One of the secrets to having a better beard — and therefore a better life — is caring for and grooming your beard well.

We’ve all seen guys with bad beards. Some guys can’t really grow a good beard, but some guys with great growing patterns, amazing density and nice color still mess up their beards by over-trimming, shaping wrong or using dye incorrectly.

If a guy can’t grow a good beard and wants to try anyway, more power to him. Why not go for it? But if you can grow something amazing and keep messing it up, you’re suffering from BBS — Bad Beard Syndrome. And you can change your ways so you’ll look and feel better.

Even if you’ve made mistakes in the past, the beard you’re growing now can be your best ever if you follow these six pieces of advice:

1. Get help from a professional.

It’s expensive and time-consuming to have a barber trim your beard regularly, and it’s a futile effort since the hair will just grow out anyway. But going to a barber once or twice for a beard trim and watching what and how he or she does it can be very instructive. Just remember that you have to go to a real, old-fashioned barber. Cosmetologists and hair stylists don’t learn how to trim beards — and they won’t even try.

2. Use shave oil instead of shaving cream so you can see what you’re doing.

You’ll never be able to shave a perfect neck line or cheek line if you keep using traditional shaving cream. You won’t be able to see what you’re doing. Using a shave oil like The Gentlemen’s Refinery Pre-Shave Oil is a better idea. In addition to being able to see what you want to keep and what you want to shave away, a product like this one also conditions your skin, limiting irritation, bumps and dryness.

3. Invest in a high-quality trimmer.

Once you’ve made the decision to try for a significant, good-looking beard, it’s time to invest in a really good trimmer. Beard grooming is a task that shouldn’t be left to something you pick up at a discount store. Good beard care involves shelling out for a good trimmer that you can use for your face, head — and anywhere else you like to groom. Cordless hair clippers are good for this purpose too — as long as you go with a good brand.

4. Comb frequently to help train unruly hairs.

We all have some hairs or patches that just don’t behave as we want them to. With frequent combing, however, these can sometime be trained. Whether because of strange growth patterns, scarring or whatever, a few strange spots are no reason to abandon an otherwise epic beard. Just do what you can to tame the weird spots, then live with the results. An imperfect beard is still better than none at all.

5. Use care with beard dye.

Whether you have prematurely graying hair or some spots that don’t match that need to be covered up, beard dye can look fine if done properly. But it can also look awful. You’ve probably seen men with beard coloring that looks painted one — or with roots showing at all the edges. Follow package instructions — and use a good brand. The Just For Men brush-in color gel works okay, but you may find other brands you like better.

6. Don’t attempt a beard without a good mirror.

You’d be surprised how many men try to trim a beard by just looking in a mirror in front of them. You also need a handheld mirror or wall-mounted mirror with telescoping arm to help you see all sides. You’ll soon understand that what you see in front of you isn’t what other people see at all. And many more people see you from the side or the back than see your face straight on.

Final Thoughts

No matter why you want a beard or how long you plan to keep it, you need to do everything you can to make it look good. Good beard grooming involves choosing the right tools, the right style and learning the tricks and techniques that help you have a beard that looks like it belongs on your face.

Maybe your beard isn’t the best beard ever, but it can be amazingly great if you understand proper beard care. It can make you look better — and feel better about yourself too.

Guys are meant to have beards, at least occasional. So don’t miss out.