By avi maxwel / in , , , , , , /

I was clean-shaven when I left for Palm Springs for Christmas. A few days later, I arrived back at home in Los Angeles with a beard.

I didn’t plan on my new hirsute look. I just don’t like shaving. I avoid it when I can. But as my beard grew in, my friends started telling me they liked it. They remarked at how “distinguished” it looked with its mix of ginger and white. I was worried I might appear older than I am, but my cousin insisted that she thought it actually made me look younger.

I decided to go for a trial run by keeping the beard for the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s opening night gala red carpet. I needed to see how it looked on camera. The beard was a hit. Austin Butler told me he liked it and so did Colin Farrell. A few days later at the Golden Globes, Andrew Garfield said, “The beard looks nice. The ginger and white is like a Prince Harry thing you’ve got going on.”

I decided the beard was here to stay. Yup, I’m that easy. Star-studded compliments meant new year, new beard.

But then some worry set in. How long should it be? How do I trim it? Should I be using beard oil? Is there anything as too much white in my beard? I had questions.

“I’ve tried to do it in the mirror myself and it’s like a little boy trying to be an adult,” says bearded recent Golden Globe winner Paul Walter Hauser tells me about his upkeep. “I feel like I’m cutting up a bonsai tree.”

With that in mind and the Oscars just around the corner, I sought out Hollywood’s top male groomers for their advice on how to make sure a beard is red carpet ready.

“Grow a beard if you have never experienced it,” says David Cox, who works with Chris Pine, John Mayer, Pierce Brosnan, Jeff Goldblum and Matt Bomer. “Start with a small beard and see how it looks.”

Length Matters

“I feel like a groomed, scruffy beard is in right now, more grown out that a 5 o’clock shadow,” says Kim Verbeck, whose clients include Javier Bardem, Adam Scott, Kumail Nanjiani, Charlie Hunnam and Josh Brolin. “I love that look with a nice haircut. After two to three weeks of growth, make sure to start maintaining by using clippers. Clean up your neck and cheek lines and the top lip.”

Healthy Hair

“To keep your beard soft and healthy, I recommend using beard oils and conditioners. They also leave a nice scent to the face” says Marissa Machado, whose roster includes Jack Champion, the Jonas Brothers and Zachary Levi. “Some of my favorites are by House 99 and Baxter of California.”

Verbeck and Cox recommend Tom Ford conditioning oil. “The smell is incredible and you only have to use a small amount,” Verback says. “Keeping your beard clean and hydrated is so important. It will also eliminate itchy growth.”

Cox adds, “Wash and clean your beard every day.”

Au Natural

Beware of dying your beard. “I think the general consensus is we all like a little salt and pepper in the beard,” Verbeck says. “I am not opposed to coloring your beard, but a little natural poking through always looks more flattering to me. Harsh color that does not match your natural is not good.”

Machado suggests, “If you’re really bothered by different colors in your beard, there are many products on the market to help, from beard color to brow gel and even mascara.”

And the Oscar Goes To

If you’re attending the Academy Awards on March 12, Machado recommends shaving or trim the morning of the big show. “Make sure the neck and jaw lines are smooth and structured,” she says. Verbeck added, “With some men, a beard can change shape overnight!”