Sometimes having a beard is a passive decision, born out of a busy week or a broken water heater. Sometimes it’s a conscious choice in which you set your razor down, make eye contact with the man in the mirror and say: “And so it begins.” Either way, here’s a list of 10 pros and cons to help you decide if the decision is the right one.
Beard Pro: Shaving is a pain! You aren’t very good at it! Even if you manage to avoid cutting yourself just before you put on that clean white shirt, you end up with razor bumps. That’s when the hairs decide they’d rather curl back up into the skin to avoid that maniac with a blade. There just really isn’t room for them under the skin though, so you end up with a bunch of awkward red bumps.
Beard Con: But a beard can cause skin problems, too. It can be harder to wash away all the dead skin and grime which causes acne. Now you’re locked into the beard because if you shave it off, it won’t be the same smooth visage of yesterweek. Maybe instead of giving up on shaving, you should just become better at it. Try a razor bump cream. Throw out your dull razor. Shave both with the grain and against the grain. And if you already have acne and think you need to grow a beard to hide it, consider a charcoal face wash or a gel moisturizer for oily skin.
Beard Pro: Stop shaving hairs off your face and start shaving time off your morning routine. Even if you perfect your craft and manage to give yourself a competent shave in less than 10 minutes, that time adds up. We’re talking months of your life. Shaving is hard to fit into morning multitasking. You’ve hopefully never mixed up your shaving cream with toothpaste or yoghurt, but that doesn’t mean you should try to brush your teeth, shave your chin and eat your breakfast all at once. You just can’t!
Beard Con: Beards are a commitment! That’s the sort of thing you think about when you are getting yoghurt and toothpaste residue out of your whiskers. If you thought shaving was a hassle, wait till you slowly trim your beard back down to stubble because you don’t really understand symmetry and every time you glance in the mirror, one side looks a little off. Perhaps you think you can avoid this by letting the beard grow unchecked, but unless you are also adopting the mountain man lifestyle, you might find yourself in a world of beard oils and hard-to-trust maintenance tips.
Beard Pro: You look good with a beard! Distinguished! It’s not just something that happened to you, but a work of art you helped create. You’ve gotten more compliments on your moustache than the sculpture you made during that phase of your life your resume describes as your “creative period.” You easily look twice as distinguished with a beard. Countless articles tout the allure of beards to the opposite sex.
Beard Con: It does look good. Distinguished. But did you need to find out that you have the genetic trait linked to beards that go grey before the rest of your hair? And, quite frankly, you ruin your dignified vibe by reaching up to make sure your beard is still there or stroking your mustache contemplatively. You told yourself you wouldn’t be one of those guys who strokes their mustache about 760 times a day! Turns out, it is you. And for every article that praises a beard’s sex appeal, there is an article that tells women that their acne is the result of their boyfriend’s beard.
Beard Pro: Protection, bro. According to an Australian survey (conducted on mannequin heads over the course of a year!), beards have an ultraviolet protection factor range up from two to 21 out of a possible 50. That means that the face sweater is potentially blocking almost 95 percent of those harmful UV rays. And speaking of face sweaters, they remain on duty in the winter months as well should you be spending any time on windswept plains or leaning over the rail of an icebreaker ship.
Beard Con: Okay, but that level of UV protection presumes the coverage of a thick, bushy MasterBeard. Do you think you have that kind of beard potential, or are you going to just sport a patchy number that looks like a bunch of misfit soul patches decided to form their own squad? Besides, even if you manage a topflight UV blocking beard, you aren’t getting complete protection. Your beard doesn’t cover your whole face. Your nose still needs sunscreen and so does the skin beneath the beard, for that matter, because some of those rays are still slipping through. Furthermore, when you are leaning over that railing and you get hit with a salty spray, your face sweater becomes a face icicle that you can’t take off. In fact, the moisture from your very breath has a chance to hang around in ice form, thanks to the shelter of your beard.
If you do decide to put down the razor and pick up the beard oil, make sure you take care of your face. That way, when you do pull the dramatic trick of suddenly shaving your full, long standing beard (it is a MasterBeard, after all!) and revealing the almost unrecognizable face beneath, it’s an even healthier, better-looking face than when your beard began. And isn’t the excitement of walking into a room without a beard for the first time in two years about half the pleasure of growing a beard for two years anyway?