Trimming and maintaining a beard is an essential grooming skill men learn to master. But unlike shaving, it blends technique and aesthetics. While everyone’s facial hair grows in differently, there are some general rules to follow when trying to achieve certain beard types. We asked the founder of the Grooming Lounge, Mike Gilman, to share his advice for taming your follicles.

How to Trim a Short Beard

Step 1: Use an electric clipper.

“To keep the beard the desired length, trimming with an electric clipper and a guard is definitely the way to go. As with any beard trimming, it’s best to start with a longer guard and move toward a shorter guard — you can’t put hair back on if too much is removed. We’d recommend starting with a #1 guard and moving down to a .5 guard if the hair isn’t trimmed enough the first go around.”

Step 2: Clean up the edges.

“Once completed with the trimming of the length, the bearded one can remove the guards and use the point of the bare clipper to outline and carve out spots around the neck, cheeks and mustache.”

Step 3: Maintain your whiskers.

“Ideal products to use with this length of beard include a targeted face wash to keep the whiskers and the skin below the whiskers clean. A light beard lotion or moisturizer should then be applied to hydrate both beard and skin, soften whiskers and point them in the right direction. This will also help with itching, which is the main reason beard missions are aborted early on.”

How to Trim a Normal-Length Beard

Step 1: Start with clippers.

“Like with the shorter beard above, start with clippers and use a higher setting, like a #3 and move down to a 2.5 or 2, as desired. Similarly use the clipper with no attachment to do detail and line work on the neck, cheeks and ‘stache.

“When trimming a beard of this type, it’s usually best to have the trimmer follow the grain of hair growth — which is usually downward to a degree. Going against the grain and pushing too hard can leave bald patches.”

Step 2: Fine tune with scissors.

“After [clippers], scissors are essential to tame fly-away hairs or the ones clippers just didn’t take care of.”

Step 3: Clean daily.

“These longer beards need a real cleansing, daily, with a targeted beard and face wash. From there, a beard lotion is essential to keep strands soft and styled — and of course, to hydrate the vulnerable skin below the beard. A beard brush or comb can also be helpful.”

How to Trim a Long Beard

Step 1: Use clippers on the cheeks.

“For more intense facial foliage formations, it usually works best to separate the way the beard is handled on the cheeks versus the goatee, chin and upper neck area. Most men look best when the sides or cheeks are tapered a bit more and they can grow out the length below. To that end, using a clipper with a longer #3 or #4 guard on the cheek area is a good bet.”

Step 2: Use scissors for the rest.

“Down below, on the chin and goatee area, it’s more of a comb and scissor situation. Comb the beard down and cut across in small sections, sometimes point cutting into the beard diagonally. If [you] cut straight across at the bottom, it’ll look like the equivalent of a bowl cut for the beard.”

Step 3: Keep it healthy and hydrated.

“Ideal products for longer beards include a beard and face wash, a beard oil for hair health and softness and a beard lotion for styling and skin hydration. A beard brush or comb can also be helpful.”

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