Steve Carlin’s beard started going rogue a decade ago.
“It was the first time in my life I felt I could grow it and not look like I was 13,” said Carlin, of Crystal.
Now 32, Carlin’s wily whiskers scream “Zach Galifianakis” when he really wants them to say “George Clooney.”
“Mine is thick and full, but it’s kind of hoboish, scraggly and scruffy,” said the IT professional and father of two. “It doesn’t look as professional as I’d like it to.”
Like many men whose identity is reflected by the hair on their faces, Carlin was devoted to keeping his full beard. Besides, he’s one of the lucky ones: His wife loves his overgrown look.
Open to cleaning up his act — well, just a little — Carlin paid a recent visit to barber and beard sensei Nick Steeves for some beard TLC. In the luxe, manly confines of Heimie’s Haberdashery in St. Paul, the makeover began with Carlin leaning back in a barber chair, steaming hot towels covering his face. Steeves applied essential oils through the bristles. Once softened, Carlin’s beard was ready to be reshaped.
“A beard can be a sign a strength and masculinity,” Steeves said. “But it can throw people off, too. You still have to keep it clean so that you don’t look like a warrior.”
Using a straight razor, Steeves removed the overgrowth from Carlin’s cheek area. The barber shaped the beard to Carlin’s jaw line, and cleaned up the hair under his neck and mouth using an electric razor. A little wax and a mustache twirl completed Carlin’s new look. Feeling fancy, Carlin snapped a selfie in the mirror.
“I feel different, like everything’s more put together,” Carlin said a few days later. “My wife loves it and has been complimenting me nonstop.”
7 tips from the barber
1. Wash and condition. Treat your beard like the hair on your head and wash it regularly. Regular shampoo and conditioner will work, but beard-specific products contain oils to keep the skin beneath from drying out.
2. Comb it out. Before you shave, use a fine comb to get rid of tangles.
3. Grab the good-smelling stuff. With a bevy of beard products on the market, you should be able to find a pre-shave oil you like. Run it through your whiskers and take a whiff. Products, when combined with the next step, ease itching.
4. Time for towels. Not only is this step relaxing, but hot towels soften the beard for a close, comfortable shave (and ease the pain of pulling ingrown hairs). A damp towel heated in a microwave can re-create this barbershop service at home.
5. Shave carefully. If you want a super-close shave (cheek and neck areas), there’s no alternative to a straight razor. Don’t shave right up to the jaw line. This only makes the face look fuller.
6. Manscape. Use electric clippers with various lengths to shape your beard and clean up the neck. A tweezers and facial hair scissors are necessities for your beard arsenal. Don’t forget to trim the nose hairs.