With the end of No-Shave November, men across the world are faced with one of two options. They can either cave into the pressure to look a certain way and break out the razor. Or, having become attached to their facial hair, they can embrace the spirit of Decembeard.
To beard or not to beard; that is the question.
Around mid-2013, out of the blue, rocking a beard suddenly became cool again. Everyone seemed to have one, Ben Affleck sported one to accept an Oscar for Argo, pitcher Brian 'Fear the Beard' Wilson, even the hipsters in Brooklyn.
It used to be that rocking a beard would have gotten you taxed, been seen as a sign of rebellion against the church, or even gotten you killed. But since 2013, more men seem to be embracing their facial follicles and shaking off centuries of beard oppression.
The rise of the “the urban beardsman”, has led to the creation of new businesses. Wanna date only bearded chaps? There's an app for that. The whole beard care industry and artisinal barbershops also have this revival to thank for their business.
With the beard gaining such mainstream appeal, some follicularly challenged men are resorting to let's just say desperate measures to 'grow' a beard.
But while everyone (well, most people) appreciates a manly beard, nobody seems to consider its downsides. Yes, bearded dudes are perceived as in command, aggressive, sexually attractive, blah, blah, blah; but at what cost?
As an ex-bearded fellow, I can tell you that having a beard can SUCK. Since everyone is quick to point out the pros, let's talk about a few disadvantages of rocking all that face fur.
10 Growing One in the First Place
Just so we're clear, I'm not talking about stubble, a goatee or a soul patch; I mean a thick and majestic beard. Darwin, Karl Marx, Nick Wooster, you get the idea.
But growing such epic beards is hard for many guys. The ability to even grow a beard is based on your genetics. Beard growth can be helped along, with regular exercise and a higher protein diet to boost the T-levels required for hair growth. Some dudes are genetically gifted and don't need to do all this. They can go from stubble to wolf'ing in two weeks while other gents have to wait up to two months for the same length.
If you think clean eating is too much work, consider this. For guys with zero facial hair, beard transplants have become an option. Since 2007, beard transplant surgeries (costing up to $7,000) are reportedly up by up to six-fold.
Other men use biotin, MSM, hormone therapy even splashing Rogaine on their faces to 'boost beard growth.'
9 Questions and even More Questions
Even for the genetically gifted, growing a beard takes time; beards grow around 5.5 inches per year. While your face rug comes in, brace yourself for the ribbing and questions you'll face. From co-workers asking if you forgot to shave, asking if it's just a phase or if you just broke up with someone, you will be 'attacked' with questions.
You'll find that you constantly have to justify not shaving; which can be kinda hard when you're going through the awkward stages of growing your beard. Aptly termed the struggle beard, one side of your face will fill out nicely, but you'll have these thin, embarrassing spots on the other side.
People will constantly remind you that you look like crap, which can make you question WTH you are doing it in the first place.
8 Filthy beards and Beardruff
In May, a 'study' was published claiming that most male beards harbored fecal bacteria. This well-publicized 'study' was conducted by a TV station, not a university or research facility, so please take the results with a pinch of salt.
But a few weeks into growing your beard, you will notice beard dandruff. Yes it exists and happens to all bearded bros, at first.
Your body sheds millions of skin cells everyday, and as the skin under your mane dries out, it gets itchy, you scratch it, and it's suddenly a white Christmas on your shirt. A very embarrassing situation, if you are out and about.
Your beard is also exposed to trillions of bacteria daily and your beard will trap a lot of these bacteria. This can open you up to the possibility of catching an infection if you have any nicks on your face.
7 Eating Becomes a Chore
One of the main contributors to a grotty-looking beard is the presence of food particles in it. Sometimes, your beard appears to be hungrier than you. Everything headed for your mouth seems to end up in the beard; soup, ice cream, burgers all leave deposits in your mug-rug. The situation is even worse if you have a badass 'stache to go with it.
You find yourself considering certain meals only based on how difficult it will be to eat without leaving any trace. Drinking water is just as bad, as your beard lovingly soaks up spilled water and spends the next half hour, slowly dripping on your shirt.
No wonder, bearded bros soon find themselves looking for bite-sized items on any menu.
6 Getting Ready Is a Time Suck
Some men grow their beards because they think its easier to maintan; no weekly trips to get a haircut and shave. But they soon find bearding isn't the 'lazy' option they thought it to be. The 'freedom' from the barber's chair comes at a steep cost, in both time and money.
Ingrown hairs, beardruff and split ends are all signs of poor beard hygiene, then there is beard head. It's basically bed head for bearded bros. It happens when you wake up and your beard has twisted itself into seemingly impossible knots. Trying to straighten with a regular comb WILL destroy that comb. It seems the knotted hair has gained a strength of its own.
To get around all these, youre basic beard care routine involves washing and shampooing, at least twice a week. Yes, it adds more time to your daily grooming, but that's the price you pay.
Your beard will also cost you a pretty penny to maintain; a basic beard kit containing shampoo and beard oil, starts at $30. Depending on the length if your beard, you may use up to four of these in a month. Maybe it's time to check out a beard subscription box.
5 No Mo' Kisses!
Some dudes grow their beard to attract ladies, and there are a large number of women that love the look. But this can backfire, as some women cannot stand a hairy man. If your gf/wife is one of them, as the beard grows, she may start to wonder what the heck she was thinking.
Women complain that beards give them beard burn; basically rug burn on the face. Plus your mustache gets in the way of kissing and often ends up in her mouth. No woman likes a rash on her face or on *other body parts*, causing them to say no to any fooling around.
Damn! It sucks getting CB'd by your own beard.
Applying for a job while channeling Karl Marx, may not be the smartest career move you'll make. A study by Gillette (interpret as you will) suggested that HR professionals prefer clean-shaven men. The study also claims that well-groomed employees have higher chances of getting promoted, than those with beards.
But even outside the workplace, people will generally treat bearded chaps differently. People will assume everything based on your beard. You'll hear things like “He only drinks craft beer”, “He has a wardrobe full of flannels”. “He has to be an artist, a poet, or a writer.”
Beards also scare little kids, most of them will burst into tears at the sight of your face mane. But braver kids will give your beard a good tug. I kid you not, the pain will make your eyes water.
3 The Look is now 'Dated'
The longer you grow your beard, you'll find that not everyone will agree that your face rug is epic. Women will walk past you, clutching their phones and bags, just a little tighter; especially if your fashion sense is more grunge rocker than Saville Row.
Bearded models are finding that fashion houses are moving away from the niche hipster look. The adoption of the beard meant you couldn't go a mile, anywhere in the world and not spot some beardo. It's gotten to the point where people just totally fed up with the look.
By steadfastly rocking your face fuzz, you risk being labeled as 'so-last-year'. Whatever the reason you started growing one in the first place, so many moons ago, you'll find yourself explaining to these people. All. Over. Again.
2 Keeping it Perfect Is a B*#!h
Even after the basic maintenance of washing and shampooing your beard, it can develop a life of its own. Chaps with spiky, curly or fine hair know exactly what I mean. These bearded gents find they have to do a bit more to keep the face mane in place. Enter the world of beard oils, balms, waxes and creams.
To keep your beard looking well groomed, first you'll need a quality beard trimmer. The problem with this is that if your hand-to-eye coordination is off, you can make your beard lopsided in a heartbeat. Barring that, you'll have to find an old-school barber and visit them once or twice a month.
At home, to keep a beard looking groomed, the basic wash and shampoo MUST be followed by:
- Beard oil application, at least once a day, to moisturize and remove flakes.
- Use beard balm to style and nourish your beard.
- Trim to your preferred length and remove those stray hairs with scissors/trimmer.
- Clean up the neckline and cheekline.
Can you see how many products keep it neat requires? Doing all this adds a significant amount of time to your daily grooming. These products also don't come cheap. A complete beard care kit, with everything on this list will start at around $100.
1 Mistaken Identity
Post-9/11, beards have (sadly) become associated with religious extremism, leading to bearded bros getting second glances everywhere they go. You'll find you are always being "randomly checked" at the airport.
Events like the rise of ISIS, the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the Bataclan attacks have only worsened this stigma. In October, members of a global club for bearded gents, were briefly questioned by the Swedish police. The Swedish chapter of the club had gathered at an old castle to organize a photoshoot. But a concerned passersby assumed they were terrorists, and called the police.
There have been many more incidents of security forces stopping bearded men, simply because of the association with religion. Bearded bros are getting all the wrong kind of attention.
There you go, ten disadvantages of wolf'ing. Will you still be growing out your beard?