No longer is the clean cut face of a man the mark of a distinguished gentleman. Today beards, mustaches and a variety of other facial hair styles are popular amongst even the most elegant dandy. While some women still claim that a clean cut man is more attractive, others say that a man with facial hair is the mark of masculinity and is incredibly attractive.
At Gentleman’s Gazette we have covered shaving in more ways than one. From the straight razor to a double edge safety razor, we’ve talked about electric shavers, Gilette style scrapers and products recommended and otherwise.
Today we’re going to leave shaving behind and talk about the new mark of the modern man: facial hair.
Do Women Really Like a Beard
With the growing trend of men styling their facial hair, many studies have been conducted and unfortunately, most women still prefer a man who shaves daily. Is this stopping us? No. Today, more men are growing facial hair than we as gender have since the 1970s. Mustaches are back in style, beards are an everyday sight and for those who argue it’s negligence and just another way for men to be lazy, those who take their hair seriously will stand up and shout that it’s actually harder and more work intensive to maintain facial hair than to shave it off. Do some women like it? Yes. Some do.
Will the others come around? If they’re anything like my wife, probably not, but hey.
What Products Men with Facial Hair Need
Depending on how long you plan on growing it and in what style, you may need nothing more than an electric beard trimmer or a pair of scissors. However, for those that do take the style seriously, a mustache comb, scissors, wax, clippers, trimmers and creams may just be the start of what you’ll need, but covering all products in detail is enough material for another article.
There are many electric razors out there and today it seems there are just as many beard trimmers. Going electric is probably the easiest way to maintain a sculpted look, however, if you’re going to elaborate on the style or really get into dandy looks, you’re going to want something a bit more manual.
When it comes to the ways to trim or shave the lines around your facial hair, some argue that traditional razors are the way to go. Personally, I recommend using a double edge safety razor, and for that you can read our in-depth guide. However, if you really need to focus on precision, one method is to use the cartridge razors by companies like Gillette and Schick. Of course, I abhor these, but I’m the guy who doesn’t grow my facial hair, unless I just happen to forget to shave or want a lazy day. However, they do have their merits for those who can’t afford to cover their face with product which can prevent you from seeing exactly where you want to draw the line – so to speak.
One highly recommend method if you take your facial hair seriously is to trust it to your barber. Just as you wouldn’t cut your own hair, you can find barbers that specialize in sculpting facial hair on men and since it’s usually less expensive than a traditional haircut or hot shave, it’s feasible to go to them more often for a trim. By consulting with a barber, you can learn tips and tricks based on your own personal facial hair growth pattern and style. A good barber will work with you knowing you intend to maintain the shave in between visits. He’ll teach you his expert techniques to ensure you always look your best.
Growing Your Beard
Like a manicured lawn, growing a beard doesn’t just happen. You have to work at it and maintain it with constant upkeep. If you don’t maintain it and properly trim it, pretty soon you’re just going to look homeless or like a wild man raised by wolves. There are three basic stages to growing out facial hair.
1. Sticking with the pain
For the first little bit, your face is going to itch. It’s going to remind you of that time you had chicken pox and your mom duct taped oven mitts to your hands to prevent you from scratching. Fight through the pain brother, fight through the itch. After a couple of weeks, it will go away. If it didn’t, none of us would have beards.
2. Be prepared to look a little ridiculous.
It takes a few months to grow the beard to the point that it’s ready for sculpting. You need it let it grow past the one inch mark before you even try to shape it. A common mistake is trying to style it too soon. Of course, if you plan to keep it short you have nothing to worry about. However, if you’re growing it out, expect to look a little ridiculous at first.
3. It’s okay to give up. Most of us do.
Almost every man at some point has tried to grow a beard, but genetically only a small percentage of us can do it. For some, it will never grow out perfectly and you’ll end up looking like a porcupine, or worse, having lots of hair in some areas and nothing in others. If you can’t grow it out, don’t take it personally. You just weren’t meant to have a beard.
If you still want to try and fight past genetics, all the power to you. One tip that some say helped is to take a low dosage aspirin every morning. The same way that people take it for heart health, scientists believe that it can actually cause hair growth. However, we recommend speaking with your doctor first.
Another tip is vitamins. There is a range of vitamins on the market that claim to regenerate hair growth. Check at your local health food store for ideas.
If you manage to get past the inch mark, you’re in good form. At this point it’s worth it to begin shaping your style and figuring out exactly what you want to do with it. Just remember to take it slow because once you cut it, you have to wait for it to grow back out.
Maintaining Facial Hair
For whatever reason, most men think that like their body, the beard should only be exposed to soap or body wash. Big, big mistake. Just like you wouldn’t use a bar of Dove soap on your head – unless you’re bald – use moisturizing shampoo and conditioner on your beard. Treat it the same as you would your hair and shampoo it once every 2-3 days following up with a conditioner to keep the skin moisturized and the hair healthy.
When you do trim it – which you’ll have to – reserve the electric trimmer for the outlines and use a mustache comb and scissors for trimming the actual length of the beard. By sticking with a comb and scissors, you have greater control over how much you cut off. This is beneficial for this who style their facial hair, but not necessary for those who just want a standard short beard or goatee.
A Healthy Lifestyle = A Healthy Beard
Believe it or not, but experts agree that eating healthy, getting enough sleep and exercising is crucial for maintain a good, healthy beard. I can’t speak from experience, but based on all of my research – and trust me, I did a lot – every expert in the field, most of whom have the title Dr., agree that healthy living contributes to a healthy face full of hair.
Facial Hair Styles
There are many styles of facial hair. Here are the most common.
The beard is just a generic term for any facial hair other than the upper lip and under the nose. The beard typically extends from the sideburns, down the cheeks and under the chin. In most cases it’s accompanies by a mustache which is defined as the hair under the nose and above the upper lip.
Abraham Lincoln is one of the most famous examples of the chin curtain. It’s line of facial hair that extends from the sideburns down the jawline hanging below the jaw but usually without the accompanying mustache found in a full beard.
This is a thin line of facial hair that connects the sideburns draping in a single line down the side of the cheek and under the jaw without any hair on the front of the chin or covering the full cheeks. It looks similar to a strap used to secure a helmet to your head.
Probably self explanatory, but it’s no facial hair at all other than eyebrows and in many cases, a short and well defined sideburn.
Stubble or Five O’Clock Shadow
Usually caused by negligence or laziness, this is when a small shadow of growth appears on an otherwise clean shaven man due to not shaving daily. In some cases, men will earn a five o’clock shadow as the name suggests later in the day after a morning shave.
Muttonchops are when the sideburns connect to a moustache but the chin is free of hair.
A very thin and narrow moustache that grows down below the jawline in two very long tendrils. Often there will be a separation in the middle centered under the nose.
Often in the shape of a rectangle or triangle, it’s a small patch of hair that grows in the center of the chin often hanging below the jaw line.
This is another fairly generic term that describes a moustache with hair covering the chin but not the cheeks, other than, in some cases, a thin line connecting them along the sides of the mouth.
This is a goatee that features a moustache with ends that flair out in a similar fashion to the handlebar moustache, often curled at each end.
This is a moustache that features ends grown out past the sides of the face, often flared or curled at the end. In most cases, it requires daily sculpting using a firm hair product or moustache wax.
A standard, full moustache that features ends that pull straight down in parallel lines down the jawline. It is very similar to the goatee, however the chin remains clean shaven. It’s referred to as a horseshoe because of its shape.
Another basic term to describe facial hair that solely exists above the upper lip and under the nose.
These are very heavy and thick sideburns that grow thicker as they extend toward the chin. They will often be connected to a moustache.
Similar to muttonchops, the side whiskers are longer on the side and hang low past the jawline.
This is a thin beard on the bottom of the jaw on the neck with no other facial hair.
This is a very narrow moustache about as thick as the line you’d get if you drew it on with a pencil.
This is a very thick growth of hair on the neck, lower jaw and sideburns but without any hair around the lips.
The soul patch is a small patch of hair right below the lower lip but not extending to the chin.
A narrow, but tall moustache that doesn’t extend past the sides of the nose. Unfortunately, due to its association with Adolf Hitler, it’s no longer a very popular style.
Van Dyke beard
The Van Dyke beard is similar to a goatee but the chin hair is a separate patch from the mustache which is usually styled independently and often extends past the sides of the face similar to the handlebar. On the chin, a patch of hair is grown and is usually quite narrow and shaped like an oval or triangle.
Today it seems that there is a new style of facial hair being invented each day. Men are using facial hair as a way to express themselves and it is more popular on a global scale than ever before. Do you have facial hair? What you’re favorite styles and how do you maintain it?