This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of 425 Business.

Whether you want a bushy beard or a fine-tuned mustache, maintaining your facial hair will accentuate your look


Barber Angelo Ruscetta gives Steve Nordeen, owner of the 18|8 Redmond franchise, a straight-razor shave. Photo by Rachel Coward

Men have been wearing beards since the beginning of humanity, but facial hair in the workplace hasn’t been the norm. The last president to sport whiskers in the Oval Office was William Howard Taft in 1913. For the majority of the 20th century, businessmen in America were clean shaven. That was the case until the late 1960s, when the hippie era inspired many to grow beards. The tech industry has long supported facial freedom; when Steve Wozniak developed the first Apple computer in 1976, his jaw line was buried under fuzz.

But facial hair still can have negative connotations; sometimes beards are associated with uncleanliness. So where’s the hairy line between a groomed beard and a scraggly mess? We went searching for an expert to deliver the facts.

Angelo Ruscetta is a barber at Redmond’s 18|8 salon. Ruscetta has been a barber for over 10 years and hasn’t seen the skin on his chin for longer than that. Styling facial hair is in his blood. His grandfather, also named Angelo, was a barber in Pico, Italy, before migrating to the United States in 1921.

TailoredBarberQ&AHere are Ruscetta’s tried-and-true tips for keeping your facial hair well-groomed.

Keep It Clean 
Ruscetta says the most important thing about maintaining a beard is keeping it polished. You should get a cleanup shave every time you get your hair cut or every two weeks, whichever is more frequent. The hair under your chin or on the back of your neck, which are difficult to notice, can grow unevenly if you don’t visit your barber regularly.

Let It Blend 
A distinct cut between your hair and your beard is a bad look, Ruscetta says. To keep it looking natural, your beard should flow into your hairline. “Movie stars and rock stars don’t have blunt lines. Everything’s smooth, you know? It’s all about clean lines and making everything blend,” he said.

Get a Quality Shave 
The best shave you can get is from a straight razor at a barber shop. The difference between a clipper or safety razor and a straight razor is the difference between a Twinkie and Italian tiramisu. The straight razor cuts extremely close to the skin, leaving cheeks and chins soft. Some men don’t have to shave as often when they get a straight-razor shave. A barber who uses warm towels and products to protect your skin is key. A healthy beard isn’t just about the hair — it’s also about the skin below it.

If You Do Shave at Home 
If you shave on the regular from home, it’s best to do so right after you take a shower, because the steam in the bathroom can relax your skin. Or, warm up a towel in the microwave and lay it on your face beforehand. To avoid razor burn, follow the grain of the hair. Shave oil also can lubricate the skin. Some men shave with only the oil. Ruscetta recommends Griff’s shaving oil, cream, and aftershave. If you have sensitive skin, try a nonalcohol aftershave cream.