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How Do I Clean up a Scruffy Beard?

By I. Ong
Updated May 21, 2024
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Beards are worn for a variety of reasons, including to help a man look older or more distinguished, or to cover a weak chin. Left ungroomed or without regular maintenance, however, a beard can take on an unkempt appearance. A scruffy beard can be cleaned up with regular cleaning, conditioning, and trimming.

A scruffy beard must first be washed with a mild shampoo, such as baby shampoo. This will clean the beard hair without damaging it or irritating your skin. After rinsing the shampoo off, massage a conditioning product into the beard to soften and nourish it. The conditioner of your choice may range from a simple olive oil to branded beard conditioners and oils.

Note that beard hair is coarser than hair on the top of the head, and is therefore more difficult to soften. Regular conditioning must be performed to obtain noticeable effects on a scruffy beard. Make certain to fully wash the conditioner off afterwards to avoid flaking. Use a towel to pat your beard dry and gently run a wide-toothed comb through it.

The next step in cleaning up a scruffy beard is to trim and shape it. It is advisable to make use of a barber's services for the first trimming, in order to have a future template to follow in terms of hair length and lines. The barber may also be able to recommend a good beard shape for your particular facial structure.

Once you are ready to begin trimming your beard on your own, prepare the following tools: a wide-toothed comb, a beard trimmer or professional barber's scissors, a razor, and a mirror with good lighting. Make sure your beard is dry before beginning, as the hair may hang down longer when wet, and you may trim off too much. Trim one side entirely first before moving to the other for better symmetry, starting from beneath the ear going down.

Gently comb your beard, and trim the hair on the outer edge of the comb. Limit your cuts to small portions while you get used to doing it. You can remedy it if you cut off too little, but not if you cut off too much.

If you have hair growing past your jawline to your neck, shape the beard to your jawline and remove the hair beneath it. The excess hair may be shaved off with a razor. Make sure the area is well-lit, so you can clearly see what you're doing, and take your time in carefully shaving your neck for the neatest appearance.

Trim your mustache last, using your upper lip as the pattern. Comb the mustache hair downward and trim the lower portions. Begin at the center and move towards the corners of the mouth, cutting off any hair that may be growing past your lip. Most beauty experts recommend that you do not trim the upper portion of the mustache as it looks better when the full area between nose and lip is covered.

Check for any stray hairs that may have been left behind on your face and neck. Such hairs should be shaved and not pulled out. Keep up daily beard maintenance with proper trimming and conditioning to keep your scruffy beard from reappearing.

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Discussion Comments

By ZipLine — On Nov 06, 2013

@literally45-- Don't forget to use conditioner on your beard before trimming. Regular hair conditioner works fine.

By ddljohn — On Nov 06, 2013

@literally45-- Does your electric shaver have a comb guard or clippers for beards and mustaches?

I highly recommend getting these if you don't have them already. It's so much easier to trim a scruffy bead with these tools. They will prevent you from cutting too much or too little.

And make sure to trim the mustache and neck area along with the beard or it will look odd.

By literally45 — On Nov 05, 2013

I have a scruffy beard style right now, but I think it has grown a bit too long. So instead of looking cool, I look lazy and messy, like I haven't left my bed for two weeks.

I just bought an electric shaver to trim my beard. I've never done this before. I hope I do it right. Does anyone have any tips or recommendations?

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