A bushy craft: Best beards require loving care, patience

Sadaat Hossain grows a new beard every January for the annual Stache Bash. (Jeffrey Smith | Times Herald)

Sadaat Hossain grows a new beard every January for the annual Stache Bash. (Jeffrey Smith | Times Herald)

By Tony Wittkowski | Local Government Reporter | The Times Herald

Wearing a beard takes more than follicles.

And sometimes, even that isn’t enough.

“While beard balms and other products can help, a thorough understanding of your hair is a crucial and often overlooked part of growing your beard,” David Herrera of Standard Barber Co. in Detroit advised. “Once you know your hair, you will know more about what your beard can and can’t do.”

Before even attempting a beard, he said, a man should consult a barber for advice on what he can get out of his facial hair. Some guys can’t get away with bushy. Some guys shouldn’t try the stubbly look. And others really probably ought to stick to the daily razor regimen.

But if he and his barber decide on a plan, Sam Buffa, owner of Fellow Barber in Detroit, suggests going all-in.

“It’s one of those things where there are periods that your beard might not look how you want it to look,” Herrera said. “If you haven’t done it before don’t bail out too early. It’s a process.”

The process isn’t necessarily a simple one.

“You have to treat it in a lot of ways you would the hair on your head,” Buffa said. “I use conditioning shampoo. You can get dry skin in the same way with your other hair. Also using some sort of product like beard oil or a light styling crème to bring in some moisture wouldn’t hurt either.”

A beard needs grooming at least every other week. That means maintenance with scissors or a guarded trimmer to keep its length and shape.

However, when it comes to shaving the neckline and trimming under the beard, Buffa recommends daily attention with a razor or shaver.

Artemus Whitmore uses beard balm to keep his facial hair looking good. (Jeffrey Smith | Times Herald)

Artemus Whitmore uses beard balm to keep his facial hair soft and looking good. (Jeffrey Smith | Times Herald)

Artemus Whitmore, a 39-year-old direct care worker from Port Huron, uses beard balm to keep his luxurious chestnut curls looking their best. He uses shea butter soap to shampoo it, and avoids all petroleum-based products because that dries out his whiskers.

Dan Thompson, 43, has worn a full beard for about five years. But he’s allowed it to grow for the past three.

“I just thought it looked kinda cool,” said the Port Huron man. “You’ve got to make sure you shampoo and condition it like you would the hair on your head, brush it.”

Thompson said he sometimes applies beard oil to help keep it soft and conditioned.

“It kind of takes care of itself,” he said.

Sadaat Hossain, 32, starts a new beard every January. His chin-whiskers are in training for the annual Stache Bash.

“Normally, I have some pretty wicked mutton chops,” the owner of the Raven Cafe in Port Huron said.

Hossain’s grooming involves keeping it trimmed for shape and uniformity, but also giving it a good wash as needed.

He says guys need to keep one thing in mind when leaving behind the baby-face look: “Work with what you got.”

And don’t be afraid to take it to work.

Buffa said a full beard is a more acceptable in the workplace today than it was 10 years ago. The “Don Draper look” is no longer the norm in an office setting.

“I’ve had a beard for 13 years at different lengths and it’s just now hit its peak,” he said. “It’s not just happening in this country. We have some barber friends from Italy who have big, crazy beards with mustaches that are oiled up.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 989-6270 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 8, 2015)

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