Way back before having a smooth chin was the norm and people with beards had to wear little nets over them in order to cook food, men had serious beards. The beards of the Vikings, for example, intimidated enemies (and sometimes friends), and allowed men to express their personal style while serving the practical purpose of keeping them warm in the bitter cold.
To proud Viking beard cultivators, catching drops of ale and bits of fatty meat at night meant a robust washing up in the morning following by a good comb-through and perhaps a trim. Today, we can take what our ancestors gave us and make it even better with modern beard maintenance products.
Before you can maintain a beard, though, you have to grow one – and what better beard growing regiment is there than to grow a beard like a Viking? Ever since the Iron Age and even long before, the beard has been a historical symbol of power. Santa, Jesus, Odin, Ragnar, and Chuck Norris wouldn’t usually find themselves lumped together, but guess what? They all rock great beards.
Growing a beard is one of the best ways to tap into one of life’s greatest secret joys. To many, running their fingers through a well-grown beard provides a sense of accomplishment they can tap into any time, day or night.
Of course, not everyone can grow a long, full beard, but if you understand that you can grow a beard your own way, you’ll have a great beard regardless of its length and natural fullness.
Step 1: Eat Like a Viking
Any expert beard grower will tell you that you get out what you put in. A high protein diet, getting enough sleep, and managing your stress will help you grow a beard faster. Stress makes you lose hair, which is one of the reasons a beard has remained a symbol of confidence for centuries.
To eat like a Viking, you could try out the New Nordic diet, which is one of the eating regiments recommended to competitive beard growers, and has the added bonus of trimming you down and beefing you up, Viking style.
The New Nordic diet is pretty simple: eat lots of plants first, then lots of meat – mostly seafood. Eat as much as you like of seasonal stuff from the farmer’s market like leafy greens brightly colored fruits, nuts, berries, root veggies, and beans. Always go for food that’s wild and foraged over farmed, but farmed is great too. Pickled, smoked, cured, or salted foods made with tradition Norwegian methods are a bonus. Grains are ok, as long as they’re whole grains like spelt, rye, oats, or barley.
Step 2: Never give up
The biggest problem faced by men trying to grow a beard is that it requires patience, another reason a beard is seen as a hallmark of men with strong characters.
You can’t just wake up one day with a full beard – it takes time, patience, and the fortitude to withstand the itchy phase. It only takes a week to get through the worst of the initial growing phase for most men, but a lot of people give up before then.
Don’t give up – be a Viking.
If you research the style you want to wear before you grow your beard, you’ll feel more motivated to get through the difficult process of waiting, waiting, itching, and waiting some more.
It’s a good idea to invest in a good facial groomer, which will allow you to style and maintain your beard as it grows in. Life’s about the journey, right?
Keeping your beard trimmed may seem frustrating as you’re trying to grow it out, but it’s important to get rid of split ends so your body will focus on new growth rather than repair of damaged hair.
Step 3: Know yourself
It’s simply a fact: some dudes can’t grow super long beards. That’s ok! Just like with everything else, confidence is key. Knowing what suits you and styling your beard in the way that best suits your hair growth pattern, the shape of your face, and your personal style is the best way to have a killer beard at any length.
The worst mistake you could make is thinking you can’t grow at all – that is highly unlikely. Just accept what you can do, and work with it.
When you’re in the process of growing your beard, try and enjoy it at every stage. Try new styles and take photos to measure your progress. Keep it trimmed and groomed, even when you feel like you could get away with leaving it scraggly because you’re growing it out. Believe it or not, a well-trimmed beard looks thicker and fuller.
Step 4: Attack your beard’s weaknesses
Having trouble growing the beard you want? Before you give up (see step 2), try taking Biotin supplements. Biotin contains Vitamin C, B6, and E, which are all the key vitamins your skin, nails, and hair need to look their best. Biotin may be the key to filling in a patchy beard. Be prepared for your nails and the hair on other parts of you body to grow quickly too.
If you have a very stubborn section of your beard that just won’t grow in, there are products on the market that you can spray on your beard to give it a fuller appearance. A beard thickener is a product that you spray on your beard that looks so convincing most barbers keep it on hand. It may save your beard, but remember that a little bit goes a long way. Be careful to choose a color that truly matches your beard, or you’ll look more like a leopard than a Viking.
Step 5: Maintain your beard’s condition
Once you’ve worked so hard to get your beard the length you’ve been dreaming of, throw a beard party. You did it. But the work’s not done – in order to keep it in top condition, you’ll need to keep it trimmed, combed, and nourished, or it’ll eventually become so dry and damaged you’ll need to start all over.
Using beard oil will help keep your beard nourished and protected against the elements, and beard balm is great for taming, shaping, and moisturizing longer beards. Be careful to choose the right comb – you don’t want to snag the cuticles of the hair or introduce harmful, drying static. We find that the best combs are made from animal horn and other natural materials, since they gently distribute the oils you apply to your beard as well as your beard’s own healthy oils throughout the length of your beard.
Begin a daily routine of washing your face and beard, just like the Vikings did every morning, and comb a bit of oil through your wet beard. Once it’s evenly distributed, warm a bit of beard balm between your fingers and rub through your beard to tame wild flyaways and prevent split ends.