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My dad’s at it. My boyfriend’s at it. Even Jim Carrey is giving it a go. Men around the world are using lockdown as the perfect excuse to grow a beard.
Gone are the codes of professionalism that ban scraggly beards in the workplace. Now, with jogging bottoms reigning supreme, it’s perfectly acceptable to don facial fuzz during a video meeting – even if it’s in that awkward “in between” stage.
Some long-time bearded men are braving the shave to shake things up during lockdown, while healthcare workers are trimming or removing beards to ensure PPE fits properly. But for many others, growing a #QuarantineBeard is providing some much-needed entertainment.
Thankfully, it’s possible to grow one without looking like a teenage boy in the process. Vinay Agheda, who runs Leicester Barbering Academy, gave us some barber-approved tips to master this new look.
1. Invest in some basic skincare
Before you even think about growing a beard, Agheda recommends adding moisturiser and beard oil to your next essential shop.
″[These] help avoid the skin underneath the beard getting dry, flaky and clogging the pores, which could result in irritation or ingrowing hairs,” he says.
2. Trim those strays
It might be tempting to leave your beard to do its thing, just to see how wild it gets. But Agheda says trimming loose stray hairs, which he likes to call “repeat offenders”, with scissors will prevent a dishevelled look.
“Comb out your beard in the direction it grows before cutting to remove any tangles,” he advises. “Hair that grows over the lip area (spider legs!) should be trimmed if you’re not growing a moustache – this immediately gives the appearance of a neater beard while in the growing stages.”
3. Shape it like a pro
Once you have something to play with, it’s time to sculpt – but getting the beard lines right can be tricky. “I would suggest keeping to the natural growth pattern around the cheek area, trying not to cut into too much of the beard hair as this may result in further maintenance as the beard grows,” says Agheda.
When using a trimmer or razor, hold it so it feels comfortable like a pencil, he says, allowing you to manoeuvre it more freely to carve out your beard. Use points of the ear and nose area to ensure your beard is symmetrical.
“A common mistake is standing in front of the mirror, head on, with your feet pointing straight whilst you move your neck left and right,” says Agheda. “This doesn’t always give you the best view of what you’re shaving.”
Instead, he recommends standing with your feet pointing a little to the left when shaving the right side, and vice versa, to give a better view of the side of your face.
“If your sideburns are overgrown, trim this area down as this will reduce the ‘puffiness’ around the face,” he adds. “Lastly, trimming the neck area will do wonders for giving you a chiselled jaw line. Start from the middle of your neck and work your way out on either side to help with symmetry.”
4. Look after your new beard
Adding oil to your beard area will give the hair a healthy shine. If you can’t get your hands on any, Agheda says a tablespoon of coconut oil or other oils around the house will do the trick.
“If you fancy getting dressed up for your weekly lockdown supermarket shop or video call appointment, blow drying your beard in the direction it grows will manage strays, eliminate frizziness and make your beard look neater,” he says. “Don’t forget to have your blow dryer setting on low/medium heat to avoid damaging your skin.”