7 Ways To Conquer A Naturally Unruly Beard

Thad asks:


I’ve been working on my beard, but the longer hairs tend to go in the wrong direction once they get more than an inch long. Is it natural for longer facial hair to grow at an angle?


I have to admit that I laughed when I first got this e-mail, because even though I get a good portion of my traffic from beard related posts, I don’t consider myself to be an authority on beards. I am, however, someone who has grown a decent number of beards over the years despite a distinct lack of natural beard growing ability. Maybe there are some men out there who were born to grow perfect beards, but for most of us, getting a beard to look halfway normal takes a little bit of effort.

As I typed up a quick response, I realized that although my suggestions were pretty basic, they were the result of years of trial and error, and might be beneficial to other guys whose natural ability is throwing roadblocks onto their roads to beardedness. If you have a problem with an unruly beard (or know someone who does), here are 7 tips that should help to get those renegade patches back under control. And they require only a little more effort to implement than growing the beard itself

7 Ways To Train A Naturally Unruly Beard

1. Wait It Out: Ever get a whiffle and then try to convert back to your regular hair cut? There’s a two week period where you have the puffy headed look of a Monchichi, and there isn’t a damn thing that you can do about it. All you can do is wait for the hair to grow long enough that it falls into place from its own weight. Your beard can enter transition periods, too, and if you’re particularly lucky, the issues work themselves out on their own. This isn’t the most reliable way to get a beard back into place, but it certainly requires the least amount of effort.

2. Stop Washing It Every Day: Don’t let your woman tell you this is gross, because the ladies have been using this trick on their hair forever. Have you ever taken a good look at a super model’s hair? It’s like a grease pit because they don’t wash it. Washing your beard every day makes your beard wiry by stripping out any natural oil that would’ve accumulated to make it manageable. I’m not suggesting that you never wash your beard again there, Captain Caveman, but washing it every other day will give your beard a little oil buildup to help coax strays back into place.

3. Condition It Once A Week: If added length hasn’t added enough weight to get the hairs to lay flat, adding a bit of regular hair conditioner to your beard once a week can get some of those strays under control. I’ve only used regular hair conditioner that #1GF! had laying around, so anyone who says you need special beard conditioner is probably trying to sell you something that does less and costs more than it should

4. Train It Right: Portions of my beard grow in insane directions, and the only way that I can get them in line is to train them. In beard season, I tend to carry one of those cheap, black, plastic combs that only your grandfather and barber seem to posses, and run the fine end of it through my beard while watching TV or reading. Ten or fifteen minutes a day usually takes care of a bulk of the issues.

5. Train It Wrong: I discovered this tip entirely by accident, but I find that it works fairly well. On those days that you wash your beard, it will end up more more wiry because you stripped out the oils. When you get out of the shower on those days, comb your beard in the complete wrong direction and let it air dry. You will probably look insane, so avoid glaring at or making any sudden movements around any women who may be running around your house. Once your beard is dry, comb it in the correct direction, and then smooth it down with a barely damp hand. This will tend to make your beard look a lot bigger than normal, but the hairs learn that your commands will be obeyed.

6. Try Soap: Washing your beard with soap will strip out all the oils completely, which seems like it would make your beard less controllable, right? Well, it does. The benefit is that the whole beard gets bushier, making the uncontrollable patch blend in. It doesn’t seem like sound advice to throw the rest of your beard into chaos to hide a chaotic patch, but if the other methods fail and you don’t mind a bushy beard, this may end up being the only thing that works for you.

7. Weed Out The Trouble Makers: If none of the other methods work, you may have to prune the unruly hairs and rely on its well-trained neighbors to take up the slack. This happens a lot with grey hairs, which are as impossible to get in line as an old man with tattooed forearms. If the patch is so out of control that trimming won’t fix it, you may need to simply try a different style. Remember: there are a lot of beard types that you can choose from, but not all of them were made for your face.

Hope that helps.

If you have any other tips on getting your beard under control, be sure to drop them in the comments.

47 thoughts on “7 Ways To Conquer A Naturally Unruly Beard

  1. Try wax. I swear by wax for the hair on top of my head, as well as on the front of it. More effective than gel or grease, without any of the crunchy or sloppy side effects. Indispensable for mustache curling too.

    1. What wax do you use for your moustache? Most waxs don’t seem to be strong enough to hold.

  2. Good list. I’ll keep that in mind during MaBeGroMo. But as Jolly Bloger says I think wax just might be the ultimate beard conqueror, adding a little oils and weight and stuff can’t be a bad thing. I need to buy wax …

    1. Most places sell moustache wax in a small tin but surprising enough ear wax is always nearby and works quite well

  3. Since I’ve never had a beard, and most definately hope to never have a beard, I found it insane that I was reading each tip with such intrigue and time and yet there I was.

  4. Hey Jon,

    Thanks for your work in saving the beard. I consider you one of the leading thinkers in the field.

    What do you recommend in the way of tools for keeping it under control?

    Safety razor kind of hacks things up so I’m thinking of going to a straight razor (which is more manly anyway) to shape it.

    I have been going to the barber to keep it trimmed, but at $5 a pop I’m thinking I should just do it myself. Do you recommend scissors, dedicated beard trimmers, or just plain old hair trimmers (which is what I think my barber uses).



  5. This whole beard thing reminds me of the old Reluctant King saga. Basically a guy out to escape the tyranny of the ruling class by setting off to find a place for himself in the world. He meets some folks, makes some speeches, and saves some damsels, then somehow finds himself sitting on an unwanted throne hailed as a savior. All he wanted was to have a few laughs and score some tail…

    Your throne is made from discarded facial hair, my friend.
    All hail the reluctant KING.

  6. ROFLMAO @ Professor Statik. Also LOL @ Joyce.

    Is Butch wax the way to go? I met a man with a (I swear this is true I was in Home Depot near the measuring tapes) 16 inch wide handlebar who swore by the stuff. I’ve basically got a modified (by way of lacking enough follicles in the ‘tween the stache and beard area) van dyke, the beard gets a bit wacky in places and the longer bits of the stache (there to take up slack for the MIA follicles) try to fly away.

  7. Oh. I simply have to come back here, if not just to post an image or two. Cool way to try out different styles, man. :oD
    I too have grown an apprx. 10-12 inch beard in the last four years. Maybe I can upload an avatar one of these days…

    All the best.


  8. Well, I found it funny i stumbled on this page only 2 days after entering the duster race. For those who don’t know, The duster is an annual event at the residence of my university. Last year I got 2nd place out of about 15 guys, went from Sep 17 to sometime in Feb. Rules are
    1) No shaving. At all. Not even trimming
    2) Must be visible after a week. Baby faces aren’t allowed in because they don’t have to look like a hobo for months and months
    3) All Entries, upon the end of the race, buy the winner a drink at the campus bar.

    Good time, I had one of the worst looking beards around and got 2nd place, I’m in it to win this year. Gonna try and use some of these tips to outlast the competition. Thanks!

  9. Great Site. I will be back. I have worn a beard (except for a couple of shaves for Main Ladies who wanted a real face check) since I got out of the Army in ’73. I wasn’t shaving yet when I signed up and stopped when I got out.
    Usual since ’94 is a shaved head w/moustache and goatee, but most winters I go for the full blown bushy Santa. Since it started turning white this is quite effective and gives one a fresh pallette in January to try out strange stuff during the removal.
    I agree with wax for the stache and butchwax is just as good and cheaper than the little tube your barber will sell you.

  10. Thanks for the beard types. I have a handlebar and chin thing going on. I don’t pull out the handlebars to full points because my wife HATES it when I do that. It was really great to see how many styles you have done. You are an inspiration.

  11. I am requesting that you add the “joe dirt” which is mutton chops with a goatee, soul patch, and mustache, but none of them connecting. It’s the best I can grow, but darned if the ladies don’t love it.

  12. I’ve never considered the hair training method. Interesting. Typically I’ll just let it go wild when it wants to, but when s/o complains, a little conditioning usually will do the trick to weigh it down a bit.

  13. The best way that I have found to take my dark black unruly Beard and moustache is to go to Sallys Beauty supply and pick up 5$ box ogSoftSheen Carson.. Dark and Lovely SUPER— This is a RELAXING Lotion for Coarse Hair….Does not contain LYE. Per The Instructions , mix the 2 lotions and with a small brush (such as an eyeliner Brush) you can place the Relaxing lotion directly on the hair and not on the skin. It is recommended to rub some vasoline around your lips, and areas of skin around your Goatee/Beard, so that the Relaxing lotion will not get in tough of the sensitive skin. I followed theses instructions and left the lotion on for the recommended 18 minutes . and WALAA, my new moustach and Goatee are super soft to the touch, no longer poking straight out, lays flat and is more touchable and pleasing

  14. ive been growing a bread ever year for 10 yrs and mine grows crazy longer in some spots and black and blonde on my chin. when i do cut if off i go to a guy who uses a straight razor still samething ever year! lol

  15. Hey man, you rock! And I’ve never used that expression before because I’m English and I usually say something like, “blimey, you’re exceedingly funny” so that was a result! I’ve just spent 2 hours of my morning perusing your dastardly beardish archives!

  16. I love this page and come back to it every once in a while to get a chuckle and see if by chance there are any new additions. This is the first time I’ve seen this topic so thought I would chime in. In college I trimmed off most of my beard and went for the fu manchu with mustache. I did it on a dare one night when we were significantly under the influence. The next day I decided I dug it and didn’t shave the fu for about 6 months! It got to the point where it hung about 6 inches from my chin. lol. College. Anyway once it got longer with no other hairs to keep it in line and support it it got quite squirly and curly and generally looked all wrong. To keep it in line and nice and straight I would steam a hand towel with my clothes iron and while the towel was nice and hot I would wrap it around the “tusks” of the fu and pull downward. Worked pretty well! Then I got a narrow hair straightener and it worked even better without the hassle. Then I put a little sculpting gel in it and it stayed perfect all day!

  17. thank you
    at 52 years of age I’ve finally grown some face hair for the very first time, got a sort of ‘Lemmy’ from Motorhead effort, tried the full jobby but It had more patches than a forty-a-day abstainer, your tips have come in handy, thanks again.

  18. Don’t forget my favorite, the King Tut! No stache or burns, just a long straight column below the chin. Thanks for the tips, and I enjoy the site.

  19. Hi beard grandmaster
    I am currently at day 79 of 120 days growing a beard to raise money for cancer research uk. I have been posting images on a weekly basis on facebook.
    Please visit my http://www.justgiving.com/wearing-the-beard120 to view my progress.
    My beard has excellent shape but is extremely thick. Even though I look older I don’t care it’s great!

  20. i have complications. my beard is (by the word of everyone i know) beastly and epic, but i work at a pool and am in the water all the time. thusly, i must condition the hell out of it daily to compensate for all the chlorine >.<

  21. I know this thread is a little old, however the best way I found to tame my big goatee is Gravy Jay’s Mustache Wax. It works great!

  22. Thanks for the advice. I have not yet developed thicker facial hair, I’ve never shaved my face before, but I am now starting to grow thicker mustache hair, chin hair, and side burns. My chin hair is most developed, then the sides, then the mustache, however I wonder why my stache doesn’t connect, like the hair in my philtrum is not as developed.
    I came here because at one point my chin hair was normal, then one day some of it just twisted and went another way.

  23. My Garibaldi likes to grow wings on the side. I always cut it back to a Short Boxed when it got out of control. I noticed my wife using a round brush with a blow dryer when her hair went the wrong way. Tried it on the beard and it worked fabulous! Actually made it look fuller too. I’m wearing it longer than ever now.

  24. I’ve been growing my goatee purposely longer than usual to put a little extra ‘goat’ in the goatee…and it was starting to look like I had a chin bush. I was getting quite annoyed by it. And then, serendipitously, I found a jar of butch wax that I had bought a long time ago when I had very short hair. I figured “what have I got to lose?” I rubbed some between my fingers and put it on my goatee. It was all white and waxy. I said “ok…I’m not defeated yet”. I wiped off the excess with a washcloth, combed my goatee, and SHAZAM! There was the look I’ve been going for. I was very excited at the results. So, for my money, butch wax. Yep.

  25. Love this post. But I don’t have a beard. I shave my head bald and keep a mustache that is wiry and unruly. Your comments about soap and beard hair make sense, but I can’t avoid washing he mustache while washing my face! So what do I do?
    I got frustrated once before and shaved the thing off. Big mistake! So I gotta figure something out.

  26. I’ve never heard of Beard Season. I’ve had a beard since I was 19 years old. Only cut it off one time in college because of state rules back in the 70’s. My full beard and hair turned White by the time I was 50. I always kept my beard short but in my mid 60’s I decided to let it grow because some of my friends wanted me to be Santa for their kids at Christmas. I’d never let it grow so long ( a bushy 6″) I wear a Cpap machine while I sleep. The straps cause my hair and beard to look really bad when I wake. I take warm water and brush it through it until it relaxes and while wet I take hand lotion in my hands, smear it in my hands and then run my hands through my beard and hair, brush it into place and it does ok.

  27. Thanks for the tips.

    I have to disagree with #4 though. Those cheap black combs are horrible for your beard and can severely damage it. You’ll want to invest in a nice beard comb, made by Kent for example.

  28. I have white unruly hair with a widows peak hairline. I don’t try to cover it up but I hate it. I’m 57, I had a gotee for about 20 years. Then I went to the 5 o’clock shadow for a while. I’m growing my first beard, you wanta talk about wild. since I’m a positive thinker I try to look for the bright side in everything, the bright side is,at least my wild hair and wild beard match! The thought of conditioner crossed my mind so I’ll probably try it and the wax sounds like it might work in my hair and beard.I googled wiry white hair and whiskers.I’m glad I found this site everyone was informative and I enjoyed every blog. stories were all great. Flavor savers forever!

  29. a couple of thoughts here. Though it wasn’t mentioned I have a trick for those with gray hair. I tried using both men’s and women’s hair coloring and I’m very sensitive to it. It ate my face up! Since I have dark hair on the top of my head mostly the very gray mustache and beard look pretty weird. So I had to do something. I went to a natural food store and found Henna which is a direct that was used by the ancient Egyptians. It turns most of your hair dark with the most stubborn gray hairs a sort of highlighted color. Not bad at all. I get the pre-mixed stuff cause I’m not going to mess with mixing the stuff up. Leave it on an hour and you’re done.

    For control I use a conditioner, wash it every 3 days with soap and water and use a leave in conditioner. When ready to leave I will wet it with warm water and brush with fine brush. Then a blast of hairspray and a smoothing with a washcloth. That usually does it though I do keep fine tooth brush in the car and will brush in the afternoon when I travel. Good luck guys.

  30. Any thoughts about beard oil or beard balm to help control a beard that seems somewhat scraggly as it lengthens? I’ve seen several sites and reviews that swear by it, but it always seems like they’re also trying to sell the stuff.

    Anyone out there not a company rep and can weigh in?

  31. After washing your beard, put as hot a towel/flannel as you can on your beard and coax in the direction you want to train, then brush with a fine beard brush, this will help the beard grow in the direction you wish.

  32. Hello fellow bearders!! My problem is the hair on my cheeks, never been a fan of the shaved cheek look but my hair gets a little pubic lol I’ve tried oils, conditioning. I might try the hot towel trick mentioned earlier or a little wax. Anyway enjoyed reading all this beard wisdom thanks for the tips! Cheers 🍻

  33. November 2016… though I myself don’t have a beard lol. My husband does so this was very interesting to me. Was sad to read the last post…

  34. I came across this page trying to understand why my beard is getting shorter. My beard is already unruly. A friend of mine sent me a picture of the God with snakes for a beard. My beard is super curly from day one. It comes out in circles at my jaw line on either side. I guess it is a cowlick. For that reason I could never grow nice respectful business type beards as I worked in a suit and tie environment. I’m retired now and decided to grow a long beard 3 years ago. About 9-10 months in, I had to shave everything including my mustache because it got massive dandruff and my skin was burning. But immediately went right back to growing it. Lately it seems like it is getting shorter. It doesn’t seem like it is, it IS getting shorter. I don’t know why though. It’s supposedly healthy. I know I have a couple dead ends. And I al always running my fingers through it to get knots out while I’m watching tv or something. I lose strands here and there doing it and have at times break off ends that feel like something is at the tip of it probably split ends. I don’t wash it everyday every 4-5 days I do though. And it’s been a really nice beard the last 2 years. The lady’s love to run their hands through it. So I would guess it looks cold with the exception of the curls at the bottom of it. Which hides 3-4 inches due to the curls. Before it started getting shorter it was down to my nipples without pulling the curls straight. Now I have to pull the curls to get to my nipples. I usually go to a beard barber but haven’t in a couple of months, I feel like I lose too much going to them. Help what am I doing wrong and how do I get it to start growing again?

  35. Question: I’m a pretty beardy guy. Very wolflike and hairy all over. But my mustache is always disappointing me. I seem to have difficulty growing the mustache thicker, especially in the middle part of the lip. Any suggestions for getting a thicker mustache, or is it mainly just genetics?

Leave a Reply to Wyn Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.