Bearded business

Originally published on MACs Magazine London

An article on how to maintain beards/stubble

24th August 2013

A survey has shown that women prefer hirsute men as they are appear “tough, mature, aggressive, dominant and masculine” while men with the five o’clock shadow(the re growth after a shave) are seen as the best partners for marriage or a night of unadulterated passion. Scientists are unsure as to why women are partial to puberty’s whiskered present but experts on evolution suggest it may be seen as a sign of aggression as it creates the illusion of a bigger lower jaw which emphasises the teeth as weapons. Ooh, caveman.

Whether or not beards can be seen as an adequate measure of the threshold of masculinity is debatable, but one thing is for sure, the right amount of stubble or length of beard can make a man irresistible.

Before deciding whether you want a full on beard or stubble, contemplate the look you wish to achieve. Are you trying to add years to your angelic cherub face or are you simply tired of endless hours glued to the mirror shaving? Both require maintenance but not as frequently as being clean shaven.

Pick either of these trends if you suffer from pseudofolliculitis barbae which is caused by shaving as the razor sharpens hair meaning that as they grow, the curl back into the skin causing painful bumps better known as ingrown hairs. By opting for a beard or stubble, you abstain from shaving the hair close to the root which aids in minimising the chances of those unsightly razor bumps.

Avoid growing a beard or stubble if you aren’t willing to upkeep maintenance, your other half has a tendency to break out in a stubble rash after a smooching session or Mother Nature has forsaken you in the hair follicles department. There is nothing worse than the semblance of sparse facial hair, it evokes thoughts of scrawny teenage boys. Cringe.

Maintenance!

Maintenance is the number one rule with this look, you don’t want to emulate a pre-historic cave man or be too precise with ridiculously thin chin straps (à la … ok mentioning no names). Aim for looking natural but not scruffy. To accomplish this style correctly, concentrate on eradicating stray hairs around your cheekbones and your neck that are outside the area of your natural growth. This will sharper edge to your beard/stubble.

Before shaving, do not skip exfoliation. Men’s skin is very different to women, it contains larger pores, more collagen, elastin, a denser supply of blood vessels and produces more sweat. A combination of these factors equals a multitude of dirt. Exfoliating unclogs pores freeing your skin of impurities; grease and dead skin build up. This process sheds dead layers of skin will allow new healthier looking skin to surface and exposes hair follicles allowing for a better shave and eliminates the likelihood of pesky ingrown hairs. Try Clinique or Nivea for Men. Look out for products with mechanical abrasives such as granulated pumice and sea salts or chemical abrasives like glycolic or salicylic acid to loosen and slough off those dead skin cells. To maximise exfoliation, use exfoliating gloves or a loofa and rub in circle motions into a rich lather. Alternatively, if you’re feeling particularly metrosexual, try an exfoliating mask to remove not only build up, but whiteheads too. A good old fashioned pumice soap will also do the trick. Wash lather off with warm water which causes hair to expand, making it softer and easier to cut. Don’t perform this skin shedding process more than three times a week as it will irritate your skin, causing it to lose collagen and elasticity resulting in thinner and more sensitive skin over time. Refrain from using bar soap, although it may seem like a cheaper option that will keep your skin clean, it can clog pores leading the rougher skin in the long run.

Secondly, apply a shaving gel or oil. Water is an essential softening agent but quickly evaporates leaving hair in its original state – it has been proven that dry beard hair is as rigid as copper wire. Gel or oil prevents this evaporation keeping your beard or stubble soft during a shave. Additionally, its lubricating benefits reduce friction between the blade and skin for a smoother shave. This way, you’ll be able to see the areas you want to shave and the adequate amount. Leave on for 30 seconds to allow hair to soften before you begin the shaving process. Shave the trickier places last to allow the hair in these areas to soften further. Steer clear of products with high alcohol content as the burning sensation tends to dry out skin rather than prepare it for hair removal through the hydration and conditioning of hair. As exfoliation dries out skin, you don’t want to further dry out of your skin. Canned foams or gels contain more air which affects the ability for your hair to stand upright which decreases softness, the thoroughness of your shave and increases the likelihood of razor burn. To shape and maintain length, take your razor or trimmer and shave carefully in the direction of your hair growth in gentle strokes to allow full control, thus decreasing the chances of removing too much hair. Gillette’s Fusion Proglide Styler Razor and Wahl’s Groomsman Trimmer Set are amongst the favourites this year.

Set your trimmer and go over the majority of your beard to tidy it up, as you go towards your jawline and neck, reduce the trimmer to a lower setting to enable a natural blend for a well groomed look without looking completely clean shaven. Finish by rinsing your face and using moisturiser to replenish your skin.

An accentuated jaw line teamed with stubble is the perfect amalgamation of indisputable sex appeal in my opinion, arguably because of all the positive connotations this appearance arouses from masculinity to maturity, although I can appreciate a clean shaven man as well as a fully grown beard. It is solely dependent on the individual. Whether it’s a full beard, goatee or chin strap, proudly exhibit your facial hair but make sure it’s suitable for your occupation – nobody is going to take a wizard looking businessman seriously. If you’re intent on following this latest trend, channel the look of David Beckham, Russell Brand, Shia Labeouf, Christian Keyes, Gary Barlow, Lance Gross, the gorgeous Hugh Jackman or Idris Elba. Exterminate any thoughts of idolising the beards of Brett Keisel and Kimbo Slice and you are guaranteed to be the epitome of the perfect Alpha male causing ladies to swoon and become putty in your hands.

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