John's powerful beard
All about beards is pleased to welcome John to the featured beards section! John has a really great beard, but has never really revved it up to full power. Recently, he has grown it out more than ever before, achieving powerful results. His photo album essentially shows his beard's transformation through the growing process over a period of months.
John comes to us from the Peach State, otherwise known as Georgia. He works in marketing in the insurance industry. John's educational background includes an MBA. He is married and has two children. John enjoys video production, marching bands, drum corps, and aviation. He has written a couple of novels, which he sadly reports are presently unpublished. He also grows an amazing full beard.
Scroll down to read John's story. Then, be sure to visit John's photo album.
The photos on this page and in John's photo album are courtesy of John and are used with permission. All photos are subject to the site's conditions of use.
What do you think of beards?
Like most guys, I’ve always noticed beards on other men. A beard definitely helps to define the man, his lifestyle, his occupation, his outlook. The lumberjack, with his big burly beard, is distinct from the symphony oboe player with his moustache and trimmed goatee. When grown and groomed properly in a manner appropriate to the man’s lifestyle, beards look very good. But the wrong beard style, or a poorly grown/trimmed beard, is a disaster.
What I really do not like is beards on overweight men -- guys who are trying to hide their double or triple chins. Despite the beard, the weight issue is still obvious. They’re fooling no one.
And beards on women? Aside from the circus side show or reality shows on TLC, the world can do without them, I think. Don’t you?
Why do you think more men do not grow their beards?
One reason is because a beard makes one look older. And in our youth-centric society everyone wants to appear as young as possible. My beard ages me by at least ten years.
Also, not every man can grow a decent beard. I know many men who do not have full, dense facial hair. It’s beyond their genetic capability to grow one.
Plus, most companies like consistency and they like to appear conservative. Thus, the employees reflect their employer’s values in a continuously clean-shaven appearance.
True, young aggressive startups with a T-shirt and hoodie-wearing employee base would be exceptions to this rule. This, likely, is why the fashion is turning more toward the acceptance of beards. The Millennials now entering the workforce as the Boomers retire have a more relaxed standard of corporate appearance. I think this is a continuation of the “business casual” dress phenomenon that started in the late '80s.
When I started working in the mid-'80s, it was ties and jackets. No exceptions. No Jeans Days. The radical guys wore fancy neckties and maybe – maybe – a moustache. Nowadays, I wear a suit maybe three days a year. It goes to reason that this relaxation of standards, if you will, of personal appearance would also extend beyond clothing to beards and hairstyles.
And beards are more popular these days. You can see models in catalogues and ads and on television sporting beards. And you see more men on the street with beards.
I’m all for it, of course. If you’re working in a cube farm, does your productivity depend in any way on whether you are wearing a necktie or an open shirt? If you’re clean shaven or have a beard?
One thing I find odd -- in the conservative world of finance -- banking and insurance and treasury operations, beards are essentially nonexistent. They want to give their clients the utmost professional appearance. Yet the CFO of the United States, the big guy himself -- namely Ben Bernanke -- sports a huge full beard!
Alas, aside from the fashion aspect, the current increase in beard growth also appears to be a function of unemployment. If a man is not working, why should he shave? If he’s exploring options for his future and figuring things out, why not experiment with a beard as well? Plus, razor blades are expensive. The more beards you see, I believe, the more unemployment you’ll also see.
In a way this circles back to the question. If beards are in some ways associated with unemployment, and thus lower socioeconomic status, other men would hesitate to grow them.
Why do you grow your beard now?
This, actually, has been a long time coming. Four or five years ago, as I noticed my company becoming a bit more casual, and as my beard turned gray and white, I decided that I didn’t need to shave every day. A day or two of stubble was virtually invisible from more than three feet away. So I started to shave just every other day. Then twice a week. Then just once a week. I kind of became known here at work as wearing stubble or a short beard.
I purchased a beard trimmer and that let me have more control over my facial hair. So instead of shaving once a week, I’d just trim it back short. Sure, once a month or so I would shave clean. But I always let it grow out again to some degree.
After a few months, I “got crazy” and started trimming my stubble on a longer setting. And then on the next longest setting. And, over time, the next longest and then the next longest.
So my beard growing decision was not an impulsive thing. It “grew” out of an extended transformation of how I handled my facial hair.
I’m keeping it longish now to let it grow out. Like most men, some of my beard hairs grow faster than others. Only over time, as the slower-growing hairs fill in, can we see how full and lush the beard really is. I’ve wanted to see how full mine is.
About a month ago my wife and daughter got the idea that we would go out on Halloween as Santa and Mrs. Claus. So that gave me the opportunity to let it go for a few more weeks before trimming it back. But now, as Halloween approaches, I’m not sure how far I want to trim it back. Perhaps I’ll let it go through the holidays.
Before the beard
Did anyone in your family have a beard before you?
Absolutely not. My dad, now in his late 80s, has gone maybe five days in his entire life without shaving. And those days were exclusively on vacation. For his generation, only backwoods trappers and hunters or blue collar men wore beards. My cousin, however, does have a short, full beard.
Do you remember from childhood ever wanting to have a beard when you grew up?
I remember wanting to have full, thick facial hair. I would see men with patchy facial hair or beards that did not cover the entire cheek area. I hoped that I would have the full, dense, thick bearded look. And I pretty much did. As for actually wanting to have a beard then, no. Beards weren’t part of my world then.
Did you ever give much thought to beards before deciding to grow one?
In college, as was the style then, I grew the basic cop/mechanic 'stache. I kept that on and off from my senior year in college through about 1990.
Then, in the late '90s the goatee/long sideburns/celtic armband tattoo craze began. (See Brady Anderson circa 1999.) A lot of guys in the big company I worked for started growing and getting tats. Guys did a lot of showing off of their biceps tattoos in the corporate gym.
I didn’t do the tat, but after one of the higher ups in my department did the goatee (he was doing a Garth Brooks parody at the department Christmas party), I decided I could, too. Over the next several months it came and went.
It was an odd situation because in general it was a very conservative company and short hair, conservative dress and a very professional demeanor were the norm. But after we went business casual dress and changed CEOs, a lot of guys were more relaxed and a lot began growing “creative facial hair”.
At my current company, my boss wears a short-trimmed goatee. Another guy who (used to work here) did the chinstrap thing. So as to not look like an obvious suck up, I chose another beard style, the full beard. Thus all the men in my department have some sort of facial hair.
As noted above, over time I let it get longer and kept it for longer periods of time before finally just letting it grow out. I’ve had this beard now since late June 2012.
Growing the beard
How did your first beard turn out? What did you think of it?
My first goatee was pretty cool. I liked it. I believe I kept it for several weeks or months. I didn’t like how it was going gray. I was prematurely gray. And, yes, I did dye it light brown a few times.
The full beard came on gradually. I would shave it off, but then not feel like shaving. After trimming it longer and longer over time, at some point it finally looked like a real beard.
It’s odd. Sometimes I think I look like a hillbilly. Other times I think I look like a Norwegian sea captain. Now and then I see the bearded Who in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”
In the gym this morning there were several other guys with some sort of beard. But I was the only one there with a big white beard. One thing I don’t like about it is how it picks up fluorescent light and seemingly glows. In certain light it sort of becomes iridescent. And, yes, it does add ten years to me.
You've been saying that you are an occasional or seasonal beard grower. Why not go permanent with the beard?
I may. I’ve been “permanently not clean shaven” for many months now. It’s just the varying length of my beard that’s changed. It does get hot here in the south in the summer. Perhaps too hot for a full beard. I’ll see how it goes.
You have been keeping your full beard quite short. Why is that?
I’m a conservative guy in a conservative world. Shorter is better. Plus, as my beard is so white and iridescent, the longer the hair, the more it glows. I suppose as I get older a longer beard will be more appropriate. Again, we’ll see how it goes.
You are currently growing your beard out a bit longer. What is the story?
I wanted to let it get longer, but could not think of a good excuse to let it grow long… don’t want to alienate those who pay me, after all. But when my wife and daughter said that we’d be going out as Santa and Mrs. Claus for Halloween, I had reason to let it grow out.
When it comes to defining a neck line for your full beard, you have really nailed it. Great job! Do you shape and trim the beard yourself? If so, how were you able to achieve such great results on your own?
I've never really liked beards where the neck line is trimmed close to the jaw. I think that if a man is to have a full beard, he has to let it grow on the underside as well. It just seemed natural to me to shave my neck (which is fairly heavily bearded itself) to the natural neck line to get the full look I wanted. I'm glad the results look good. In terms of trimming and shaping, I have a clipper set that I picked up at Walmart. As the beard grew out I trimmed it with the beard guide perhaps every two weeks, but each time I trimmed it on the next longer setting. Thus, it eventually grew out evenly to the length I desired.
Have you tried any other style of beard? Which ones, if any, and what did you think of them?
The cop/mechanic 'stache and the goatee. At the time, they were social norms and were fine. I wouldn’t do the 'stache alone now. Unless, of course, I became a cop.
Has your beard had any effect on your self-confidence or how you see yourself?
It makes me a little self-conscious, especially when I see myself in a mirror under fluorescent lights. “Wow! Look at the big white thing glow!”
What do you think of your own beard?
In theory I like it a lot. I like how it feels. I like its thickness. I like its length. I like the general idea and concept of the beard. It’s the execution, again, that gives me angst. If only it were not so glowingly white!
How do you like the way your full beard feels?
I really like it a lot. I like the feel of it. I like stroking it while in deep thought. It feels better and less scratchy as it gets longer. I like how the blowing wind feels on it.
Do you ever compare your beard to other beards that you see?
Absolutely. Ha! Mine’s thicker and longer than yours is! But, ouch! Yours is a much better color than mine is and makes you look tough and hip… not old.
Do you take a lot of pride in your beard?
Yes. I’m proud of how my facial hair grew in. I’m proud of its density and thickness and fullness.
Do you get a lot of reactions to your beard? What are they like?
I get a few longer glances now and then from people who have not seen me for a while. But that’s all.
Do you have any complaints about your beard?
Just the glowing white color. Some might like it. I wish it were not so bright white.
Would you recommend to other guys that they grow full beards?
If they have the facial hair for it, yes. Go for it. It’s fun to do.
Do you know if your beard has inspired anyone else to grow a beard?
Not to my knowledge.
Have others come to you for beard advice?
How do you feel about being featured on beards.org?
A bit odd. I think there are many better beards out there more worthy of a feature than mine is. But looking at the other featured beards, it looks like I would be the first/only big white beard in this section. I think it’s kind of fun.
What do you think about beards.org?
Good web site. Shows a good variety of guys and the endless variety of beards that can be grown in this world.