Beards are the ultimate expression of masculinity. They can turn a boy into a man. A male into the alpha male. They go back pretty much since the first caveman (Duh). But obviously the caveman had no choice but to let their beards grow freely and wildly. However, as mankind evolved, so did their beards and the things they symbolised.
Men learned how to shave them, groom them, and to grow them in specific ways as the beard trends of the time suggested. There have been various beard styles over the centuries and some of them have been in and out of fashion, but one thing is definitely for certain, beards never go out of style and they get you noticed.
Beards through the ages
Beards can be dated back to the creation of Adam and Eve but we’re not going to go there. We’ll start a little later, in the early Egyptian era. In Ancient Egypt, beards were taken as a status symbol, a symbol of great wealth. Men would get them dyed and decorate them with ornaments and rings to stand out even more. Amongst warrior nations such as Norse people and Vikings, beards were the mark of a warrior. The bigger the beard, the fiercer the warrior. of course, it helped shield them from the cold too as temperatures there were always freezing. In Ancient Greece and Sparta, they were well groomed and even more intricately decorated. Special oils were used for their grooming. There was a rather curious case in Rome. The most important senators supported beards and they were regarded as high fashion especially since Rome was virtually the centre of the world back then.
However, since, Caesar took over as a emperor, being a military man, he was clean shaven, and people followed suit. But soon enough Rome had an emperor who had scars on his face and used his beard to hide those scars. The people followed his example as a mark of respect and hence beards became popular again. In the subcontinent, beards were common but as the subcontinent was a cauldron of different races and cultures, each culture had their own values and reasons for sporting beards. The Sikh wore them as symbols of pride and wisdom. The Muslims, who followed their ancestors from Arabia, regarded them as a symbol of holiness and piety. In England and France, there was a period where people had to pay a special beard tax if they wanted to grow beards. It was in England that the concept of mutton chops originated. The Russians, who were always trying to keep up with the western society, imposed this tax as well. In Japan, the fiercest Samurais had beards that indicated their prowess as warriors. In China, the traditional Chinese Monk beard took birth and it indicated cleverness and wisdom. Later on, beards went out of fashion in the military dominant era of both World Wars. Almost all men were enrolled in military service, and in the military it was frowned upon to keep a beard as they were taken as a sign of tardiness and indiscipline.
Later on in the 60s and 70s the hipster movement made the beards and long hair look their own. From then on, famous actors and artist took up the mantle and started wearing beards which made them popular once again. Nowadays, beard fashion is almost at a peak. Young boys aspire to growing thick big beards because they are so macho right now. Much like the cycle of beard growth (which we’ll get to later on) beards have been in and out of the cycle but they do always make a return to the surface.
Growing a beard
Supposedly all that beard talk about it being one of the manliest indicators on the planet and stand out feature has got you pumped and you can’t wait to test that puppy out for yourself. The question is how. No need to worry about all that as we’ve got you covered. It’s all just basic biology really. We’re going to walk you through it and hope that it helps set your anxiety at ease.
The 3 phases of hair growth
The most important thing to remember about beard growth is that just like any other hair on your body, it’s a three phase process. Each hair will go through this process individually and at its own pace and all of them collectively will give you that thick little man bush that covers half of your face and feels like a trophy after putting all that effort and energy in.
This is the chief phase when it come to hair growth. This is the phase where your hair growth is at its maximum potential. This phase can last for up to two months and but it really can differ for each man. Like we said its basically biology, and is dependent on your genetic material i.e. your DNA. If you have favorable DNA, this process can start quicker for you than it does for other man, so it’s an added bonus. If it’s slower, there is no need to be worried at all because it’s completely normal. It might take a little longer but you will get there. All it requires is some extra patience. As a matter of fact, this phase can last from two to six years for the hair on our heads, varying from person to person.
The Catagen phase is sort of a boring phase, because during this phase, hair follicles become dormant and let the hair stay and get embedded into your skin better. It is also known as the ‘setting in’ phase.
This is the twilight era of your whole cycle. The hair follicle starts growing a new hair. This budding new hair sets out to establish its own turf and pushes out the old hair that had made its home there for the past two months. This is essentially the start of the rebirth of your beard. The hair being pushed leads to hair from the beard falling out. This is not at all a worrying sign as we’ve indicated this is where the cycle restarts. The hair has fallen out only to be replaced. A classic example of the out with old and in with the new case.
This is essentially what each hair goes throw its life cycle.
But, How long does it take to grow?
Ah, the question that’s on the mind of each aspiring bearded man to be. Guys, there is no overnight miracle cream that you can apply before going to sleep and wake up with a Robin Williams-esque beard that he had in Jumanji. It takes time and patience. On average, the human hair grows 1.25 centimeters or 0.5 inches per month. Keeping that in mind, it should take like two to six months at least to go from baby face to full on Viking.
Tips on how to start
If this is your first beard rodeo and you don’t know how to get started, we’ll help you out.
Let it grow
First step is a no-brainer actually. Wait for it, stop shaving!
Take a tip from one of the best Disney movies and let it go or more aptly, let it grow! Just put that shaver or razor away for a while and forget you even need it. Sounds simple enough, yes? Well it is in theory but not really. You’ll be tempted to trim it or adjust it every now and then you need to stay strong and not give in at all. Refrain from doing so for at least four months and let the hormones do their job. Wait for that man bush on your face to grow wild and unaltered so you can tame it when the right time comes. Don’t touch that razor even if it’s for trimming or sculpting. Rest assured, we will come to that part later. If you do it prematurely it will interfere with your growth, as individual hair needs to go through each stage in its own time. Trimming it prematurely can actually set you back from where you started. Also, if it feels like that the beard is getting unbearable and starts itching don’t be tempted to reach for that razor just yet. This itching is just temporary and is your skins reaction whilst it gets used to the new growth. Once its set it’ll go away and won’t bother you anymore.
Now that you’ve let it grow for the four month period, you have plenty of material to work with for our next step the grooming. You’ll need to sculpt and trim your beard to start making it more manageable and easy to deal with.
Your beard is creeping all the way down your neck. This is untidy and even a little irritating as the area around the throat can get really itchy and hard to clean. So you have to set a neckline which sets the limit where you want your beard to end at. Shave below that line, or get it done by a barber especially if it’s the first time you’re doing it.
The cheek line determines how far up your beard creeps up on your face. There are a variety of options and you can decide where you want to keep it depending on the style of the beard you’re going for. There really is no hard and fast rule that applies to this area.
Maintenance and improvement
Congratulations! You now have a beard that most men would be envious of. Enjoy it because you know you worked hard for it. All good things don’t last though, but we’ve got some maintenance tips that ensure that your beard lasts a long while and keeps healthy.
This is one of the most underrated and unappreciated tips when it comes to beards. People think that it is too simple to even bother with. But the fact is combing your beard ensures that it remains untangled and grows freely in an orderly manner. It can even help you achieve extra length.
Beard oil is essentially the diet for your beard. Keep it well fed and it will be at its healthiest. It makes sure that your beard remains itchless and does not grey prematurely. It also gives it an added sheen and adds to its beauty. It also keeps the hair thick and manageable.
Diet and stress watch
Remember when we said that the beard oil was the diet for your beard. That part was true, however, your actual diet is the diet for your beard too. That’s right, eating healthy and getting all the right nutrients ensures your hormones are fully functional and keep the hair growth process at it’s peak at all times. Hair is essentially keratin, a kind of protein so eating proteins such as fish, lean meats and chicken can ensure that your healthy remains healthy. Smoking can cause problems for growth as it interferes with blood circulation. Stress is also a major turn off for beard growth so be sure to keep your stress levels under check.
Beards are the ‘it’ thing in men’s fashion. They’ll get you noticed, all over the world and not just by the opposite sex. Men can appreciate a well groomed and well kept beard when they see it. Your beard is your man-o-meter and if you’ve got a biker dude thing going on, other people will take the hint that you’re not one to be taken lightly or messed with. You’re a tough guy who wont back down and is ready to take on any other dude who tries to challenge you for the title of Alpha Male.
Growing a beard is a long and difficult journey, but once you put in the effort, and do what’s needed to make sure you achieve it, the results will be worth the wait as will the perks that come with it.