Lessons in Trimming – Your Barber, Your Sensei

Lessons in Trimming – Your Barber, Your Sensei

Cold steel hits my smooth face and it dawns on me that one instant can change everything. What was intended as just a quick trim, turned into something far more sinister.

One brief, misplaced move of the beard trimmer was all it took. A mane that was just coming into its own after months of nurturing and attention was gone – replaced now with the beginnings of a misguided attempt to replicate the neck beard that lost Peter Cooper the presidential election in 1876 (Google it, it’s bad).

I had to start all over again that day. The stinging cold on my face was a reminder of the vow I made while quietly shaving the rest of my beard. Never again would I make the same mistake while trimming and shaping my facial hair during its quest for greatness.

There’s a few things I learned because of that vow I made to my face-canvas that day. One of the more important relates to relinquishing control of the clippers and putting your mane in the hands of a professional.

Before you even think about whether to trim yourself or have a barber work their magic on your mane, it’s important to give your beard at least a month to grow without any sharp objects coming into contact with it. At this point it is critical to avoid caving when your beard reaches its itchy stage. There are a lot of great products out there that will alleviate the itch while promoting positive growth, use those instead of the razor.

This initial period will help you determine how thickly your facial hair develops, where it tends to grow in quicker, and what shape it naturally takes.

At this point, it’s a great idea to head to your local barber shop for a trim. An experienced barber will act as your sensei if you allow them to do so.

Make sure you are asking the right questions when you go in for your first trim:

What is the shave line I should be looking for when it comes to trimming around my jaw?

What sort of style would work best with how my beard grows in?

How often should I come back?

What level should I be looking for if my ideal beard leans heavier on the professional side rather than the wizard side?

Your shear-wielding sensei should be able to assist you with these questions, the answers of which will aid you in between visits.

The knowledge, as well as a professional trim that encourages your hair to grow and develop how you want it, is critical. It prevents mishaps from occurring and helps shape you into a master of trimming your own mane efficiently and effectively.

As your beard grows, you’ll grow. You’ll be able to mold your mane, for free, into whatever you desire.

Don’t forget your sensei though. It’s always recommended to take the time to get a professional trim before a big event, or just to further develop your knowledge while pampering your beard.



  • Aaron

    Good tips. But remember the wrong wording about how you would like you beard trimmed to the barber or an inexperienced barber can lead to horrible catastrophic things happening to you beard. Choose your sensei wisely. If they ask more questions than you do get up out of that chair and save the long hard growth that you have.

    September 3, 2016
  • Joseph Maskell

    My secret for always getting the best trim on my beard is to find the barber who will listen, tip heavily before the trim begins, and always give the proper instructions: take as little off that’s necessary, if that! A great barber will understand and you will always maintain the length and be pleased with your trim.

    April 4, 2018

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