Coarse, Curly Facial Hair? These Beards Are For You

You know a beard can add flare to your overall look. But growing one is not without obstacles, like figuring out the right style to fit your face shape and maintaining your beard to look as fresh as it did the day you left the barbershop. If you have coarse, curly hair, you can multiply these challenges by a factor of 10.

Compared to your less curly counterparts, you’ll need a lot more skill when holding the immers. Most importantly, you’ll need to master the curl of your beard because, depending on how short it’s worn, the tightness of the curls can give the beard the appearance of looking patchy. In the beginning stages of beard-growing, patchiness can be prevented by using immers (or a beard comb or brush, when ansitioning from a short to long beard length) to smooth out your facial hair every two to three days.

Best Beard Styles for Coarse, Curly Hair

Take your cues from the stars: These beard styles are the best bets for guys with coarse, curly hair:

  • Beard scruff, which works on all face shapes:
Lenny Kravitz
  • Goatees like the Vandyke and the full goatee (where the mustache is connected to the chin hair):

Diddy (Vandyke) Will Smith (full goatee)
  • Chin strap:
Dwayne Wade

  • Light beard:
Flo Rida

Keep Your Beard Looking Fresh

The key to making these styles look good day in and day out is maintaining a desirable length. How long is too long? When the sharp lines that helped create the style become less noticeable due to the curl of the beard. And, of course, as mentioned earlier: If the beard grows to a length at which the hairs begin to create holes or patches in the beard, it’s grown too long.

The best way to keep these styles looking neat, especially for the super-curly beard crowd, is a detailed finish with a razor (keeping in mind, of course, that many men with this beard type are more prone to shaving irritation). The focus of the blade should be on the perimeter of the beard in order to accent the style; the surrounding area can be immed rather than shaved.

So what about the full beard? You’ll need patience -- and preferably a long vacation on a secluded island -- while you brush and comb your beard through the patchy period and into its full glory.

  • Full beard:
Rick Ross

 All Images: Getty Images

Universally Flattering Facial Hair: Is It a Myth?

A custom-made suit will always fit better than anything off the rack. The same applies to your facial hair: You look better when your whiskers are groomed to fit your face shape. But, like a well-made ready-to-wear suit that looks pretty decent on most men, is there one facial hairstyle that brings out the best in almost every guy who wears it? To find out, we asked barbers across the country. Perhaps proving that there isn’t one universally flattering facial hair style, their responses were as diverse as their hometowns.

NORTHEAST: The Groomed Five O’clock Shadow
“Each man has his own style, and facial hair is a way to express that. Men grow facial hair differently too -- some is coarser than others, some is finer. Some faces are more pronounced than others, creating shadows and spots that may not look great with a beard. But if I had to choose, I’d say the groomed five o’clock shadow is the safest bet. The style is professional enough for work. Plus, you can have a clean-shaven face in the morning and a shadow by night, creating a different look. As for a beard, goatee or mustache, you might not have enough facial hair growth or the right dimensions to pull it off.”

-- Manuel Vazquez of American Shave Classic Barber in Union, N.J.

MIDWEST: The Full Beard
“The one style that works for most men is a full beard, whether it be scruff or the ‘I just got done hiking the Alps’ look. It looks classy when your beard is groomed, rugged when unkempt. It can really make a man look distinguished and it can sometimes age a baby face. Guys that have patchy beards should keep them short and tidy to give a fuller appearance.”

-- Shawna Carter of State Street Barbers in Chicago, Ill.

WEST: The Style That Squares

“It’s always best to choose a beard style that best fits your face shape. A square face shape is the most ideal and desired shape. For men with square faces, the choices are endless. For those who don’t have a square face, the goal is to choose a beard style that helps to square the face so it gives the illusion that they do. This will be different for every face shape.”

-- Craig the Barber of Gornik & Drucker barbershop in Beverly Hills, Calif.

SOUTHWEST: A Mustache

“After surveying our team of barbers, the vote came back unanimously for the mustache. We all agreed that the mustache (well-groomed, of course) represents a sense of style, confidence, security, strength and distinction. Just consider Clark Gable, Billy Dee Williams, Tom Selleck, Salvador Dali, Burt Reynolds, Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin.”

-- Christopher Dickerson, president of Christopher’s Vintage Shave in Sugar Land, Texas

… Or a Goatee
“A well-trimmed, well-managed goatee looks good on every man -- as long as you choose a goatee style that’s a good fit for your face. Some goatees may be fuller, thicker or longer than others, but the key is how it’s kept up. I find that most men take better care of a goatee than a full beard or just a mustache. You can’t grow it and ignore it.”

-- Adrian Armendariz of V’s Barbershop in Houston, Texas


SOUTHEAST: No One Style Works for All

“There’s not one facial hairstyle that looks good on every man, because every man’s facial hair differs. Some hair is coarse and stiff, some is curly, some grows in spotty.

The style that’s the most flattering on an individual is the one that’s contoured to the man’s face; is neat and linear; and compliments the natural flow of the man’s cheekbone, jawline or lip structure.”

-- James B. Kynes Jr., Kings of Atlanta Grooming Lounge & Spa in Atlanta, Ga.

Beard Style Guide for African-American Men

Beards in the African-American community have always been popular. Of course we can all think back to iconic figures from the ’60s -- Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass, Shaft -- who brought them into popular mainstream culture. However, I think the real reason for the enduring popularity of beards stems from the desire to hide (and avoid) the effects of shaving irritation. The end result of having to deal with these shaving challenges has been an amazing evolution of facial-hair styling. Today, we see many major figures sporting variations of these original styles. The goatee, the chin strap, the full beard and the scruffy beard have all experienced tweaks in order to make them relevant in 2012. These updated styles can definitely enhance your look, but be careful: They can have the opposite effect if worn incorrectly.

THE SCRUFFY BEARD

Beard scruff has become much more popular in recent years, perhaps even surpassing the goatee style. There are two reasons for this: easy maintenance and social acceptance of the look in professional settings. The biggest challenge is making sure that the beard scruff remains approximately 1/4 inch in length, which isn’t difficult if you have a pair of adjustable clippers. Keeping the hair close is key because it will prevent the appearance of an unkempt beard -- and the possibility of revealing areas that don’t grow in evenly.

THE FULL BEARD

This style can be worn by anyone who is capable of growing a full beard evenly. Although a full beard can sometimes be an intimidating look, it has its advantages. It can make the face appear slimmer, and it can also alter the face into a more desirable shape, like a square or oval. But keep in mind that the slimmer the face (i.e., triangular, oblong, diamond shapes), the less full the beard should be (one-and-a-half inches thick or less), simply because a full beard can quickly overpower a smaller, narrower face.

THE GOATEE

The Van Dyke

The two most common goatee styles among all men are the musketeer and the Van Dyke. In the African-American community, however, it is the Van Dyke and the full Van Dyke. Men who like to be the center of attention tend to gravitate toward these styles because the beards are concentrated on the mouth area, leading the eye’s focus to the goatee’d speaker.

The Full Van Dyke

This style adds length to all face shapes, so it should be avoided by men who have longer faces (i.e., oblong) and pointed chins (i.e., triangular and diamond face shapes). You don’t want to make your long face even longer or bring attention to an already pointed chin.

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHIN STRAP

 

 

 

 

 

This is another style that requires confidence to wear, for one simple reason: It outlines the jawline. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with an outlined jaw unless there is a fuller face involved. A round face will always end up looking even rounder with this beard style. The same problem also occurs with rectangular, triangular and diamond face shapes. Oval and square faces work best with this style.

Don't Fear the Razor: Putting a Stop to Shaving Irritation

Shaving irritation is a very common malady, partially because there are so many causes for it. To name just a few:

  • Blade’s too sharp
  • Blade’s too dull
  • Too many passes/strokes
  • Too much pressure
  • Shaving too quickly
  • Lack of moisture
  • Shaving with cold water

Like I said, the list is long, and it could be even longer if we were to consider men with unique circumstances, like curly beards. And of course we all know what it looks and feels like: unsightly ingrown hairs, redness and the don’t-touch-my-face-right-now burning sensation.

Yet there is a solution. (There’s always a solution, right?) Below I’ve listed a few tried-and-true ways to avoid shaving irritation.

1. Start off clean.
One of the first steps to guarantee a close, comfortable and irritation-free shave is to make sure your face is clean. A quick rinse of the face with a face wash and/or exfoliator not only removes dirt and oils, but also aids in softening the beard. This allows for the razor blade to perform at its optimum level, and it frees your skin of extra dirt and oils that could wreak havoc on your open pores.

2. Keep it wet.
I always let my clients know there is absolutely nothing wrong with over-prepping their beards. So lather, re-lather, then lather again if you have to. Simply put, the wetter and softer you can get your beard, the less effort it will be to take it off. And who wouldn’t mind a bit more cushion between the face and the blade? The end result is fewer strokes, which means the blade is on your face for less time. If you want it a bit closer, then re-lather and shave again!

The best way to maximize moisture is to immediately apply the shaving cream after you’ve rinsed off your face wash. This way the cream can trap the moisture already on the skin and infuse more in the process.

3. Know your face.
For many men, shaving against the grain leads to skin sensitivity (i.e., razor burn) and, even worse, ingrown hairs. If you’re one of those men, knowing the direction(s) in which your hair grows can save you from days of frustration -- not to mention feeling like you can’t leave the house. Once you determine where you have multidirectional growth patterns, you can prep them more heavily. Also consider leaving this area for last, so you can really concentrate on the best direction to shave in order to minimize irritation.

4. Heal and moisturize.
A splash of cold water will bring your skin back in balance by closing the pores. Then, grab your favorite aftershave balm -- one that’s designed to heal and also moisturize the skin. Don’t minimize the importance of this step. Healing is key; your skin will be going through this process again very soon!

All-star Mascot Mustaches

Sports mascots have set ’stache-sporting records for decades. Yep, we’re talking about those psychotically smiling guys with heads big enough to require their own weather systems, who stalk the sidelines in support of your favorite teams. We asked Lana DeDoncker, senior stylist for New York City’s Downtown Magazine, to tell us which macho mustaches are worth emulating, and how to get the look if you’ve got the spirit.

Bernie Brewer (Milwaukee Brewers)

Here’s a guy who anybody would want to get behind … especially when he whips down a slide behind the outfield wall into a pool of Pabst Blue Ribbon whenever a Milwaukee Brewer bangs one into the bleachers. His blond handlebar brush suggests a blue-collar man’s man who puts his heart and soul into giving hard-working Americans an old-fashioned good time.

Says Lana …

“Obviously, this is an exaggerated characterization of the American ideal of a working man. The mustache is beyond cartoonish, but you can imagine it being modeled on that of a broad-shouldered brewer of the early 20th century. If you’re looking to emulate a look, that’s not a bad one to shoot for -- he looks like a young Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid. To achieve it, simply grow your mustache as thick and as far out beyond your lip line on either side of your mouth as possible. Make sure to groom around it; if the rest of your face is cleanly shaved, it’ll emphasize the impressive size of the ’stache itself. Then use a little mustache wax to brush the ends so they extend from your cheeks. Not too much, though. This is supposed to look mean and natural.”

 
Mr. Redlegs (Cincinnati Reds)

The reigning Mustache Monarch in all of sports, this guy has a baseball head the size of a medicine ball and a mustache to match. A popular ESPN commercial spot about a network mustache contest pits the Big Red Machine mascot against Cincinnati’s reigning National League MVP Joey Votto and broadcaster John Ravetch. When Ravetch and Mr. Redlegs go nose-to-nose in an uncomfortable men’s room confrontation (is there any other kind?), Ravetch’s threat -- “You’re going down!" -- sounds as empty as the brains of the cast of “Jersey Shore.”

Says Lana …

“The only way to measure this mustache is to compare it to the wingspan on a stealth bomber. But the look, of course, is an outsized version of a very cool style favored by ballplayers in both the 19th and 20th centuries. To approximate it, you’ll need to dampen your ’stache and comb it flat with a small mustache brush. Your strokes should start out in the middle and fan out to the ends. After rinsing your brush, apply mustache wax to it and stroke your mustache with the same motion, ensuring that the wax permeates all the bristles. When you’re done, squeeze a little wax onto your fingertips and twist the ends up in an upward and outward motion so that they point to the sky and give you that Wyatt Earp look that kept Kevin Costner up to his chaps in chicks in the mid-’90s.”

 
Pistol Pete (Oklahoma State University Cowboys)

The gun-slinging sidekick of the OSU Cowboys has a waxed-out ’stache with thin turned-up ends, allowing for evil finger-twisting opportunities not seen since Snidely Whiplash was lashing Dudley Do-Right’s dame to the train tracks every Saturday morning. Sadly, Pete had his pants pulled down -- or, more accurately, his mustache yanked off -- by a rival mascot at a game between OSU and Utah State a couple of years back. We were treated to one of the best mascot brawls on the books, but when Pete’s brush was revealed to be fake, it effectively shot his reputation to hell.

Says Lana …

“Pete put up a noble fight to preserve his school’s honor, but after he was stripped of his ’stache, he became a cowboy exposed as being full of bull. If you want to replicate this cheesy look anyway, just head to any costume store with $1.99 for a brush that wraps around your mug with a rubber band. Not where you want to be, boys.”

 
Viktor the Viking (Minnesota Vikings)

If you’re seeking that special Lord of Asgard look, this is your man, er, god. Modeled after a Norse warrior, this dude sweats more testosterone than an MMA pay-per-view event. He also offers an axe and shield as key talking points to anybody who might want to publicly doubt his total dudeness.

Says Lana (a little weak-kneed) …
“This guy is more macho than the entire Marine Corps. If you can grow a ’stache this … virile … here’s how to keep it in shape. First, you’ll want to trim it down to a controllable level with a pair of grooming scissors: To do so, dampen the hairs with water and comb down. Working from the middle out and continuing to comb the strays down before each clip, use a small pair of mustache scissors to snip across the bottom of the mustache for a smooth, even line. Then do the same to the outer edges of the top down to the outer edges on the chin for distinct parameters. Now that you have your outline, you can trim the bulk of the inner mustache. Don’t cut too much at first! This will allow you to judge how short you want to go. You can always cut more, but you can’t put anything back. Now comb through it once more to root out any hairs you might have missed and snip them off. You’re done, Olaf! It’s time to growl into the mirror, grab your axe and head out for a glamorous evening sacking the town!”


All Photo Credits: Getty Images