The Trouble with Beards

December 14, 2021

The Trouble with Beards

Gaby doesn’t understand me. I mean, I know a beard can be a bit spikey at certain lengths, but a man’s gotta do etc., so I have to stay in character. I’m sure Robert de Niro didn’t get gip from Mrs de N for putting on four stone in Raging Bull. Hmmm, he probably did. And Sir Daniel Day-Lewis stayed as Lincoln for 3 months 24/7. So annoying at home. No wonder he’s retired from acting now.

I’m not up for any Oscars, but we are launching some beard care products, and I like to be thorough, and test everything properly. That means I’ve got to live the beard. All the way from 5 o’clock shadow to full on Zeus.

I remember Zeus on the 1000 Drachma note as a child, and it being very valuable. Taxi drivers wouldn’t take them. A Drachma split into 100 Lepta, though 5 Lepta was the smallest denomination I ever saw and they had holes through the middle. A Greek salad in a local taverna was only 2 or 3 Drachma back in the summers of the 1960s. So you could buy 3 or 400 salads with this if you felt a bit peckish. By the time the EU took over in 2002 the note barely made 3 Euros. I miss the charm of the Drachma and the stillness of 1960s Greece.

I’ve personally worn a beard of sorts for 16 years now. Mostly 1-2 weeks stubble, but lockdown gave me the opportunity to let rip and properly test some beard products.

Attractiveness surveys show men with beards get marginally more votes from women than clean shaven. More than 50% of men sport some facial hair now and many of them don’t understand the necessary grooming routine to avoid unpleasant and antisocial side effects. Like a new puppy, a beard isn’t just for Christmas. Once the novelty wears off, lack of care can lead to some chronic skin problems underneath, and some antisocial ones too, like ‘smelly beard’. Here are some key tips for helping beards be healthy and groomed, and the skin beneath fresh and clean.

What lurks beneath

Out of sight out of mind. A beard can trap odours – smoke, pollution or any strong smells you’re working around. If the skin below isn’t being exfoliated regularly, the build-up of sebum and dead skin cells can irritate the skin and give off an unpleasant smell. Hairs will trap sweat and even food at times, which can make it a breeding ground for bacteria. Though the risk is small, the beard can also camouflage symptoms of transmissible skin issues that are not related to the beard.

Much like your scalp, the skin under your beard can be prone to flaking skin, beardruff and acne. To lower your risk of skin issues, groom your facial hair and inspect it regularly.

Grooming routines

Cleaning - Most men wash the beard area every time they bathe or wash their face. Experiment with washing your beard 3-5 times a week and warm water rinsing other days. Our Best Beard Shampoo & Scrub works really well and I use it 2-3 times a week. The best thing to do is to experiment yourself and see what works for you.

Feeding - Use a beard oil on shorter beards. Longer beards can take a heavier beard wax to feed and control the hairs and give suppleness and pliability to the shape. In the cold dry air of winter your skin and beard will be more prone to dryness. And the longer your beard is, the drier your beard hair can become. Hair that’s continually dehydrated and weakened will eventually crack open at the tips. These split ends are rough, uncomfortable and unsightly. It needs regular feeding.

Blowdrying - If your beard is long and you want to blowdry either for speed or styling, avoid very hot settings that easily over dry and dehydrate the hairs. Keep a one-inch distance from the nozzle and stop before it’s too dry. Once dry, you can then apply beard oil or wax to feed and give finish to the hair.

Brushing - hair fed and nourished with beard oil or wax is easier to brush or comb.

Trimming - As with the hair on your head you can choose a beard shape that adjusts and enhances your perceived face shape. Brush it through and trim small amounts at a time. Use high quality sharp scissors that slice through the hair without crunching the ends.

Patchy beards

Facial hair growth is largely propelled by the hormone testosterone, and insufficient levels, or unhealthy lifestyle habits will affect this, and Dihydrotestosterone levels. Studies have found that these vital androgens (specifically DHT) have a direct effect on the development of desirable masculine characteristics, such as having a strong jaw line, deep voice, and even facial hair growth. A healthy diet with sufficient protein and good hydration will positively influence beard growth.


Best Beard Shampoo & Scrub - £24
Best Beard Grooming Wax - £14.50
Best Beard Grooming Oil – £24.50 available August 2020
Best Beard Brush – available August 2020

 Michael Van Clarke

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