Beards Take Time
Here’s the thing: I thought I couldn’t grow a beard. Thought there just wasn’t one in there. Turns out, I was wrong.
My friend Brian grew a beard when we were in college, and I was always jealous of it. I thought of the years when my dad wore a beard (to this day, he’s in a never-ending cycle of grow and shave) and how good he looked. I thought it would suit my style and my face. I just thought it wasn’t in me. And between TV, Put This On and touring, it was hard to find time to try anything out.
Then, one evening late last year, I came to a realization: it was almost Thanksgiving. I hadn’t shaved in a week or so, out of sheer laziness, and I wasn’t shooting anything or going anywhere for months. I had some room to try something. So I literally typed “Beard Forum” into the search box on my browser, and I clicked on something called “The Beard Board.” It was as I had suspected: there were beard nerds.
My goal was to find whether the amount of hair that seemed to be coming out of my face might form a credible beard. I looked at a lot of beard nerds’ faces on a thread called (not a joke) “Beard Journey Archive.” What I learned surprised me.
I’d grown out my facial hair for a couple weeks at a time, on vacation and the like, and been disappointed by the results. The one thing the beardthusiasts hammered over and over, though, was that it doesn’t take weeks to know if you can grow a beard. It takes months.
Which is awkward, and embarrassing, and weird. But I figured I might as well give it a shot, so I’d know. And lo and behold, two and a half months later, I had a pretty credible beard. I’m no Brian Wilson (baseball or music), but I like the results.
I’m still very much a beardginner, but here’re a few secrets I’ve learned along the way:
- Growing a beard takes months. Like two or three of them. Give it time before you decide if you like the results.
- It will look awkward for a while. If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.
- Don’t shave the neckline too high. Nobody wants to be a weird neckbeardo, but the inclination to shave up to the jawline is all wrong. Give yourself about two fingers width above your Adam’s apple.
- Condition for softness. I use hair conditioner on my beard in the shower, and when I dry off, I use a beard oil. Mine smells nice, like bay lime.
- You will get food in it. Not one beardo I have talked to has a solution for this problem. C’est la vie en beard.
- Every beard is different. You might not get the beard you want or the beard you imagined. Be prepared.
Except for episode four of season one in our video series, we don’t usually talk much about grooming here at Put This On, but I wanted to make a quick plug for argan oil. Argan oil is a light, clear oil derived from the seeds of fruits grown on argan trees. As the marketing literature goes, Moroccan women have traditionally hand pressed these seeds to draw out vitamin-rich oils, which they then use for cosmetic and cooking purposes. (I’m sure nowadays, the process is probably done industrially by machines, but that’s probably not going into any marketing pamphlets). In the last ten years or so, the product has also become incredibly popular in the US.
Admittedly, the oil is typically used by women, but there’s no reason why men can’t use it as well. There’s nothing “gendered” about it. If you have thick, dry hair like I do, it’s amazing for conditioning. All you need is to shower as you normally do, then dry your hair off with a towel. With your hair still somewhat wet, put about a nickel-sized amount of this stuff in your palm, rub your hands together, and then run your hands through your hair. You can do this while playing Gerardo’s 1990 hit single “Rico Suave,"although that’s technically not necessary.
This oil is better than any conditioner I’ve used, and comes highly recommended if your hair often feels coarse, thick, or overly dry. It’s easy to apply, doesn’t leave a greasy residue, and keeps your hair from frizzing up or splitting at the ends. You can usually find it at a local hair salon, on Amazon, or on eBay. Something from Pura D’or will be more “pure,” but also more expensive, while something from brands such as Agadir or DermOrganics will be cheaper, but will also be mixed with other ingredients. Whichever you choose, just make sure you get the leave-in treatment kind. Seriously, this stuff is amazing.
Maintenance and Care for Your Shaving Brush
For Christmas I received a brand new shaving brush from my parents and the first thing I did was purchase a stand for it, similar to the one you see above.
The reason for this was that my last shaving brush had the bristles fall out. At first, I just assumed it was cheaply made and blamed the manufacturer. As it turns out, it was my own damned fault.
A couple of things can turn even the best brushes bad, but given what i’ve read they’re related to one basic issue: allowing your brush to dry properly.
My old practice was to use my brush, rinse it out, shake it a few times quite harshly to get the water out and then stand it upright in my medicine cabinet in the bathroom and call it done. This was a far cry from following best practices.
Water and humidity can harm the epoxy in the base of the brush’s knot and cause the glue to stop doing its job. Leaving it to dry in an enclosed area of a cabinet without good air circulation isn’t a good idea. Instead, leave it in an open area to dry throughout the day.
As for getting water out of the brush after rinsing, a few articles suggest giving the brush a few light shakes — not hard ones — squeezing the rest of the water out with your hands, and then drying it with a towel. The theory goes that this prevents the knot of the brush separating from the epoxy holding it together and hard shakes can loosen it.
After reading some forum threads and articles on the topic, there’s some disagreement over whether it’s OK to let your brush stand upright or to let it hang dry from a stand. I didn’t feel like taking further chances and bought a stand for my new one — I figured letting gravity work on any remaining water in the brush could only help.
Hopefully these new maintenance routines will help my brush last a much longer time. Admittedly, it’s a bit more time consuming and a pain, but probably worth doing in the long run if you’ve made a considerable investment in your badger brush.
A couple of months ago, my barber, Jerry, went into the hospital. It’s happened once or twice since I started visiting him, but all the other times, he was right back at work after a week of recuperation. This time, he wasn’t.
After a month or so of calling the shop and getting a recording, I started worrying. In the past, Jerry’s son has gone into the shop to post a sign and record a message with a status update. I got a haircut elsewhere and fretted.
I just called, shaggy-haired after an unexpectedly long trip to the East Coast, and got the voicemail. It was Jerry, sounding a little tired, announcing that he’d retired.
Jerry was kind and quiet, and he worked at Larchmont Barbershop for more than 55 years. Visiting him was always the highlight of my month.
"Hey, babe. How are you?"
I know Jerry wouldn’t be quitting if it wasn’t important. I wish him all the best in his retirement - he can get a chance to drive his 55-year-old Chevy and spend some time with his wife. I’ll miss him.
Above: our grooming episode, featuring a conversation with Jerry. And if you’re so inclined, here’s a lovely little article about him and his family, who’ve owned the shop since the 50s.
Getting a Good Comb
Most men these days buy their combs at drug stores, usually for about a dollar. The problem with cheap combs is that they’re made from injection molded plastic, and as such often have tiny ridges - also known as mold marks - either between or at the tips of the teeth. These will scratch and snag your hair, causing breakage and ultimately split ends.
It’s better instead to use handmade, seamless combs, which are most commonly made from cellulose acetate or animal horn. These materials can be handbuffed and smoothed out, which ensures that the comb will be snag free. They also look a lot nicer on your counter, and if you appreciate such things, can add a bit of enjoyment to your morning routine.
The most popular block cut acetate combs are made by Kent, which sell for pretty cheap (about $7-9). You can pick them up at high-end haberdasheries or through eBay. I also like Taylor of Old Bond Street’s combs, one of which is made with a more unique looking shell finish.
Animal horn is a bit more expensive, but the upside is that it’s much better looking and won’t carry static, which can otherwise cause your hair to stand on end if you brush it dry. If you can afford to splurge, check out Garret Wade. There are also these horn combs at A Suitable Wardrobe and slightly cheaper ones at Geo F. Trumper. For something even cheaper, try looking on eBay. I suspect those won’t be as nice as the other three, but some of them are under $10. Note that since horn is fibrous, it absorbs moisture and is sensitive to heat. Stephen at The Simply Refined advised that you stick to acetate if you don’t have a well ventilated bathroom and are prone to taking hot showers. Otherwise, it will generally hold up fine.
Seaweed Moisturizing Cream
This all-natural hand and face cream restores moisture particles to the skin with a nutrient rich kelp-based colloidal. It’s clinically proven to restore and rejuvenate.
Milkweed Hydrating Shampoo
This weed puts moisture back in your follicles by spraying milk into them, restoring your hair to the way it felt when you were in first grade and fell into a bramble patch and spilled vanilla ice cream in your bangs.
Mondane “Dry Shampoo”
What is a dry shampoo? It’s a kind of powder that you put on your hair to freshen it up on a day when you don’t shower. I honestly had no idea that women use this.
Root Repair Tea Tree Blend Scalp Moisturizer
A lot of you web site readers have been writing in with negative feedback on the product descriptions. I’m doing my best, as Marney is on her honeymoon until the 22nd and you could say I am doing the company a favor here for no extra pay. Did you think about looking at it more from a “gratitude” POV?
Oatmeal Fig Shampoo
The real secret to this restorative shampoo is … wait for it – shiitake! but we don’t put that on the main label due to focus groups telling us it makes it sound like there is “shit” in the shampoo. Fair enough.
Shiitake Butt Cleanser
Less of a problem here, obviously.
PANGEA All-in-One Super-Cream
Wouldn’t be a bad idea, IMHO. Something that could take care of skin problems, hair problems and emotional problems all in one smear.
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Coconut Body Butter!
Just brainstorming here, guys.
Brazilian Blowout Acai Anti-Frizz
Listen, I think a lot of you could use your time more constructively than by flaming me in the forum or trying to solve your problems with hair products.
And, FYI, yes, I AM aware of my profile at eharmony so please stop sending me screenshots. That’s an old ad that got out there and went viral, and I cannot just magically erase the it from the internet. I don’t use styling gel AT ALL anymore, so that pretty much negates your argument. I do still love the book about the gorilla and would be interested to connect with a woman who can appreciate what apes and primates can each us about the human condition.
Brazilian Blowout Acai Anti-Frizz
I am not a wordsmith obviously but as I said, volunteered to keep the products on the site up to date.
Restorative Zombie Salve: Bring Your Hair and your Career and Your Love Life Back from the Dead!
How do you make a “spooky” font on a PC?
Volumizing Vitamin Mons Wash
Let me put my cards on the table: Kristy (yes, you, VP of Marketing Kristy): if you are reading this the actual reason I applied for this internship was a photo and bio I found of you on the NatureSoothe web site. Have you ever been with a 24-year old guy? It’s pretty awesome.
Gingko Biloba Bullshit Balm
Okey dokey, phone is starting to blow up here, guys. Got a bad feeling about this. It’s been fun. Peace out.
“Women love a self-confident bald man. Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man—there’s your diamond in the rough.”— Larry David, American Hero