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A Close Shave – Top Tips for Your Beard From a Master Barber

A Close Shave – Top Tips for Your Beard From a Master Barber

So you’ve got a face full of fuzz, or maybe you’re thinking about the prospect of sprouting some? But what are the top tips for maintaining wizardly whiskers? And how do we stop that ever so annoying itching when we do get to growing one? To try and solve these age old conundrums we asked Phil Reader, Master Barber at the awesome Drakes of London, for some expert tips on how to keep beards in check.

Why do beards itch? And how do we stop it?

As your beard gets longer, the tips of the hairs will bend slightly and make contact with the facial skin. As most men tend to be clean shaven, this is a new sensation and causes a slight sensory overload leading to itchiness. The itchy period usually lasts about a week, until your brain starts ignoring the sensory information! There isn’t really much that can be done to stop it, however, softening the bristle with oils or balms can help. Patience is usually the best way to get through it. if the itching doesn’t go away after 2 weeks or if you notice any redness or pimples then it could be an indication of a more serious skin condition such as folliculitis.

How do you maintain a beard?

The best way to maintain a beard is to make regular trips to your local barber. They will be able to give advice on how to keep your beard in good shape and recommend any products you’ll need.

What products would you recommend for a beard?

Usually a beard oil and a beard shampoo are all that guys need to keep their facial hair in good condition. For those with longer, more unruly beards, then a beard balm might be a better option than an oil. Balms tend to have more viscous ingredients in them so aren’t absorbed into the hair as quickly. This gives a small degree of hold allowing you to style a little easier

Should you wash your beard?

Beards are unfortunately very good at collecting grime. Hair is very porous so it absorbs atmospheric pollution quite readily. Beards should be washed at least as often as your head hair and maybe more if you regularly use an oil.

Are there rules about how/when to trim a beard?

No two beards are the same so there are no hard and fast rules about trimming. That being said, certain shapes work better with certain face shapes.

Have you got any tips for shaping beards?

Anything shorter than around 2cm can be clipped neatly with an electric beard trimmer. Anything longer will probably need to be trimmed with a scissor and comb. This is a lot more difficult to do to yourself so I would highly recommend visiting a barber to keep longer beards in shape.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to grow a new beard?

It really is as simple as stopping shaving! Keep it neatly lined off under the chin to make it look more intentional as it grows out.

Is there a secret to growing a denser thicker beard?

There are products on the market that claim to promote the growth of hair but I do feel that some of the claims are dubious. Some men are more blessed with follicles than others and there is nothing you can do to change that.

Do different face shapes affect what style of beard that would best suit someone?

Yes, face shape is a big influence when deciding on a beard shape. i.e. if you have a very round face, then a pointed shape in the beard will help to redress the balance.

Face shapes for beards
Are beards still as popular or are they on the on the way out?

In the Drakes of London HQ in Fulham, I have noticed a decline in the number of large, so called “hipster” beards. That being said, I still trim a lot more beards these days than I did perhaps 5 years ago.

What’s the most popular beard style at the moment?

Beard styles at the moment tend to be worn a lot shorter and neater than I have seen in the last few years. I have put this down to men realising how much work goes into maintaining a long, full beard.

Drakes of London is the capital’s go to place for male grooming with branches in Fulham and Tower Hill. If you fancy a trim while swigging a beer in lovely surroundings this is the place for you. Check out their website at

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