It's officially that time of year - it's dark when you wake for work in the morning and darkening whilst you're on your commute home. It's also that time of year when even more people than usual are sporting facial hair of some sort in a desperate bid to stave off the encroaching chill of winter.
If, like myself and millions of other men across the UK, you tick this specific box, especially if it's your first real attempt at sporting facial hair, then today is officially your lucky day. Below I've surmised a list of products that should see you through from the early stubbly stage to full on 'Neptune's fury' proportions. I've also included a helpful in-depth infographic too so, if you're on the fence as to which products you need for your beard, then look no further, your fence-sitting days will soon be a thing of the past!
Face & Stubble Moisturiser
In the early stages of growth you'll no doubt be ready to jump head-first into the plethora of beard products available on the market but my advice would be to hold steady and simply purchase a recognised stubble moisturiser. This will help soften and soothe early beard growth whilst moisturising your face at the same time. Softening your stubble in the early stages should also help promote even, early growth.
Look for a moisturiser with a ginger root active - this ingredient has anti-wrinkle and skin repair properties, you may as well kill two birds with one multi-purpose product right?
2. Beard Balm
Once your stubble is a few millimetres in length you'll begin to experience one of the more irritating occurrences in early-stage beard growth, what I expertly like to refer to as the: 'itchy-as-a-bucket-of-ants-on-your-face phase'. Don't despair or let this put you off growing a beard though, using a recognised Beard Balm will sort this out for you in next to no time. Just apply directly to the skin underneath your facial hair whilst working the balm into your stubble/beard and your facial hair will be as happy as Larry before you know it.
When purchasing a Beard Balm look for one which includes Shea Butter as a base ingredient. This is a natural conditioner and will help soften hair and soothe the skin, perfect for avoiding itchiness and keeping beard-ruff at bay.
3. Beard Conditioning Oil
Once your facial hair reaches approximately 1cm in length (or you start to notice people in the office suddenly start complimenting you on your beard) then it's time to take a step up in your grooming routine.
This is, in my opinion, one of the most important choices you can make in your bearded journey. What I would recommend is to do a bit of research so that you know exactly what you're getting for your hard-earned money. Look for a high-concentrate of Argan, Jojoba, Avocado and Marula oils - these are the main natural conditioners included in most beard oils. The closer they are to the start of the ingredients list the better.
Whilst most beard conditioning oils are unscented you may want to experiment with a scented oil -these are a great way to soften and tame your beard whilst doubling as a subtle fragrance.
4. Beard Comb / Brush
As a general rule, the longer your beard is the more work it will take to keep it tamed, tidy and under control. Once your beard is over an inch in length you'll notice that stray hairs are more and more common place, this is when you may want to start thinking about adding a new accessory to your grooming routine. My recommendation would be to choose either a wooden beard comb or boar-bristled brush.
Which one you choose to go for is up to personal preference as they effectively do similar jobs; detangling, tidying and helping to keep your beard in shape.
Placing a few precision drops of beard oil between the teeth of your beard comb will aid in the detangling process - just remember to be gentle, tugging aggressively at your beard may result in unnecessary patchy consequences!
5. Premium Beard Oil
Once your beard has progressed to over an inch in length you'll notice that you'll need to begin applying more and more Beard Conditioning Oil in order to keep it looking and feeling soft. There's no harm in this but it can start eating into your monthly budget if you're not too careful!
The major difference between regular and premium beard oils should be the concentration of oils. If produced correctly you should find that a good premium beard oil has a thicker viscosity than what you've been using up until this point meaning you'll need a lot less oil to do the same job.
If your beard is on the shorter side you can still make use of a Premium Beard Oil as a once-a-week intensive treatment. Start with a few drops and work your way up from there, remember you can always add more as and when you need to.
*all photos used with permission from: boots.com & percynobleman.com