We are all very critical of our beards. Sometimes it can be very easy to pinpoint the reason or reasons your beard is not quite right. Most of the time, however, it is very hard to pinpoint exactly what is wrong, and your beard can be best described as messy.
A messy beard can be caused by uneven hair length throughout the beard, non-defined lines on cheek or neckline, humidity, recently washed hair, dryness, split ends, thick and curly hair, or sometimes a combination of all of these.
Learning how to identify the underlying factors for why your beard looks messy is an important skill that you can learn. This article will go through all of why your beard looks messy and what you can do about it.
If you know that your beard isn’t quite hitting the mark, but you are unsure why this article will help you.
Why does my beard look messy?
Messy beards strike every beard grower at some point.
Even short beards can become messy because the hairs are very curly and do not form a single line or cohesive mass of hair.
Because your beard is unique to you, the reason your beard looks messy will be different.
Being observant and knowing your “normal” or “baseline” level of messiness will help you solve problems quickly.
1. Uneven hair lengths
The first most common problem for a beard looking messy is when several different hair lengths throughout the beard.
This issue is common in early-stage beard growth because the hairs over the face grow at different rates.
My hair grows particularly thick and strong on my chin and my moustache. This difference in rate means I have to trim up these areas before other parts of my beard. When my beard was shorter, I had to wait for the entire beard to reach the minimum length I wanted it to cut back to.
Growing out your beard for a couple more weeks to allow the slower parts of your beard hair growth to catch up with the faster parts will allow you to trim back the beard to the same length all over or create sections of length throughout your beard.
Longer beards are rarely the same length all over, and the chin is typically the longest part.
Uneven hair lengths can also occur when beard hairs become dry and damaged. Brittle hairs break off and then leave many lengths in a beard. Ensuring that your beard is kept well-nourished and conditioned will reduce the incidence of hair breakage.
2. Messy lines
No matter how long your beard is, you should always trim your cheek line and neckline to provide maximum contrast between the skin and beard.
Maintaining your cheek line and the neckline is very important in short beards. Shorter beards need regular shaving along the lines because there is a smaller length to support the contrast in the beard.
The important areas to focus on if you have a very thick beard are:
- the neckline – you shouldn’t trim your neckline too high, and it should sweep down from in front of your ears to the natural crease in your neck as it bends. Find your beard neckline by placing two fingers just above your Adam’s apple and trimming to the place that your top finger falls to.
- Sideburns – sideburns should be the perfect connector between your head and your beard. If you have short hair on the top of your head, you could blend from the thickness of your beard to the shortness of your hair, or you can decide to have a straight line. However, no matter what you choose, you should line up the beard as it lies in front of the ear. This clean line will make it look much better.
- Sides and cheeks – size and cheeks are easy to maintain by sweeping downwards on your face and likely trimming with scissors. Trim up the cheek line to the point of maximum density, and that is where it will look the best.
- Moustache – the moustache style is completely up to you. There are many styles, and I recommend that you try each type.
You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to trim up these areas of your beard yourself, and it can send your beard to the next level.
3. Not recently lined up
Once your beard is long enough to define the shape of your face it is important that you clean up the lines of the beard.
The edges of your beard create a dense and thick look to your beard. It is also one of the most important decisions you need to make as it defines the overall shape of the beard.
If you are going to maintain your beard yourself, you should invest in a good quality set of beard trimmers. No beard trimmer will suit everyone, so I have written a series of articles for getting the best beard trimmer for a variety of beard styles and purposes:
- Best beard trimmer for sensitive skin
- best beard trimmer for detailing
- best beard trimmer for that course hair
- best beard trimmer for a close shave
One of the most important tips that I gained from a barber is to cut back to the point of maximum density – where your beard is no longer see-through.
Sacrificing a little bit of length for density will also ensure that your beard looks less messy to an outside observer.
Having a beard look intentional, continuous, and homogenous is easy to turn your beard from messy to awesome.
Here is a YouTube video where I share why your beard may look thin and the six simple hacks for keeping it looking thick and full.
4. Recently washed
I often find that my beard looks particularly messy after giving it a thorough and deep wash.
Washing your beard is a fine balancing act because removing all of the dirt and grime built up throughout the day is important, but you still want to leave some of your beard’s natural oils.
After a wash, I find that my beard is particularly frizzy.
I have been able to reduce the messiness of my beard hair after washing it by ensuring that it is completely dry before walking away from the bathroom. It is important to dry your beard deeply and fully.
I would walk away from a shower with minimal drying of my beard hair in the past. It wasn’t until I used the cool setting on my hairdryer that I realised how much moisture there was still left to evaporate at the roots of my hair.
The cool air causes evaporation which is a cooler sensation in your beard. I now use the cool setting on my beard until I feel no more coldness from the depths of the hair.
Removing all moisture is important because even the smallest amount of humidity trapped in your beard can cause it to curl even after you have straightened it with heat tools.
I recently took a trip to a very humid part of Australia. I couldn’t believe how much of a difference the humidity made to my beard.
The humidity made it constantly frizzy. No matter what I did to my beard – whether heat tools or products – my beard would turn to its messy self in a matter of minutes.
The only way to combat humidity is to moisturise with a quality beard conditioner and use an ionic blow dryer to keep the frizziness to a minimum.
6. Bad beard hair day
Sometimes my beard does not look good no matter what I do with it.
It is one of the joys of growing a long beard.
One day I can get out of bed, and my beard seems to behave itself perfectly and look awesome in photos. Other days, the exact opposite is true.
Taming a thick beard is very difficult, and you should accept that on some days, it is just not possible, given the amount of time available, for your beard to look as good as you want it to.
I always remind myself that my beard looks different “bests” every day and that tomorrow will be different and, hopefully, better.
Dryness is an issue that plagues nearly every beard grower at some point. It will stop your beard from looking healthy and cause it to look rough, dull, and messy.
Longbeards suffer more readily from dryness than a short beard. You mustn’t dry out your beard with over washing, and make sure you do not shampoo your beard every day. Shampooing can quickly dryer your beard and I recommend using shampoo on your beard every three days to avoid drying out your beard and stripping it of its natural oils.
8. Split ends
Dull and dry hair is a precursor for split ends. A beard with many split ends is very close to becoming trimmed to within an inch of its life. Beard split ends are bad because they expose the inner shaft of your beard hair to the environment, and it dries out exponentially quicker.
The outside cuticle of your hair is an important barrier against penetration and loss of moisture.
Have a look at the ends of your beard hair with a magnifying glass. Look for hairs that fork at the end or are significantly thinner due to the outside cuticle protective layer loss. If you find any of these types of hairs, you should consider acting immediately.
The only real fix for a split end is to chop it off with a sharp pair of scissors or a sharp trimming blade. Cutting off the split end will stop the damage from migrating further up the beard hair and causing much deeper and longer-lasting damage.
9. Not growing down
Beards grow in all sorts of different directions. If you have a thick beard, it can be very hard to get your beard to grow in the direction you want. Likewise, if you have an incredibly curly beard, your mornings will be spent fighting with the direction of growth using heat tools.
While you cannot change the direction that a hair follicle grows in, you can grow out your beard so that the hair becomes heavier and starts to fall under its weight.
Combing, pinning, heat treatment, using dry texture sprays, and chemical relaxers can all be used to make sure that your beard grows in the direction that you want it to sit in.
Check out my YouTube video below, where I go through the five simple ways to train your beard hair to grow downwards and my experience about this exact issue.
10. Combination of factors
Lastly, it may be that your beard is messy for several reasons.
Beards are a complex beast, and their environments are different from person to person. Ensuring that you understand exactly what your beard’s baseline messiness is and jumping on issues if you see them will make your beard style more reproducible from day to day.
In this article, we have been over the ten reasons your beard looks messy. It could be humidity, uneven lengths in the beard, particularly thick or curly beard hairs, dryness, or a combination of a range of factors.
Being productive with your beard maintenance routine and jumping on top of any issues as they arise will be the quickest way for you to resolve any messy beard issues.
It’s not always easy to make your beard behave in the way that you wanted to behave, but I can assure you that with practice and some patience, you will quickly learn what works best for your beard and the things you should avoid so that it does not look messy as often.