There are few things I have a more emotional attachment to than my beard. I’ve had facial hair on and off since I was old enough to grow a goatee, but now that I’m a professional and I spend my time interacting with the public, I’ve noticed that not everyone has the same respect for beards that I do. It seems that a few bad apples out there are making all of the other men with facial hair look bad. So today I’m here to make sure you aren’t one of those bad apples.
When to Grow Your Facial Hair
You should always wait for a long weekend, extended vacation, or NHL playoff season to start growing in your facial hair. Let’s assume that right now your face is as smooth as a marble statue, but you’ve decided it’s time for some whiskers. The problem you’ll run into, especially in a professional context, is that during the time between having no facial hair and the day when you have a properly grown out beard, you will look like you forgot to shave. But if you wait until there is a long weekend, you will have time to grow out more than a five o’clock shadow.
Like the hair on your head, there are an endless number of ways you can wear your facial hair. Also like the hair on your head, some are more acceptable than others. There has been a lot of discussion over whether any facial hair is appropriate in the workplace. But I think if you stick to a full beard, goatee, or mustache, you’ll be in good shape.
The Full Beard
There are only two acceptable ways to wear a beard at work. Either the beard covers your entire face, or it extends down onto your neck. If the hair is only on your neck, that is a neck beard and only appropriate for comic conventions. If the hair only goes along the side of your face and your chin, you’ve got a chin strap. Unless you’re seventeen or a biker, the chin strap is wholly inappropriate.
The goatee is a mustache with a little extra. When growing a goatee you will have a full mustache as well as hair connecting and leading down to the hair on your chin. A goatee is a nice compromise if you can’t grow a full beard, or your face gets too warm. The goatee is great at making your face look slightly thinner, which can be advantageous for bigger guys. But be warned, the goatee is a common trope to indicate an evil twin. So if you’ve taken my advice from above, you may want to warn your co-workers that you’re coming back from vacation with a goatee so they don’t confuse you with an evil version of yourself.
Most popular amongst law enforcement officials, the mustache is somewhat less popular today than it was in the 1970s. I’ve never looked good in one, but that may be because I lack Burt Reynolds’ charming good looks. But if you’ve got the upper lip for it, a mustache can be a bold statement. Of course I mean a traditional mustache. If your mustache curls at the end and becomes a handlebar mustache, it’s time to bust out the trimmers.
Keep it Clean, Keep it Professional
No matter what kind of facial hair you have, you must keep it well trimmed and maintained. A scraggly beard or overgrown goatee will make you look sloppy. I would recommend investing in electric clippers like you would find at any Supercuts. I’ve experimented with numerous wireless beard trimmers and they die much too quickly in my experience. In contrast, my electric clippers have been going strong for almost ten years.
Just as important as trimming your hair is the maintenance of your skin underneath. You need to be vigilant about moisturizing and exfoliating the skin under your facial hair. Failure to do so can result in dry skin which may get attached to your facial hair. And nobody likes that.