Barbers are expensive. With a little upfront investment in the right equipment, you can trim your beard at home for far less money.
To trim or not to trim?
If your ultimate ambition is to grow your beard longer than it is right now, we don’t recommend trimming it. Don’t take our word for it, listen to the barber’s advice:
If you want a big beard don’t touch it, grow it as big as you want it, think of a beard trim as a gardener shaping a hedge, you can’t shape what isn’t there already.
-Steve Purcell, master barber
So keep growing if you have big-beard dreams! Want to look like less homeless while your beard is in that messy, lawless stage? Check out our guide on shaping without trimming.
To barber or to DIY?
But there are three legit reasons you might want to trim your beard:
- It’s at the right length, but it’s bushy and unshaped
- It’s at the right length & shape but it’s looking a bit scraggly
- It’s too long – you’ve gone mountain man and need it cleaner
If you are in the first camp, you should consider seeking out a barber to give you your overall shape. But if you’re in either of the two other camps, you can finish the job at home with minimal risk of botching it.
The rest of this article explains how to trim and shape your beard at home.
What you’ll need for the job
You will need a bit of kit for the job. If you plan on having a beard for a while, these tools will pay for themselves after 4 or 5 uses. Find our recommendations in the links:
- Wide-tooth comb: Kent Comb (use the wide-toothed end)
- Clippers: Wahl Beard Trimmers
- Beard scissors: Sanguine Beard Scissors
- (Optional) Oil: Honest Amish Classic Beard Oil
All of the above will cost you under $100, so by the time you use them 4 times or so you’ll have paid off the cost of going to the barber. Plus, you’ll have versatile equipment that can also do double duty on regular beard grooming.
How to trim a long beard down to size
Oh god, why would you do this?
Maybe your wife complained, or maybe you’ve got a big interview coming up. Your beard is in full glory, but more than a little out of hand. You’re looking for a more well-groomed, shorter length beard. If you have all the tools above, you can achieve that look at home. Just follow this excellent tutorial on YouTube – look at that before and after!
While this tutorial is excellent, it will make your beard quite short. What about if you like your length but just want to trim your beard into full glory? Read on.
6 Steps Toward Successfully Maintaining Your Shape
Let’s say instead that your beard is in the shape you want it, but it’s getting a little scraggly and needs some TLC.
It is possible to trim and shape at home and certainly maintain once you have reached your desired length. To help minimize the chance of a massive stuff up when trimming or maintaining at home, here are some expert tips:
1. Do Not Trim A Beard While It’s Wet
When your hair is wet it has more weight and will actually appear longer. Once the water dries, your hair will curl up and shrink a little. It is not uncommon for guys to trim the beard when wet and then realise that they went too far when it is too late.
Before you trim make sure you have towel dried or blow dried your beard to remove as much water content as possible.
2. Beard Clippers Or Simply Scissors?
This is down to personal preference, we prefer the control and comfort a specially designed pair of scissors will provide. It may take a little longer, but far less risk and we have found it can be rather therapeutic gradually crafting and trimming.
We stock some of the best for trimming, with specifically designed handles for control and comfort. Alternatively, some guys have a little less time and will opt for the clippers.
We recommend you start small and use small strokes with the clippers and always remember that a small slip could see more of your beard removed in an instant.
3. Go Easy On That Damn Neckline!
Listen up, this is single handedly the biggest thing guys do wrong at home with their beard trimming. Far too many beards have been ruined by guys trimming too high and believe us when we say your jawline is not your neckline and no, your beard does not look natural there at all.
It is actually an inch or so below this.
You want your beard to go beyond your chin, cover any double or triple chins and meet at – or just above – your neckline (the part where your neck and chin meet).
An easy way is to imagine a line running from the outside of your ear that gently curves down and meets with your neckline before following the same path up to your other ear.
Next, trace a line along your outer sideburns heading straight down towards your neck, it is the area behind where these two imaginary lines meet that is waste and can be removed.
It is always best to keep a bit of roundness where these two points meet, just to keep it natural.
4. Comb The Opposite Direction
Next you want to expose any uneven areas in your beard, this best way to do this is comb upwards and make it fluffy, this will enhance these parts. Trim these areas up, starting off small.
Once you are happy with the length and shape, comb the beard back to its natural position. Now you can spend a little time and trim any strays that still remain to give you that solid shape.
5. Don’t Get Too Cheeky
This one is pretty easy but also an important part to finishing and tidying up your look. This isn’t necessary, but it will help create a clean line and shape to your beard.
Simply find the best place to create a line from your inner sideburns down the rest of your beard and trim anything above this area. A lot of guys find that the the lines created when they smile are a good guide.
Now the hard work is done, it is easier for you to build some time in to your beard grooming routine once a week for maintenance. If you can stay on top of the strays that take away from the shape, you will see better longevity out of your beard shape.
Like most grooming, it really is a case of practice makes perfect. While we still recommend a trip to your Barber for a good hearty trim and shape, home maintenance is definitely achievable if you arm yourself with all the right knowledge, and of course reliable tools.
Still want to see a barber?
Then you should know how to best engage expert services.
To better explain we have sought expert advice from our good friend Steve Purcell. Steve is the co-owner and co-founder of Uppercut Deluxe, a line of grooming products for barbers including a pomade that everyone’s buying up. Steve also has his own bustling barber shop in Brisbane, Australia, Bare Bones Barber Shop, not to mention 15 years barbering experience and a beard that rivals some of the best.
In my experience home jobs can be an absolute disaster. Working in barber shops for the past 15 years, I see at least 1 or 2 clients on a daily basis walk through wanting us to fix up their dodged attempt, more so with beards in recent times. It is always safer to start off with a Barber.
Is there anything specific somebody should ask for when coming in to a barber with a beard trim in mind?
Bring in a picture of what you want your beard to look like, the best haircuts and beards always come from good communication between barber and client. Also any good barber is going to be able to tell if you will be able to get a similar result with the beard you have. Beards are difficult and everyone’s beard is different some are thick while others are whispy. A picture speaks a thousand words.
Any beard tips you’ve learnt that you would like to pass on?
I blow dry my beard every morning, not only does it help remove excess water which can sit under the beard and on the skin but it will help straighten and stretch the beard out, make it look longer and give a more consistent direction.
Trimming isn’t enough – you gotta groom
Now that you’ve got the right shape, there’s more daily care to be done to get your beard in tip-top shape. You’ll need to apply beard oils to keep the hair soft and shiny and to keep your skin healthy. You can also learn to shape your beard without trimming. And don’t forget to brush or comb your beard daily – over time, that will help to train your beard hairs to grow in the right direction. For that, check out our guide on the best beard brushes.
May the beard be with you!