Throughout history, beards have long been a symbol of wisdom, sexual virility, masculinity, or even a higher status. Which is why you’ve probably seen pictures or portraits of royalty and philosophers sporting facial hair. Then at some point, men were trained to be clean-shaven because men with beards were perceived as unclean or lacking refinement. Thankfully, beards have come back in style.
Why Grow a Beard?
While women may not be fans of a bearded man, studies have found that men fear other men with facial hair. But intimidating off other guys shouldn’t be the only reason why you should grow a beard. There are also health benefits in growing a beard.
Recent research conducted in the Outback, and published in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry, found that “parts of the face covered by beards and mustaches on average had a third less exposure to harmful UV rays compared with hair-free areas.” But facial can do much more than protecting your face from sun damage. Since facial hair keeps your skin moisturized by trapping water and hair follicles contain protective oils and thicken your skin, your skin can remain young and in good condition. Finally, since you’re not shaving, you’ll avoid those nasty and annoying rashes.
However, facial hair can do more than keep your skin healthy. Dr Felix Chua, a consultant respiratory physician at the London Clinic, has a theory that a mustache will trap pollen and prevent it from entering the airways, which could stall asthma. Dr. Chua also believes that a beard can help battle cough or cold. Besides hair being an insulator used as protection from cold weather, facial hair helps raise your body’s temperature. “It has to run its course, but the warmer you keep yourself and the more fluids you drink equip you to fight it better.”
The Importance of Maintenance
Having a beard, however, will require some upkeep. Despite the health benefits of a beard, scientific evidence has proven that beards can also spread infections. This is exactly why you need to wash, groom and trim your beard. Besides, a well groomed beard just looks better anyways.
Growing a Beard
Before you can maintain your manly facial hair, you’ve got to actually grow out a beard. If you browse online you’ll find that there are many articles providing advice on growing a beard. But one of the best resources is from beards.org.
So, let’s keep things simple with some advice from beards.org. First off, you need to make a commitment to go through with growing a beard. So grow a pair and make sure that you stick with your commitment. Secondly, you need to stop shaving, obviously. It’s recommended that you don’t shave for at least the first four weeks of growth. During this time you’re probably going to start itching, but don’t let that stop you from reaching your goal. Just keep clean your growing beard by shampooing it daily. Your skin will adjust to the change and the itching will cease.
Shaping, Trimming, and Cleaning
After you’ve grown out some of your beard it’s time to shape that bad boy up. You do this by having a proper neck and cheek line. To shape your neckline, basically visualize a line that goes from ear to ear that extends down from the back of your sideburns. Finally, you round the intersection and your neckline is set. As for the cheek line, that’s a bit more complicated, since the shape of your face can alter the line. If you don’t want to sport the natural cheek line look, a simple suggestion is to define it by shaving the natural cheek line between your sideburns and mustache. It’s usually suggested that you keep the line as high as possible.
Unless you want to look like Zach Galifianakis, you probably want to keep your beard trimmed. Besides heading out to a barber shop, the easiest way to do this is to purchase a rechargeable cordless beard and mustache trimmer with multiple length options. And don’t get cheap, you don’t want to irritate your face. After you’ve got your trimmer, it’s best start from the bottom and up. Be sure to start with a higher setting. It’s better to adjust it to a lower setting than by starting over.
Finally, you have to keep your new facial hair clean. Wash your beard daily with moisturizing shampoo as well as a conditioner. Besides getting some renegade debris caught in there, it will hydrate your hair and exfoliate your skin.
Final Words of Advice
Since beards can be a turn-off for women, and can be frowned upon in the workplace, you don’t want to go crazy with your facial hair.
After you’ve found a style that suits your face, keep your beard maintained. Of course, you can experiment with different lengths and styles, but you don’t need to go overboard, unless you’re planning on entering a competition. Most people won’t mind a well-groomed and maintained beard.
Also, don’t fill your beard with braids, rubber bands, or any other foreign objects. There’s just no need to look like you just walked out of the carnival. Of course, if you are a carny, then go ahead and do so.
Finally, if you have some grey hairs showing up, you can definitely color your beard. Just remember if you dye your beard, try to keep it a natural color that matches your hair.
Images via Wikimedia Commons