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by Dr Mohan Thomas Senior Cosmetic Surgeon, Cosmetic Surgery Institute

Beard for time immemorial has been the centre of masculinity. It is considered as a prominent male secondary sexual character so much so that females having a fuzzy growth want to get rid of it. Throughout history, the attitude of the society towards sporting a male beard has changed depending on the prevailing cultural-religious traditions such as in Islam, Judaism, Christianity and Sikhism and the current era’s fashion trends. Most cultures view a beard as central to a man’s virility, exemplifying such virtues as strength, wisdom, high social status and the prominent sexual prowess. Moreover sporting a beard can hide that double chin or a short chin and the absence of a jawline. The current crop of Indian cricketers and Bollywood personalities have glamourized having a beard. It is not enough to just grow a beard because it is easy but most important to maintain it and kept well groomed lest it is associated with poor hygiene or an uncivilized, dangerous demeanour.
There are different shapes and sizes of beards and not all beard shapes look good on a particular face. The following steps should be considered to maintain a well groomed beard-
1. Washing of the beard- Beard should be washed and shampooed atleast thrice a week. This is important to keep the beard soft and remove the grime and excess oil so that there is no itching and formation of boils due to infection. Any good quality shampoo used for head wash can be used to wash the beard which is free of sulphates and contains natural ingredients. No need of buying a beard wash, there is nothing special about them.
2. Hydration and Conditioning of the Beard- After washing the beard it is important to oil it so as to condition the beard and keep it soft and shiny. Use an oil that has essential oils and extracts with natural ingredients. This oil seeps into the skin and moisturizes it preventing itchiness, flakes, and maintains hair follicle health. Beard oil application should be done just after a bath and can be used as follows:
a. Pour a few drops of oil into your hands.
b. Massage the oil into the skin at the base of the beard.
c. Work the oil gradually towards the hair tips making sure to evenly spread the oil over your beard and the underlying skin.
d. Apply beard oil once per day in more dry climates and 2-3 times a week in more humid climates.
3. Waxing the beard- This is done to keep the beard in a particular shape and stiff and should ideally be done when the beard is soft and supple.
4. Trimming and shaping the Beard- a well kept beard looks shapely and goes well with a particular face. It is better to use scissors as they allow more fine tuning and prevent split ends. Choose a simple style and shave the non hairy area which has to be ideally done every 3 days. Every few weeks, we suggest snipping off uneven patches and split or loose ends so as to maintain the natural contour of your face. Regular brushing of the beard using a small comb or a wide bristled brush will keep it in shape.

5. Trimming at the Neckline- This is the only place where a trimmer can be used and should be done atleast twice a week. Take two fingers and put them on the Adam’s apple and trim the beard at the upper finger. DO NOT follow your natural jaw line. If you do this, it will make your neckline look weak and your beard awkward.

6. Designer Beard- The shape of the beard which looks good on your face (can be suggested by an expert such as Dr. Mohan Thomas) can be permanently etched by removing the unnecessary hair permanently. At The Cosmetic Surgery Institute this is done using a painless US FDA approved hair removing LASER. Multiple sessions are required for the best results. Please note that this can only be carried out if you have a dark beard as the LASER does not recognize a gray beard.

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