BY NORBERT RUG
You’ve most likely noticed that beards are in and the plaid shirted, beard wearing male is now fashionable. I have sported a variety of beards, side burns and moustaches over the years and I am now finally in style. Woo hoo! I have had my current beard for 10 years These days, the unshaven look once saved for mountain men and lumberjacks is seen everywhere from boardrooms to billboards to fashion magazines. I have lived through several cycles of beards and can tell you beards are not going to dissapear soon.
Growing a beard will transform the way you look. Just like dying your hair purple and yellow might raise a few eyebrows, having a beard also defines people’s impression of you. People will look at you differently and you will also feel different. When I met my wife I sported a counter culture, bad boy, Hippy Dippy goatee. That was a part of my look, a part that would soon change. She asked me to shave before I met her parents. What we do for love.
Just like the hair on your head protects your scalp from getting sunburn (ask any bald guy), facial hair provides protection for your chin, cheeks, and upper lip. If you get a tan and then shave you could have a paler “beard shadow” which is the reverse of a five o’clock shadow. This shows that your beard protects your skin from sun damage and could protect you from skin cancer.
A study by researchers at the University of Queensland shows that having a beard reduces your facial UV exposure by about one-third, compared to a clean-shaven face, and the ultraviolet protection factor ranged from 2 to 21. This means that a beard protects you from ultraviolet rays that would hit your face. Free sunscreen!
I now am back to the goatee I wore as a teenager when I met my wife. It’s white now without any red in it and it is a little less thick. I call it my “cancer beard” and vowed to not shave it off until I was pronounced cured of cancer. Trim it, sure but not shave it off.
The average male spends 3,350 hours standing in front of a mirror, scraping a sharp, metal blade across his face during thier lifetime according to the New York Times. No matter how close or how often, you shave, your beard grows back a little bit every day.
When it comes to tracking trends, research has shown that a good, healthy beard makes a guy seem more attractive to the majority of women right now. According to Psychology Today, studies have shown that men with beards are generally regarded as more masculine, dominant, and socially mature. They are also usually regarded as more responsible, older, fatherly figures.
The next time I grew a beard was when I was in the navy. We were on a Mediterranean/North Atlantic cruise. We were allowed to grow beards on this 6 month cruise. As I think back on it, it probably was a morale builder. We would hold “Longest beard” contests and “Ugliest Beard” contests. We would also hold a “Best Moustache” contest.
Men who live and work in cold environments like Western New Yorkers do, frequently seem to grow big, bushy beards. That’s because having the extra layer of insulation that a beard provides helps keep our face warm. I appreciated that extra layer of insulation while my ship was in the North Atlantic.
If you are terrified of making it through your next Western New York winter without freezing your face off, then fall and winter is probably a good time to grow a beard. The best time to sport a bushy beard would seem to be in November. Sprouting a beard at this time will help promote cancer awareness and will support all your “No Shave November” friends.
Unfortunately, researchers have discovered that beard growth tended to hit the highest point in the late summer, predominantly in August and September, by November it is decreasing, reaching its slowest speed in January and February. Even your beard doesn’t like to go out in the winter
Beards might make you look all rugged and rough, but under their crude surface there is frequently a smooth, silky baby face. This occurs because growing a beard can actually protect the skin underneath from aging, according to the tabloid Metro. A beard, by blocking sun exposure, results in fewer wrinkles, fewer liver spots, and so on.
The other thing that keeps your face so smooth under your beard is your sebaceous glands, which are always at work keeping your skin moisturized and oiled up, according to Business Insider. People touch their face a lot, so you’d normally be rubbing this oil off pretty regularly, but not if you have a thick beard protecting your face and thus preserving your skin’s oils. So having a beard today might make you look older, it could also make your skin look younger in the future.
I now am back to wearing my teenage goatee. However it is white now, not red and a little sparser. I call it my “cancer beard”. I vowed not to shave it off until I was pronounced cured of cancer. I will trim it, sure, but not shave it off.
Norb is a freelance journalist from Western New York. You can follow his blog at WhyWNY.home.blog