If you’re used to a clean-shaven face, the first week of beard growth is less about what you do, and more about what you don’t do. Be forewarned: Your scruff is about to look weird, and feel weirder, but you have to resist the urge to shave, trim, or cut. It’s important to get a sense for the final shape of your beard, and hedging your luscious face forest will certainly skew the results.
After day three, you’ll also begin to feel that dreaded itch. Resist the urge to scratch, lest you bring on infection, and invest in a lightweight beard oil, like this tonic from Herbivore Botanicals. Apply a few drops at the start of each day to keep it soft and smooth.
This week is all about observation: You’ll begin to get a sense for the shape of your beard—where it’s patchy, where it’s thick—which will help you pick a style that best suits your face. Growth is still the priority, so continue to resist the urge to trim or clean up the edges. If desired, now is also the time to start using a growth supplement. The itching will still persist, so keep applying your beard oil to cut down on irritation.
Congratulations! The hardest part is over. At this point, the tiresome itch should have almost subsided, and your scruff will begin to take the shape of a bona fide beard. This is a good time to start using a cleanser (we like Billy Jealousy Beard Wash, several times per week), and to begin training the hairs with a boar bristle brush. You can clean up patchy edges with a razor if you want, but don’t trim the hairs that you plan on keeping.
Week Four is the first major milestone on your path towards bearded greatness. The itch should be gone, the patches should be filled, and you should have a good sense of the final shape of your beard.
Now is the time to choose a beard style: Whether you go for a well-trimmed Gosling, or an unbridled lumberjack, pick a look that suits you and stick with it. Invest in a solid safety razor, and don’t fall behind on upkeep: A poorly trimmed beard is major grooming faux pas. To that end, we’d recommend stepping it up with a low-key beard styler, like Billy Jealousy’s Beard Control. It will keep errant strands in place, and ensure that your hairs have a healthy, subtle luster.
Well sir, we hope you’ve enjoyed the first four weeks of your wild and wooly voyage. The rest of the journey is up to you, but rest assured that we’ll remain by your side every step of the way. For more tips on growing (and maintaining) a healthy, lustrous beard, check out our definitive video. For a monthly infusion of products that will keep your beard in form, pick up a subscription to Birchbox Man.
This article is part of the Birchbox Man 31-Day Challenge for January 2015. Click to see all daily challenges and to learn how you can win sweet stuff all month.