Embrace the beard

9 April 2014

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Attention clean shaven men: there is nothing smooth about a smooth face.

As you can tell by stepping outside or looking online, beards are back in fashion and one cannot tend to this trend with a razor. It’s time to embrace the burly beauty of the ‘boss beard’.

What is a boss beard, you ask?

Whether tamed or unchained, the term resembles a thick, full beard that oozes manliness and confidence, making the owner appear to be indeed ‘owning’ his look like a boss.

Statistics show that more men are doing just that, as Procter and Gamble, the company that owns shaver’s staple, Gillette, recorded a 17 per cent fall in net income from the December quarter last year.

But simply throwing out your razor and growing what you were born with hasn’t been enough. Flaunting a full, thick mane as if it’s a set of washboard abs is the main part of this heightened trend.

Men in New York have spent up to $US8,500 on facial hair transplants to make their beards look thicker, eliminating any patchiness, Dr Jeffrey Epstein told The New York Post.

Dr Epstein said he had performed 175 beard transplant procedures in 2013 alone.

Yes, it’s a craze, but why?

The President of La Trobe University’s newly founded Beard Appreciation Society and beard grower, Andy Watson, believes that, it began with the infamous army of hipsters.

“Why are beards so popular now? I guess we’d have to thank hipsters for it. Hipsters started growing them out and Melbourne is a huge hipster cultural hub,” he told upstart.

“Then I guess people started noticing and thinking ‘Hey, I kind of like that, it gives you a bit of a rugged manly look’.”

Watson has always embraced his facial hair and sees it beyond a fashion statement.

“My beard shows off my 1/32 Irish heritage by displaying tufts of red in the chin, while the rest of it is a mid to dark brown colour. It is soft to the touch, particularly under the chin, and enhances pondering and contemplation by 700 per cent when stroking it,” he says.

But his current 17-week-old beard is going towards something greater.

“The goal is to reach the ‘yeard’ – that is a year-old beard,” he says.

La Trobe’s Beard Appreciation Society is obviously not the first of its kind,
as it has followed countless movements and social media threads that have embraced the rebirth of the beard.

Even charities have followed suit. The popular Movember has now been around for 10 years, but a recent organisation is encouraging hair growth beyond the upper lip.

Beard Season is just shy of a year old, and was founded by Sydney local Scott Maggs, who otherwise goes by his beard-friendly pseudonym, Jimmy Niggles (pictured right), in support of skin checks to fight melanoma.

Maggs’ best friend died from a melanoma on his neck, and has since started the foundation to signify growing facial hair to cover up, thus glorifying the wild boss beard.

This initiates the notion of why beards are so much better for men’s health.

As Beard Season suggests, they protect us from the sun. A study from the University of Southern Queensland, published in Radiation Protection Dosimetry, found that beards block 90 to 95 per cent of UV rays.

They also reduce those itchy and painful infections that are otherwise caused by shaving.

A popular reason why many men choose to grow their facial hair is that it can influence how old they appear. Letting a beard grow lessens the signs of aging as the hairs trap any natural moisture, therefore keeping your skin moisturised and looking more youthful.

For some, the clean-shaven look leaves them looking like 12-year-olds, and they prefer looking a little older; a little manlier.

“I do get a lot of comments saying the beard looks much better on me than being clean-shaven. I’ve been told I look more mature, that I look my age,” says Watson.

“My uncle told me it transforms me from a churlish youth to a wise man.”

A contributing factor to this is that facial hair, when grown correctly, actually contours your face through the difference in colour. This exaggerates one’s cheek bones, pulls chubby cheeks inward and hides any second or third chins.

However, there are different motives behind Watson’s growing ‘yeard’.

“I try to make it jut forward from the chin a bit. When it’s longer, the goal is to be able to braid or knot it,”  he explains.

“If you’re growing a beard, you may as well do something with it!

“Stand out!”

Julian GasparriTHUMB


Julian Gasparri is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University, a staff writer for upstart, and a beard enthusiast. You can follow him on Twitter: @JulianGasparri.