While all men dream of absconding to the woods, living off the fat of the land and breaking into the occasional cabin to steal a GameBoy and play Pokemon, we are also aware that spending too much time away from a mirror can lead to uncomfortable scenarios. Suddenly, you’re just trying to pay for gas, and children are running and screaming, parents get concerned, the police are called, and the whole situation turns awkward. So live out your lumberjack fantasies—but revised for modern sensibilities by taming your ill-mannered face fur with these beard trimming tips.

Start with a Long, Meaningful Conversation with Your Barber (About Your Beard)

Your barber and your beard are best friends. They secretly Snapchat each other when you’re asleep. Keep this relationship alive by having long, meaningful chats with your barber about shaping your beard. Ideally, you will have settled on a look or brought in a photo of your favorite-looking beard. (You know, the one you keep in your wallet all the time? That your significant-other keeps expressing concern about?) Your barber will be able to tell you what you take for granted, namely that judging hair lengths can get quite complex when going for a certain shape. Each beard is also a snowflake — it will have different needs based on your personal genetics. Once you have a handle on how to trim and maintain it, you can do a better job of emulating your wallet hunk from the comfort of your own home.

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Never Trim Wet

Wet fur tends to look longer and has more weight. You will also have to factor in the growth pattern of your beard. Maybe the right side is slightly less curly than the left. Or one side is fuller than the other. Remember, you are trimming to a shape, not a length. Let your beard dry completely before attempting any sculpting.

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Skip the Electric Trimmers at First

A lot can go wrong fast with a beard trimmer, so start out manually with scissors until you get more comfortable with the standard procedure. After each adjustment, take a step back to see the overall effect. Think of pruning a hedge. If you get caught up looking at individual hairs, you will lose the big picture. Once you have mastered fine tuning the shape of your beard with scissors you can graduate to using a beard trimmer. The same rules apply; go slow and use a very light hand.

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Keep the Neckline Low

Far, FAR too many guys go a little bit high on their neckline and end up looking like Giggles the Clown. Again, kids end up screaming, cops come, etc. Instead, always overshoot where you think the neckline should be and judiciously let it rise to a more appropriate level with controlled snips. Imagine a swooping line that angles your beard base towards your head rather than away from it.

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Style as Desired

Pass a comb or brush through your whiskers a few times to free loose hairs and ensure the shape is retained. It is important to finish up with a beard oil or wax to protect and smooth the freshly cut ends. You should now feel like a civilized man.

You can learn more about preserving your beardly badassery by reading this hilarious guide courtesy of cartoonist Adam Ellis.

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