Friday, 12 August 2011

Beard workshop

After a quick social media discussion on the topics of beards, I realised that this is a topic that needs addressing.

The majority of men at some point will dabble with facial hair. Some will be content with wisps here and there, whilst others will commit to the decadence of full on face fuzz. It probably stems from seeing our fathers do the same dabbling as their fathers before them.

I hope that one day my son will look at me quizzically whilst I stare in the mirror and stroke my chin enigmatically. Thus planting the seed and encouraging facial topiary in his later years.

Digression aside, here's my guide on things beardy-

The stages of beard:

You've decided the time is right to grow a beard. You've given it a go a few times before, but it hasn't been a concerted effort.Once you've made your mind up you'll go through certain stages-

Confidence- your stubble feels rougher than usual. Are you imagining it? Yes you are, but keep this good feeling alive, you'll need it as time goes on.

At this early stage you'll be convinced that in five days you'll be akin to Brian Blessed.

Concern- it's a couple of days on. Your stubble hasn't proliferated as you would have expected. Doubts are creeping in. Can you see it through? Is it your time to beard? Have you tried too soon?

Keep going, persistence will serve you well.

Itching- are there fleas here? Have I caught some facial disease I can't see? No, you're in the itching phase. No matter what happens your face will feel like it's on fire. There will be moments of calm, but they won't last.

Some people will only experience this for a matter of days, others it will seem like weeks. For all it is a challenge.

Failure- The patches you had forgotten are glaring at you every time you look in the mirror. You look more trampy than distinguished. You still get flashbacks of the itching, and wonder where the ginger came from, you've had enough.

Some of you will only get this far before giving in (there's no shame in doing so) and embracing the blessed relief of shaving.

Success- You won't know you've done it. You'll still be seeing those cursed patches. It won't be until someone mentions your beard. You'll stop and realise that if others are seeing it as beard, then you've done it.

Congratulations you've got a beard. We'll cover what you can do with a little later.

Key tools in your struggle to grow a beard:

Being lazy- I've said it for years, being lazy gets results. Almost all beards start by the act of being too lazy to shave for a consistent period of time. Eventually this laziness morphs into beard growth. Therefore also giving you an excuse for your previous laziness.

Friends- Normally most mates, most of the time, are only good for mocking you. However coordinate your laziness and you've got a pub located beard support group.

Quiet wife- this is a hypothetical tool, as it doesn't exist yet. If it did it would handy as once you get too stubbly the other half's nagging can break down even the strongest resolve. Unfortunately if you are in a long term, committed, relationship you'll only be able to fly under the radar for so long before the ball and chain gets on your case.

Frequent problems:

Beardovers- To the casual observer all they see is beard. You know the truth though, what they are seeing is faux-beard. Beardovers are handy patch fillers, but only occur when the beard reaches a certain length. Even the lushest of beards will contain some level of 'beardover'.

Growth speed- I take ages to grow facial hair. Likewise, there are people that take a matter of hours. If you are cursed like me, growing a beard is the supreme endurance test. Keep going though, the longer it takes, the more it'll mean to you.

Hair colour- in some cases it's not growth speed that dictates beard presence, but colour. If you're dark haired you'll find things infinitely easier, your hair will contrast with your skin much quicker, giving the appearance of growth.

I'm a blond so my beard is largely transparent until the end of the first week when it will start resembling 5 o'clock shadow.

Rust- You've lead a good life. You decide to grow a beard. About a week in you realise something's amiss. Your beard is ginger. How the fuck did that happen?

That's right somewhere in the dark past of your family someone was a ginger. The chances are it's been long forgotten by most of the family. You will have to live with the knowledge that you carry the gene to proliferate the rouge hair pigmentation.

Mitchell syndrome- this revealed itself via the afore mentioned social discussion. A good friend of mine has no problem growing facial hair, however in a cruel twist of evolution, he can only grow it in the 'goatee' formation.
How many men suffer this is unrecorded, but it could be that we are seeing the next stage of human evolution. To save us time cutting in complicated designs it might just grow in only these areas.

What success looks like:


A light smattering, gives that casual look. Only successful if coverages appears to be 100%


You've grown it to a wild point, now like a prize lawn you need to keep it neat.


Similar to neat, but a bit unkempt. Usually sported by students and the unemployed.

Too far-

It's got a bit big, maybe you didn't realise it. Maintenance will be required.


While I admire the dedication required to get to this level, you're still a hipster dick.

The prize:

What do you do once you've got a beard? You've probably had it a couple of weeks and have day dreamed about the fantastic shapes you can create.

Take your time, document your steps, cut in. Remember you can take away, but can't add. Be conservative and stop when you're happy. Enjoy your success.



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