I’ve had a beard in one form or another for most of my adult life. It started as what is now an era-unfortunate goatee– my late high school photos place me firmly in the early 2000s– but since then, it’s been primarily some version of the face-covering version, ranging in length from the stubble on my about page to the fuller winter version in my avatar photo. Occassionally on an extended vacation I’ve gone for a bushier length, but wasn’t a big fan. For most of the past decade I’ve been able to happily move through life without giving this much thought, but over the course of the last year or so the bearded male has become subject to intense media scrutiny.
If there was a flashpoint moment, it would be this NY Post article from Februrary titled “Hipster Wannabes Get Facial Hair Transplants.”
“Stubble-challenged guys are forking over up to $8,500 for the beard-boosting procedure, which has spiked in popularity in recent months, plastic surgeons told The Post.
“Brooklyn is probably the nucleus of the trend, it’s the hipster ‘look’ guys want. If you have a spotty beard, and you let it grow out, it looks sloppy, ” said Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, a Midtown-based plastic surgeon.
“[Clients] want full beards because it’s a masculine look. Beards are an important male identifier,” he added.”
Well, damn. What was once just hair on my face had turned into a must-have fashion accessory. For hipsters. With nothing better to spend $8,500 on. This is probably the closest I got to shaving my beard off. But then I figured that would be a sort of facial gentrification, letting them come in and jack up the price of my beard while lowering its cultural cachet. So I held firm.
March, the Globe and Mail stepped in to defend me with “What a beard really says about a man“:
“‘It’s about authenticity. The beard is a guy’s way to show the world his most real self,’ Pryce says, adding that, in recessionary times, it is also a no-cost style statement. ‘A beard,’ he notes, ‘is the cheapest, most authentic accessory a man can have.'”
Exactly. Cheap and easy.
Then, in April another blow. A new study, finding the more beards were out there in the world (say, because hipsters had paid $8,500 to get one), the less fashionable they are. CBC characterized the study with the headline “Beards are sexier when they’re uncommon,”while the Guardian declared “Fashion-conscious men warned we may have reached ‘peak beard’,” continuing a theme they started in 2013 with the question “Have we reached peak beard?”
Well, now I was stuck. If I had wanted to shave the beard I’d missed the window, because I’d simply be doing so at the behest of media warnings that beards had jumped the shark.
Or had they?
“Facial hair is back in style in boardrooms” declares the New York Times this month.
“As a new generation of men rises into positions of power in the workplace — helping to relax standards for what constitutes executive style — beards and even Hercule Poirot-esque waxed mustaches are becoming more common in the office.”
Well, great. Wait…
“Mr. Rosenfeld also sees facial hair as more than just a fashion statement or even something beyond an expression of masculinity or sexuality — especially in the workplace. It can help some workers feel more comfortable.
“Facial hair might give someone a cover if he’s more introverted, or he can grow a beard to put on a better face if, for example, he has pockmarks,” he said. “It’s no different than a woman putting on makeup.'”
The psychological profiles continue.
For the record, this is why I grew a beard: a. I like not having to shave every day and b. I think it look pretty OK.
This is my methodology for maintaing it.
1. Keep the neck even with regular shaves with a razor
2. Trim it every one to four weeks, depending on how long you’re wanting to go
3. If you’re going for a lengthier beard, trim the moustache every one-two weeks
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