In the spirit of Movember, this month, I will be focusing on men’s hair—beards, moustaches, head hair, and maybe even chest hair!
What’s more “manly” than facial hair?
It’s no surprise that growing out one’s facial hair was the act of solidarity chosen for Movember, the month that we dedicate to “changing the face of men’s health”, since we typically associate facial hair with men (though it’s not uncommon for women to also have facial hair). As a result, in cultures all around the world, beards and moustaches have come to represent masculinity and male sexual prowess.
While a man’s choice to grow his facial hair is usually a personal one, just like head hair, the presence or absence, length, shape, and even colour of facial hair sends certain messages (whether intentional or not) to other people about a person’s age, status, rank, religious beliefs, or political stance. So, the decision to grow a beard or a moustache can be a fun, but also serious, one.
Lately (Movember aside), I’ve noticed a trend towards men growing out their facial hair (for celebrity examples, click here or even here). Like most fashion trends, the popularity of facial hair growth goes in cycles—30-year cycles, according to an Australian study, and we’re said to have hit a “peak-beard” back in 2013—nevertheless, it seems like longer facial hair will be around for a little while longer (and I’m not complaining about it: I love me a goatee!)
In any case, it’s Movember, so, long live the beard!
Some interesting facts about beards:
- On average, a man has about 25,000 hairs growing on his chin.
- An average beard grows about 5-6 inches (or 12.5 to 15 centimeters) a year.
- The Guinness Book of World Records holder for the longest beard is Hans N. Langseth from Norway (1846-1927), whose beard grew to 5.33 meters (17 feet 6 inches) by the time he was buried.
- Daily shaving started to become popular back in the 1910s when Gilette launched ad campaigns to promote their home-shaving products by suggesting that women were more attracted to clean-shaven men.
- A word to the wise: according to a study by scientists at the University of New South Wales, “the more beards there are, the less attractive they become”; so if you’re trying to stand out these days, a clean-shaven look may be the way to go.
Some beard care tips
Just like head hair, facial hair needs TLC too! Keeping your beard looking good and feeling soft calls for a proper beard care regimen:
- Shampoo your beard a few times a week with a moisturizing shampoo or a gentle face wash to keep your facial hair (and the skin underneath) clean, which prevents breakouts and leaves it smelling fresh.
- Make sure you rinse out the shampoo properly to avoid itchiness as well as dryness and flaking (“beard-druff”).
- After washing it, moisturize your facial hair and the skin underneath to prevent itchiness, beard-druff, and premature aging, by using a good beard softener/conditioner, beard oil (usually a blend of essential oils) or beard balm.
- Using beard oil, balm, or conditioner will also seal in moisture and keep your wayward hairs in place, to keep your facial hair looking neat and feeling supple.
- Clean up your lines daily with a razor.
- Make sure your razor is clean– especially if you have curly, wiry, or kinky hair, to avoid getting razor bumps!
- Use warm water and shave in the direction that your hair grows.
- After shaving, make sure you shake your razor dry to prevent rusting.
- Change your blade frequently (no more than 5 shaves).
- Brush or comb your beard to properly distribute your beard care products and maintain your look.
- Trim your beard regularly to get rid of split ends and preserve its shape.
- Eat a balanced diet: healthy hair grows from the inside out.
- Drink lots of water: hair is hydrated from the inside out too!
The Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History by Victoria Sherrow, Greenwood Press, 2006.
12 Easy Beard Care Tips: http://www.webmd.com/men/features/beard-care-tips?page=3
How to Groom Your Beard Better: http://www.mensjournal.com/expert-advice/how-to-groom-your-beard-better-20130828
Happy Movember, everyone!