TO be fair to the people who proclaimed just a few years ago that the beard fad was over and done with, they didn't have a crystal ball and they could never have foreseen that in 2020 we'd all be in lockdown due to a global pandemic.
"Peak beard" was said to have happened around 2015 but as a man who's had a beard for most of the last five years, I would argue that we are still a long way off the summit of moustache mountain. Beards are more acceptable today than at any other point in grooming history. And frankly, after more than two months in lockdown, they're about to get bigger, badder and bushier than ever. If you want your beard to look good after lockdown, you can't just stop shaving and hope for the best. Here are a few pointers on how to get the best from your lockdown beard.
To ensure your beard and the skin underneath are well hydrated and cared for, wash your beard a few times a week. The hair on your face is very different from the hair on your head, Facial hair is coarser, wirier and will get dirtier a lot quicker. Your beard is a trap for food and whatever griminess that lurks on your hands and phone. If that doesn't scare you, recent research from Manchester University found that 47% of the beards they tested contained faecal matter. Yes, that's poo. Feel like giving it a good clean now? Before you hit the showers, consider that some traditional shampoos contain sulphates that can dry out your skin. If the shampoo is too harsh, you'll end up with unsightly dandruff in your beard and facial hair that feels like wire wool. A good face wash or a specialist beard wash is a much better option. L'Oreal Men Expert Barber Club Beard, Face & Hair Wash is a great 3-in-1 cleanser for use on hair, face and beard that's especially good for eliminating dandruff in thicker beards.
To further combat dandruff and any other unpleasantness living in your facial hair, exfoliate using a natural facial scrub to get down to the roots of your beard and soften the hair. Exfoliating removes dirt and dead skin and unclogs your pores. To exfoliate properly, douse your beard with warm water to open the pores and loosen dry or dead skin cells. Then use your fingers or a beard brush to gently scrub in a circular motion. I do recommend buying a beard brush as it tames and detangles the hair, distributes oils and brings dandruff to the surface. You'll pick up a Percy Nobleman Beard Brush in Boots for €20.
It's very common for guys to neglect the skin underneath their beard but maintaining hydrated and smooth skin beneath your facial hair is just as important as keeping beard hair shiny and under control. Beard Oil a great all-rounder that keeps the skin underneath your beard supple and healthy and leaves your facial hair smelling great.
Beard balms (used to style and shape longer beards) also contain conditioning agents that combat beard itch and keep dandruff under control. Irish company 'The West Cork Beard Company' do a fantastic range of Beard Oils and Beard balms and offer free shipping on orders of over €20.
Take a few moments to comb your beard every day. This will help keep it detangled, stimulate blood flow and make your beard fuller and healthier. For longer beard styles, combing will help reduce snagging and minimise hair breakage. If you use beard oil, combing will help to distribute it evenly. Start from underneath your beard and work your way up. Once your beard looks healthy and full, use the comb to style the hair as you want. Bulldog skincare make a sustainable beard comb made from peach wood so that it doesn't create static and it retails for around €7.
Growing out your beard can feel a bit strange – especially if you've never done it before. You might think it's as simple as stopping shaving and just letting it grow but it takes work and quite a bit of maintenance. Even if you're going full lumberjack, you'll need to keep it tidy around the nape of your neck and your mouth (it makes eating easier). My recommended beard trimmer is the Remington Barba which you'll find in Tesco for around €40. It won't trim the hair for you but you can use it in the shower and it's very easy to clean. Just remember to always check the setting before use as one slip up means a hacking a hole in your beard and having to start all over again.
Before you decide to commit to this lockdown beard there are a few things you need to consider. First and foremost: do you have the coverage to pull it off? A full, thick beard is manly and has a presence. Wispy sideburns barely connecting to a thin 'tache? Not so much. There are beard styles that can work for guys with sparse growth but they are all short and tidy. So if you can't grow it, don't try it.
It's also important to consider what's currently going on in the world. While nobody minds seeing your lockdown beard on a zoom call, they might not be as impressed with it when you return to work, especially if you're required to wear a face mask for the foreseeable future. If you're ok with the fact that your lockdown beard is just that – a lockdown beard – then proceed at will. However, if keeping it will affect your employability when things get back to normal then maybe you should start reaching for the clippers.