My Beard Journey

The Glory and Perils of Growing a Beard

Category: Growth Stages

Three Weeks, Less Bleak Cheeks

The death of the itch is near!  I can feel it, and so should you.  Right now, my beard is beginning to show an intelligent shape rather than just patches and thick 5 o’clock shadow.  My beard has never really been one to grow in patches, though.  But if a stranger were to describe me today, one of the first things worth noting would be that I have a beard.  This is because my beard has pretty much laid down its path of where it’s going to grow and is now just growing thicker on top of itself.  You’ll notice richer colors, and you should be able to barely stroke your beard hairs, especially near your lips and chin.  It’s not much, but this should be a stage to give you high hopes.  You’ll also be relieved to learn that it is probably the last week you’ll have to deal with much itch.  In fact, it’s no longer about hairs curling inward back toward your face.  Not only will they start to calm themselves as you grow toward week 4, but your face is almost desensitized to your new beard.  It will soon stop feeling like a foreign entity and more like a friendly, welcoming part of you.

The beard is 3 weeks old now, and the itch is almost gone. Still looking nice and short. Dressed up to help out with a wedding venue at The Page House in Georgetown, TX.

The beard is 3 weeks old now, and the itch is almost gone. Still looking nice and short. Dressed up to help out with a wedding venue at The Page House in Georgetown, TX.

But my beard hair is still just short enough to not interfere with eating food.  Later, when my beard gets to be 1 inch and beyond, I’ll have to be careful of how I eat in public if I want to save face…  So for now, I’m enjoying eating all the messy Texas cheeseburgers, hot wings, soups, and ribs without worry.  A lot of beardsmen don’t even worry about getting their beard messy, no matter how long it is.  But I’m different and like to keep my beard clean as well as I can, which means using a lot of napkins.  No one wants to see my rabid dog face after eating some dripping-wet hot wings as I look up to say “Hi!”  I’ll talk more about bearded eating etiquette in a month or so.  For now, you just savor every last dripping mess you can…

messy dog face

Yes, you can eat however you want while you have a beard. Just keep telling yourself that you don’t care what others think… Yeah, that’ll do the trick…

One tip on keeping yourself looking sharp no matter what stage of beard growth you’re undergoing is to keep your neck area shaven.  Of course, the choice is yours, but you may be surprised at just how much of a difference you look when presenting yourself sans neck hair.  I personally like to shave as low down as my collar so that no hairs protrude.   The focus is my stylish beard, not the undergrowth that looks like I haven’t looked in a mirror in a while.  But again, this is all for personal choice depending on what your goals are.  If you plan to forever forbade the razor, then you probably have your nose up in the air right now.  But if you’re wanting to ease your way into the eyes of your family who may not be so pro-beard, this will go a LONG way.  Trust me.

Consider shaving clean your neck hair. Many men go even closer to the chin (smaller red line), but this is really only done for men who don't plan to grow for length. You'll want a little more hair under the chin to grow long around month 2.

Consider shaving clean your neck hair. Many men go even closer to the chin (smaller red line), but this is really only done for men who don’t plan to grow for length. You’ll want a little more hair under the chin to grow long around month 2.

You may also consider cleaning up the hairs around your mouth without cutting or shaving any important mustache or beard hairs.  This is tricky and needs to be done with caution.  Mustache hairs are very hard to come by, and you can set yourself back a long way with a slip of the wrist.  If you’re going for length, you may want to just forget it and leave those hairs around your mouth alone for another month or two so you can see exactly what you’re doing.  Also, don’t forget about the hair on your higher cheeks.  These will likely grow in patches or very random sprouts (they do for me).  You’ll find that in about 3 months, those hairs will match the rest of your beard.  But in the first month, they are more of an eyesore.  If you don’t care, let them fly!  But I personally drag a razor just once over this area during week 3 to clean up a bit.  I might do this only one more time later, and that’s it.  They grow fast, so they’ll catch up with the rest of your beard when the time is right.

Hair on the upper high cheek area just doesn't make sense in the first month. It grows faster and with less logical shape than the rest of your beard. Even for a 6-month sprint, you'll have plenty of time during month 2 or 3 to grow these in a more blended state as it will match the rest of your beard then. Lightly drag a razor over this area in month 1 and maybe 2 to clean up.

Hair on the upper high cheek area just doesn’t make sense in the first month. It grows faster and with less logical shape than the rest of your beard. Even for a 6-month sprint, you’ll have plenty of time during month 2 or 3 to grow these in a more blended state as it will match the rest of your beard then. Lightly drag a razor over this area in month 1 and maybe again in month 2 to clean up.

Your hairs are likely still too short to style with any product, but in the event that they aren’t, stick around for my next blog.  You may notice some stray hairs known as “fly-aways.”  These are what get bearded men into trouble when they really want to grow their beards longer and thicker.  But they can’t help themselves to trim away these longer-looking hairs.  This is a no-no, and the light use of beard balm will fix this without raising a blade of any kind to your precious hard work. Fly-aways behave the exact opposite of those high cheek hairs.  They don’t grow as fast as the rest of your beard, because… they ARE your beard.  You can’t expect your entire beard to grow at the same length, so let these sprinters go and in a few days, the rest of your beard will catch up.  The fly-aways will slow down and things will look uniform again.  But like I said, by week 3, you’ll very likely not need this, so just stick with beard oil every day.

Week 4 is next, and it’s full of good times.  You can pretty much say goodbye to all itch and finally have the introduction of length to play with.  If you want to curl your mustache at any point, you won’t want to miss this article.  It is an extremely crucial time to decide where you want to go with your beard, otherwise you’ll try re-correcting your hair and have a battle to overcome.  Happy growing!

The First Curl is the Deepest

A full week has passed since I had my beard shaved off to jump-start the 6 Month Sprint competition in February 2017.  This means my beard is about a week old, and this is when some very interesting things happen to my face.  It’s also a crucial stage that bother a lot of men (and their significant others) so much that they stop and shave it off.  My face itches!  But I carry around a small bottle of beard oil during this time to apply to make face when I have the urge to scratch my face.

My beard exactly 1 week after shaving. Enjoying Labor Day weekend with family - don't mind the tired eyes.

My beard exactly 1 week after shaving. Enjoying Labor Day weekend with family – don’t mind the tired eyes.  Oh, I got a haircut, too!

Do you remember the last time you shaved your face?  If you’re clean-shaven, then of course you do, and if you’re bearded, you probably remember at least the month and year for the sake of marking growth time.  Well, that last maiming will make your beard hair the bane of your existence for up to an entire month to come, unless you take care of it.  The itch time really depends on your genes and how quickly you grow facial hair, though.  Any woman who has kissed you while you’ve had a 5 o’clock shadow can confirm what I’m about to tell you:  Your short beard hairs are sharp.  And while they’re short, they’re as sturdy as the grits of sandpaper.  And sure, you’ve rubbed your own hand against it and tried claiming that you “know” how rough it is.

Viewed under a microscope, this beard hair was cut with a razor. Notice the sharp angle that is a result of angled blades, which keep us from cutting our faces while shaving. This is what stabs your face and causes irritation. Image Source: http://www.denniskunkel.com/gallery/medical/9219A.jpg

Viewed under a microscope, this beard hair was cut with a razor. Notice the sharp angle that is a result of angled blades, which keep us from cutting our faces while shaving. This is what stabs your face and causes irritation. Image Source: http://www.denniskunkel.com/gallery/medical/9219A.jpg

All of your attempts to downplay the brutal roughness of your beard will come back to bite you in as little as one or two short weeks.  Oh, and if you think just waiting it out will help, as the hair grows longer but still remains “short,” it will curl backward into your face.  Itch and irritation will try to subdue you, especially as you scratch it.  But there’s hope:

BEARD OIL!

Beard Oil is a necessity while growing your beard, for all stages. It will relieve itch and irritation, enabling you to keep your beard for a longer time. Brewtastic Soaps provides VERY affordable beard oils, handmade with great scents. www.brewtasticsoaps.com

Beard Oil is a necessity while growing your beard, for all stages. It will relieve itch and irritation, enabling you to keep your beard for a longer time. Brewtastic Soaps provides VERY affordable beard oils, handmade with great scents. www.brewtasticsoaps.com

Many men  express the depth of their manliness by bragging about how they don’t use beard products or that their face secretes enough natural oils to satisfy all their problems.  But beard oil is your friend.  Even if by sheer will power, you manage to not let the itch affect you and surpass the itch stage  (2 to 4 weeks, usually, but depends on how fast your hair grows), the ends of your hairs will absolutely be split in due time. The only way to get rid of split-ends is by trimming your beard, and that is a HUGE no-no when you’re going for growth, especially in just 6 months.  That is an unhealthy beard, and your face has been treated like it no longer exists.  The skin beneath your beard should be treated with care like the rest of your face and body.

There are many brands and kinds of beard oil to choose from, and everyone has different preferences of scents and oils.  Most are formulated with oils especially for face and hair health, and some oils and essential oils are thought to encourage hair health or prevent dandruff.  Beard oil can range from $15 to $25, and they are well-worth that amount for the relief and health of your face and beard.  Brewtastic Soaps has many different scents, made with the following high-quality, natural ingredients:

Jojoba Oil – a dry oil – not greasy! – that is similar to natural body oils and so is readily absorbed into the skin,

Argan -thought to support hair health,

Grapeseed Oil – thought to encourage hair growth,

Castor Oil – provides thick body to the overall product and has been thought throughout the ages to have healing properties,

Sweet Almond Oil  – rich in vitamins, thought to promote hair growth and encourage blood and nutrient circulation to the skin, and

Essential Oils – each beard oil scent has a different blend of premium essential oil for men of all walks of life.  Check them out!

And a 1-ounce bottle is only $15 from Brewtastic Soaps, which is extremely low for the premium quality product.  Compare that to other brands like Beard Baron and Beard Brand, to name a couple.

We will get more in depth on beard oil later on, but all you should get from this now is that beard oil is a necessity if you want to do things right and care about your beard health and appearance.  You can survive this testing time, and you now know how to cheat the itch.  Keep the growth!

Today is officially Day 1, and I had my beard shaven off about 2 hours ago by a professional barber from Floyd’s Barbershop.   I went to The Brixton on East 6th Street in Austin, TX to participate in the official shave-off event with the Austin Facial Hair Club for a 6-Month Sprint competition.  Those participating and signing up will be competing in the annual Come And Shave It event in February 2017 before a panel of judges.

the-brixton-austin-afhc-6-month-sprint-beard

The Brixton is a local pub located at 1452 E. 6th St., Austin, TX and is where the kickoff for the official 6-Month Sprint took place today on August 27, 2016.

It is a HOT Texas Summer, so the lack of facial hair doesn’t bother me too much, but I do miss the glorious beard that I had earned over 8 months of sheer patience and craftsmanship.  When I started growing my first full beard less than a year ago, I had no idea about beard competitions or anything further than just letting it grow.  So when I learned about the 6-Month Sprint category, I was disappointed that I had missed it.  I have waited a long time to be able to enter this category, and today is the day!  But I took my own full beard off before I came here, because…  If anyone is going to kill my beard and art, it’s going to be by MY hand!  So I came with some thick 5 o’clock shadow.

Me being shaven by Adrian Dominguez of Floyd's Barbershop at The Brixton in Austin, TX.

Me being shaven by Adrian Dominguez of Floyd’s Barbershop at The Brixton in Austin, TX.

After making a few new friends in the Austin Facial Hair Club and enjoying some free food, I sat back and watched others get shaven.  There were a few longer beards than the one I had, and they had been growing theirs for much longer than I grew my first one.  Everyone had a great time, and even Vice President of the Georgetown Beard Club Steve Stratton made it out to support my endeavor and see Austin at work.  As the President of the Georgetown Beard Club, it is strange chairing meetings without a beard, but everyone knows why.

Good Texas Burgers, free to all attending the shave-off. You should've been there!

Good Texas Burgers, free to all attending the shave-off. You should’ve been there!

The first brave soul to have his beard shaven off.

The first brave soul to have his beard shaven off.

Beard go bye-bye. A few manly tears may have been shed.

Beard go bye-bye. A few manly tears may have been shed

Over the next 6 months, you will hear my stories of my beard growth and the effects it has on life.  It is only my 2nd time to grow a beard, so I do not claim to be an expert, but as a newcomer, I still remember what it’s like to not have a beard.  I am still very perceptive to all of the concerns that a man has when wondering if he should grow a beard or not.  I hope we become friends, and I hope you can glean something from My Beard Journey.  But for now, I have 6 months to get back to this…

Me on the last night of having a full beard. A little less than 8 months. I used nothing but my own handmade beard products by Brewtastic Soaps the entire time.

Me on the last night of having a full beard. A little less than 8 months. I used nothing but my own handmade beard products by Brewtastic Soaps the entire time.

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