We’ve talked a lot about beards from Finding the Right Beard for Your Face Shape to the Pros of Growing a Beard. If you have made the choice to grow your beard out and have found the look that suits you and your needs, you’re going to need to know how to take care of it. While a beard might seem like an easy look to keep up, there is actually a lot more than goes into keeping it up than you might think. It’s not just about the hair on your face either; you have to also take care of the skin underneath. When making a first impression it is very important you look your best and keeping your skin and beard in good shape will only help you.

Start by keeping up with regular trimmings. This can be done by you at home or even a professional. Keeping your beard trimmed at any length will help prevent split ends, much like keeping the hair on the top of your head does. Once you’ve determined the amount of hair you prefer for your beard you can use a comb and trimming shears to keep it in shape.  Make sure to invest in a decent comb. Using a comb during trimming will help keep everything even and, if used outside of trimming, it will encourage the hairs to grow straight out instead of a potential curly mess. When you’re trimming your beard or even shaving keep your face as relaxed as possible. This will ensure that your beard will be even for any and all expressions.

If you are of the mindset of needing to remove the beard hair during upkeep instead of keeping the hair and skin healthy, you might be inadvertently putting yourself at risk for irritation, infection, and razor burn. To avoid these skin irritants, make sure your pores are open beforehand and sealed afterward. You can open your pores with hot steam from a shower or even running hot water in the sink. Once you’ve finished your upkeep routine, splash your face with cold water to seal your pores and provide an extra wake-up boost. After you’ve splashed on the cold water, consider applying a beard balm. Beard balms are a styling agent that add volume and shape to your beard. This is not to be confused with a beard oil. Beard oils serve to moisturize and condition the beard hairs as well as the skin underneath.

Now, something you might not consider (but really should) is exfoliating. This isn’t something just girls do. Exfoliating will scrub away all the dead skin cells as well as the build-up dirt and oil. Try and pick up something that specializes in keeping your beard and your skin moisturized for a two-in-one effect. You’ll also want to shampoo that beard. How many times has food gotten lost in that chin mane? If you spread some of the lather you’re already building on your hair to your chin, you won’t be wasting more shampoo than you already need. If you really want a soft beard you can pick up beard specific conditioners as well. You won’t need to use this more than one or two times a week, really.