No-Shave November has ended, but beards are growing on and on. Winter is prime time to sprout a serious beard – or, as some have called it – a face coat. And thick rather than wispy seems to be the popular way to go.
“I would say that a lot of people are keeping a fuller beard nowadays. I think maybe with the colder weather, people like keeping it longer. All five of us who work here have a full beard. It’s definitely a trend in Buffalo,” said Tommy Barwell, owner of Good Looks, 1171 Hertel Ave.
A beard definitely is a seasonal thing for Buffalo resident Jon Turner, who is 29 and works in retail. His ritual for the past 10 years?
“I start on Sept. 1 and shave it off when it gets too hot. It changes every year, but it’s usually in May,” Turner said.
“I don’t do too much for it; it’s pretty unkempt. I never thought of it in a fashion sense. It’s the time of year. It’s cold. I do it to protect my face,” he said.
Brad Redenbach, 28, of Amherst, keeps his year-round.
“I’m one of those guys who, in the wintertime, will do a full-on, under-the-neck beard. In the summertime, I will trim it nicely,” said Redenbach, assistant manager at a local retailer.
He has had a beard since age 14. In high school, his nickname was Patches because it didn’t fully connect.
“I was 19 when it fully connected, so it’s been about 10 years now,” he said.
Beards have been getting extra attention of late. There’s Santa, of course. November was the month for growing facial hair to raise funds and awareness for men’s health, primarily prostate and testicular cancer. Men participating in Movember, including some from the Buffalo Sabres, grew mustaches. With No Shave November, willing men – and women – simply put their razors down, a la Matt Lauer, Al Roker and other NBC “Today” staffers.
Locally, there’s the newly formed Buffalo Beards & Beer Social Club. A beard and mustache competition to benefit Locks of Love was held recently at the Waiting Room; Queen City Roller Girls will hold a Beer & Beards Competition from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday in the Forvm at the Maple Entertainment Complex in Amherst (www.qcrg.net).
On a larger scale, the 2013 National Beard and Moustache Championships took place in September in New Orleans. The World Beard and Moustache Championships landed in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany, last month.
And then there are the men of A&E Network’s “Duck Dynasty,” a reality show that follows the Robertsons of Louisiana, whose company, Duck Commander, manufactures handmade duck calls. The men in the family have been described as looking like members of a ZZ Top tribute band.
Many actors, artists and athletes sport beards. Professorial types often are fond of them. So are men on hiatus from work, including new fathers on paternity leave.
Growing a beard has its challenges.
“Not everybody can pull it off. Not everybody’s grows in properly, but they’re still trying to do it. Some people think they have it, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, give me a full beard.’ I tell them, ‘Dude you really don’t have it. I can’t just give you a beard,’ ” Barwell said.
Then, again, people do all kinds of beards, he said. The chin strap and goatee are just two styles.
Nor does a beard always work for guys who can grow them.
“You’re either committed to it, or you’re not. If you’re not committed to it and you’re going halfway, it’s going to look halfway,” said Tom Barnett, owner of Tom Barnett Custom Tailored Clothing in Snyder and New York City.
“It’s like wearing a hat. It has to be worn the right way – not just stuck on the back of your head but rather pulled down rakishly over one eyebrow,” he said.
“To me, a beard is the exact same way. A beard has to come out of your pores to actually work,” he said.
Unless it’s part of a game. A couple of years ago Barnett, who does not grow a particularly great beard, challenged his son, who had just graduated from high school to a beard competition.
“We said, ‘You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to do playoff beards’ – meaning we were going to grow beards over the summer and see who had the thickest beard when we dropped him off at college in the fall,” Barnett said.
Barnett beat his fair-headed son. And he is quite proud to share that.
Something else Barnett has observed? “Recently I have noticed, more than ever, that people are much more comfortable with several days’ to several weeks’ growth. They’re much more comfortable with going out on the street without necessarily grooming the way one used to groom. It’s kind of that scrubby thing. They’re not necessarily growing a beard; they’re just not shaving. And I think that indicates a growing acceptance of this new male grooming expression,” he said.
Beards require care, of course, which is where a trusty barber comes in. There are beard care products, too, including oils and special combs. And if a guy doesn’t know about them, maybe he should.
Unless, of course, he takes Duck Commander CEO Willie Robertson’s approach to beard maintenance, as he shared with Parade earlier this year: “I just run my fingers through it, stick my head out the window to dry it off after showering, and roll with it. I condition my hair, so whatever ends up dripping down into it is conditioned. It’s softer than you would think.”