If you’re like me, you prefer to maintain your own facial hair. Ever since I learned how to, it's become something I’ve enjoyed doing myself. Whenever I visit a barber, I insist that they leave the facial grooming to me. The beard, mustache, and goatee are such defining parts of a man’s face—it makes sense that many of us choose to take care of it ourselves. I’ve been doing it since high school when my best friend taught me how to flip my clippers (more on that later). Believe it or not, there are a lot of men who don’t feel comfortable grooming themselves—after all, it’s not something men automatically learn when we're growing up.
I haven’t trimmed my facial hair in weeks. I secretly love the unkept, scruffy look but it isn’t necessarily practical for me. In this article, I’ll be sharing my grooming process from start to finish. Whether you have a full beard or just a mustache, I hope you find some helpful takeaways from my routine, tips, and tricks below.
Prepping My Skin
Some guys just jump right into shaving without any preparation. I highly suggest you always cleanse your face before grooming. It’s important to start any process with clean skin. The next and probably most beneficial step is exfoliation. This allows for you to unclog pores and remove dead skin cells, and will help the overall appearance of your skin. Exfoliating also helps you get a closer shave. I prefer to use a gentle enzyme cleanser. Physical exfoliants (or scrubs) may cause micro-tearing that can lead to scarring. If you do use a scrub, be as gentle as possible.
After exfoliating, I place a hot towel on my face for about 30 to 60 seconds. Hot toweling helps to soften the facial hair. This is especially useful for me because my hair is more on the coarse side. You can also use a facial steamer if you don’t want to apply a hot towel directly to your face. Either way, be careful when doing this step. The next thing I like to do is use tweezers to remove any ingrown hairs. This eliminates and prevents hair bumps. You’ll see any existing bumps disappear shortly after removing the ingrown hair causing it. That’s my tip for a bump-free neck and face—always keep tweezers in your dopp kit. Lastly, I apply a drop or two of oil to my face; this is so I’m not using my trimmers on dry skin.
The Home Grooming Kit
There are several ways to groom, or more specifically, shave. I have always preferred electric clippers (or trimmers). They get close enough to the skin without the risk of losing layers of said skin in the process. I recently upgraded to the Bevel cordless trimmers. They’re much more convenient to use. Using clippers has also helped me to avoid bumps and texture issues throughout the years. You can find clippers used to groom beards in African American barbershops across the country. I also suggest clippers to maintain more curly and coarse facial hair because they do a great job of keeping the hair from curling back into the skin and causing irritation (this is the major cause of hair bumps). Next, I roll out the rest of my kit, which includes a brush, comb, barber scissors, and a hand mirror.
The Grooming Process
After laying out my tools, I’m ready to get started. I use my brush to get all of my facial hair in the same direction. Before getting started, I flip my clippers backward so that the back of the blade is touching my skin (this is the trick that I learned in high school). Flipping my clippers allows me to avoid scratching, burning, and irritation. If you consider how often we shave and groom, you want to be sure to protect your skin. I go against the grain, which gives the appearance of a much closer shave. I do this for my face, neck, and under my chin. I go back a few passes to make sure it's as clean as possible. Because I’m not using a razor, I don’t expect baby soft results.
I then use my comb to rake out my mustache and chin, bending my arm and resting my elbow on my other hand. When using the clippers, I only move my hand and keep my elbow as tight as possible. This lets me line up without worrying about my hands shaking. I’ve had a lot of practice, so I have a very steady hand. Lastly, I use my comb as a guard and trim away excess hair from my mustache and chin. I cut away any hair sticking from the comb. This process lets me safely trim my hair without overdoing it (some clippers come with attachable guards). Once I get my desired look, I'm ready to wrap things up.
The Post-Grooming Routine
Once I'm done shaving and trimming, I wash my face again. I like to get rid of any stray hairs that might get into my mouth, nose, or eyes (every guy knows this struggle). I follow up with a 10-minute clay mask. I like Baxter Of California's Clay Mask BHA, which is made with kaolin and bentonite clay to absorb oil. I find this mask to be more effective after I've shaved. I finish with toner and a light oil, like Acure's Seriously Soothing Blue Tansey Night Oil (which is light enough for daytime). My skin always appears much more toned and clear once I'm done.
Feeling Fresh Faced
What I enjoy most about grooming is the ability to transform and start over again every couple of weeks. There’s nothing like the feeling of a freshly shaved and trimmed face. The entire process makes me feel like a brand new man. I think that’s why I’ve always done it myself. I believe every guy should have his grooming kit at home. With practice, you’ll create your own methods and techniques that work for your face. I get a lot of questions about grooming, so I’m glad to finally share my routine in article form. Next, I'll be talking about one of the oldest ways of shaving. In the meantime, get out there and share that fresh (and of course masked) face with the world!