Gentlemen, I have a proclamation to make. The clean-shaven look is done. Finished. Over. Beards are finally making a comeback. The penultimate sign of masculinity and wisdom has once again become fashionable and cool, but did it ever honestly ever miss a step?
From Disney loosening up on its rules to a well received coffee table book on the artistry of facial hair, the beard is again at the forefront of culture. As a form of fashion, there are multiple ways for the average man to style his facial hair.
Start with the simple scruff, which is basically what happens when you haven’t shaved in several days–or weeks. Also referred to as the “barely there,” it requires light shaving in order to keep the hair from growing into a full beard. The shaving you do is meant to help shape the beard along your cheekbones and jawline. Remember to shave your neck, and remain cautious for any stray hairs that may pop up.
Next, we have the simple goatee. Focused solely on the chin with no cheek hair, this style is part mustache, part soul patch, and can make a man look either really cool or like a children’s show villain. There is nothing wrong with the look itself. Keep the cheeks free of stubble and you will look fine. In addition, you’ll want a well-defined mustache. It will look like a simple soul patch if the two sets of hair aren’t equal. I recommend using a manual razor for shaping.
The next stage of our facial hair adventure is the the full beard, the trademark facial hair of hunters, lumberjacks and Zach Galifianakis. Although it sounds easy, some care is necessary to keep it together. The most important thing to remember (and this goes for all beards) is to wash it with conditioner so it stays soft. Shampoo actually makes the beard more brittle because facial hair is not the same as the hair on your scalp. Also, combing is a necessity, as it can keep your beard smooth and free from tangles while simultaneously directing hair growth.
Finally, we have the feral beard, which can make you into a champion. There is actually a world championship for beards, which has recently gained more attention thanks to the cameras of IFC following a group of Americans working against the Germans towards the gold. This sounds like a great ’80s film, but I digress. The feral beard just needs to be grown. The main rule is that no razor shall touch thy face. Combing is necessary and washing is important, but other than that, you don’t really need to do anything. Ask early Def Jam producer Rick Rubin. Reportedly, he hasn’t shaved in 20 years.
Growing a beard is a fun, worthwhile experience that every man should try to enjoy multiple times throughout his life. It can be so for many reasons: a bad break-up, living in the desert for several years or wanting to raise money for a worthy cause.
The beard is a symbol of courage, and an awesome chance to indulge your inner huntsman. And for those who think that they shouldn’t or can’t pull it off, then may I suggest the mustache? Watch out for the bushy mustache, though–it can either make you look like epitome of cool (like Burt Reynolds) or like there is a really nasty caterpillar on your face.