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

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!

How to Avoid Razor Bumps

If you ask 10 different people how to avoid razor bumps, you’ll probably get 10 different answers. And you know what? All 10 solutions may be effective -- for them -- but not for you! So how do we get a more consistent solution to what seems to be an everyday challenge for most men? We start before the shave.

That’s right. Long before you even pick up the razor, there are three basic points that must be understood:

1. How your beard grows (the angles)

2. What direction your beard grows in

3. How to control your beard growth in order to prevent ingrown hairs

No. 1: Understand how your beard grows.
The way your beard grows can determine where, how often and even how long a razor bump (otherwise known as an ingrown hair) will stay on your face.

Check out the above illustrations. Most men who suffer from ingrown hairs have curly or wavy beards that grow at angles very low to the skin (0 to 45 degrees). Why does that matter? Because these beard types have the tendency to curl into the skin instead of straight out of the follicle.

This valuable piece of information should help you to understand why it’s important to shave with the grain of the beard -- not against it -- and also why it’s important not to shave your beard too close to the skin. Let’s continue.

No. 2: Learn what direction your beard grows in.
The best way to know what direction is “with” or “against” the grain is to study your own beard’s growth pattern. Allow your beard to grow for three to five days so you can take note of what directions the hairs grow in. Once this is understood, make a mental note or, even better, draw an illustration of the directions on paper as a reference guide.

Armed with this knowledge, you can now reduce the frequency in which each hair is shaved against the grain. The less the beard is shaved against the grain and the more the beard is prepped for shaving, the better the face will look and feel.

No. 3: Control your beard.
African-American men who are susceptible to getting razor bumps should avoid shaving against the grain at all times. Shaving against the grain cuts the hairs so close that they fall below the skin line. And, as you can see from those illustrations, once your hairs fall below that line, they’re going to have a difficult time growing out of the skin.

So if you want to get a close shave and significantly reduce the possibility of razor bumps, keep your beard hair slightly above the skin line. And again, the most effective way to achieve this on a consistent basis is to shave with the grain. The only possible drawback to this method is an earlier 5 o’clock shadow. In my opinion, however, a shadow without razor bumps means a man with better-looking skin and greater confidence!

So there you have it. Three principles that will change the way you approach shaving, and, in the process, change the way you feel about yourself. And that, my friend, is priceless. Happy shaving!

Stop Shaping and Start Styling

When was the last time you browsed through old pictures of yourself? Or sat down and clicked through your old “tagged” images on Facebook? Notice anything? Yep, that’s right: You’ve been sporting the same haircut since before you could drive.

It’s understandable -- many African-American hairstyles stay current through the years, so it’s not like you’re out of style. But that’s no excuse for not changing things up every once in a while. Believe me; even the smallest adjustment can make a difference. And it can give you a new sense of confidence in an area in which you never even thought you were lacking.

So give one of these older-yet-new-again styles a try. Trust me, everyone will love your new look, and your barber will be thrilled to finally try something different on you!

The Hi-top Fade



Yep, the “hi-top fade” is back! Only now, it’s not as mainstream as it was in the late ’80s. And that’s a good thing, since it gives you the freedom to wear it any way you like: clean, textured, tall, short, etc. The best part is that, if you make it work with your overall presentation, you will be the center of attention -- in a good way.

Keep in mind, however, that a hi-top fade can lengthen and also square the face off. There are exceptions to the rule, but if your face shape is square or oblong/rectangular, you may want to avoid this style.


Afro




There are many names for this style: afro, low-fro, afro temp, etc. And depending on which city you’re in, there’s tremendous variety in how it’s worn too. These pictures show what’s most popular at the moment, but if you want to wear it fuller, go for it. The sky is truly the limit here.

Yet another name for this style is the “Neo-Soul” look, simply because -- while it can be worn neat or messy -- it always has an artistic, nonconformist flare. In other words, this style isn’t for everyone. But if your personality fits the bill, it’s a killer look.

The Caesar

The Caesar haircut typically comes in two shades: low/light and dark. Depending on where you live (and your hair type), you may also hear people referring to a third shade: medium.

One thing I like about this style is that the person wearing it can look totally different with each of the different lengths. The lighter the haircut, the more the attention is drawn to the eyes. The darker the cut, the more it creates a frame for the face, allowing facial hair to be prominent.

The Fade



Of course, this style has been around for ages, and for good reason. It fits every face shape and every hair type, and the variations are endless! However, I have noticed a trend toward a darker shade with more length on the top (think Blair Underwood and Maxwell). This new trend adds immediate sophistication to what is already a timeless look.

Dreadlocks



It takes a confident man to pull this hairstyle off -- not to mention a patient one. With the amount of time it will take to grow your hair to these lengths, you will definitely realize soon enough if it’s for you. But with patience comes great reward, as you can see from these images. Good look, right?

Now we’ve all seen different looks within the dreadlock style, but the most versatile and popular now is shoulder-length and neat. That’s because the style is slowly gaining acceptance in the corporate world. In addition to being office-ready, shoulder-length dreads have another benefit: They complement your overall appearance rather than dominating it.

Lenny Kravitz: Getty Images