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Men and their beards

Sunday January 22 2017

Brandon Biggens uses a hairdryer to style his beard as he prepares for the Beard World Championships on November 2, 2013. If you disparaged beards assuming they just galvanised themselves out the male chin, know they take a lot of effort and patience. Beards are the fastest growing aspect of the male grooming business. PHOTO | FILE

Brandon Biggens uses a hairdryer to style his beard as he prepares for the Beard World Championships on November 2, 2013. If you disparaged beards assuming they just galvanised themselves out the male chin, know they take a lot of effort and patience. Beards are the fastest growing aspect of the male grooming business. PHOTO | FILE 

By CAROL ODERO
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Ladies, have you by any chance noticed a rise in the number of men with facial hair? And possibly wondered what sparked the beard trend? Men, have you come across #NoShaveNovember #Movember #Decembeard? And are you currently mocking or being mocked by your friends for looking bushier than usual?

Enough attributes have been directed towards George Clooney on the 2013 BAFTAs red carpet when his elegant silver beard kicked up quite the fuss. Soon male celebrities had full beards replacing their usually clean shaven mugs. Long before that, history shared the magnificent beards of “Honest Abe” and Jewish manhood. 

Why keep a beard? Well, beards have been around since the beginning of time. God himself is portrayed as having a beard very similar to Lord of the Rings and The Hobbits Gandalf with a groomed luminescence taking up half his face. Very like Michelangelo’s God in The Creation of Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling where Adam, interestingly, has absolutely no facial hair.

Even Jesus himself was never without a beard. According to no-shave.org, “The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free. Donate the money you typically spend on shaving and grooming to educate about cancer prevention, save lives, and aid those fighting the battle.”

Beards have been researched considerably and studies reveal fascinating insights. They have been found to make men look more aggressive, protect the face from UV rays, which apparently accounts for their exponential growth in hot weather when they sprout by 50pc to 60pc faster than in colder seasons. They demonstrate health because hair is a breeding ground for hosts of parasites, and men with beards therefore have a healthy immune system.

BEARDS FOR CANCER

Curiously, beards are considered both a handicap and an advantage in fights. A man with a grabbable beard is at a disadvantage from his opponent. So presumably if a man chooses to grow long facial hair, it could be that he is fitter than his opponent and knows to side swipe the impending grab. Men with beards are also presumed by the public to have a higher social status, more wealth and regarded as more powerful. This could be as a result of beards aging a man, making him look older. Growing a beard has long been considered a sign of masculinity as opposed to being on possession of a smooth egg of a chin.

As for whether or not women love beards, that is still up in the air. There is no definitive or conclusive research. It has been concluded, so far, to be a matter of feminine preference. Or perhaps the man attached to the beard.

For some reason there are constant debates as to whether beards are a fad/trend or here to stay. The key lies in the numbers. Thought to have peaked in 2013, it has only grown. Social media is rife with #beard; Instagram counts over 21 million hashtags, #beardgangs at over 4.1 million to #beardsofinstagram at over 1.2 million.

If you thought Kenyan men were behind the curve on this one, you would be very, very wrong. Beards have been embraced by personalities like Najib Balala, Shaffie Weru, Blinky Bill, Mutua Matheka to Joho with enough lifestyle publications celebrating bearded Kenyan men in November 2016.

In November last year there was a Beard Fest, an event whose purpose was #beardsforcancer. Facebook boasts a group called Kenyan Bearded Bros. It is packed with memes and product information and is steadily building a local bearded community.

If you disparaged beards assuming they just galvanised themselves out the male chin, know they take a lot of effort and patience. Beards are the fastest growing aspect of the male grooming business. Euromonitor says products such as beard balms, oils, shampoos and conditioners grew by 4pc which adds up to $3.4 billion. Barbershops and beard care toiletries are now the fastest growing business in the UK and US.

Men happy with their beards also serve as sources of tried and tested product reviews with pointers on grooming. Men use their beards to express themselves and even accessorise.

If you Google beard trends you would find 2016 and 2017 trends with quirky, interesting names like the soul patch, ducktail, chocolate beard, crusader beard, chin curtains, balbo, chevron, garibaldi and doorknocker, guides, styles, videos, communities, and even access to barbers declared beard whisperers. Which would all lead you to Pinterest, tumblr and of course, Instagram.

It illustrates how to combine bald heads with beards, what works for which face shape, how to wear varying lengths of hair on your head including locks against your beard, styles for African and caucasian men right down to which products and equipment to use to achieve and maintain your preferred look. It seems men want to play around as much as possible with their beards.