More than just beards

This blog may be primarily about beards, but here at Beard Nation, we are fans of all kinds of manly facial hair. Today we’re going to examine some of the many facial hair styles sported by men all over the world. Then we’re going to find out how the ladies feel about the hairy gents and bare-faced boys.

The possibilities for facial hair styles are endless. It really comes down to personal preference and how much time and effort a man is prepared to put into his beard maintenance routine. There are no rules but there are certainly enough guidelines to help a guy decide how he wants to rock his facial fuzz. Whether you’re after a Dali moustache, a chin curtain, a burly set of mutton chops or a good old full beard, there are plenty to choose from.

Source: zouchmagazine.com

Source: zouchmagazine.com

This is only a sample of what is possible in the way of facial hair styling, from the simple and low-key to the outrageous and eye-catching. For a simple bearded look, one cannot go wrong with the Short Boxed Beard. It is unified and striking, yet clean and welcoming. The classic Handlebar moustache is always a winner, but perhaps try to steer clear of the Copstash Standard, which often has the effect of an ’80s porn star. The Anchor and the Hollywoodian are also popular styles among the hipsters and the lumberjacks respectively.

So what do the ladies like? What, if anything, is going to grab a gal’s attention? From a flash survey conducted in the student union of a university and the responses of people on social media, results showed that more women preferred men with some kind of facial hair over clean shaven men. However, of the 35 women who said they were more attracted to men with facial hair, over half of them clarified that they were not fans of full beards but more so of ‘the right amount’ of stubble.

Bonny Burrows said “Clean shaven or slight stubble. No full beards or creepy moustaches.”

Leeanne Brown said “Facial hair on a man is sexy, not too much just enough.”

And Anna Reeves said “Facial hair ain’t bad on the right person.”

Although there were some jumping to the side of the bearded.

Lauren Stirling said “Beards. Always beards.”

And Jess Taylor said “I do appreciate a fine beard on a dapper gentleman.”

19 people said that they much preferred their men completely bare of facial fuzz, or as shown above, in Federation Standard style.

Evey Ritchens said “Nothing nicer than rubbing faces with a freshly shaven face.”

And Amy Sariman said “Clean shaven for sure!”

8 people were indifferent or just could not decide which they liked better, but we like to think they are secretly pro-beard.

Beard products and smelly stuff

With the beard revolution upon us, more and more products are surfacing designed specifically for beard maintenance and care. Nobody can deny that a clean beard is just as important as a clean bloke, and most normal shampoos and conditioners, filled with useless chemicals, just do not achieve the desired effect. A simple Google search for “beard products” will provide you with a multitude of choices for oils, creams, lotions and potions. Below are some listings that caught my eye and that have some pretty convincing witness testimonies to help you find what you’re looking for.

BeardProducts.com

Based in Cape Cod, Massachusetts USA, this company is all about 100% organic beard and moustache products. According to the ‘about’ statement, the founders were tired of trying to find facial hair products that weren’t full of chemicals. So they decided to solve their own problem and create their own. Products include beard oil, beard growth formula, moustache wax, beard cologne and assorted beard conditioners. All products are available online via the website, and can be shipped internationally.

Beard Care Products

This website is more of an outlet store, stocking various beard related products from different brands at inexpensive prices. There is a large range of products available, including beard shampoos, bar soaps, trimming and combing supplies, beard dyes, beard related shirts and general skincare for men. The site looks to be based in the United States and is unclear whether products can be shipped overseas.

Beauty and the Bees

Beauty and the Bees is a supplier of 100% natural skincare products operating out of Tasmania, Australia. Originally created for ezcema and psoriasis relief, Beauty and the Bees uses ingredients unique to Australia, the favourite being Tasmanian Leatherwood honey. The business has since grown to include a huge variety of products at reasonable prices, including Professor Edward J. Fuzzyworth’s Beard Care Gloss and Dr Beegood’s Tattoo Preserver.

The Bearded Chap

This is another Australian company, established in 1986. Similar to the issues at BeardProducts.com, The Bearded Chap could not find a suitable beard product that could cull the itching associated with beard growth, and that smelled nice at the same time. After rigorous testing, The Bearded Chap Original Beard Oil was born. This one is a bit pricier than some products at $38.00AU for a 30ml bottle, but beard oil user Ron Pearce enjoys the job it does: “It makes my beard shiny, and it smells nice… It just reeks of man.” They also have other products including moustache wax, grooming combs and brushes, and a Bearded Chap t-shirt.

The Beards

Source: The Beards Facebook

Source: The Beards Facebook

If ever there were a subculture in need of its passion and views thrust upon the world in a homoerotic but comradely, folk-rock kind of way, it would be that of the beard.

The Beards formed in 2005 after four bearded South Australians saw a need to express their love of beards in song form.  Johann Beardraven, Nathaniel Beard, John Beardman Jr, and Facey McStubblington have since become hirsute heroes of the facial hair world.

Writing and performing only songs about beards, some titles include “No Beard, No Good”, “You Should Consider Having Sex with a Bearded Man”, “Why Having a Beard is Better than Having a Woman”, and what is possibly their most famous song, “If Your Dad Doesn’t Have a Beard, You’ve Got Two Mums”.

The band currently has three albums and a world tour under its belt, as well as placing 99th in Triple J’s Hottest 100 countdown for 2011. In 2009, the band traveled to Alaska to perform at the opening night of, and compete in, the World Beard and Moustache Championships. They most recently headlined a show in Sydney, Australia to celebrate World Beard Day.

A large part of the success of the band thus far is they also put on a fantastic live show. Jen Pearce was lucky enough to see them in concert earlier this year.

“They’re performers and showmen, as well as musicians,” she said.

“All their songs, because they’re all beard-oriented, even though that’s a bit gimmicky, they really owned it.”

She said the show had a really good feeling, and that it was filled with positive energy.

“Even though I wasn’t [more familiar with the music], it was still (…) a good atmosphere. You still got sucked into the whole vibe of what was going on.

She also noted that it was interesting to watch the quirky  things that the band would be doing amongst themselves on stage.

“… they were getting people to stroke their beards,

You look away and you look back and all of a sudden oh, the guitarist is over there next to the drummer, and in between hits on the drum, he’s stroking the beard of the guitarist.”

“It was just really silly but it was fun, it was all really fun.”

She was adamant that she would see them perform again.

“Yes, definitely see them again (…) I’ll take my bearded guy next time!”

One must wonder how much more there is to say about beards. But with an already cult-like following in the bearded community, surely they will never run out of things to say.

World Beard Day

Australia saw some major events take place over this past weekend. There was a Federal Election, a change of government and a new prime minister elected. Unfortunately, another historical event taking place on the same day may have gone unnoticed by most: World Beard Day.

This year World Beard Day was celebrated heartily by bearded fellows, beard loving lasses and envious baby-faced boys who hope to someday become that manly, all over the country. Its official origin is unknown, but according to the World Beard Day website “there is some evidence to suggest that Danish Vikings had a special day dedicated to the glorification of beards as far back as 800 AD.” They say that it “was not held on a fixed date, and was often celebrated hundreds of times each year.” These days the event is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of September. The general consensus surrounding the guidelines for the day is that bearded family members are to refrain from doing any type of chore or manual labour, and may have the other non-bearded members at their beck and call to fulfill any command they wish. It is also considered incredibly disrespectful for any man to shave his face on this day.

It may have been mostly overshadowed by other events deemed more newsworthy, but for some it was the story of the day. What is quite possibly Australia’s best newspaper for comedic value and just doing whatever it wants, The NT News embraced World Beard Day with open arms. In keeping with the prominent issue of the day, its front page for Saturday September 7 looked like this:

images_article_2013_09_07_NTnews7-300x0In other political and beard related realms, the campaign video for one independent central Victorian candidate stood out well above the rest. Candidate for the seat of Bendigo, Daniel Abikhair, prepared a 40-second YouTube video outlining why he should be elected to represent Bendigo in the local election. If you hadn’t guessed yet, it’s for his beard.

And finally, Australia’s hirsute heroes The Beards headlined a show at Sydney’s Manning Bar with a number of other bearded Aussie bands, where the bearded were free to be amongst their own kind and celebrate all things beard. The event, which was live-streamed around the world, was hosted by bearded comedian Dave Callan and featured an array of acts, as well as activities such as bearded piggy-back rides and bearded man kissing booths. The Sydney Facial Hair Club also ran and judged a beard competition. The Beards frontman, Johann Beardraven, believed it a conspiracy against the facial hair community of Australia to hold a federal election on World Beard Day; “This is yet another example of our beardless government conspiring against the bearded.”

One should expect next year’s celebrations to be bigger and hairier than before.

Beards through the ages

Throughout the centuries, men have sported many assorted styles of facial hair; the most prominent and eye-catching being the beard. It was not until recent times that the beard had become something of a cultural icon, inspiring cult-like following amongst men and women alike. In recent times society has seen the rise of such things as facial hair related clubs, competitions and music, as well as pop culture motifs and healthcare campaigns. So, where exactly did they come from and what is it about the beard that draws so many people in?

In scientific terms, facial hair occurs as a result of the hormone dihydrotestosterone stimulating the hair follicles on a person’s face and/or neck. This hormone is also linked with balding, so unfortunately for some men they are robbed of the privilege of sporting both hairy features. In ancient times throughout history, the beard was considered a symbol of wisdom, honour and power. It was not uncommon for a man’s beard to be cut off or shaved as a punishment in places like Ancient India and Greece. In Ancient Macedon, Alexander the Great declared that all of his soldiers must remain clean shaven as he was worried that their beards may be grabbed and used as handles by their enemies. Notable bearded figures much later in time included Karl Marx, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Dickens. As the centuries went by, the beard faded in and out of fashion.  By the end of the 20th century, the full beard had become a rare sight among men, with close-clipped and two-day shadow styles becoming the preferred looks.

It is now mid-2013 and the beard is making a resurgence with force. Beard clubs are forming left and right for men from all walks of life to share their passion for facial hair with one another, as well as the women who support them. Beard growing competitions are becoming more and more popular, where the men are separated from the boys and they are recognised and celebrated for their manliness; the most prominent of these being the World Beard and Moustache Championships. If the increasing number of clubs for bearded men weren’t enough, there is also a band whose sole purpose is to spread their love of beards with the world. The Beards, from Adelaide, South Australia, comprises of four burly, heavily bearded blokes who perform songs about all aspects of beards, bearded life, their comical loathing for clean shaven men and beard loving ladies.

It is difficult to determine one single reason for the beard’s popularity in society today. If one thing is for certain, it can only continue to grow as they do.