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As part of the content expansion here on Pro MMA Now, I have been asked to syndicate some content from my website, TitleBeard is a men’s lifestyle site focused on reviews of facial hair products. Each Thursday, I’ll be publishing an article from TitleBeard here on Pro MMA Now. This week, we start with the first article in a series I recently started, Beard Advice.

In this new series on TitleBeard, we will be discussing all aspects of beard (and moustache) advice; growing, grooming, styling, product and accessory use, anything you can think of.

In this first volume, we start with the very important initial question – so you want to grow a beard, now what? Many people want to grow a beard, or grow a larger beard, but do not know where to begin. I hope to help you answer some questions that I had to answer while growing my own beard.

Step 1: Talk to the people close to you

Most people would start with the (seemingly) obvious, “don’t shave”, but I would suggest starting with a question – can you grow a beard? With this question, I do not mean physically but rather, are you allowed to? What is the facial hair policy at your place of employment? Are there safety regulations in place that prohibit beards or certain styles of beards? Will your employer get upset if your beard gets long?

There are some facial hair extremists out there that would say “Don’t get a job where you can’t grow a beard” or “Leave your wife if she doesn’t like your beard”, but let’s be honest – that’s ridiculous. So, talk to your employer, talk to your significant other and get the okay; it just makes things easier later on. However, be prepared, because despite initial reassurances there won’t be any issues, once your beard gets beyond the length this person (or people) envisioned in his or her head, the comments and questions may start again. “Are you going to trim that?” “When are you going to shave?” “Getting a little long, isn’t it?

Step 2: Stop shaving

Having prepared yourself for the reactions of your friends, family, and co-workers, you are now ready to advance to the next step – not shaving. This may sound simple, but even this step comes with questions. Are you not going to shave at all? Are you going to shave perhaps the top of your cheeks and neck to give your beard a nice shape? Again, these questions can sometimes be answered by outside influences. For example, when I decided to grow out my beard, I continued to shave the top of my cheekbones and neck, to keep my beard looking good. As an attorney, I meet with clients on a daily basis, and while I firmly believe that a beard can be part of a professional appearance, initially, some shaving was necessary.

Once I realized that I was having to lift my beard out of the way to shave my neck, I realized it was time to stop shaving my neck. While the time saved not shaving is often offset by proper beardcare techniques, the added benefit of now not having to shave your neck adds volume and width to your beard which serves to improve the appearance. Keep in mind that this will likely not occur for months – patience is a virtue you must possess.

Step 3: Be patient

Before I decided to grow my beard out, the longest I had ever grown it without trimming was about a month or two and as of today – 12/27/13, I’m sitting at just under 17 months. Growing it has certainly been a learning experience, and a lot of fun, but it has had its challenges as well. Sometimes, your beard just seems to stop growing. You hit a certain length and it stays that way for months and then you may ask yourself “this is it?”, while other times, it seems like you grow a couple inches in a couple weeks.

Regardless, be patient! I have had a number of people email me and say they are growing a beard and are concerned about patchy areas, or uneven growth. Again, be patient! Awesome beards are not grown overnight, and until you give yours time to grow, you won’t know how those patchy areas will fill in or if it will begin to grow more evenly.

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