Beard Beauty: A Guide

Editor of the Courier James Sproston discusses the history, maintenance and popularity of beards in his Courier Beauty debut.

James Sproston
14th May 2018
Image Credit: @lorealmen (Instagram)

For some men, the beard is the be all and end all. They think it’s the final piece of the jigsaw, the cherry on the top of the cake, the last tango in Halifax. And they’d be right.

Firstly, it’s probably good to clarify that there’s no miracle growth or proven way of making facial hair grow faster. Unless you make a late pubescent surge and end up like Gandalf overnight, you’ve got your lot so you have to work with it. Though beards are typically ‘masculine’ and beauty processes are typically ‘feminine’, it’s important to rubbish those daft labels and remember that there are plenty of options out there to get your beard to suit you.

Beard groomage has stepped up a level since I’ve been in the game. For those that know me, they’ll know that my beard style is born out of laziness and hormones, but there’s a wealth of grooming options at my fingertips if I wanted to put a small amount of time and effort in.

Probably the best place to start is skincare. There’s no point trying to look dead cool if the skin underneath isn’t looked after, because not only is that more important, but you’ll likely as not end up with beardruff. Stick with a good diet, wash and moisturise regularly, and your beard should look better for it. However, don’t buy into beard washes or beard shampoos, what you put on your barnet in the shower is good enough for your face fungus as well.

Image Credit: @lorealmen (Instagram)

If you’re keen to start stepping your beard game up a level, I hear that a good place to start is with 5 or 6 drops of beard oil when you get out of the shower. I’m not going to suggest any brands because I’ve never tried them, but I do know that a good oiling makes your beard much softer and shinier, which is never a bad thing.

Once you’ve got a decent bit of growth, you’ve got a few good options as to how you can shape your beard. Before you start shaping, you’ll probably want 4-6 weeks’ growth, just so you’ve got an even canvas to work with. Those with a squarer, angular jaw should go for a shorter on the sides, fuller on the chin look, whilst those with longer, rectangular faces should do the opposite. Those with more circular faces should aim of a bit of length on the chin strap, whilst keeping the sides nice and short.

No matter what style you go for, do remember to cater to the moustache. Whilst a good trimmer does a good job on the beard, invest in a pair of grooming scissors. Maintaining the look is also a day-round job, so a comb or beard brush can go a long way in helping you keep your shape.

A well-groomed beard these days is quite a popular choice, especially among the more edgy members of the community. We’ve started to see impeccably waxed taches and world class fades, but why?

Beard beauty is nothing new. If you look through history, beards were thought of very differently in different civilisations. In Mesopotamia, thousands of years ago, beards were oiled to look at their finest. Similarly, the ancient Greeks had great respect for their facial hair, with a close shave being a form of punishment for being a coward in battle, though Alexander the Great was a fan of a clean-shaven look.

As were the ancient Egyptians, who believed that any body hair was a sign of uncivilised people. As did the Romans, who had a shaving ceremonies for young pubescent boys. That may be because Celtic and Gaul people never shaved, and often doused their facial hair in lime, which would eventually bleach it.

Back in Medieval times, tugging on a beard was grounds for a duel, which is probably why beards became taxed under Tudor reign. Popularity declined through to WW2, because a bare chin was required for a gasmask to work, but beards have been on the up ever since.

Apparently, beards reached their peak popularity in 2014, so they could become increasingly rare. But the fewer of us that have beards, the better it is for us. I’ve heard that when beards are rare, they become significantly more attractive. Get in.

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