Growing a new beard is as simple as putting down the razor and letting nature do its thing. Any man can do it (hell, some women can). But growing a beard well takes a bit more work than that. This guide is going to take your through the main issues you're going to run into when you start on your long, strange trip from face baldness to the glory of what we call a monster mane.
It's Like a New Puppy
When you're a kid and you want to get a puppy, there are concerns to address: Who is going to take care of it? Aren't they super messy? Will they cost a lot? Before you canz get pupper, you must address these concerns. Now, you're an adult, so no one can stop you from growing a beard if that's what you want to do. But realistically speaking, you're going to have to do some convincing. Of two people in particular - the boss and the lady.
Let's break down the primary concerns both parties have.
Appearance. Your boss doesn't want you to look like a homeless person screaming "the end is nigh!" and neither does your girl. Not all animals groom themselves, but humans are among the group that does. So in general, we are more impressed by people who don't look like they just crawled out of a restaurant dumpster. When you tell your boss or your girl that you have a plan from the beginning, that can do a lot to quell those fears. Tell them you intend to keep it trimmed and oiled. It's a good idea to let them know that if it looks terrible, you'll shave it off. You won't have to though, because we're going to show you how to make it look awesome.
It's Messy. Beyond the fear that your beard will look messy, they might fear that your beard is just going to be full of skin flakes and taco crumbs. They may even remember the bullshit story that ran a few years ago about the presence of "fecal bacteria" in beards (which was a lie). Let them know you've read about proper cleaning of the beard. Tell them you read you can keep food out of it by just taking smaller bites (there, you just read it!). Just like the parents of the kid who wants a puppy, by letting them know you've done your research and are prepared, you'll have a much better chance of convincing them.
The Feel. Your boss probably isn't as concerned about this as your girl, but hey, I don't know your situation. A lot of ladies fear the beard because it's scratchy and rough. This is true of an unkempt beard, but a daily regimen of beard conditioner and beard oil can alleviate this complaint up to 100%. Regular conditioning will soften the hair of your beard until it feels almost like the hair on your head. Let your girl know you're not growing steel wool, but rather a soft velvet pillow. She may also have an issue with the mustache, as a shaggy stache can turn a kiss into an exercise in chewing pine straw. There are two ways to fix this: Mustache wax can keep the hair out of the way, or you can just trim the stache up to the lip line to keep it out of the way. Whichever method you go with, be diligent about it, or she's going to start raising objections again.
Don't F*** With It.
There may be more to beard growing than just leaving it alone and letting it grow, but...that's also part of it. Resist the urge to use a ton of products from day one. A good beard oil should be all you need in the early days. You don't need balm, you don't need to use any special washes. You certainly don't need to take a razor to anything. Don't bother with shaping, trimming, or anything of the sort. You want to let nature take its course both to allow growth, and to let yourself see how your beard grows so you know what you might need to do with it. Does it grow in patchy? Don't try to creatively trim around the patches; they are often just slower growing spots that need a little time to catch up. Does it grow in wild? Gear up to invest in some beard balm and a good trimmer. But you won't know until you grow.
Lay the Foundation
There are things you can do to make your beard grow in the best way it can. You can ignore these tips and try to mitigate the problems later, but why not do a little work now to have the healthiest beard you can from day one?
Diet. A healthy diet is always important. When you're growing a new beard in, consider foods that are high in proteins, biotin, and vitamin E. Lean meats like chicken and fish, beans, seeds, and nuts are all great for protein. Nuts - especially peanuts and almonds - are also a great source of biotin, so you might keep some around for snacking to boost your intake. A lot of the high protein foods, as well as leafy greens (the darker the better) will also contain vitamin E, which along with biotin is the key vitamin for healthy skin and hair. If you have trouble getting enough of these things into your diet, supplements are a good idea. Try a multivitamin, a biotin supplement, and a vitamin E supplement (some people prefer fish oil pills). If you're vegetarian, you'll want to be extra careful about finding B vitamins, but chances are you already do that.
Moisturize. Beard hair is pretty dry, and that's going to bother you in your beard's earliest days. From the beginning, you should keep just a bit of beard oil on your chin. It makes a big difference, even on those tiny early bristles. It will alleviate the itch and irritation caused by those prickly hairs poking through your skin by softening them up and keeping the skin soft and moist, thus easing the transition from inner follicle to outer beardliness.
Seriously Though, Don't F*** With It.
No one wants to be itchy and uncomfortable. But in the early days of your beardy journey, you're going to have to contend with some of this. You've been shaving all your life, and every time you cut your facial hair with a razor, you're slicing it at a slight angle that sharpens the end a bit. When it pokes through your skin, it's like a little spear stabbing its way out of the follicle. That, as you can imagine, is not comfortable. But it doesn't last long. The worst of it will be gone after a week, and after two or three at the most you won't really feel that at all. From there, all beard itch is completely manageable.
I know a guy who got into a hellish motorcycle accident. Dude was absolutely mangled. At the hospital he was put into traction for the dozen or so bones that shattered on impact with the blacktop. He said one of the worst things about not being able to move like that is when you get an itch, and it's just...too bad! Cause you're not scratching that itch. But he muscled through and got better. Still bikes, by the way. All I'm saying is, if he could live with itching like that, you can suffer through two weeks of mild discomfort if the end reward is a monster mane the likes of which the world has never seen.
So when you start to itch and you feel that temptation to grab the razor to end the torment, man up and think about my friend. You're a short time from looking awesome.
After your beard has grown for about a month, you can start doing a little shaping and trimming, but keep a light touch at first.
Good luck. We're here for you.