Beardsmen - With Great Beard, Comes Great Responsibility. Feb 10, 2016 Photo: PoeticSingh “Beardsmen” - That is how one address gentlemen with great beards. The Sikh Gentlemen has been a part of the elite Beardsmen club, thanks to the Guru gifted identity. For Beardsmen their beards are a mark of honor and an important part of their individual identity, and not something that is just ‘in’ fashion. Honor is important for Beardsmen. It is what sets Beardsmen apart from the boys club. Beardsmen honor other Beardsmen who take pride in maintaining and grooming their beards, because being responsible is a part of being a gentleman. Now this post is not only about Beardsmen, but also about becoming one. The post is about understanding the science behind growing a great beard and the advice on maintaining it. If one follows the guidelines given below he can easily join the Beardsmen Club. Three key ingredients that make a great Beard: Genetics, Lifestyle and Patience “How can I grow a long flowing beard?” “I am 21. But I am not getting any beard. What should I do?” “Will a beard oil help in growing my beard?” These are just a few common questions that I receive on Quora daily. My response to these centers around – thank your genetics, lifestyle choice and abundance of patience. Genetics: Something you cannot change. A great free flowing beard is thanks to great genes. Yes. Genetics play a key role in the growth of a good and healthy beard. Genes determine the potential of one’s beard length and quality, in the same way that they determine one's potential height, cranium size or collarbone width. One is born with a given set of hair follicles all over the body, including one’s face and scalp. These follicles become active at different stages in a male's life, and beard follicles are known to be amongst the last to activate and mature. This is especially true for men who are late bloomers - - i.e. hit puberty after age 15. A good gauge for how much facial hair one will be able to grow is to look at your father's beard/stubble growth as well as at the beard/stubble growth of your uncles (on both sides of the family). From one side of the family, you will have inherited a particular facial hair shape and distribution. The beard growth is also determined by several hormones in the body - mostly dihydrotestosterone and triiodothyronine. Lower levels of these hormones, along with other hormones responsible for hair growth and quality, may lead to a thinner beard, with slower growth and occurrence of hairless patches. Note: No vitamin pills or any medication can change your genetics or help to accelerate the growth. So do not get sold to advertisements that promise you long flowing beards. These will only harm your system. Lifestyle: Something that you can completely change. Diet, exercise and sleep are essential for growing a great beard. A high-protein diet combined with plenty of sleep and low levels of stress can help your beard grow faster. Protein gives your body the nutrients it needs to grow more hair, and sleep helps your body to recuperate. Recently I have included biotin in my diet plan. Biotin contains vitamin B6, C, and E, all of which keep your hair and skin in optimum condition. Before your try, consult your doctor. #ProTip: Stress is like a slow poison. It harms your lifestyle and is the cause for mental illness. Stress is also the main cause for the beard turning white as early as 22. So control your stress. If you need help, consult your doctor. Patience: Something that you have to cultivate. It is said, “Great things take time.” And this is true even for a beard. Great Beards don’t happen overnight. It takes months and years followed by regular maintenance for having a free flowing beard. Some men don't experience a full beard until their late 20s. Again, this is the case with late bloomers. A male who hit puberty within the average range should expect to develop a full beard by his early 20s, provided he has the right genes. Remember, growing a beard is not a race. It is a natural process. You should not disturb this process by going against nature or trusting false promises. Beard Phases and Care: For Singh Gentlemen The Sikh faith gives a lot of importance to the Kesh (hair). This includes the beard as well. According to the Guru’s instructions, Sikhs cannot cut of their hair or trim their beards. They need to honor and maintain the first strand of beard that grows. Thus, there are three specific phases of beard maintenance for the Sikh Gentlemen: Light growth: The light growth starts from the age of 16-18. Since it’s the first growth, the beard is soft and would be patchy. This is a crucial phase as the beard is young and needs utmost care. Beard Care: Use a good beard brush to brush the strands. It helps to give the beard a direction, exfoliates the dead skin, which reduces the itching. Use a beard oil to keep the beard and the facial scalp moisturized. One can apply 2-3 drops of beard oil on the facial scalp. Do not apply any gel or spray to style the beard. Concentrate on your diet and exercise, which will help to condition the beard. Medium growth: Medium growth starts by the age of 19-21. One can observe a steady growth in the length of the beard and reduction of the patches. This is also the phase when the beard starts losing moisture and makes the facial scalp itchy and scratchy. Beard Care: The beard starts losing moisture post bath. So the ideal time to apply a beard oil as soon as you step out of your bath. While applying the beard oil start by massaging the facial scalp and then the beard. This helps to spread the oil across the facial scalp and reduces itching. If one wants to set their beard they can apply a small quality of a good beard gel, beard balm or spray. Make sure that the styling gel/spray/balm is applied only after the beard oil has been applied. The beard oil being natural will protect the facial pores from harmful chemicals. At the end of day, wash your beard with a lukewarm water and beard wash. The beard wash will help to wash the dirt, sweat and chemical acquired from the styling gels and sprays as well as condition the beard. Singh/Long Beard: The Singh Beard/Long Beard/Full Beard is observed by the age 22-25. The beard has mostly grown to the optimum length based on one’s genetics. There is always a possibility of it growing further. Beard Care: Just follow the all the four steps mentioned under Medium Growth. #ProBeardTip: A good beard oil helps to reduce the white flakes that fall from the beard due to the drying of the styling gel/spray/wax. The oil offers the moisture to control the gel/spray/wax from turning into flakes. Apply the beard oil before applying the beard styling gels/wax/sprays. For Non-Sikh Friends: My non-Sikh friends who shave and trim their beards go through five beard phases: 1. Light Stubble: The light stubble is observed in the 1st two weeks of making a decision of growing one’s beard. The beard will be pokey and rough, which is due to shaving. 2. Medium Stubble: The medium stubble is visible between 30 to 45 days. Mostly 1mm long. Some individuals do complain of being patchy. But it is okay. In time the patchiness will reduce. 3. Heavy Stubble: The heavy stubble is visible between 45 to 60 days. The beard is more than 2mm longer, and requires special attention. 4. Child beard: The child beard takes anywhere between 120 to 180 days. 5. Man Beard/Full Beard: The man beard takes anywhere between 300 to 360 days or above. #Note: I have shared an average time for each phase. Duration of phase differs person to person. So do not stress with the timelines mentioned. Be patient, and enjoy the journey from being a boy to becoming a Beardsmen. Beard Care: Each beard phase is important and needs attention. Following three steps will help to keep the beard soft, conditioned and moisturized. This will help to reduce the itching, scratching and give a direction to the beard. · Apply beard oil on the facial scalp. The oil will help to reduce the itching caused by the loss of moisture, making the beard soft. · Use a beard brush to brush the stubble/beard. Brushing helps to exfoliate the dead skin and beard that causes irritation. Brushing also helps to give a direction to the beard. · End of day wash the face and beard with lukewarm water to clean the dirt and sweat that have settled on the beard. #ProTip1: The best time to apply the beard oil is post the morning shower. Once applied, the beard oil provides the moisture to the beard and scalp throughout the day. #ProTip2: For beard styling use products that are easy to wash, like a beard balm or a beard gel. Being water based these can easily be removed with one wash. I wish all my veers who plan to become beardsmen, best of luck. If anyone still has a question related to the beard, they can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will love to reply back with an answer. Also, I would like to thank my two veers Ketan Pandit and Rohit Sareen for contributing ideas and suggestions for this post. P.S: Sorry for the grammatical mistakes. I mentally stopped attending school at the age of 8.