In the summer of 2011, I embarked upon a life-altering journey: I grew a beard. This wasn’t to fit in with the current fashionistas growing out their facial hair; it was a quest created by my coworkers and I titled the “Let’s Get Beard” competition. The rules were simple: each week everyone participating would put $5 in a pot and whoever went the longest without shaving would win the kitty.
The competition went for four and a half months and I ended up reigning beard supreme, winning the large sum of $265. If simply not shaving could bring in this kind of money, what else could it do for my life? This epiphany marked the dawn of a new, hairy, era for me. With each week that passed by – my strength growing like Samson – I started to understand that the beard would not be a temporary side effect of a competition. The hair was now wrapped tightly around my face like a Facehugger from Aliens and I wouldn’t be getting rid of it unless I decided to become a Tibetan monk or a furry alien baby burst out of my chest.
Continuing down this path, I understood that I was going to part of a long history of great bearded men. Men like Moses, Charles Darwin, Grizzly Adams (yes, he did have a beard), two-thirds of ZZ Top, Kimbo Slice, and Papa Smurf all had beards and I was now a member of their ranks.
This brought a tremendous weight upon my chin. With each great beard comes great responsibility and each person wearing the chin mitten must treat this tradition with respect. Unfortunately, it is fair to say that not everyone that has been bestowed the gift of facial hair has the same respect. Just as it was with the goatee in the 90’s, it seems as though everyone is growing one and a lot of them are douche bags.
The growing community of furry faces is slowly damaging the image and legacy of the beard. However, this can be stopped. Here are five simple steps to bring in a bright, new dawn in facial hair.
1. Be Honest With Yourself
Beards are permitted in the British Navy, however each sailor that would like to grow one must submit a request form first. They are then allowed to stop shaving for two weeks and if they have not grown an adequate amount of hair that covers the entire jaw line during this time, their superior officers will order them to shave it off.
Our British allies understand that not everyone is meant to have a heard. There are plenty of fellas growing out the few, scattered follicles spread over their mandible hoping it all might start to look like big boy facial hair if they continue growing it out. This is the chin equivalent of a comb-over and isn’t fooling anyone.
Since you don’t have a British Master of Arms inspecting your face, it is up to your best judgment as to whether or not you should retire the razor.
2. Some Styles Just Don’t Work Anymore
This one can be tricky since it doesn’t apply to everybody. A select few people can pull off the handlebar mustache or other facial hairstyles of yore, but the majority of them are either mixologists or bike messengers. If you do decide to proceed down this route, tread lightly. There is a fine line between old school and ass-face.
3. Treat The Beard With Respect And It Will Respect You Right Back
The beard needs plenty of pampering, otherwise it’ll turn into a drunk, belligerent asshole that doesn’t know its way home. My daily routine consists of conditioning, combing, applying leave-in conditioner, more combing, then combing it again. Each person’s trick to a neat beard may vary, but it only takes one day of skipping maintenance to look like Tom Hanks in Castaway.
4. Either Move To Millersburg, Ohio, Or Stop Pretending To Be Amish
We’ve all seen the guy with the long beard wearing an entire outfit of what appears to be homemade denim, a leather Tom Sawyer hat, and headphones that are undoubtedly playing a cheap knockoff of Mumford and Sons. This person is the not-rare-enough Ultra Hipster; taking the fashion trend to a high enough level that he now appears to be a Mennonite. Now, he actually might be an Amish person, but his usage of Apple products and Starbucks cards seem to prove otherwise. If this person happens to be you, I recommend trading in your brightly painted fixed-gear bike for a horse and buggy and swearing off electricity altogether.
5. Remember What The Beard Represents
The legacy of the beard goes back for as long as we have been walking on two feet. Caveman paintings have been discovered that depict men with the longest beards slaying the most mammoths (if you try researching this claim, please take into consideration that I may have made it up). The beard is the timeless accompaniment to a man’s face and represents something bigger than a fashion trend. It is our responsibility to wear it proudly as the gatekeepers to a face long ago and the foundation of beards to come.