This article first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Grayson Magazine.
The Movember Foundation started in order to raise awareness for men’s health. The Movember movement occurs every November with thousands of people worldwide participating and raising funds for what Movember deems are the four key men’s health issues: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and physical inactivity. The idea “Gro a Mo, Save a Bro” encourages men to grow a mustache for the month of November, then start conversations about why they are growing it and asking family and friends to help contribute to the cause through any means available.
But growing out facial hair that does not leave the gentleman looking unkempt is a process. Jesus Prado, owner of Gents VII Barbershop in Sherman, says that the process of matching facial hair to a gentleman involves something similar to an interview process.
“There are all sorts of beards,” he says. “You have to make sure to ask questions and consult with the client; that way he gets what he wants.”
Prado says that a good barber will look at the facial structure of their client, along with their hairstyle and body type, to help the client choose a style that is going to look clean and professional.
After a style is chosen, the client’s face is in the steady hands of the barber. Tools for facial hair outnumber the tools needed for a basic haircut. Prado uses, on average, ten tools when he is styling facial hair. Each barber has their own preference as to what tools they use to shape facial hair, but these are some of the most common.
Trimmers are the most versatile tools that barbers use. They come in various sizes. The large trimmers (commonly referred to as clippers) are used to do the bulk work. If a gentleman has a thick beard or coarse hair, larger trimmers are used. They are also used to trim off and line up the sides of a beard. Middle range trimmers work for the initial trimming on the underside of a beard, or to fade the beard in to match the hairstyle. Small trimmers are used for the detail work. Their size allows them to get into close places such as around the ears, to clean up the hairline or to do detail work, as in around the mustache.
Straight razors became less popular in homes when the cartridge razor was introduced, but in many barber shops, the straight razor is still the preferred tool due to its precision. Often times, when cleaning up around a mustache or beard, a barber will use a straight razor. It allows for a close smooth shave around the cheeks, on the neckline and under the chin.
Before a straight razor is used, a barber will use some sort of protective lubricant on the skin. This protects the skin during the shave and helps avoid razor burn. Clear gel is generally used in places of detail, as it allows for the barber to see the area that he is working in, as opposed to a white foam which is used when an entire area is to be shaved.
A wide-toothed comb is commonly used before and after; before the process starts to straighten out the hairs and help the barber find the general shape of the beard and after to catch any strays that may have been missed during the cut. It also loosens up the cut hairs that may have gotten caught in the beard.
Aftershave should be used directly after your facial hair shaping, but especially after a straight razor has been used, to protect the skin. Shaving removes the top layer of skin along with the hair, so a barber will use an aftershave to keep your skin moisturized as well as protected from the elements.
Facial structure is an important thing to consider when growing out your facial hair. Rectangular and diamond-shaped faces look great with a full beard.
“If they have a long narrow face we leave the beard square; rounder face is going to have a curve and an angle to it,” says Sarah Key, grooming specialist at Bro’s House of Fades in Sherman. She recommends that you and your barber understand the nature of your facial hair.
“You don’t fight it. You have to go with the pattern.”
If your beard hair has patches, your barber might suggest a shorter style or to take some of the bulk out of it.
As the number of people participating in Movember increases, so will the appointments set to the barber shops. Facial hair for awareness does not mean that you have to walk around looking ungroomed. Having a barber that you trust, or maybe trying a new barber, will keep your face looking respectable for a good cause.