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How To Conquer The Fear Of Trimming Your Own Beard

Guest Post Courtesy of Bryan Haywood of 'Beards And Banjos'

Between fear of going 'too far' or 'cutting it wrong,' too many guys are nervous about trimming their own beards.  Let’s break down how to do this in a way that will educate you on the best way to trim your own beard.

Benefits Of Trimming Your Beard

Periodic beard trims can have many benefits. Trimming off split ends will keep your beard hair healthier and less prone to breaks and tangles. A good trim can also keep your beard in a shape and style that gives confidence and is easier to manage. You may find it easier to maintain your preferred shape and style without needing excess heat and waxy balms if you trim your beard into that shape consistently.

You’ll need:

  • Electric trimmers (ones with plastic guards can be beneficial) Editor's Note: We prefer the Brio Beardscape.
  • Scissors or shears (smaller-sized models around 5 inches are easier to maneuver). 
  • Flat comb for tapering sideburn areas
  • Comb or detangling brush 
  • Hand mirror (optional)
  • Hair dryer (optional)

Trimming Conditions

First, make sure you have plenty of time to trim your beard and clean up the mess.  Being in a hurry is a recipe for disaster

Next, your beard should be clean and dry before you trim. I like doing my regular morning routine (without using excess balms) and waiting at least a couple of hours to allow oils and butters to completely soak in. This helps to reveal any problem areas that may need a trim.  

For curly beards, you may want to use a hair dryer to straighten your beard a bit. There are always pesky hairs hiding under your beard that can be difficult to trim without a little heat to straighten them.

Have A Goal

A good self-trim is at least 50% planning. Know your beard. Take selfies. Don’t rush. It may take several days or even weeks to assess your beard and decide what shape and style you want to aim for when you trim. 

You’ll find many examples of beard shapes and styles in Google searches or Instagram feeds. Also, go back through your own Instagram feed, photos or Facebook posts. Make notes about what you like and dislike about your beard. There are hundreds of barbering videos for beard trims on YouTube and Instagram for your reference. 

Set yourself up for success before you begin!

Game Time - The Trimming Begins

BOTTOM: I recommend trimming the bottom of your beard first. Always err on the side of caution and start by taking off less than you plan to. Start in the very front under your chin with trimmers. Cut downward at a 45-degree angle so you won’t take off too much of the supporting hair close to the neck. Work your way back toward your ear on one side before coming back to the middle to do the other. Then, comb everything out and finish shaping the bottom of the beard.  

You’ll probably notice how much wider your beard looks. 

SIDES: Now, let’s address the sides. There are several techniques to tame the sides and control the width. The thicker and curlier your beard, the more you can treat it like a hedge and shape it into the style you are trying to achieve. For this method, use trimmers (preferred) or scissors to trim the flyaways from the outer portion of your entire beard. 

However, if your growth is sparser or if you have a straighter beard texture, you may not want to do any trimming on the sides of your beard except for blending your sideburns into your haircut. Use the trimmer guards to help, if you have them. Otherwise, use a flat comb at an angle to taper the sideburn areas. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Every time you trim your beard, you are gaining knowledge and experience. Confidence is key!

OUTLINE: Next, work on the outline of your beard. The main takeaway is to not trim or shave areas of thicker growth. This would require more daily maintenance to keep those lines clean, and you would also be limiting the potential of your beard if you are in a growing phase. You want to accentuate the best parts of your beard.  

Edging out the lines (neckline, back line, and cheek line) will sharpen up your look and continue to give more definition to your beard.  Guys with longer beards don’t usually need to maintain a defined neckline. 

For shorter beards, the emphasis should be on the chin area. A defined neckline will keep you from sporting too much “neckbeard” and will keep the focus on the chin area. Use your trimmers to follow the natural dividing line between your neck and head. You can then shave the area underneath after the trim is over.

EARS: For the back lines by your ears, comb your beard backward in the direction of your ear.  Once the hair is swept back a bit, use scissors to shape the back line. Trimmers can be used too, but this tends to be a difficult area to see when doing self-trims. Scissors are the safer option.  

Many guys can trim the back line straight up and down vertically for a nice shape. However, some men have growth that goes a little further back just below their ear area. If this is the case for you, the back line can be rounded slightly for a more natural look. Remember, don’t cut too far into any area of strong growth! Use a hand mirror to help assess the back lines. You can also use your phone to take profile pictures to show you angles you can’t normally see.

MUSTACHE: On to the mustache! There are too many different styles and ways to trim to cover in this post, but in general, I recommend scissors as the safer option for trimming mustaches. However, many men use trimmers both with and without guards depending on the style they are going for. Whatever you choose... be careful! 

You’ll want everything to be in proportion: length of beard, width of beard, size of mustache, amount of cheeks showing, etc. Remember it’s best to have a goal in mind!

CHEEKS: The last areas for most beard trims are your cheek lines and shaving around the edges you have created. You may consider using a cheek line guide to help keep both sides symmetrical and there are a wide variety of razors you can use.

Final Touches

One of the best things about trimming at home is that you have more than one shot to get it right. You can reassess over a few hours or even days, make minor adjustments, and not be angry about paying for something that you’re not satisfied with. 

But don’t obsess over it. There is no perfect beard trim! Your beard doesn’t stop growing when you’re done. And, if you’ve taken off a significant amount of length, it may take a couple of weeks for you to adjust to it.  

Your beard routine and product regimen may need to change in order to better maintain a new length or style. Learn from each trim. Make notes about what worked and what needs work. Your beard will thank you!

Big thanks to Bryan Haywood from 'Beards And Banjos' for today's post!  You can find him on Instagram and YouTube.

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