Too Much Beard?
The line between a big, beautiful beard and looking vaguely vagrant isn’t always obvious. Here’s what you should be looking out for.
By: Stephen J. Praetorius
Everyone and their brother’s got a big ol’ beard these days. Just look around you—if our calculations are correct, something like a third of the men in your direct vicinity will have some measure of hair coating their chin and cheeks (up to half if you’re in certain parts of the country). Whether they’re gracing the faces of Hollywood heavy-hitters or random guys hiking the Appalachian Trail, hardy face forests are undeniably on trend at the moment.
Now, we’ve been calling for men to embrace their facial bounty pretty much since Day 1. Besides the obvious benefits (e.g. looking like a badass, eliminating the cost of razors, etc.), a jaw full of hair has also been proven by science to make people think you’re a) healthier and b) a better parent. This is according to a study in Evolution & Human Behavior, which concludes that, while heavy stubble may be more immediately attractive, a heavy beard is what women are looking for in the long-term. Plus, a bushy beard can shield your face from up to 95% of UV rays, keeping your skin looking younger for longer. Not too shabby, eh?
There’s a distinct difference, though, between simply growing a big-ass beard and crafting a gigantic thing of beauty. The former is prone to taunts and derision from your clean-shaven friends and colleagues; the latter commands respect from even the staunchest of razor loyalists. Trouble is, the dividing line between the two isn’t always apparent. Anyone can let their facial hair keep sprouting; it takes a keen eye to ensure that your burgeoning face-bush skews less wildling and more dandy wildman. The key is in recognizing which of your beard’s attributes are most in need of attention and taking care of them accordingly. But exactly what qualities are you to look out for?
First off, there’s the issue of length. While short, trimmed beards tend to come off more professional than their elongated counterparts—if only because they take up less visual bandwidth—the truth of the matter is when it comes to length, all you need is balance. Do you have a long, skinny face? Then a longer beard is going to turn you into a gaunt Gandalf faster than you can say, “Fly, you fools!” Got a rounder visage? Then you’ve got a lot more room to grow, since a longer beard is only going to help to even out your features. Basically, all you need to do is figure out the shape of your face, and a decision on length should come easily.
Volume is also a major factor. That is, how thick and bushy does your facial hair grow in? Some men are #blessed in this department; the stuff on their face grows with gravity, stretching down and away from the face as it lengthens. Others, unfortunately, not so much. If you sympathise more with the second group, then you’re going to want to prune the shrub pretty often to keep your ideal proportions in tact.
Above all else, however, what separates the wheat from the ridiculous, overgrown chaff is control. Even the longest, fullest, most unabashedly enormous beards can look precise and put-together as long as the hair appears to have been given the appropriate attention. Whether that means running a comb through it, using a beard balm or oil to tame the strays, or simply cutting it back when necessary, you’ve got to show your beard who’s boss to ensure that your chin gets the admiration it deserves.
Otherwise, we might have a Randy Quaid situation on our hands.
Beard On! Team Ironjohnbeard