Odds are you know whether or not if you can grow a real beard by now-so don’t fight nature if you suffer from boy face. But if you can (and would like to) acquire some facial fur, LA-based Baxter Finley barber Christian Olvera has some tips for doing it right. Hit the sweet spot (natural and groomed—not manicured) and a beard will look great with both a beanie and a double-breasted jacket this fall.
Have Patience – “It’ll take most guys about a month to grow out a full beard,” says Olvera. Resist overshaping it in the early days until you can see what you’ve got going on. Do use a trimmer to make sure the hairs are all even in length.
Accept the Itch – New beard hairs can feel like “a cactus poking your skin” says Olvera, but the prickly sensation subsides after a week, so stay tough. “It helps to brush the hair so everything grows in the same direction.” Try one of these ten grooming products—especially the beard softener and beard oil.
Wash – It’s hair, so you need to clean it or dirt can get trapped underneath. Olvera washes his beard in the shower every time he washes his hair, about twice a week. Try a gentle shampoo and conditioner.
Soften It Up – Hair that’s supple lays flat and won’t scratch your girlfriend. “I use Dude No. 1 Beard Oil for a little bit of shine and to keep my skin underneath moisturized,” says Olvera. If you’re looking for a fuller, thicker beard, you can also try biotin.
Avoid Hard Lines – A beard shouldn’t end at your chin. Someone tell the NFL. Let the hair grow naturally up to about an inch or two above your Adam’s apple, then allow it to fade using a few different settings on a trimmer. In addition to a trimmer, here’s a full list of all the tools you’ll need.
Shape Your Face – Round face? A more square beard can help define your jawline. “Everyone should aim to trim in tighter on the cheeks and leave hair a little longer where a goatee would be,” says Olvera. For inspiration, tips, debunked myths, and more, check out GQ’s modern man’s guide to beards.