Beard In Mind

Gone are the days when facial hair meant having let yourself go. Now, a beard can be a symbol of poise and polish

By Malini Banerjee

Thirteen years ago, David Beckham was criticised for his beard that went “far down beneath his chin and his neck, over his Adam’s apple, toward the top of his chest, like an unstoppable hairy fungus”. His excuse then had been “going camping and getting carried away”. A similar refrain is often heard after ‘No Shave November’.

Increasingly, however, most men no longer need that excuse. Many popular athletic teams seem to have sprouted a beard, especially India’s current crop of cricketers. “Nearly all are sporting a beard,” says fashion designer Abhishek Dutta who himself sports a short one, akin to sporting superstars such as Neymar Jr., Harry Kane, and several others, alongside Indian actors, such as Rana Daggubati, Arjun Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, and Ranveer Singh, to name a few. Speaking of football, imagine the much-photographed GOAT Lionel Messi kissing the World Cup trophy without his scraggly, auburn bristles.

Beards, whether in the form of well-trimmed stubbles, goatees, or full-blown affairs such as Prince Harry’s, are quite literally everywhere. “I think most people and companies have relaxed dress codes considerably after the pandemic. And sporting facial hair is a reflection of that. Men are just becoming more comfortable in their skin,” says Anupam Chatterjee, fashion stylist turned designer who recently started his own menswear label Warssi and grew a beard over the pandemic.

According to Chatterjee, the result of this paradigm shift in self-image makes people disinterested in the superficial— the entire thought process of whether one’s jawline is chiselled enough or whether one’s face is too soft for a beard is not up for debate anymore. “I have a roundcheeked Bengali face and I was pleasantly surprised when my salt and pepper beard grew over the lockdown. It felt like a new direction of my identity which I had not known before,” he says.

“Not only is it no longer suspect, but it also has become a symbol of poise, polish and a certain je ne sais quois. It can add age and character, and if a man is perceived as older, it is assumed that he will be wiser,” says fashion stylist Sohiny Das, co-founder of Grain fashion consultancy.

It can look particularly on trend with Indian occasion wear. “I think a beard, especially a long, lush one can look great with sherwanis and bandhgallas. Paired with a turban or safa, it can be a classic look,” suggests designer Abhishek Dutta, who also happens to rock a full beard himself.

For decades, beards were not considered ‘corporate enough. “Men with beards were assumed to be of certain creative professions, like writers, directors, artists or advertising heads. They were not part of an office grooming code in corporate or uniformed sectors. Once work wear restrictions loosened up, along with the advent of start-ups and the rise of young tech moguls, facial hair became more accepted,” says Das, echoing a trend that’s made apparent in shows such as Mad Men and the like. Dutta agrees and says a short, well-groomed beard can look good when it comes to a clean corporate look. “It should be close to your face and not be too wild. I love a good salt and pepper look, too,” he offers.

“Keeping a well-groomed beard can be elevated to an art form; I personally know men who spend as much as twenty minutes on their facial growth before stepping out,” Das signs off.

HOW TO GROOM YOUR BEARD

The one implement you cannot do without if you want a clean, well-groomed beard is a trimmer. Model and fitness coach Neeraj Surana recommends using hair serums as a quick fix. “If you are going out, [serums] will soften your beard and add shine,” he says. “Otherwise oiling your beard with a good oil and letting it sit is a good idea.”

Both Chatterjee and Dutta stress on facial hygiene. “Use a good beard shampoo or face wash and tone and moisturise your face,” says Chatterjee, while Dutta maintains the need for oils, and also waxes and balms to keep your beard shielded against the elements. If you have scraggly patches with not enough growth, makeup artist Abhijit Chanda recommends using fillers or even dark eyeshadow to fill in the spot for specific occasions.

RECOMMENDED GROOMING PRODUCTS

  • Beardo Godfather Beard and Moustache Oil
  • Ustraa Beard Softener Balm Woody
  • Bombay Shaving Company Face and Beard Wash
  • Votum Men’s Beard Grooming Kit
  • Zeus Beard Shampoo and Wash
  • Truefitt and Hills Shaving Cream
  • Anthony Conditioning Beard Wash

Reproduced with permission from Mansworldindia.com

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