So, you've worked through the first few months and finally have some fullness and length to your beard. Congrats, this is a big reason to celebrate!
However, this new, longer beast of a beard poses some new challenges. For me, it had a tendency to grow horizontally outwards, and fork at the bottom. While this may be a look that some guys like, it wasn't what I was going for. The solution for me was to straighten the beard hairs out a bit to keep it looking neater and easier to handle.
There are a few ways that one can straighten their beard, from hot irons to chemical treatments. Below, I've outlined the few techniques that have worked best for me and my beard.
Method 1: The Tidy-Up Straighten
This is a pretty quick and simple method to tidy up a tangled beard and is usually part of my daily routine. Simply run a bit of beard oil through your beard to lubricate it and protect the hairs from breakage, and run a thick brush through the hairs to separate them and smooth them out.
I find it helpful to begin by brushing upwards from my neckline to get the bulk of my beard straightened out, then to smooth down the top layer of hairs by brushing down from my cheek-line. Follow up with a dab of beard balm to keep everything where you left it and you're set. (Beard Balms that contain lanolin and coconut oils are great because they actually penetrate the hairs themselves and can reduce coarseness and the resulting tendency to get a bit unruly)
Method 2: The Full Monty
This method is what I use for when I need my beard to look it's very best. From business meetings to a night out, it's a (relatively) simple and time effective way to tame even the wildest beards.
Start as you did with the first method - Brush our your beard to remove any tangles and get the hairs somewhat straightened out. Work a few drops of beard oil through your beard to protect it from the heat that is coming next. Set a hairdryer to a medium-heat, medium-speed setting and use a round brush to straighten the hairs.
Begin again at the neckline and brush up, rotating the brush as you do. Follow along with the hair dryer to form the hairs into your desired shape. This step is meant to straighten out the hairs under the "surface" of the beard, which makes forming a shape easier. Once you're happy with the section that you're working on, give it a blast of cool air and one last brush. This will help to set the shape and prevent frizz.
Once the "undergrowth" has been tamed, do the same on the top layer. Start at your cheek-line and move downwards, rotating the brush as you do to straighten the hairs. This might take a few tries, but you'll be left with a tidy, straighter beard, ready to impress.
The last step is to follow up with some beard balm (or a product with more hold, like mustache wax) to help keep the hairs in place and repair and heat damage that you may have done.
And that's it - maybe 10 minutes to take your beard from a tangled mess to a lush, sophisticated work of art. If you run into issues, ask for help. The women in your life have probably been using this method since they were 12, so they'll be able to offer pointers if you need them.
Things to avoid
There are a million products and tools on the market to straighten hair, but most probably aren't the best choice for your beard for a few reasons. I'd be wary of using chemical treatments to straighten your beard hair, as most are toxic and quite harsh. The skin on your face can be quite delicate, and chemical straightening treatments can wreak havoc on it.
A hair straightener is also not a good plan, unless your beard is very long. Using the hot plates of a straightener close to you face, especially on your cheeks and around your mouth is just asking for a nasty burn. The heat is also quite intense so the risk of burning your beard increases greatly over a using a hairdryer, oven to the same effects.
My advice is to keep it simple, and use the tools and methods that I discussed above. It may take a time or two to really master the technique, but the results are more than worth it.