Growing a full beard takes some time and doing, but it’s become quite popular over the last few years. However, with the popularity of shows like History Channel’s Vikings, a number of men are now considering the idea of braiding their beards as well for an added effect.
Doing so immediately provides a striking difference from the typical facial hair look expected, and the choice will easily get comparisons to ancient history references as well. Whether the rest of the person’s appearance looks the part is another matter for another article.
The Basic Necessities
First off, the beard in question needs to have some length to work with. Anything less than a few inches is simply impossible to work with. You will end up with little comical nubs and nothing to actually braid. So, plan on growing out that beard for a considerable time to get some working material in place.
At a minimum a starting beard for braiding needs to have at least 4 inches of growth to work with properly. Ideally, 6 inches or longer would be best. Both lengths assume using a basic French braid style weaving. Add a little bit of styling oil to make things easier for handling.
Trying Out Your First Braid
For a starting look the beard from the chin is probably the best to work with for small braids. It creates a central point of appearance and you have a bit more to work with in braiding. You will need to be able to make three strands of beard to create the braid.
Once separated cleanly, you just begin to fold and loop one side and then the other over the middle strand. You continue the process until reach the end where you tie off the assembly. Now you have completed the basic French braid from the chin down. There are other alternatives as well.
If you’re going to be braiding a lot, plan on have a good supply of small elastic bands. You’re going to need them. Also get some beard wax. This helps keep your braid style in place instead of going frizzy and separating.
Before sleeping, let the braid out or it is just going to be a mess in the morning with a beard version of bed head effect. That might work 10 weeks out at sea in a viking boat, but your significant other might run away at the sight.
Different Styles to Try
The Wizard Twirl
This is one of the easiest braids to do with a beard and almost doesn’t even count in the category. With a bit of beard wax and styling, one just takes the entire beard from the chin and twirls it gently downward. There’s no need to tie it off. The beard wax will keep it mostly in place as well. Put on a Gandalf hat and you’re off to the Ren Faire.
The Viking Braid
This involves the main or French braid from the chin down. For a good-looking braid you’ll probably want closer to six inches of growth to work with here. This is again braided centrally from the chin down, pulling the rest of the beard from the sides forward to make the side strands in the braid. You will need to tie this off at the end. Whether you put a bone in the knot is your preference.
The Bun Beard
This is a sloppy beard tie off that isn’t even a braid at all. You’re just being lazy here, pulling the beard forward and down, and tying it off either at the neck or further down. It’s minimal effort and looks it too.
The Three Prong Style
Ever seen movies with the pirate Blackbeard in them? He usually has multi-prong braids with burning embers on the ends smoking. This style essentially makes three small braids instead of one. The center one remains under the chin, but two side braids are also made downward from the left and right side of the face. All three are French braid style. This requires some beard length as well, so 6 inches is a good target.
The Fork Style
Unlike the Three Prong, this choice has two. The big difference is that there is no center braid. Instead, you have two French braids coming down, one on each side of the chin instead of central. You can get away with small braids with 4 inches of beard, but it might look a bit odd. Going longer, these styles start to make more sense visually.