Gentlemen, now’s the time to take control of what’s growing on your face.
“If you’re hanging on to the dirty-looking, overgrown Abraham Lincoln or Paul Bunyan beard, then you really should start thinking about getting cleaned up again,” says Vaughn Acord, a celebrity groomer who has worked with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Daniel Day Lewis and Ashton Kutcher and who has his own grooming collection, V76 by Vaughn.
Think of your facial hair just as you would an accessory, like a watch, a tie or pair of shoes, Vaughn suggests and if it complements with what you normally wear, then keep it. But if it doesn’t, then action is in order. That might mean taking a beard down to a cleaner shape, re-styling a mustache, or going completely clean-shaven.
If you’re ready for a clean look for fall, here are Vaughn’s tips for freeing yourself from the beard:
1. Cut with scissors then clip. When taking off a beard, especially one that has a month or more of growth, always start by snipping it shorter with scissors and then taking it down to the skin with electric clippers. 2. Pick a razor. While a manly, straight razor might seem like a good idea at the barbershop, don’t try it at home unless you really know how to use it. Instead, opt for a multi-blade razor. We like Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide 3. Prepare the skin. The more moisture the better. Soak a washcloth in hot water and apply to your face for a few minutes before getting started. 4. Apply pre-shave oil. One like V76 by Vaughn Pre & Post Detailing Shave Oil will soften the beard and create a surface that will allow the razor’s blade to glide effortlessly over the skin. 5. Lather up! Try V76 by Vaughn Clean Shave Hydrating Gel Cream and then shave. Gently move the razor across the skin without pressing down. Re-apply cream if you need more, and gently go over a second time. Wipe off excess cream. 6. Detail it. For an extra-precise shave, apply the Pre & Post Detailing Shave Oil again and shave around areas like lips, sideburns and mustache. 7. Bonus: Use the shave oil as a soothing, post-shave treatment.
And what happens if after doing all that you find that the smooth-as-a-baby’s-bottom look doesn’t suit you? Fear not. “The best thing about facial hair,” Vaughn says, “is that you can always just grow it back.”
Stan Williams is a fashion and grooming expert based in New York City.