For the second year, I participated in No Shave November. Though the month is over, I have decided to grow a beard. It might be my destiny. Most prefer when I have facial hair, and it isn’t exactly a challenge to abstain from shaving.
A man’s beard hair grows the most rapidly. Those who never trim their beards can reach 30 feet in a lifetime. I wouldn’t advise going near that length.
A man named Hans Steininger in the 16th century died from tripping on his beard while fleeing a fire.
Aside from poor Steininger’s experience, beards have genuine benefits. The University of Southern Queensland performed a study that showed beards block the majority of UV rays hitting the face. Birmingham Trichology Centre reported insulation beards provide decreases chances of catching a cold. Asthma Care of New York measured better air quality for bearded men, which allows them to block bothersome allergens.
Numerous surveys indicate that bearded men are preferred above those who are clean-shaven. Those with beards are frequently considered more attractive. They are also considered more trustworthy. Beards were coveted in ancient Greece, where it was acceptable to fully shave only as a sign of mourning. Persians loved to groom their facial hair, decorating with gold ringlets in one of the first cases of “bling bling.” Eastern nations continue to punish adulterers by having their beards removed. Earlier this year, Samuel Mullet Sr. was imprisoned for 15 years due to the crime of “beard cutting” against members of an Amish community. For millions of people, beauty is in the eye of the beard holder.
The growth rate of a beard is also genetic, but there is a link to the rate of sexual activity as well. This link is based on a study conducted by a man who noticed that his beard grew quicker in particularly good company than when he isolated himself.
Beards as a lucky charm are certainly no new concept. Ask the Boston Red Sox, who won the World Series at Fenway Park this Halloween. Famous for their “fear the beard” pact to grow beards as a team, the Red Sox earned victory in their hometown for the first time in 95 years. Until the end of November, fans could bid for two players’ “beard balls” in a Gillette-sponsored auction to help raise awareness for men’s health. The bids for David Ortiz and Shane Victorino’s chunks of beard and complementary autographed razors have quickly brought in thousands of dollars.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with going beardless. Alexander the Great was able to conquer nations with his army of clean-shaven men, whose lack of beards was an advantage on the battlefield. However, there is something to be said of a man who lets his beard grow as long as he likes. Too often, one’s appearance must be altered or concealed in order to gain employment. There is something comforting in seeing a man doing his job while sporting a healthy beard. Greek philosophers and mythological figures established their own brand of control and freedom, just as the goatee has been associated for centuries with mischief and evil. Sorry, Howie Mandel.
Speaking of evil, there is a day in most men’s lives when shaving must take place. Whether he is in mourning in ancient Greece or an adulterer in Islam, a man will likely find himself needing a proper shave.
Those with sensitive skin advantage from shaving cream with Aloe vera. Deciding whether to trim using scissors or a beard trimmer is based on the individual’s personal taste. Plucking is not at all necessary, and the best time for a shave is after a shower.
As for maintaining facial hair, a fine-toothed comb is useful. The best time for a trim is before a shower, since wet hair is more difficult to cut symmetrically. Starting near the ear down to the chin is the best direction, repeating on the other side. Be sure to keep the neck line even. As for mustaches, start trimming down the middle and then the sides. Remember to wash and shampoo your facial hair as you do with the rest of your hair, using a comb afterwards to avoid flakes and tangles. Pat your beard with a washcloth; do not scrub or wipe, as this will irritate the pores. Of course, any man is entitled to shave or not shave with whatever method he sees fit.
Aside from the glories and tidbits behind having a beard, this wouldn’t be a proper session of pogonology — the study of beards — with a friendly reminder that No Shave November’s primary cause is to raise awareness for men’s health. Whether beards are lucky charms or not, a yearly rectal exam will help combat prostate cancer, the No. 1 cause of death for men in their 40s.
Trust me. I have a beard.