Who said a beard is crusty?
Durban – ‘A man without a beard is like bread without a crust,” says a Lithuanian proverb.
And according to my lady friends, it’s true. “There’s always that something missing with a clean-shaven guy,” they say.
“A beard adds that ruggedness to a man and you can’t help but look twice at a guy with a beautiful beard.”
It cut so deep because I’ve never had any facial hair and for many years I have longed for it, spent hours in the mirror checking if it would ever come. I’ve recently resigned myself to believe that I am like bread without a crust, and boy do I have a hectic dose of what the internet calls “beard envy”.
I was on Instagram recently and I saw a picture of an old friend with a perfectly groomed beard and in the caption he wrote #beardgang.
Ever curious, I clicked on it and it was like being transported to a whole other world.
Pictures of guys with beards of various sizes, textures and grooming levels, were all over my screen. From hipster beards (you know, those ones with flowers and baubles on them) to perfectly coifed and trimmed beards, it left me in awe. There is even a website dedicated to the so called beard gang.
At the recent US awards season, many of the leading men had beards, unlike in previous years where the look was clean shaven chic. From Chris Pratt and his stubble, Jamie Dornan and Chris Pine with their perfect beards, Common with his classic trimmed beard and Matthew McConaughey with his slave owner beard, it was the one thing I envied the guys for, beside their tailored designer suits.
Locally, rapper Riky Rick’s beard is as famous as his music. And it’s not just celebrities. Top male models like David Gandy, Tyson Beckford, Jon Kortajarena, Noah Mills and Baptiste Giabiconi are sporting beards. Ordinary men on the streets are rocking beards.
Magazines like Cosmopolitan and various other blogs have articles about “The 12 best things about dating a man with a beard”. So we simply can’t deny that beards are huge right now. They are so huge, that there are even beard weaves on offer in the US. But what brought on the resurgence of the beard?
GQ South Africa’s grooming editor Paul Sephton said grooming trends tend to move in a cyclical manner along with fashion.
“The beard resurgence was likely a reaction to the over-groomed metro sexual with a sense of needing to reaffirm a more natural masculinity. Beards reinstated a sense of pride.”
Even the king of metrosexuality, David Beckham, has grown a beard and is more of a “lumbersexual” than a metrosexual.
“With fashion and celebrities taking up the beard, men began to realise how versatile it was and how it could be styled with outfits that make it perfectly office appropriate. Also, most men don’t enjoy shaving; growing a beard justified the path of least resistance.”
While some say that hipsters brought the beard back, others deny this. But we can’t deny that many hipsters were growing beards when no one else was. And maybe they were on to something – they are actually good for your health.
“Beards have always been closely linked to health,” Alun Withey wrote in academic website, The Conversation. “The Tudors and Stuarts believed facial hair was the result of male sexual heat, bubbling away in the ‘reins’ (the area around the lower abdomen).
“A hirsute man was therefore regarded as highly virile, and wore his beard as a mark of pride. The ability to grow a beard has also been viewed as an index of health. A report into the working environment of employees in a 19th century Derbyshire mill noted that the poor working conditions meant that many men were left with scant facial hair.
“Across time, thin or scraggly beards (or worse the inability to grow one at all) have been seen as a symptom of bodily weakness.”
Beards are also said to have other health benefits like preventing skin cancer, thanks to the beard protecting the skin against the sun’s harsh rays. They reduce asthma and allergy symptoms, create blemish free skin and keep the skin moisturised.
So, you want to grow a beard, this is what you need to know.
“Firstly, know whether you can grow one – you’re doing yourself a disservice trying to fight your genes,” Sephton said.
“A good-looking beard takes maintenance. The main thing that’s overlooked is that a beard grows from your skin, and so keeping your skin healthy underneath goes a long way. Along with that, you need to make sure you regularly trim stray hairs and brush your beard. Between specialised scissors and electric clippers, this has been made easier for us.”
So why not, gents? Give the beard a try and see whether you will not get the fairer sex admiring you for that stubble.
Try it, you’ll enjoy it. but remember to keep it tidy
“The key to growing a strong beard is commitment,” Durban's Nev the Barber said. “A lot of guys start to grow one and then give up for a variety of reasons.
“Often it’s itchy or looks too messy but there is no reason for this.”
If you do it properly you can grow a beard extremely comfortably. And this is how.
1 Decide on the style of beard you want. Do you want to go with the shorter designer/rugged look or the full on lumberjack? Decide on this then commit.
2 Find yourself a good barber to shape that guy! The best way to grow a beard is to shape it regularly.
The best shape is usually to keep it squarer, get your barber to keep it closer to the cheeks and well blended into your side-bits and let the bulk grow from your jawline.
3 Get yourself a good beard grooming product. There are huge ranges of beard related products available.
The key one, in my opinion, is beard oil – it will stop the itch, keep your beard soft and moisturise the skin under the beard.
My personal favourite is the local Bonafide Beard range.
4 Get yourself a good haircut. A good beard always looks good with a good haircut. Keep yourself well groomed.
5 Enjoy it!