Beards could be the biggest trend in facial hair since the '90s grunge goatee. In the past, beards reflected a mood or made a statement. That's still happening. But more and more men are sporting them just for style's sake. Beard styles for double chin.
Peek into the pubs and clubs - and at the men on the red carpet.
At last month's Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards, it was hard to spot a clean-shaven face. Sting, actors Jeremy Piven and Vincent Kartheiser ("Mad Men"), and directors Sam Mendes and Ron Howard were among the many celebs sporting beards. It's the next expression in the evolution of male facial hair, says Allan Peterkin, a pogonologist, or beard scholar, and author of "One Thousand Beards: A Cultural History of Facial Hair" (Arsenal Pulp, 2002).
"If you look at the 20th century, every decade has a little bit of fur," Peterkin said. In the 1950s, it was the pointy, beatnik goatee. In the 1960s, hippies grew out their hair - and their beards. The 1970s was a time of swinger mustaches, and in the 1980s, men wore designer stubble. The goatee of the 1990s had staying power, Peterkin says, and unleashed a whole expression of partial beards and facial hair combinations.
"The full beard is the next progression," he said. "It's about playful rebellion and being a free man. It's about saying, 'I'm not a corporate slave."' On a purely superficial level, it is also one of the few ways a man can change up his look.
Beards are also a quick and easy way to change an image.
Best beard style for double chin
"When Al Gore lost the election and was becoming an academic at Columbia University, he grew a beard," Peterkin said. The on-again, off-again beards of Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling are important accessories for actors who want to prove they're more than a pretty face, Peterkin says. Beards are quite favorable for men who are balding, he adds. Others might grow one to cover a double chin or make their faces appear bigger or more masculine.
But a beard backlash does exist. While you'll find beards in the halls of hospitals and dot-coms, they can be the kiss of death in politics and finance, Peterkin says. "William Howard Taft was the last president to sport facial hair, and that was just a mustache," he said.
When it comes to history, the beard's place varies. During Victorian times, a beard was a sign of great means. However, the more common images associated with the Great Depression are of bearded men standing in line at soup kitchens. And post-World War II, the assumption was that a guy with a beard had something to hide, Peterkin says.
Yet the postmodern beard is more elusive. It changes meaning. For some, it's Santa Claus. For others, Osama bin Laden. "It's all about your own experience," Peterkin said, adding that the full beard could also be an "answering back" to the metrosexual label. "The beard is macho," Peterkin said. "And it's something women can't do."
Lisa Sciacca isn't wild about her husband's full beard. "He doesn't keep up the loose, scraggly hairs," said Sciacca, who lives in Pacifica and preferred when Pete wore a goatee. "There are no straight lines, so it's just here and there and everywhere."
But she understands why it appeals to her husband, who works the graveyard shift at a San Francisco hotel.
"It's just easy," she said. "We always joke about women who spend an hour in the bathroom in the morning. Men can spend a long time in there, too."
Not sure why your scruff is rough? Heed these grooming tips courtesy of Jack Passion, a Walnut Creek world beard champion and author of the forthcoming e-book, "Jack Passion's Facial Hair Handbook."
l A beard is a barometer of a man's health. So eat right, drink plenty of water and get enough sleep. It will show in your beard. Also, beard care is skin care. So don't forget to nurture the skin underneath.
l To control the itching while growing a beard, brush regularly with a light bristle brush to promote circulation and flow of oxygen. Take a flaxseed oil supplement to soothe the skin.
Best beard style for double chin
l When shaping your beard, use a clean razor and never shave with a dull blade. Use shaving gel rather than cream so you can see through it and avoid mistakes.
l Cleanup around the beard depends on how fast your hair grows and how you want the beard to look. To clean up your lines, soak a rag in hot water and apply to face for 20 seconds. Remove and apply a shaving oil to the face. Then, apply gel. Shave without applying pressure. Soak rag in cold water and apply it to face. Finish with astringent.
l Want to change the length of your beard? Invest in a trimmer or small clipper. They range from $20-$100 and make all the difference. Then, be patient. Remember: "You can't make a harvest until the crop is fully grown," Passion said.