First and Foremost, Be Patient
A truly epic beard is the product of self-restraint. When you first start growing, resist the urge to trim or style, and leave it untouched for the first 4-6 weeks. This will allow the hairs to grow in evenly (some grow faster than others), and help you pick a style that suits its length and thickness.
Match Your Beard to Your Face Shape
Like any wild animal, a beard should be in-tune with its surrounding environment. Consult this handy chart after the first month of growth, and choose a final style that complements your face shape. Your beard will look better, and so will you.
Know How (and When) to Trim
Pruning is essential to a well-groomed beard—even if you plan on growing it out. Invest in a quality trimmer, and find the right technique to suit your master plan. Here are two tutorials for varying beardsmen: those growing it long, and those keeping it cropped.
Wash It Regularly
This is especially important in the early stages of growth, when trapped food and skin cells can exacerbate the itchiness. Scrub your beard several times each week with a specialized cleanser, like Billy Jealousy Beard Wash, then gently pat it dry: An overzealous toweling can lead to frizz and split ends.
Love Thy Beard Oil
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Nothing tames a beard like regular use of beard oil. There are many varieties to choose from, in a range of manly scents, but all of them will condition hairs to make them softer and shinier. If you want to smell like a woodsman, Mr. Natty Frank’s Beard Elixir is a tried-and-true favorite.
Learn to Train Your Beard
A regular trim will maintain your chosen shape, but it’s not the only way to keep your beard in line. A daily rubdown with a comb or beard brush will wrangle stubborn hairs, training them to grow in a downward direction. You can even up the ante with a soft-hold styler, like Jao Bomade Beardscent, which lends some extra sculpting power while taming any flyways.
Don’t Forget the Mustache
Unless you’ve chosen a chinstrap—and we really hope you didn’t—growing an epic beard also means growing a mustache. To keep it looking neat, trim the area around your philtrum (the area under your nose) with a pair of grooming scissors, and keep it naturally sculpted with a medium-hold wax, like Beardbrand Mustache Wax.
You can’t build a house without bricks, and the same applies to facial hair. Your beard is made from protein and fat, but it’s also heavily reliant on Vitamins B5, B3, and B9. That means lean meats, nuts, egg yolks, milk, and plenty of leafy greens. If you’re seriously committed, you can also round out your diet with a supplement like Vitabeard.