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Is 'bearding' the new measure of masculinity?

The Beardsman’s Guide

Is ‘bearding’ the new measure of masculinity?

The beard seems to have become the quintessential symbol of manliness among post-metrosexual era men. The trend of growing a beard – now commonly referred to as ‘bearding’ – was borne in the anti-establishment hipster movement but rapidly gained traction across broad sects of the population.

While the bearded look has become a victim of its own success and is now losing steam among trendsetters and their followers – the more people who sport one means the less ‘hip’ it becomes – there seems to be a more substantive reason why true beardsmen will never die out completely.

According to a study commissioned by The University of Western Australia, some men grow beards to assert dominance over other men and appeal to women. Published in the journal of Evolution and Human Behaviour, a team of researchers led by Dr. Cyril Gueter studied 154 different species of primates, and found many males developed “badges” that boosted their sex appeal and made them more attractive to the females of its species, particularly when competition increased or when overcrowding made it more important to display distinguishing features. The distinguishing characteristics that were noted among apes and monkeys in the study were correlated to the growth of beards in men. According to Gueter, the recent boom in male facial hair may therefore relate to intra-societal competition among males.

In an interview with British publication The Telegraph, Gueter was quoted as saying: “In large groups where individuals are surrounded by strangers, we need a quick reliable tool to evaluate someone’s strength and quality, and that’s where these elaborate ornaments come in. In the case of humans, this may also include phenotypic extensions such as body decoration, jewellery and prestige items,” which may also account for the rise in popularity of tattoos.

However, there is also another theory that pertains to the ebb and flow of trends in male facial hair growth. According to another study from researchers in Australia, in this instance from Sydney, men’s beard fashion trends may be guided by Darwinian selection.

The study, published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, identified a common evolutionary phenomenon known as negative frequency-dependent preferences. Simply stated in this context, the more beards there are, the less attractive they become to both men and women. As such, when “peak beard” frequency is reached, clean-shaven men become more attractive and therefore gain a competitive advantage.

In the experiment, women and men were asked to rate different faces with “four standard levels of beardedness”. Both beards and clean-shaven faces became more appealing when they were rare, which is why trends, in whatever form, tend to fizzle out when they hit the mainstream.

Bearding tips and guidelines

Regardless of your reasons for keeping your beard, or even trying to grow one, here are Fitness His Edition’s top bearding tips:

  • Pick a beard style that suits your own sense of fashion and self-expression. Don’t do it to be trendy.
  • Avoid any kind of trimming or shaving for at least 4-6 weeks.
  • Find a barbershop and a barber you trust. Stick with him and trust his judgement to trim and maintain your mane.
  • Use a suitable skin moisturiser to maintain the quality of your skin under your growing beard. Avoid moisturisers with alcohol as they dry out your skin.
  • Apply a beard oil or suitable product daily to maintain sheen and healthy hair growth.
  • Rinse your beard thoroughly every day in the shower.
  • Wash your beard regularly – at least once a week – with moisturising shampoo and conditioner, but avoid products that contain chemical irritants.
  • For longer beards, using a blow dryer will help your beard look fuller and more tidy.
  • If you take a DIY approach to beard trimming and maintenance then invest in the right tools – an electric trimmer for maintaining the edges of your beard, and scissors and a comb for shaping the bulk.

Do you talk beard?

  • Bearding – The act of growing a beard.
  • Beardsman – A modern-day man, who is a productive member of society, who has a beard and looks after it and himself.
  • Beardspiration – A fellow beardsman or beard that has inspired someone to grow a similar beard.
  • Peak beard – The height of the bearding trend. Also the tipping point when clean shaven faces become more appealing as the trend reaches critical mass.
  • Yeard – Year-long natural (untouched) beard growth.
  • Tweard – A portmanteau for “totally weird beard”.
  • Terminal beard – The maximum length of a beard that a beardsman can naturally and genetically achieve.
  • Pogonophobia – The fear of beards.

Bearding Product Guide:

Bearding Product Guide:

The Captain’s Beard Vanilla Apple Spice Beard Oil
R180 (30ml)

Captain’s Beard Sweet Musk Beard Oil
R180 (30ml)

Badger Beard Oil
R259 (29.6ml)

Beard Mob Cedarpine beard oil
R190 (30ml)

Beard Mob Cococitrus beard oil
R190.00 (30ml)

Hairy Eye Beard Oil – Average Joe
R130.00 (30ml)

Bonafide Beards Beard Oil Original
R180.00 (30ml)

#Hipster Beard Oil

Beard Shampoo bar

GBC’s Gentleman’s Beard & Shave Soap

Brooklyn Grooming Williamsburg Classic beard balm
R365.00 (57ml)

Brooklyn Grooming handmade beard & moustache comb

Titania Made for Men beard scissors

Philips Styleshaver
Available at select Clicks stores.

Braun Beard & Head Trimmer Cruzer 6

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