Unruly beard? The ultimate guide for wild beards!

There is nothing more off putting to the beard owner, and those around them, than an unruly beard. An unruly beard looks unintentional. It looks as if the owner doesn’t care about it and people start judging the person with an unruly beard whether they like it or not. Now, is no reason why an unruly beard can’t be a great companion to you. However, if you want your beard to betray a more professional or clean-cut image this article is for you. I will share with you the simple tips and tricks for making sure that your unruly beard is able to be tamed whilst also retaining some character and essence of you.

To fix an unruly beard you need to first trim up all of the lines, and shape of the beard. Nothing looks more unruly than hairs that are pointing in all direction. Secondly, your beard will look great if you implement a daily maintenance routine. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it can make all the difference!

I am certain that if you follow all the steps in this guide that your beard will look better than ever!

How do you fix an unruly beard?

Fixing an unruly beard starts with making sure that you understand what is truly wrong with your beard.

What does an unruly beard look like?

Take a good look in the mirror. Be honest with yourself about what you think makes your beard look unruly. There are no right or wrong answers but here are some potential things that could make your beard look unruly:

  • lots of hairs pointing in random directions
  • a bushy beard
  • a thin beard
  • a beard that you can see through
  • a beard which looks dry
  • a beard that looks dull
  • a beard with many split ends
  • an oily beard
  • a smelly beard
  • and much more…

If you have noticed any of these aspects in your beard it could be that your beard is due for a intense care package. The good news is that it is relatively easy to solve each of these issues and it starts with trying to find a barber that you trust.

You get a good barber!

We are all looking for quick fixes. Stuff that we can do at home, hacks, things that will simplify our lives. The thing is, that with a beard any shortcuts seem to quickly catch up with you. I’ve been in a situation where I have decided that I will not include a certain aspect of my beard grooming schedule and activate couple of weeks my beard always ends up looking worse. There is no getting over the fact that growing and maintaining a healthy beard takes hard work.

Because we do not have a good concise manual delivered to us when we decide to grow beard a lot of us learn on our own. This is a recipe for disaster! It seems to be that trial and error is the only way most people look after their beards so, you need to seek help from the professionals to lay a great foundation for your beard.

The good thing is that a number of professional barbers will quite happily spend a while talking to you about your beard and any issues that you are having. You don’t need to see them every week to get the benefits of having a professional look over your beard. I have been to a barber twice and I’ve had an in-depth phone conversation with one for about 30 minutes. What I did is take notes on what they did to my beard and how they managed to make it look better. I was amazed at how much trimming really needs to take place for a beard to look shapely and well kept.

Trimming is the only thing that will really fix your unruly beard

After these visits I made aware of how much trimming really goes into a beard to keep it looking good. I also took notes on things like what products they used, what order they did things in, what tools they needed to do it, and more.

I think there is a little bit of a myth of growing out your beard solving all problems. There is a joke on my YouTube channel where people always say that my answer to everything is wait three months. However, with an unruly beard you may find that your hairs will never fall into place despite what products you use or time you give them to grow.

Sometimes trimming is the only thing that will really fix an unruly beard because you are getting rid of the problem areas. The only time when this may be an issue is if you have a very thin beard and excess trimming will remove significant density from your beard.

Learning from a professional and asking for their advice will be the number one thing that will make your beard look great for a long period of time and tame that unruly beard.

You learn to trim your beard, properly!

Learning to trim up your beard with the right guidance from a professional is one of the most cost-effective things you can do. My local barber charges up to AU$60 for a simple trim up and light shaping.

After a fair bit of trial and error this is how I have been able to trim up my beard at home and I must’ve saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars doing it myself.

I do a relatively large trim up every couple of weeks (when I cut my hair on my head) which allows me to trim up the shape and control any problem hairs by simply snipping them away.

Tools you need to trim your beard properly.

I think that the tools that you need to trim your beard properly can be bought for under $300. There are consumables which need to be used every day for example beard oil, beard butter, beard balm, beard wax, or other beard product. But these are relatively inexpensive and spending money on good quality trimmers as well as scissors and a good quality brush or comb will make a world of difference when attempting to create a beard that you love.

Here are some of the things that I really love and I think you should consider purchasing if you don’t already have them:

Trust me when I say that using low quality trimmers and products work well at first but especially with trimmers, the quality will make your grooming experience so much more pleasant and you will end up more likely getting the results that you want!

You implement a great daily routine!

What’s the common phrase? “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Just like this empire your beard will need constant attention and maintenance to look tame and healthy.

It is much better to have an imperfect routine that you do every morning than to sit back every month and really care for your beard. You are going to need to develop a beard routine that you love and, nine times out of 10, creates a better and well-nourished, and conditioned beard.

What does a great daily routine look like?

A really awesome daily beard grooming routine takes into account a number of factors. Throughout the day your beard will lose moisture, it will be affected by the elements and it will need all of the moisture and nutrients put back in so that it can be styled properly. A well looked after beard from a healthy hair perspective will be much easier to control.

A great beard routine contains:

  • a part where you wash the beard (either with water or shampoo) – washing your beard every day with shampoo is not necessary unless you work in a particularly dirty environment.
  • a part where you brush the beard thoroughly
  • a part where you dry the beard and get it to lie in its trimmed up shape
  • a part where you impart moisture and nutrients
  • a part where you apply a little bit of product to lock in the style and shape for the day
  • a part where you overcome any specific issues related to your beard – for example if you work in air-conditioning or day you may want to apply a beard butter that has a longer acting moisturising action.

This is what a daily routine would look like and you can also back this up with a more in-depth monthly routine where you trim and shape up the beard taking off about half an inch to an inch of new growth.

If you want to grow out your beard longer then I recommend not trimming up your beard for at least three months and then taking off about an inch when it has reached the desired length and a little bit.

Use this as your base routine:

Here is an example of my daily beard routine. Feel free to use it as inspiration for your daily routine. Since this video has been made I have certainly made some changes and owning a beard means that your beard grooming routine will be constantly evolving to best match what your beard needs at any given time.

You comb properly!

Combing an unruly beard is a double edged sword. In my experience combing the incorrect way can actually cause more issues than it solves. An unruly beard could easily be made worse by over brushing and aggressive grooming which some beard owners are driven to which just makes the problem worse and worse.

The best way to comb a beard depends on whether or not it is long or short. In this section we are going to go over the best ways that you can comb your beard and the caveats for if you have long or short beard hairs.

When you should start combing your beard?

There is no strict rule about when you should start combing your beard but if you can pass a comb or brush through your beard then it is time to start brushing your beard.

When your beard is short the brushing will help keep the skin healthy and distribute the sebum (the natural oils on your skin) evenly across your short beard. Brushing your beard does not stimulate beard growth but it can help stimulate blood flow in certain regions. It will also help get rid of any beard downdraught that may be lurking underneath the short hair.

When your beard is long brushing it is a no-brainer. You should be brushing your beard often with a good quality comb or brush. Making sure that you use the right brush for the length of your hair is going to be one of the most important factors which determines how successful your beard grooming will be.

Choosing the right brush or comb for your beard is so important.

1. Choose the right brush

Choosing the right brush for your beard length is the first thing you should consider when thinking about brushing or combing your beard. It will also mean that as you are combing your beard against the grain a certain amount of torsional stress will be placed on your hair.

If you use a hard comb, such as one made out of plastic, you can damage your hair by forcing it into a direction that it does not want to go in. On the other hand, if you use a soft bristle brush, your beard hair will be able to resist the brushing and it will remove the harsh effects that you can get from plastic or wooden combs by yielding to the hair a little bit more.

Here is the simple break down of the brushes and combs you need for different lengths of hair:

You should check out my recommended tools page for your beard so that you know what the best comb and brushes are – click here.

2. Use beard oil

Before brushing vigourously you should consider using beard oil on your beard. The beard oil will condition and smooth your hair – this will make your comb glide easier through your beard meaning that if you come across any snags your be less likely to break the hair.

For a full run down on beard oil check out my other article – what does beard oil do? [A comprehensive guide to beard oil] – click here.

You only need to use a couple of drops of beard oil and you can distribute the beard oil throughout your beard with your fingertips being sure not to rub too hard at the base of the hair.

3. Gently brush against the grain

Once you have applied beard oil this is where you can brush gently against the grain (or natural growth direction) of your beard. Brushing gently against the grain has a number of benefits, as stated above, but you should be very careful not to overdo it.

Gently brushing up and out will mean that your beard will start to look frizzy and the hairs will become more disperse and exposed. This exposure of the hairs means that they are subject to more pressure when combing (as they have not got the hairs around them to support their strength) so you have to make sure that you go slowly or you risk breaking more hairs.

Also, if you are brushing against the grain after your shower you have to remember that the beard hairs are more prone to damage. This is because when you are sharing the hair absorbs water and this swelling leaves the hair more vulnerable to breakage.

Brushing against the grain is something that a lot of bearded men do as soon as they get out of the shower. The issue is that the hair is weaker and if you are using a plastic, or wooden, comb you can increase the amount of damage caused. So, proceed with caution and your be sure not to lose any more precious hair required to keep your hair looking dense and full.

4. Brush with the grain

After brushing against the grain you can brush with the grain. Going with the direction of your beard growth allows you to shape and control the lines of the beard. And at this point I often use scissors to trim any of those nuisance hairs which just won’t lie in position.

I don’t trim more than a couple times a week as I find I was becoming overzealous and my beard was getting shorter and shorter. In other words, I was cutting it quicker than it could grow.

You should now brush your hair into the shape that you want it to sit in for the rest of the day stop

5. Don’t pull through snags

One of the common mistakes I see bearded men make is that they are too rough with their hair. Beard hair is naturally wiry (if you want to look at the science behind wiry hair click here) this means that it easily tangles upon itself.

It’s very rare that your beard is genuinely knotted together. It is more common that the hairs are sitting in such a way that they just need to be teased apart. Don’t be tempted to pull all the way through your snags with any force. This is because you will likely just rip the hair out rather than dealing with the main culprit which is the slight intertwining of the beard hairs.

6. Do it often

You should be combing your hair at least once a day. I wouldn’t recommend combing against the grain of your beard more than once a day due to the extra stress that it can put on the individual hairs.

However, you should consider using a good quality comb to brush your beard hair another 2 to 3 times a day. This will help keep the beard in a manageable condition by dealing with those annoying little knots rather than allowing the beard to gain many of them.

Brushing in the morning after your beard has been crushed up against your pillow is important and it will also add a nice shine to your beard throughout the day. This is because the cuticles on the outside of the hair can be flattened using a natural hair brush which adds to its shininess and lustre.

You never let it dry out!

Another thing that creates an unruly beard is a beard that is allowed to dry out. Moisture is a critical component of making your beard look healthy and strong. And a beard that has been allowed to dry out through the use of products or the excessive use of heat tools such as hairdryers and straighteners is a massive issue.

Things that can dry out your beard include:

  • cold air
  • warm air
  • wind
  • UV rays
  • working outdoors
  • excessive use of heat when styling

If any of these are familiar to you here is what you can do to stop your beard from drying out!

How you can stop your beard from drying out

Stopping your beard from drying out means retaining the moisture. One of the things I’ve learned to do is that I should use beard oil to lock in the moisture after I have had a shower. This means that the oil locks in where the moisture that would have been removed by the intense heat delivered by the hairdryer.

Following up the beard oil with a leaving conditioner such as a beard balm, or beard butter is fantastic. The reason a good beard balm or beard butter is better than oil alone is that it sits against the hair for much longer which means that it can impart its benefits for a longer period of time. I find that butter and balm allow me to have a better looking and tame beard for longer than just using oil alone.

Lastly, you could consider using a dedicated beard conditioner. If you want to know more about the 10 best beard conditioner is check out my other article – click here to read it in detail!

Here are some of the best reasons that you should consider using a dedicated beard conditioner:

  • It nourishes and moisturizes the beard – one of the biggest benefits to your beard – it makes it lovely and soft and will make your wirey hair much easier to manage.
  • It helps softens the stubble on the face – If you are not one for growing a long beard but prefer to keep it close to the skin the it’ll help soften the ends of the hairs and make it way less spikey!
  • Imparts a healthy shine – A well-conditioned beard is one with a nice healthy shine to it. If you want to find out more tips and tricks to making your beard shine – check out my other article.
  • It makes combing and styling easier – having hair that doesn’t grip the comb and sits well after it is brushed into place is an achievable outcome if you use a beard conditioner regularly.
  • It reduces irritation and dry skin – the skin under a beard is not easy to look after. However, the regular use of a conditioner will leave the skin nourished and irritation-free. If you are worried about bacteria and a smelly beard you can also use a beard conditioner with essential oil that has antibacterial properties.
  • They leave a nice fragrance The last and maybe one of the strongest effects noticed by others is that a good beard conditioner will leave your beard smelling lovely! Choose a beard conditioner that has a smell that you like and, if you have a significant other, make sure that they also like the smell! There is nothing quite like a lovely smelling product!

Using beard conditioners regularly as part of a good and well-rounded beard grooming routine will keep an unruly beard in check!

Summary

here we have covered all of the reasons why you should take trimming your beard very seriously and look after your beard more than you think you should. An unruly beard is a symptom of a number of small little things that haven’t quite come together.

By following the steps in this article you are able to tame that wild beard and get it looking exactly how you want it!

The Author


Andy Stapleton

Andy is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He is an avid beard grower and after many years of growing and trialing different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!