So, you’ve been toying with the idea of growing a beard. Maybe you’ve thinking about it for a month, or maybe this is an idea you’ve kept on the back burner for a few years. All you know is this: every time you get rid of that 5 o’clock shadow, you’re left with a nagging thought that won’t let up: you could be a beard guy. Sure, you might have once had a goatee in college or grown an ironic mustache for Movember, but you’ve never reached the summit of facial hair’s Mount Everest: the full beard. The beard of lumberjacks, firefighters, knights, kings, and deep sea fishermen who have strangled giant octopuses with their bare hands.

Today, we’re going to walk you through the five stages of growing that ultimate beard; offering words of encouragement, of hopefulness, and wisdom.

1. Make A Decision

Start by making a decision and committing to growing a beard. Make no mistake – there will be unsolicited feedback and negativity, and it’ll come from the people you least expect (partners, friends, co-workers, and family). It may cut deep, but this isn’t about any of them. It’s the path you’ve chosen. To give yourself the best chance of success, you have to drown out your critics and silence the parts of yourself that doubt your inner manliness.

2. Plan Ahead

Timing is crucial. Depending on how fast (or slow) your facial hair grows and the dress code at your office (if there is one), you’ll want to pick a week where things can get messy. Vacations and holiday weekends are the perfect timeframe to get through the opening stages of beard growth. Granted, there are genetically gifted men who can spin stubble into mohair between Friday and Monday any given weekend, but that is not the norm. Most men need a week to start seeing some progress.

3. Stubble

A face full of stubble is an interesting problem. On some men, it can look rugged, unapologetic, and as manly as hell. On others, it’s messy and unkempt, like the telltale sales of a slacker. Unless you fall into the former category, try to keep this phase as brief and private as possible – if only for the sake of your partners (kissing stubble is no picnic). This is yet another reason why a beard is best grown while on vacation.

4. The Itch

If you’ve made it this far, you’re likely starting to see some real results. What was once stubble has become a light framework of facial hair. This is the first major checkpoint and a sign of things going well. However, it’s also the start of the most difficult phase where many lose their will and cave in. If you’re serious about growing this beard, you need to focus on two things from here: not scratching and not shaving. You will be very tempted to do both. Get creative about staying busy: take up read a book, take up knitting, duct tape baking mittens to your hands or start using fidget spinners. Just get through it. Trust us: this too shall pass.

5. Trimming & Maintenance

By now, it’s high time to book an appointment at 18|8 La Jolla. This is when things start to get exciting. In the opening stages of this journey, your only choice was to keep going; now that you’ve arrived in beard country, the world is your oyster.

Getting your beard trimmed and shaped is good for your hair, relaxing, and a great way to reach your manly potential. In case you missed it, check out our reasons why getting your beard trimmed at a salon is amazing.

Thinking about growing a beard? Book an appointment at 18|8 La Jolla and we’ll help you get started!