Here's a righteous doctrine of beard growing techniques to guide you through your facial exploratory pilgrimage.

Back in the earlier part of the 2000s, British scientists began to seek out answers to one of the most perplexing questions of the era. Why so many metrosexuals? Why were men picking up European handbags in lieu of tool belts and buffing away hangnails in place of filling them with grease? More importantly, where had all the beards gone? As it turns out, the hormone-butchering effort of popular birth control methods are altering women’s perception of attractiveness. The researchers' findings, along with similar studies' claims, find that non-ovulation equates to more of an affinity toward prettier men. The rugged and masculine was out back then, and the soft and sensitive was in. The movement plagued the hirsute and was central to the demise of the most honorable beard.

Thankfully, those solemn and downtrodden times didn’t last long. With more women seeking out alternative methods of birth control, the propensity toward the bearded man once again regained popularity in our undulating culture. Sexy-ass beards are back, says improv instructor Taylor Wingerter.

“Forever I hated beards, and I liked clean cut, freshly shaven men,” says Wingerter. “Even Taco Bell required that their employees shave or stay well groomed. If you had a beard, you must not have had a job. Oh, to be young and naive again! Then … ‘Grey's Anatomy’ introduced me to the three-day beard. Momma likes a well-groomed beard!”

But the beard game isn’t an everyman enterprise. It’s a lifestyle; a gift of Darwin’s idea of natural selection.

"A man with a beard is just a sexy, masculine, strong, lumber jack-looking son of a peach,” says beard enthusiast Sarah Bee. “Like the Brawny paper towel guy? Who wouldn't toss him some scraps if he had facial hair? He could fix your car, grill you a steak, bang the hell outta you, and then you can curl up into his beard like it's a blanket."

So, we’ve collected a righteous doctrine of growing techniques to guide you through your facial exploratory pilgrimage.

Go on, don't be bashful.

Grow it! It’s like most obstacles we reach in life that can only be won if we first manage to try. There’s no telling on anyone whether or not adequate growth is even possible, so the best option is to just go for it, and damn the naysayers. Some beards actually fill in later in the development, so give it a month to see if you’re truly a chosen one. But if you’re still treading in the Keanu Reeves patch-a-thon valley after a month, ditch it — you’re not meant for that kind of greatness. "If you can't grow a beard, you can't grow a beard," says Bee. "It's no reason to kill yourself, but don't try to compensate. Never bring a mustache to a beard fight."

Cultivate the base.

To the world, this isn’t another memorial erected in triumph as an ageless reminder of man’s great capabilities. But to you, it is. Any great monument wouldn’t be as stout if it weren’t for the foundation. Neglected skin leads to all kinds of annoying issues, including itching. Itching is one of the leading causes of manufactured fear of further facial follicle expansion. Lotion is a bearded man’s ally, and penetrates even the thickest of beards given proper encroachment. Think of the skin as the prologue to any story, without it, the rest just doesn’t make any sense. Work with a scent-free option to avoid smelling like the wrong side of a fabric store.

Groom it, Clip it, Shape it.

“All hair should be maintained anywhere on the body,” says Bee. “Just clean up the edges a bit. An unkempt beard says, 'hobo.' Well … ‘Hot hobo,’ anyway." This is a new era; and it’s not OK to think that taking care of yourself is “gay” or effeminate. That’s just archaic reasoning, and a bearded gentleman is a socially forward thinker. Nevertheless, grooming the hoss is crucial. Comb it, groom it, and clip it into a graceful adornment. If it looks like you want to climb inside of it like a royal acropolis and rule some sovereign land, then it’s being managed appropriately.

Beardys shampoo and Beardys condition.

Even though the hair on your face is of a completely different make up than the hair on your head, it’s still acceptable to use the same shampoos and conditioners. Hirsute men everywhere need to have a shower stocked with the finest of cleansers, and should maintain a proper hygienic schedule. Beer drinkers — let’s be honest, phonetically “beer” wouldn’t be in “beard” if the draped didn’t love the lager —mustache sanitation is mandatory. There’s nothing worse than waking up with a hangover, stranded in the upper-lip stench of stale barley soup. And who’d want to get close to that facial rats’ nest that smells like a dive-bar’s unwashed taps? Nobody. That’s who. Nobody.

Perpetual inspections.

“Keep it clean,” says model photographer Kari Geha. “People aren’t interested in yesterday’s lunch or any leftovers you may leave in your beard. Keep it trimmed and the ladies (or gents) will love you for it!” Beautiful and educated women aren’t the only things attracted to a good mug comforter. Lint, feathers, food, assorted strings and dander all feel that the best place to set stake is sometimes your face, and that will often happen at the most inopportune times. Keep a step ahead and check the status of foreign objects regularly. A quick swipe of the napkin after every bite shows the world you care.

Never compare.

Though he was only a man of moderate facial furniture, Theodore Roosevelt said it best when he proclaimed, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Your beard is your business and should never be held in reference to anyone else’s. Beard coaches, if there were such a thing, would presumably remind you every day that your beard is yours, not theirs, not the world’s. Every beard is different. Never look to another man’s face for validation, unless you’re ready for the inevitable self-esteem bust. The grass is greener, and all of that. Beards are like children. You love them all the same, even the slow ones, and just hope the world treats them as individuals. Let no esteem thief your joy. Never compare.

Cover Photo: Alessandro Manfredini