It may sound counterintuitive but to grow a long, glorious beard you need to be trimming it.
Yes, it kind of is a two steps forward one step back scenario, but trust me it is very important.
If you’re going to grow a beard, you need to be committed to the process. A process which takes a while until you can reach facial hair nirvana. There are going to be set backs and times when you wonder if you’ll ever end up with a glorious beard.
And trimming your beard along the way to growing it long may feel wrong, but it’s important to keep at it.
This article is all about how to trim your beard when you are trying to grow it out and also general advice on trimming your beard during the different beard phases.
After all, knowing how to trim a long beard is different than knowing how to trim a short beard so I want to prepare you for every stage of the journey.
Why Trimming Your Beard Matters
It doesn’t matter how long or short you want the end result of your beard to be. During the growing process, it needs to be trimmed to look good while it grows.
Think about it like this:
Do you want your beard to only look good once you’ve reached the desired length? In the meantime, you look pretty rough and your beard is out of control.
Or, would you rather have your beard look good through the entire process so that no matter what stage of growth you find yourself in people will think you have a handsome beard?
I think most guys would opt for the latter, though I know plenty that just let their beard grow wild until it gets beyond the length they are happy with and then trim it back.
Here are some reasons you need to trim your beard through the growing process:
- Promotes Symmetry – This is the main reason for trimming your beard while it is growing. You don’t need to have it the same length all around, but it needs to be the same on both sides. What that means is that you can have, say, the chin longer than the cheeks, but it should look the same on the left side as the right. Your beard grows at different speeds and thickness at different parts so you want each section to be the same length on both sides of the face.
- Smooths It Out – As your beard grows it is exposed to the sun, chemicals in your water, soap, dry air or pollution. All of these things end up weakening the follicle. When this happens the ends, the parts that were exposed the longest, end up splitting. This is what makes your beard look frizzy and out of control. Trimming these ends off make your beard look smoother and more under control.
- Ensures You Stick With It – Many guys try to grow a beard and give up before it ever reaches its full glory. This is because it can be uncomfortable during the growth phase and also not look right. You can’t have the beard look good when it is growing just by leaving it to grow wild. If you take control of it early in the process you will likely think it looks better and will probably see the process through. If it looks wiry, uneven or just weird, then you will probably shave it off and forget about having a beard.
When to Start Trimming Your Beard
There is literally no time too early or even too late to start with your beard trimming routine.
Again, it may seem funny to trim it regularly when you are trying to grow it out, but the results later will speak for themselves when your beard looks elegantly groomed and cultivated.
Once your beard hits stubble length, you may want to go over your face with a trimmer to make sure every hair is the same length. As I mentioned, every follicle will grow at a different rate. Getting them the same length early on will help you maintain an even and smooth looking beard.
I’ll get into more specific tips on how to trim a short beard later on, but the point is that it is never too early to start trimming.
One thing I need to mention at this point is that trimming your beard does not make it grow faster. That is a pervasive myth in beard growing circles that is hard to combat, but it simply is not true. There are ways to get your beard to grow faster if you are in a rush, so click that link if you need to speed up your growth.
How to Trim a Short Beard
Learning how to trim your beard the right way starts early in the process. This advice on how to trim a short beard applies even if you plan to keep it short or grow it long. Don’t skip over this section even if you plan to grow out your beard.
Do an evaluation
This early stage of your beard growth is where you want to decide what path to take your beard on its growth journey. You will start to see some growth patterns so you’ll want to trim with this in mind.
If your beard grows thicker around your mouth then you may want to highlight this and grow it sort of as a goatee with a full beard. If your cheeks grow in patchy then this may be the ideal look for you.
If your beard grows evenly all over then you are pretty much free to shape it whatever way you see fit. It’s at this point when you will begin to see what your options are.
Trim the stubble
Once you have decided how you will shape your beard later, you can begin to trim the stubble.
At this point, you are merely trying to even the ends of the hair out and possibly start your shaping now. Knowing this, you have to try to figure out the right length to use for your stubble trimmer.
Let’s take a look at a factor that will determine this easily.
Your hair grows around ¼ to ½ inch per month. If you are a week into your beard growth, for example, then the length could be 2 to 3 millimeters. Let’s start with assuming it is the higher end of the growth possibility because you don’t want to start with too short a setting. You can always go shorter if needed but you can’t put it back on!
Taper it gradually
If you want your beard to be the same length all over then this is easy. Just start at your sideburn and have your beard trimmer set to the longest length, adjust as needed until you get to the point where it is just trimming the ends.
Once you get there then just run the trimmer over the entire beard.
If you want a certain spot to be longer then use a shorter setting around the rest of the beard and gradually get closer to the length of the longest spot.
In other words, say your trimmer is set to 4 at the longest area, then use the next setting lower to get the area right next to the longest, then drop the setting down to the next lower one after that to take care of the area going away from the longest. This will result in a tapered look that gradually gets shorter as you get closer to where the sideburns meet the hairline.
Clean up the edges
One thing that makes a beard look messy at any length is when the edges are left to grow wild. The cheeks usually have thinner hair at the edge that never looks good and the neckline can grow in a different direction which looks bushy.
Hit the edges with either the detail edger on your trimmer, or use a razor.
For the neckline, just see which way the growth pattern is and shave it to the point where it changes going from the bottom up. Once you see the hair grows in the opposite direction, then stop. If it all grows in the same direction, then find the spot where the skin gets tight. If you pull down with your finger and the hair doesn’t move down then that is probably a good spot to create the line.
For the cheeks, just take note of where the hair starts to get thinner. Then just shave or trim the edge to where it looks full.
How to Trim a Long Beard
Before we can decide how to trim your beard if it is long, we need to define what long actually is.
You saw how to trim a short beard in the last section with a trimmer and it is pretty easy to do. A long beard is going to be different, but if your beard isn’t actually as long as you think, the process will also be different.
For the sake of this article, I am going to call anything over 1.5 inches long a long beard and anything over stubble but less than 1.5 inches long a medium beard.
The reason why is because with a medium beard you can still use the trimmers with a guard on it to trim it to 1.5 inches.
There aren’t any guards over that to trim your beard so you have to go freehand.
If your beard is under 1.5 inches then you can follow the same instructions from the last section, just using a longer guard attachment according to the length.
Here’s how to trim a long beard that is over that length:
Decide on a shape
Assuming that you didn’t already begin shaping the beard and trimming your beard accordingly when it was short, you will need to decide on the shape now.
You may have your beard growing evenly all over and just want to trim the dead ends and keep the shape, which is the easiest way to go. Or, you may want to have it longer in spots and shorter in others. You could even just opt for a taper on the sideburns to blend it into the hairline if you have a short haircut.
Evaluate your beard and see how it grows t decide on what shape it should take. Sometimes your beard actually tells you how it should go and all you have to do is follow the growth pattern.
Comb it out
You need all of the tangles out of your beard and the ends pointed the same way.
You’ll need a beard comb to do this so go check out that article by clicking the link to see which one is best if you don’t already have one.
Start from the top of the beard and brush down with the growth or with the grain to get the hair detangled and everything smooth. If the neckline grows up, then start at the bottom and comb it up. Again, go with the growth pattern or with the grain.
Now that it is smoothed out, you want the ends sticking out so they can be seen and more easily snipped.
This time start at the opposite end and comb out against the growth or against the grain. Try to flick it out so the hair is sort of parallel to the ground. You want your beard sticking out in all directions if you can manage it.
Clip it with clippers
I’m going to be honest and come out right away by saying that this is not easy to do. You have to freehand this or use a clipper over comb technique.
Doing this freehand risks a wrong move and you ruining weeks or months of beard growth. It takes a very steady hand and even if you don’t slip up, there is the possibility of going too short on one side and long on the other making for an asymmetrical beard.
The flip side to this is doing it clipper over comb. What this means is that you use the comb as a guide where the total amount of hair you want to cut is exposed and you run the clipper over the teeth of the comb so you don’t end up taking a chunk out of your beard by accident.
It is the safer route, but it does take a bit of trial and error to get the system down pat. It’s harder to make a fatal error, but easier to take off more hair than you want and to end up leaving some uneven areas.
Here is a video that demonstrates a bit of how to trim a long beard using clipper over comb. It is a little tricky to do it yourself but you will get the concept anyway.
Trim with scissors
Trimming your beard is much easier with scissors as it is as slow as you want to go with them. With nothing spinning or buzzing, you can’t really make a wrong move and end up with a chunk of beard missing.
You can either free hand it by snipping off the ends, literally only a couple of millimeters. Or, you can learn how to trim a long beard using the scissors over comb similar to with the clippers. Again, you’ll need a bit of practice to get where this comes easy.
I think the easiest route is to just trim the ends off freehand. As you have more control. If you do this frequently, then you won’t need to take a lot of hair off at one time which makes it easier. All the more reason to keep up with your beard maintenance routine to make it easier on yourself.
You know, I really feel that learning how to trim your beard is part of the appeal with having a beard. If it were as simple as just letting it grow and no work necessary to maintain it, it wouldn’t be much of a challenge. Learning new techniques is something everybody should get excited to add to their repertoire.
Trimming your beard is not rocket science, but as you can see it does take a little bit of effort, learning curve and patience. When you have other bearded guys looking at you with beard envy, or the ladies start taking more of an interest in you, then you will see it is worth the effort.
If you start this habit early on, then your beard gains will be all the more impressive.
Got any questions about how to trim your beard? Let me know by adding a comment in the box below and I will get back to you as soon as I can!