other ingredients to provide you with a distinguished manly scent. It's best to look for natural essential oils rather than synthetic fragrance oils.  Think about it this way, where is your beard? It's growing around your mouth and nose. Do you really want to inhale or ingest something that is a synthetic chemical?  No, of course not.  Also think about how the beard oil scent will match/pair with your shampoo or conditioner.

Extras: Beard Balms, Butters, and Wax

What's the difference? Well, this is all about the hold. If your beard is frizzy or hard to manage...you might consider a beard balm or butter. These tend to give you a medium hold. Your beard will continue to move, but basically, keep its well-groomed state throughout your day. Beard and Mustache wax is like the Aqua-Net of the facial hair world. Once applied, those hairs won't move....ever. 

Most of these are a blend of natural oils and waxes in various amounts. The ratio of the ingredients will cause the product to be within a broad spectrum with "hold" at one end and "conditioner" at the other.  I encourage men to think of these products as a heavy leave-in conditioner at one end and a heavy-duty styling product on the other side. 

Do you have some brands that you like for your beard maintenance?  Share them in the comments below.

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Ben Davis

About Ben Davis

A serial entrepreneur, Ben Davis is founder of The Gents Place and a leading investor in gentlemen's refinement and confidence.

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