By Kashimana Michael-Ejegwa Trendy beard styles.
Today, growing a beard is commonplace among the youth and middle aged men in Nigeria. It has become a trend, and not minding where or when it all started, many people are now seen sporting different styles of beards.
The evolution of beards can be traced to a time when humans had hair all over their bodies, much like the ape.
A beard is the collection of facial hair that grows on the chin and cheeks of humans and some animals.
In humans, only adolescent or adult males are able to grow beards. However, it is not unusual to see some females sporting facial hairs.
Chief Executive Officer of Pioneer Entertainment, David Oga, shared his experience grooming a beard.
He said, "I always admired people with beards while younger because they carried themselves with some sort of charisma leaving people guessing their actual age."
In Oga's view, a beard is central to a man's masculinity, as it demonstrates strength, intelligence and responsibility amongst other manly qualities. "Wearing a beard gives a sense of maturity, intelligence and responsibility, which comes with some sort of 'male pride'," he said.
He explained further that the length of time it takes to grow a beard is usually two to six months, depending on genes and the type of beard.
"There are different types of beards - like the chin strap, goatee, extreme beard, French fork, the anchor, full beard and hipster - they all take time to groom.
New trendy beard styles
"But, it depends on genes and the length you desire. Mine didn't take time to grow, just a few months because I am naturally hairy," he said.
Just like every fashion, growing beards is not without its ups and downs. Maintenance of beards requires brushing, shampooing and conditioning with beard oil, beard balm, mustache wax, beard softener and other items needed to keep it clean.
These items, Home Front gathered, do not come cheap. Oga explained that time, patience and money are required for grooming beards.
"Maintaining my beard is no child's play, I have to visit the salon every week to stay in shape and always look neat. I wear my beard with a low cut so, I always have to treat, trim and be on low cut.
"You can't have a beard and be rough, it requires you to always stay neat so you can be respected and not be seen as unkempt," he stressed.
Oga said, "I don't plan on being in the beard gang for long, as I plan on embarking on some things later in life that will not allow me to have a beard. But I wish I could keep it for a pretty long time."
At various times in the history of mankind, societal attitudes towards beards have been influenced by dominant global fashion, religious and cultural traditions, a visiting post-doctoral researcher at North West University, South Africa, Dr. Kayode Esuola, has said.
As a dominant fashion, he said, "It's like a hurricane, when it's on, no one dares stop it. Religious trend too make people grow beards, remember in Leviticus 21:5, (KJV) which reads 'They shall not make any baldness on their heads, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh'.
Also, in Islam, growing a beard is encourgaed, he said, adding that, "Beards, like breasts are natural to humanity, let no one cut them off when they grow."
Certain factors determine keeping of beards, he said, and listed mood and skin type.
"You wake up one day and feel like changing your look. That's mood. Some guys suffer bumps when they shave, so they keep their beards against their will," he added.
Despite the rate at which the beard trend is growing, some are not comfortable growing it but, are compelled by health reasons to keep facial hair.
Kelechi, a resident in Abuja, said, "I have serious bumps around the hair follicles on my face when I shave and the itchiness causes serious discomfort. I was advised by my physician to let the hair be. Mine is purely for health reasons and nothing more."
Women have always taken the front seat in driving any fashion trend.
The case is not different with the facial hair trend. To show their love for this new fashion, some women have taken to various social media platforms to celebrate their partners who have joined the gang, those who do not have, post pictures of bearded men as their crush.
"I would rather have a bearded man than a man with no beard. I feel more comfortable and protected when am around them. I also like to play with it," Amaka Ude, a resident of Lagos State, said.
Commenting on this, Kayode Attah, who also sports a beard, said: "I get a lot of compliments from women since I started grooming my beard. I guess they love it. My wife likes it but she insists I keep it neat."
As the saying goes, one man's food is another man's poison, so as many may adore beards some don't admire it.
Trendy beard styles
Jonavi Joan, a Nigerian, residing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said she didn't like men with facial hair. "For me, it's a turn off. I feel it is not clean. Also, growing up, it was perceived as being associated with roughness and crime, maybe that is why I feel this way about it."
Joan said she hopes the trend fades out fast. "Just like every other trend, it will soon blow away. I really cannot wait to see it go away," she added.
On the international scene, actors like Ben Affleck, Leonardo Dicaprio, Idris Elba, Jamie Foxx, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, David Becham and many others, have continued to fuel the beard fashion.
Sarah Barns of the Daily Express, said in her report titled 'Top 10 celebrity beards' that George Clooney's facial hair had become so trendy that it was once rumored to have reduced razor sales, adding "George is one of the few people that fans prefer with a beard rather than without it."
Meanwhile, with beard transplants continuing to rise, the 'beard gang movement' still soaring, catch phrases like "go beard or go home" are going viral, the beard fashion may not be leaving the fashion scene soon.
While back home, artists like Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD), David Adedeji Adeleke (Davido), Noble Igwe, Desmond Elliot, Alex Ekubo, Panshak Zamani (Ice Prince), Inetimi Alfred Odon (Timaya) and a host of others, have continued to create a buzz on social media as they rock their beards.