I’m not an expert, so you probably shouldn’t listen to anything I have to say. I’m forty-six years old and just growing my first beard. If you can call it that. After about a month, it still looks like two old porcupines, fighting over the scraps of my chin fat. I started it in solidarity with my bro-mates over at Movember, but now that we’ve eased our way into December, I just don’t have the strength to shave it off. My wife tolerates it. My kids are a little afraid of it. And it’s not even a real beard. More of a goatee/Fu Manchu hybrid, with a distended soul patch. Still, I’ve come up with a few rules to help novices like myself contend with our blossoming facial vegetation.
1. Don’t mention your beard. Ever. It should be obvious that your beard speaks for itself.
2. As a corollary to #1, don’t apologize for your beard. Ever. You don’t need to tell your friends or coworkers, your bosses or lovers, that you are “trying something out” or that you’re “waiting for it to get past the ugly phase.” As one blogger put it, growing a beard is our birthright as men. It’s one of the few things that differentiate us from women. Contrary to what hipsters believe, growing a beard never goes in or out of style. It’s like saying breathing goes out of style. It just is, for all times. Don’t apologize.
3. Condition. Moisturize. Whatever you want to call it. Use your daily skin cream, aloe vera, beeswax, Bag Balm, leftover macadamia nut oil, old sunscreen, whatever. What you don’t need is any fancy-pants Billyburg beard oil that sells for $29 an ounce. If you want to smell like pine trees, woodsmoke, and damp earth, go outside and rub some dirt on your face. It’s much cheaper. And way more authentic.
4. Resist all urges to stroke your beard in public, especially when talking to women. I have a theory why a man’s hand instinctively reaches for something hairy that is adjacent to a moist opening, but I’ll leave that for another post.
5. Enjoy it. You’re a man, with or without a beard, of course. But while you have it, revel in it. Some of us can’t grow beards. Babies, for instance. Do it for those who can’t.
Besides, my old pal Henry would agree. And you can’t argue with greatness.