Most of us have heard advice about “Don’t believe everything you hear.” What we accept as the truth is often b.s.
The topic of beards includes hundreds of facts, advice, speculation – what have you – as well as a bunch of beard myths. What you’ve always heard about beards, and assumed was correct, might not be the truth at all.
Let’s examine some common beard myths, many of which have been around a long, long time while clearing the air to let the truth shine.
1. Your Beard Will Itch. Always.
Not so fast, naysayers. While beards may itch, especially during the early growth stages, the itchiness usually lasts no longer than a month. After a month, there may be other causes for an itchy beard – such as dry skin or beard hair that’s too coarse – but you can deal with those issues easily with proper grooming.
That’s also why products such as beard oil are essential. Beard oil supports the skin’s production of natural oil, called sebum. It keeps the skin and your whiskers properly hydrated. A moisturized beard is rarely one that itches.
So, while your beard may itch, it doesn’t always itch and won’t itch if you give it the proper care.
2. Shaving Your Beard Makes It Come Back Thicker
No. No, no, and no.
We’ve all heard this myth, i.e. that the way to a thicker beard is by shaving the one you have and starting over. But the best thing to say about it is “forget about it.”
Doctors, dermatologists, and beard gurus all have debunked this myth in many ways, and here’s the real bottom line: shaving only gives the appearance of thicker hair. Why?
For one, your beard follicles are naturally tapered at the end. When you shave them, you’re cutting the thin shaft and exposing the thicker part of the hair near the skin.
The result is stubble that looks fuller and may appear thicker, because it stands out against your natural skin color, or looks fuller because it’s cut straight and short, but those short, newly-sliced whiskers eventually taper, as well. Also, keep in mind that all parts of your beard grow at the same rate.
Put down the razor if you’re worried about the thickness of your beard and look for other solutions to why your beard isn’t as thick as you’d like.
3. Beards Are Too Hot in Summer
Here’s the thing: your beard is often cooler in summer because A) it provides natural shade to your face, and B) you’ll sweat more underneath your beard, which helps cool the skin. A gentle summer breeze combined with that extra bit of moisture has a pleasant, cooling effect.
Furthermore, a beard shields the skin from the sun’s harmful UV light rays, which means a reduced chance of getting a sunburn. One study showed that beards could block up to 95% of UV rays, depending on their thickness.
4. You Won’t Be Able to Land a Job
Having a beard doesn’t mean that you’ll never get beyond the interview stage during your job search. Far from it.
For one, look around you: there are a lot of bearded men in the work environment, and not just in jobs that require physical labor. True, some professions are more beard-friendly than others, and some corporate jobs may have strict guidelines when it comes to facial hair, especially those in more conservative fields.
But many other companies focus on skill, not appearance, and your résumé speaks louder than words. Do keep in mind, however, that it’s never a bad idea to have your beard professionally trimmed and shaped before a job interview.
Make sure the rest of your appearance – from your clothes to your shoes and your haircut – are up to snuff, as well.
Meanwhile, a beard may help you stand out in a crowded field of candidates and make it easier for the interviewer to remember you.
5. A Beard Must be “Full” to Look Handsome
There are many, many beard styles, and not all of them are full. The stubble look, for instance, is attractive to many women, and there are trimmers designed to shape and maintain stubble. Even a 5 o’clock shadow can look kick-ass.
You also can take an example from actors like Johnny Depp, Ashton Kutcher, Shia Labeouf, Keanu Reeves, and the late Heath Ledger: all have sported less-than-full beards, and most would agree that they looked great.
6. A Beard Makes You Look Unattractive
To say a beard looks unattractive is to ignore the fact – and some facts prove it – that many people find beards more attractive than a whisker-free face.
An Australian study showed, for instance, that many women find intermediate-length beards attractive, while others perceive full-bearded men as being better fathers who can protect offspring.
There are several other reasons why beards make men attractive, including that beards often imply intelligence and wisdom and that people often associate beards with confidence.
The reality is that some people like beards and others don’t. If anything, a beard will only enhance your appearance, not detract from it.
7. You Need a Barber To Trim Your Beard the Right Way
Again, not so. Most men prefer to take the DIY route regarding beard care, including trimming their beards. Indeed, the best place to cut and trim your beard is your bathroom, which isn’t surprising, given the number of beard tools available, including beard trimmers, scissors, combs, and brushes.
While it’s true that trimming and shaping your beards is like any other skill, i.e. it takes practice to perfect it, it’s also not rocket science. Plus, you’ll save time and money by going solo when it’s time to trim your whiskers.
8. Your Beard Keeps on Growing Until You Shave It
You may think that your beard will grow to the floor if you don’t shave it – and, yes, we’ve all seen the men with the competition-big beards – but not everyone can reach that stage.
The fact is, genetics determine the true length of your beard. Every beard has a “terminal” length at which it stops growing, even if you don’t shave it. It’s the same scenario with, say, chest hair, which doesn’t grow to rope-length if you leave it alone.
To get a bit scientific, hair grows in three phases:
- Anagen – This is the growth phase, one that usually lasts two years for facial hair.
- Catagen – This phase is when hair goes into hibernation and when follicles shrink. Less than 1% of hair is in this phase at any given time.
- Telogen – The telogen phase represents the final stage of a hair’s life cycle and is when hair falls out. Hair follicles become dormant for three months before the anagen phase kicks into gear again.
Another thing to remember is that not all of your hair is in the same growth cycle at the same time. As beard hair falls out, other whiskers are growing. The terminal length of a beard is different for every person, but other factors may determine beard length, including proper care, nutrition, stress, and lifestyle habits.
9. A Grey, Multi-Colored Beard Is Unappealing
On the contrary, the word “distinguished” often gets tossed about when someone speaks of a man with a bit of grey in his beard. Beards of multiple colors can add sophistication to your overall look, as well as create a distinctive look that others admire.
You also may decide to dye your beard when grey hair starts to give it the salt-and-pepper look (hey, you can’t stop the relentless march of aging), and there’s nothing wrong with that, but, again, a bit of grey can give you a distinguished look that many people admire.
10. You’ll Have a Full Beard in a Week (or Two)
Back to the growth-phase part and the notion that every man’s beard grows at a different rate. That’s certainly not a myth, and we all know of someone who grows a caveman-quality beard in no time at all, or whose 5 o’clock shadow makes it seem that he hasn’t shaved in ages.
For most men, growing a full beard takes about two to three months, at least one that’s fully developed. That’s why patience and staying the course are so important to get the kind of beard you desire. Consider also that the average growth rate for whiskers is less than half-an-inch a month, so hang in there and keep on growing if results don’t happen immediately.
11. My Beard is Patchy and Will Always Be Patchy
None of us grow a beard while hoping that it comes in patchy with areas of nice-looking growth and areas in which it looks like you’ve chopped chunks out of it.
But a patchy beard now doesn’t guarantee a patchy beard later on.
Why is your beard patchy? Genetics is a biggie – if your father and grandfather had patchy beards, you have a greater chance of having a patchy one, as well – as well as hormonal imbalances, such as a decrease in hormones that influence certain male characteristics.
Or, you may suffer from alopecia areata, a condition in which small bald spots form on hair-covered areas of the body (it’s commonly referred to as “spot baldness”).
Other reasons for your patchiness may include stress, poor nutrition, and bad habits, such as smoking and alcohol abuse.
Back to our original point, however, which says that today’s patchy beard has no chance of becoming a full beard later on. Everyone experiences some degree of patchiness, and everyone matures at a different rate – think of the guy you knew who started shaving in junior high, while the rest of you celebrated a single whisker popping up, seemingly out of the blue.
A patchy beard isn’t a life sentence, and you can take heart in knowing that most people, especially casual observers, won’t notice your patchiness one bit. Again, patience is a requirement for growing a beard, which includes remaining calm and cool, despite patchiness.
And don’t forget that there are things you can do to deal with the patchiness, such as consistent grooming. Use beard oil, beard brushes, beard conditioners, and other products that not only help your beard look great but also strengthen and revitalize beard follicles and the skin beneath them.
Regularly brushing your beard adds volume and creates a thicker, fuller appearance – or least the look of more volume. It also increases blood flow to the skin, which, in turn, promotes beard growth.
12. Beards Have Poop In Them
In 2015, a television station in Albuquerque, NM reported that a local microbiologist studied swabs taken from men’s beards and found them to contain feces. The national media latched onto the story, and soon it seemed like everyone was talking about how men had crap in their whiskers.
Many people swear the poop-in-beard gospel is the truth when, technically, it’s not. What the microbiologist found in some beards was bacteria called “enterics,” which often live in the intestines. So, while human feces have enterics in their composition, it’s false to say that enterics are feces.
It is true, however, that a beard acts as a natural filter that keeps germs, pollen, pollutants, and, yes, bacteria away from your system. Sure, it gets dirty, but a bit of elbow grease on your part will keep it clean. Rest assured, regular washing will leave your facial follicles as pure as snow in Alaska.
13. A Good Beard Must Have a Mustache
There’s nothing wrong with having a beard that doesn’t include a mustache. It’s a look that many men prefer, and beard styles such as the Chin Strap and the Brett Beard are prime examples of the beard-only look that rocks.
So, don’t wonder what everyone will think when you grow a beard but not a mustache. If a beard looks good, it can certainly stand on its own.
Whether it’s shaving your beard to make it come back fuller or worrying about whether you look handsome with a beard, misconceptions often reign supreme. They’re misconceptions that have morphed into myth and presented themselves as the truth when, in fact, they’re false.
The bottom line is that every man’s beard is different, but all of them can thrive with proper care and quality beard grooming products that can help separate fact from fiction.
What are your thoughts? Do you have some long-held beliefs about beards that may or may not be true? What are some of your experiences in growing a beard? We’d love to hear from you.