New style of beard 2016. Beardy Men: Why is facial hair having a moment? -

Vicki Notaro has noticed facial hair is having more than just a moment - the abundance of beards is a movement...

Stars are borne of their manes; just think of people like Farrah Fawcett, Jennifer Aniston and, er, Harry Styles. Is facial hair in style.

In our society, it's normal to pay a fortune to have other people's hair sewn into our scalps, debate over what on earth to do with the hair, er, down there (wax, vajazzle, leave well alone?) and to laser the unwanted stuff off our chests, legs and underarms. Sure Marty Whelan's hair transplant earned an entire slot on a Saturday night RTE chat show. For some reason, people's follicles are fair game for discussion and dissection, and we appear to be fascinated by the comings and growings of others.

Lately, though, it seems facial hair is having its cultural moment in the sun, particularly on these shores. It appears to be de rigeur these days for Irish men to eschew the razor and let their prickly facial fuzz loose. For a while it was only true hipsters rocking full-on beards, leaving regular Irish lads to a spot of designer stubble or even just a lazy fortnight between shaves.

Now, though, the full beard has become ubiquitous - so much so that the hipsters are so over it, and are now turning to groomed moustaches instead. And I'm not talking a bit of regrowth here - I'm talking a full, long, Leprechaun-esque chin-tickler a la Gordon D'Arcy. The kind you could conceal small objects in, and people ooh and ahh over. Let's face it - being able to grow a full beard these days makes you instantly interesting, and pretty much everyone finds it impressive, even if they're simultaneously repulsed.

Once, full beards were reserved only for certain offbeat nightspots and restaurants on Dublin's South William Street. Now I am amazed to see them absolutely everywhere. The bus. The office. The gym. Penneys and Brown Thomas. I saw a gang of full beards strolling down Dorset Street towards Croke Park, growing away on lads wearing GAA jerseys non-ironically. Even the Irish bloke on Great British Bake Off has one, for God's sake. Beards are no longer reminiscent of Dumbledore and Santa Claus; they are most definitely having "a moment". The men have gone native.

But why? Sure, assimilating hipsterisms is normal enough - look at craft beer, pulled pork and skinny jeans - but beards are an increasingly interesting affectation. Why has the Irish male taken to full fuzz with such force lately? Is it a trend, or more of an societal acceptance? It can't just be because D'Arcy grew a spectacular one, can it?

First things first, and let's be honest here - it's a fact that, in some cases, covering half of your face can make you more attractive. No point beating about the bush, pun intended, and many of the beardy men I spoke to concurred, the humble things. Also, biologically, the ability to grow one screams of high testosterone levels, virile and strong men waiting to throw women over their burly shoulders and carry them to bed. There is a definite association between full facial follicles and manliness.

Also, women appear to find them hot. Just as we grow visible breasts at puberty, lads grow beards. And while boobs are undeniably a more potent sexual attribute, beards are right there for all to see - an assumed visual indicator of strong male hormones, whether correct of not. A quick straw poll of my female Facebook friends (average age 32) deduced that the vast majority find facial hair very attractive (or "hawt", apparently), while those who don't think they are "gross" and "vile". Is it a case that you're a "beard woman" like guys are "boob men"?

Zac Stephenson, 19, from Dublin, is often on the receiving end of female attention due to his beard.

"Girls love the beard," he says. "It's the most natural wingman there is. When I'm out women are curious and just want to touch it. They're totally objectifying me, but I don't mind. Also every message I receive on Tinder is about my beard. No exceptions."

Laziness is also a factor. A lot of men hate shaving - it makes them look younger, can bring about a facial rash, and it's itchy when it grows back. So if some men choose to put away their razor, it's only a matter of time before it becomes acceptable for friends and co-workers to stop shaving also. These things spread, like a penchant for ombre locks in women, but is less celebrity inspired and more in keeping with what other lads are doing.

Also, it's hard to overlook the fact that men who have embraced being beardy just seem to absolutely love it. When I took to Twitter to ask some bearded men about their facial hair, I didn't expect reticence, but nor did I expect the outpouring of pure love and adulation I received on the subject. My feed was set alight with men dying to wax lyrical about their beloved beards.

Conor Winders told me he started growing his beard without really thinking, but began to enjoy the attention it got. "It's a great conversation starter, either when approaching people or being approached. I also genuinely think it makes me better looking."

Conor decided to shave a few weeks back, and claims he never will again. "I was disconsolate, actually in a complete funk for a few days. My face looked squashed, my neck looked huge, my ears stuck out…. I will never shave it off again, never."

Zac's beard elicits envy from other males. "Beard envy is very real," he says. "I get a lot more attention from fellow men just asking the same three questions. 'How'd you do it? How long did it take you to grow? Have you got any tips?' Also the glare that older, more clean-shaven men give me when I tell them I'm only 19 is a painting of disbelief and jealousy."

Paul Bowler, 40, from Kerry, says: "I've never encountered jealousy but I've experienced it. I saw a hipster in Cork last weekend who I followed into a shop for some pointers on his moustache. It was very George V. I am currently attempting to emulate that look."

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Aidan Hanratty, 30, from Dublin, also enjoys the reaction of other men.

"Generally I get a positive response. I got a lot of random comments on it at Longitude recently, though sometimes guys who can't grow beards express playful jealousy. I prefer my own to be relatively neat but I do respect a good caveman beard - Gordon D'Arcy take a bow."

Tim Powell is a model signed to Dublin-based agency First Option. For him, modelling came about when his full beard did. "I always wanted one," the 26-year-old told me. "I never had a job that would let me have one, so when it wasn't an issue I just grew it. It takes about three months to get this long. I just always thought they were really cool, I remember at school we used to shave more and more to make it grow."

Tim thinks it's had a positive effect on his career as model. "It's definitely one way or the other; I do find at the moment there's a lot more interest, but at the same time a lot of clients are put off by it. I find if someone books me, it's generally because of it."

One of the most popular male models on shopping website is a lad called Billy Huxley, a beautiful man with a full beard. He has quite the female following, but his job on ASOS is to sell clothes to regular guys. This he does in droves, proving that beards don't just attract the opposite sex, but also men looking to buy clothes (or an image?).

But what about those who don't work in a trendy industry where full beards are accepted?

Brian, 30, works in banking in Dublin. He's had a beard in some guise or another for 14 years, and swears he'd be more likely to shave off his hair than his beard. "I kept it under control by trimming it for most of those years, about 8 months ago I said: 'Screw it, I'm going full mountain man.' I believe it definitely affects the way people view me in a work enviornment, in a negative way. I can't be sure, it's just a gut feeling I have."

Most of the men I speak to claim their beard idol is their father. Brian told me: "I figured if my dad could get away with one, I could too."

Zac sees his as a sort of tribute to his dad. "He's dead a few years now but I kinda keep on his facial hair legacy."

So fashion fad or not, perhaps the roots run that bit deeper. The trend will eventually move on, as they all do, but for now, I guess we have to embrace the fuzz.

Vicki Notaro is editor of INSIDER Magazine

Hairy in Hollywood

Once upon a time, matinee idols were clean-shaven and the only time you'd see them sporting a beard was for a period role. With the probable exception of one Tom Selleck, Hollywood males have mostly kept their bodily hair in check.

However, these days, the more rough and ready our male celebrities appear, the more column inches they attract. Bradley Cooper, Robert DowneyJr, Christian Bale, Michael Fassbender and Jake Gyllenhaal have made rugged hot again. Even formerly clean-cut guys like Ryan Reynolds have embraced the rug, showing up beside his shimmering wife Blake Lively at this year's prestigious Met Gala with long stubble.

However, perhaps the most surprising addition to the gang of all is Leonardo DiCaprio. Famous for his baby face, it seems that Leo has grown a full beard this summer - not in preparation for a part but just because he can. He displayed the fruits of his follicles for all to see at an enviromentalist event in Laguna Beach last week.

Whether international man-crushing has anything to do with the beard revolution on these shores or not remains to be seen - but there are further examples closer to home. GAA stars Philly McMahon, Michael Shields and Noel Connors are all working full beards in their own way, and who can forget former star Paul Galvin's chin cosy?

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