Note from Anna: This is a post by my husband Aaron
I know How to Grow a Beard… may seem like an out of place topic. andthenwesaved.com is predominately geared towards women, but I’d like to remind all the guys out there that the “we” in andthenwesaved isn’t only the collective “we”, it also includes me and I’m a dude, so for all you guys out there, I thought I’d write a post about something that is near and dear to me…the hair on my face. There are expenses associated with shaving and benefits to having a beard. I’ll lay out some tips on how to grow a beard and save money, but first some history on my facial hair.
The hairy details…
I’m a fan of facial hair. I always have something going whether it be a fine mustachio or a burly beard winter. Perhaps I am such a fan because I lacked it for so long. In high school I was bald, I’m talking cued bladed on my face except for 3 or 4 hairs under my lip. That’s not how to grow a beard. It wasn’t until college that I could grow my first set of sideburns and muster a very bad goatee. About 8 years ago I pushed out my first full beard. It wasn’t much of a beard, but it jump-started my facial hair and it’s only gotten better from there.
For the past year, I’ve been working various styles of a mustache. My upper lip’s constant companion has been long and curled on the ends, a finely trimmed cop mustache and currently I’m working on a classic Sam Elliot soup strainer.
The Beard Spectrum
I’d classify my facial hair as average. It’s not overly thick, or overly course and grows at a moderate pace. I know how to grow a beard; but if I’m being truthful, while the major real-estate is covered, it’s patchy at best in some places. Not Keanu Reeves patchy but not Zach Galifianakis full either. My “connectors” (the hair connecting the mustache to the beard) are almost none exist and in order to achieve a full beard look I must do a sort of “comb over” by growing the ends of my stache long and creating the illusion it’s connecting to my beard. My friend once described my beard as “so huge, yet so empty”, meaning it had length, not fullness. Either way, I grow what I can. I’ve also gone through phases though when I enjoy not having any facial hair at all and really got into the ritual of shaving…which leads me to my first point….
How to Grow a Beard, or Shave and Save Money
To start with, below is some helpful information about the cost of shaving and a few quick tips on how to save a few bucks if done right.
5 isn’t better than one
Let’s first tackle a myth that more blades are better than one. I’ve tried the $25 two hundred bladed shaving razor, because let’s face it, in our culture 2 is always better than one and 5 has got to be better than 4 right? Wrong. Shaving a man’s face isn’t like mowing a flat lawn. A man’s facial topography is akin to Martian landscape. It’s curvy and bumpy and dry and full of dents and craters, it’s a mess.
Those fancy razors with 5 blades just can’t handle it. Because so many blades have to fit on the razor head the gaps between the blades are super small. The gaps clog easily and require multiple pass along your skin. When the gaps are clogged they catch and pull your hair and that is never good.
A classic one or two bladed razor works better because it doesn’t clog and can better follow the contours of your face giving a closer shave. I now shave with a two bladed razor that came in a ten pack for 7$ dollars.
Proper lubrication makes the world go round.
Shaving cream is another popular thing men tend to over do. Men slather it on thick and often waste shaving cream. One doesn’t need to have a Santa Claus beard of shaving cream in order to get a quality shave. A thin layer of a quality cream on your face is all it takes for the for blade to glide smoothly. Again, you can buy can after can of cheap shaving cream or pay a little more up front and purchase a quality cream. Good shaving cream will have vitamins and minerals in it which will help protect your face, give you a smoother shave and extend the life of your blade.
Get old school
The cost is more daunting up front, but if you splurge for a quality old school straight razor and the needed accessories, you’ll never have to buy another razor again. The learning curve for shaving with a straight razor is steep and the cost can be a turn off, but if you master it, the savings over time will be enormous and the shave will be better than any you have ever known.
A properly prepped face is not only the key to a good shave, but also a way to save some cash. Never go into a shave dry. Moisten your whiskers with warm water or hold a hot towel on your face for a few minutes. This softens the whiskers, which will extend the life of your blade and create less friction making for a closer, smoother, shave.
The key to saving money when it comes to shavings is slowing down and taking your time, not only with the prep of your face but with the care of your blades (even cheap disposable razors). Razor blades are metal and metal rust when it’s in water. It can also dull your blade quicker. Take time after your shave to clean your blades. Dry them off (use a hair dryer) and use an old toothbrush to remove excess hair from between the blades and prevent oxidation by coating the blade with baby or mineral oil. And don’t forget about your face. A quality aftershave or balm will rehydrate your face, help to prevent ingrown hairs and razor burn. The healthier the skin on your face, the easier it is to shave which lessens your chance of infections. That’s how to shave and save. Next I’ll share how to grow a beard and reap even more benefits.
The Benefits of a Beard
The complete opposite of shaving is growing a beard and other than the obvious benefit of looking awesome, beards have a surprising amount perks. Here’s how to grow a beard and enjoy these benefits.
It cost absolute nothing to grow a beard. It cost to take off a beard, but growing one is 100% free.
The change up
Facial hair is a great way to change up your look cheaply. Rather than spend 1000s on a new wardrobe, try growing a beard or shaving a mustache into your face. It’s free and can immediately change up your look.
Beards are the ultimate UV blocker, blocking 90 to 95 percent of UV rays that pound your face on a daily basis. Blocking those harmful UV’s will reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Fountain of youth
Beards can help to protect your face from the aging effects of sun and wind exposure and keep your looking young and healthy.
How many arctic explorers have you seen that are clean shaven? Hair acts as a natural insulator and the more of it you have the warmer you will be. When winter approaches I urge you to start growing one. The hairier you are, the less chance you have of catching a cold as well.
Allergy and Disease barrier
Beards are a pollutant filter. The purpose of nose hairs are to trap allergens. The more hair you have under your nose, the more pollutants are being snared before entering your body helping to keep you disease free.
The ultimate moisturizer
Beards are a natural moisturizer. People slather all types of stuff on there faces to keep it looking soft and creamy, but a beard can do that for you. Beards keep moisture and naturally occurring oils from evaporating off your skin and protects it from the drying, chapping effects of wind.
Shaving can increase the risk of all types of skin conditions…razor burn, in grown hairs, acne, scars from cuts…growing a beard will prevent all this and reduce the risk of nasty infections.Intelligence
The long your beard the more wiser you will appear. To name but a few…Abraham Lincoln, Gandalf the Grey, Santa Claus.
On average (depending when you start to shave and when you die) a man will spend approx. 6 months of his life standing in front of a mirror shaving the hairs off his face. Imagine what you can accomplish in six months. It’s time to discover how to grow a beard and extend your life, my friend.