Unruly and unkempt beards can make for a sloppy appearance – that is, of course, not a problem if that’s the look you’re going for…
However, if you want to look presentable for a date, interview, or just simply want your beard to look kempt – not all is lost.
Below are a few quick-fire tips that’ll help your beard from sticking out:
1. Start with this tip first – especially if several hairs are sticking out
The simplest and most effective solution to tame an unruly beard is to let it grow. The more weight to the hair follicle, the more likely it will grow uniformly and downwards, making it less likely to stick out.
Every man is going to be different here. But, broadly speaking, once your beard has grown a few inches, roughly six months according to our beard growth table, it shouldn’t be sticking out anymore. So consider this option if a significant portion of your facial hair is giving you problems.
For managing a few annoying strands of hair, read on.
2. Now, you can trim it, but be careful
If you want to fix a few stray hairs, then you have two options available:
- Beard Trimmer: These are great for short facial hair styles less than an inch in length. They can easily and quickly cut any stray hairs to the same length as the rest of your beard.
- Shears: These provide greater control, especially for men with longer facial hair, but will take longer to use. Depending on how many hair follicles are giving you problems, shears may not be a viable option. After all, men can have between 20 and 80 beard follicles per square cm (source).
Of course, you can always head over to your local barber once every couple of weeks. It’s a pleasant and relaxing way to get this all cleaned up should your grooming budget allow.
3. If you have curly facial hair, check this out
Some men are predisposed to naturally curly facial hair. Curly hair is susceptible to frizz, as we discussed at great length in this post. Frizz is caused when the hair becomes dry and the cuticles on the hair shaft spread apart. This becomes a problem, particularly on hot and humid days.
If curly facial hair is sticking out due to frizz, you simply need to work on your conditioning game. This means that you should be washing with an oil-rich beard shampoo and doubling that up with a beard conditioner such as beard oil or beard balm.
Aside from frizz, all men should be aware of the following:
4. Your beard should be clean, but not THAT clean
Many mass-marketed shampoo brands and soaps have potent chemicals that lift dirt, grime, and oil from the skin. Unfortunately, while effective at getting rid of this gunk, it often causes dryness as well.
So if you wash your beard daily, try tapering off to once every few days and see how things look after a few weeks. Of course, if you don’t want to be that patient, then swap out a bar of soap or shampoo for a specific beard wash instead.
5. Are you using this beard conditioner?
Beard conditioners help to alleviate dry and itchy skin. Additionally, they can add a light sheen to your facial hair, making it appear healthier and feel softer.
Beard balm is a bit different from your standard beard conditioner. Beard balm contains a small amount of beeswax. This ingredient is an effective and, most importantly, natural-looking styling agent to help tame unruly whiskers.
As we covered in some of our reviews of beard balms, holding strength varies across brands.
But before you go and buy a beard balm with a strong holding strength, you should know this:
The stronger the hold, the more your beard will feel structured or shell-like. Therefore, we recommend a moderate hold such as the one provided by Badass Beard Care Beard Balm for Men.
6. Be sure your comb or brush doesn’t contain this material
Plastic and synthetic brushes and combs can generate static, especially when the air is dry. A beard that has been brushed or combed excessively with this material will be more unruly, making it nearly impossible to get under control. This will be especially true if you have longer facial hair.
If you experience this every time you comb your beard, consider swapping it out to an animal fiber beard brush or beard comb. It’ll reduce the charge and make things easier to manage.
7. We don’t thoroughly recommend this, but it’s an option
Hairdryers and mini flat irons are effective ways to style your beard, especially when used in tandem with a beard balm. However, they may worsen the problem as the hot heat from the dryer, or ceramic plates can fry follicles and cause split ends.
Perhaps you can consider these styling products for an interview or date, but not something you want to get into the habit of doing daily.
8. This is the last resort
Aside from trimming, conditioning, and maintaining your beard correctly, the last resort is simply going with a completely different facial hairstyle. A few options include a mustache with a short beard, designer stubble, or even shaving daily.
Outside of Your Control
Aside from the tips listed above, here are a few things that may cause your beard to stick out:
The weather can impact how your beard looks. A hot and humid day can trigger an uptick in frizz, so can a stiff breeze, the point being, even if you spent hours on your beard styling efforts, some things are just outside of your control – just work on controlling your controllables.
Beard cowlicks are caused when a particular area of your facial hair grows in the opposite direction, typically in a circular pattern. As discussed previously, managing your beard cowlicks are tough. The best course of action here is to let your beard grow.
Likely Not Going to Help
When researching for this article, we came across a few other recommendations that we are pretty skeptical about, which include the following:
- Diet: While a well-rounded diet is essential for your overall health, some claim that certain foods can impact the direction of beard growth – yeah, we were pretty skeptical as well. Additionally, we couldn’t find any scientific evidence to support such claims.
- Exfoliating: Doing a deep cleanse of your skin is always recommended. Exfoliating lifts dirt, oil, and dead skin cells from the surface. Will it impact growth patterns of facial hair – not likely.
- Training your Beard: Trying to force hair to grow in a particular direction is challenging. You can train your beard to an extent, but the process isn’t practical. Stylists recommend that you add weight to your hair (wetness or a styling agent). This can take anywhere from several weeks to a month to see results.
So there you have it, a few tips to maintaining wild and wispy facial hair. We hope this provides you with a few good and actionable tips to get your beard exactly how you want it to look.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.