1. Evaluate your hair type.
First order of business: to trim your beard, you're going to need to know what type of beard it is. Give it a look. Is your beard hair thick, coarse, and curly? Thin, short, and straight? Make sure you grow out your beard so you're not trimming tiny, partially-grown follicles and strands. That's a recipe for ingrowns.
Knowing which hair type you have can help guide you through the process. It helps you to decide which tools or products are going to suit you and which styles are realistic.
2. Select your tools.
Once you've given your hair a good look, you need to select your razors or trimmers accordingly.
Different razors serve different purposes. What might be your best razor overall could differ completely from that of a person with a different hair type.
There are so many great electric razors out there, each serving different purpose. From Amazon's dear fave, the Max-T electric shaver, to Tristan Walker's innovative shaving system for men of color, the possibilities are endless.
Experiment, consult experts, and pick whichever one works for you. It's an investment into your best trim, so choose wisely. And of course, please, please make sure you're cleaning your razor properly as you use it.
3. Choose your style.
Once you've acquainted yourself with your hair type and selected some helpful tools, you can select which shape and style you're going for.
Think you'd like a dapper fade? Prefer to go with a simple, understated mustache? Scroll through Instagram, ask for your barber's advice, and pick a signature facial hair style that will be simple enough to take on when you can't head to the shop for a trim.
Many barbers try to go with your face shape. This tricks the eye into think your jawline or cheekbones are more chiseled. If you can't quite master that art, just stick to something strong and simple.
4. Get to cutting.
Ok, now's the big moment. Remember: it's hair and it'll grow back. No pressure.
Select a guard based on the length (or select no guard if you want it ultra-short) and shave with the grain. To cut it extremely close, you can shave against the grain, but it could result in bumps, irritation, or clogged pores and ingrown hairs. Want the beard all the way off? Go crazy. Need some hair? Keep the guard on and trim it on down.
The neckline is where things get tricky. You've got options.
A.) You can do a more drastic and less tapered contrast between your beard and neck, eliminating any beard hairs on the neck.
"Take your index and middle finger, and place them together above the Adam’s apple to determine the baseline for the bottom of the beard," Robert McMillen, founder and head barber at Mildred Barbershop, told MensHealth.com. "It’s helpful to set a line from this point straight across the neck with your trimmer or razor first, then trim the hairs below." Think of your neckline as making a U shape if you were looking from below.
B.) You can fade the hair a bit from the neck to the beard for a subtle look.
"Put a 1-guard on your clipper and close it all the way," Garrett Pike, founder and head barber at No Club Barbershop, told MensHealth.com. You can roughly trim a full inch into the beard from there. "This will create a soft contrast," Pike said. "Then you can take the guard off and trim halfway up into the 1-guard line for a steadier contrast."
If you end up with a bad beard, it can be fixed. No biggie.
5. Remember the 'stache.
Now to grab the mustache. The length or style is up to you, but generally it's a good idea to keep it from obscuring your lips.
Make a resting face and comb or smooth the hairs down. You can trim them with a small pair of beard scissors or lightly, lightly graze the tips that overlap your lips with a guardless electric razor.
6. Soothe any irritation.
You might be looking a little red or bumpy. Luckily, that's easily solved.
You can exfoliate the skin regularly to keep dead skin from clogging your pores. You also should moisturize the shaven areas and spray them with a post-shave mist made of ingredients like aloe and tea tree oil to keep things calm.
7. Give yourself some pampering.
To keep your beard in tip top shape, you'll need to treat yourself occasionally. Wash your beard with a softening facial hair cleanser, rub in some drops of beard oil for maximum conditioning, and splurge on a fun after-shave balm.
If you want something done right, sometimes you've gotta do it yourself. And now you can.