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The Best Way To Keep A Shaped Beard Neat

Aug 14, 2008
If, like myself, you're one of those guys who like the idea of having a beard but doesn't want to look quite like a walking hedgerow, you need to keep it in check. The best way to do that? Read on!

A while back it occurred to me that I was now about the right age to re-grow my beard. I have this theory of sorts that men either grow beards when they're young as a sign perhaps of their new-found manliness or to fall in with current fashion, or when they're older when they like to think that they will look all patrician and cool.

Being of the latter persuasion I laid away my straight razor for a while and let the fungus sprout. As I'd been clean shaven for all those years since the young beardy-trendy days it did come as a bit of a shock to see that, where dark, shiny beard growth once flourished, the whiskers now popping out were distinctly lighter in colour - like white!

Why I thought it would be any different I don't know - I'm grey enough on top of my head. In any event, a few weeks went by and I passed through the designer stubble stage, the itchy stage and the thoroughly disreputable-looking stage to awake one morning with a full-grown beard. Yippee!

Well, not quite. As the whiskers grew longer, so they looked more and more untidy until I started to resemble not a patrician but a - well, a bum, not to put it too finely! What to do? Trim the thing of course! I decided on a modern style, quite short overall with thin sideburns and transverse bits between the bow of the jaw and the chin. Easy!

Out came the straight razor. What? A straight razor for beard trimming? Yes, sir. I had tried electric trimmers and multi-blade contraptions in the past and found that the first tend to grab the hair if trying to trim too closely (a painful experience!) and the second clog dismally. Also, neither gives that really sharp, crisp line between beard and shaved skin that I wanted.

Not so with the straight razor. I've used one for years for the whole-face shave and believe me you won't get better once you've mastered the technique (takes about a whole couple of weeks usually). For accurate beard trimming the straight is king. Why?

Well, the electric trimmer and multi-blade or double-edge razor each have a limiting factor. For the electric it's the size of the cutting head and its inability to shave really closely. For the multi-blade it's the fact that, due to the blade ends being inboard of the cartridge ends, a really crisp line is almost impossible to achieve and they clog readily.

Think of it like grass growing along a path and trying to keep it neat with just a plain old mower. Sure, it cuts the grass short but, little by little, the grass encroaches on the path. What to do then? Simple - get the long shears out. A special tool for a special job - and it's the same with a straight razor (though please don't try trimming your lawn edges with one!)

Because it has no blade guard, a straight razor can shave a very precise edge along a line of stubble, particularly where the hair line dwindles out - that line down from the moustache to the chin is a good example as there are usually a few whiskers outside the main beard growth area. Leave these in place - and they are very difficult to trim with the electric or multi blade - and you will always look that little bit unkempt. Take them off with a straight razor and see the difference!

Most guys think of straight razors as items that are used strictly by Luddites or men who just want to look macho. Well, straight razor users may well have both categories within their ranks but, generally speaking, they are just everyday men who are either fed-up with paying through the nose for throwaway cartridge systems or just enjoy a traditional, relaxing shave.

Did I say relaxing? With a straight razor? Yes, indeed. Once the technique is learned - and it really isn't difficult - it's a great way of getting some 'me-time' because the one thing you can't really do is rush a shave with a straight. So relax - get up quarter of an hour earlier, ease into the day. Believe me, when you have finished trimming that beard you can rest assured that you will look crisper and neater - and probably feel a whole lot better in yourself - than those other guys frantically scraping away while sinking their second coffee and putting their tie on all at the same time!
About the Author
For more information on straight razors, take a look at The Invisible Edge for information about Vintage models or visit Dovo Razors UK to see brand-new items.
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