how did you do that?

Some time ago, a colleague and I were having lunch at a fast-food restaurant. In the dining room, I noticed another bearded guy sitting not far away. I couldn’t help but compare my beard with his and I was feeling that his beard was better. Meanwhile, an elderly gentleman sat down at the table next to my colleague and me. All of a sudden, the elderly gentleman asked me, “How did you that?”. In reply, I ask him, “How did I do what?” He said, “grow a beard like that.” He went on to say that for all his life, he had wanted to grow a beard like that, but had never been physically capable of growing one. I was a bit stunned and flattered, but I couldn’t help but think that he should have directed his questioning to the other bearded guy nearby. After all, his beard was better, I thought.

This illustrates one more reason not to be a beard waster. If you can grow a beard, grow it. It’s a privilege, perhaps even a duty. And even though you may not realize it, you gain the admiration of some of those less fortunate, who are unable to grow a beard.

the importance of hanging in there

A site visitor wrote in with encouraging words that underscore the value of not abandoning all hope. His essay is quoted here, with permission, in its entirety:

I would like to offer encouragement to all fair-haired guys who have lost faith in their capabilities for beard growing when they compare themselves to their dark friends with steel wool whiskers who have a visible beard after 3 or 4 days of not shaving.

I have light brown hair but nature saw it fit to give me a white blond mustache and mouche and light brown sideburns with a slight reddish cast to them (Scottish ancestors I guess). I never tried to grow a beard for more than 3 or so weeks as it always looked like one of those attempts which one forces in high school — patchy, multicolored, and feeble, with bits missing between the goatee and the sideburns. It also seemed to grow extremely slowly (when compared to other people).

After not shaving on an extended vacation the year I turned 35, I was freed of the self-judgement and self-consciousness which usually put paid to my attempts in the past and I hung in there for more than a month. My beard underwent a dramatic transformation after 6 weeks, when all of a sudden it filled in and out and looked like a Beard!

When I shaved it off after a couple of months (a mistake which I set about rectifying as soon as I had done it), my boss’ comment to me was: “why did you shave, the beard made you look ‘power'”!

Since I have grown it back, I have been getting nothing but good feedback from people (male and female) and it has done wonders for my confidence in my appearance.

So to all of you mouse-brown, blond, or ginger guys out there, give it at least 6 — 8 weeks. Hang in there and let it grow, you will be surprised with the results.

the shaving trap

In Garrett’s beard feature, he reveals a fundamental mechanism for getting caught in the shaving trap. He and other high school students who are among the first to develop facial hair are frequently required to shave because of school dress codes. So they shave and the shaving habit easily becomes entrenched, almost automatically. What’s more is that these early shavers set an example for those who develop facial hair later. So they may be more inclined to follow the trend and conform, even if it’s after they are out of high school.

This illustrates how the practice of shaving facial hair gains an early foothold. Once established, it may remain resistant to change. If shaving requirements are lifted, many report to beards.org that they soon decide to grow beards to celebrate their new freedom. A common example of this is when a man leaves the military.

Beware of the shaving trap. You can break free of it — eventually, depending on your own circumstances — and grow your beard.

going natural: other beards on the street

A popular feature on this site are the beards on the street photos. These are candid shots of bearded guys contributed by a photographer friend of the site. There is another kind of beard on the street, however. In recent months, while out bicycle riding on urban bike trails and through parks, I observed an astonishing variety of beards on homeless men. The problem of homelessness is huge and tragic and solving it is way beyond the scope of this blog. Here I’ll just take a moment to look at the homeless as bearded human beings rather than people to avoid or ignore.

One thing about beards on the homeless is that the beards are usually full beards at all-out growth levels. They grow without holding back, without apologies. There’s no shaping of a cheek line or a neck line. They usually let the full amount of beard fully grow. That’s a look rarely seen among the non-homeless bearded men. Why is that? Do they fear that an all-natural beard growth pattern might make them look too much like the homeless? Some state that letting it all grow naturally would make them look like a wolf man. Others fear that it looks unkempt or that the look is simply not acceptable.

Whatever may be the source, the pressure to shape precise cheek and neck lines is evidently quite intense. I figure that the all-natural full beard is viewed as extreme or untidy or even dirty simply because it’s so rarely seen. Few are brave enough to let it grow that way. And when it is seen, it’s seen most frequently on the homeless. And in those cases, because of the desperate situations of the homeless bearded men, the all-natural full beard gets associated with being unkempt and dirty.

The all-natural full beard does not have to be unkempt and dirty. Properly groomed and maintained, it’s just as tidy and clean as any other hair on the head. The look may be viewed as overpowering or extreme by some, but this is most likely because the look is so rarely seen outside the homeless population. The homeless population gives us a unique opportunity to see beards as they naturally occur. Next time you see one, thank him for that.

the most-frequently-asked question about beards

Through the site, I get lots and lots of questions about beards all the time. Over the years, the question that I get most often comes from guys who report having little or no beard development. They ask if there is a cream, a medicine, or some other remedy that they can use to produce beard growth.

The sad truth is that there is no magic solution to produce beard growth where there is little or none. If the guy is young, patience may be the answer, as there is always the chance that he will develop more facial hair in the future. Otherwise, unless there is a medical problem inhibiting beard development, there’s really not much that can be done.

Many who ask this question express having a great deal of anxiety over their insufficient beard growth. Some have even reported contemplating suicide because of extreme frustration and powerful feelings of inferiority that stem from the inability to grow a beard. I recognize that it is a serious problem for them. Although others may insensitively dismiss it as being trivial, it is not. For many, the pain and frustration are profound.

I encourage all guys to work on accepting the level of beard development that they have and learning to make the most of it. If it still bothers a guy enough, I encourage him to consult a medical doctor. The doctor may not be able to help him develop more beard growth, but should be able to assist the patient in understanding the situation and help him to build coping skills. This is one of the toughest lessons about beards.

a new beard battle

A new beard battle is about to start. It’s The Great Beard Battle, a Hyde Park, New York beard-growing contest. These brave men are competing in a beard contest during the sweltering summer heat. Wimps, they are not. We shall see! Kudos to their fearless webmaster and good luck to all the participants!

UPDATE: The battle fizzled and the link is no longer any good. 🙁

beards.org is back!

It’s been a rather dramatic day for beards.org. The server on which the site is hosted suffered a disk failure that required restoring the site from a backup. Unfortunately, the latest backup available was from a few days ago. So the beards of the world gallery has temporarily lost three photos and the view counters have been set back a bit. A new comment for the blog was also lost. The gallery images will be restored soon and the commenter on the blog will be invited to re-submit.

While the loss of data is not something enjoyable, at least the data lost this time was relatively minor. Ironically, I was going to take a new backup earlier today, but the server outage had just hit. Had I made it in under the wire, the data loss essentially would have been nil. The lesson here for everyone is one that’s been repeated time and again: back up, back up, back up your data! You’ll be glad that you did.

Also, as a result of the server outage, the site was missing in action for most of the day. I’m happy that it’s back now. I hope that you are, too!

the trouble with trends

As noted here and elsewhere, beards have been experiencing an upsurge in popularity lately. Is it a trend? The trouble with trends is that they come and go. Beards need not and should not come and go based on the whims of trendiness and fads.

When the current beard trend fades — which it likely will, as most trends do — many of the brave new beards will probably pass into history. How do we keep from losing the momentum of the current upswing in favor of beards? It’s not easy. The best thing to do is to think about beards as a component of manhood and not a fashion accessory. Grow the beard that you want. Don’t worry about whether it’s trendy or not. Be yourself and make your own statement by growing the beard that pleases you.

why can’t a man be more like a woman?

I recently was alerted to an online rant by a young lady. She stridently expressed her absolute and utter loathing of beards and body hair. According to her preferences, all traces of them should be removed from men. Interestingly, facial hair and body hair are two of the main male secondary sex characteristics, which are physical features that distinguish men from women. In essence, she was screaming for men to be more similar to women. What good is that? The physical differences between men and women should be celebrated rather than obliterated. Grow your beard!

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