Facial Hair, stubble all mean different things to different blokes.
But there’s still so much we don’t know about the beard so many questions. What are hair follicles? Why do men grow beard hair in the modern world and how can you maintain your beard, once you have it?
Join us today as we endeavour to find out.
Why Do Men Grow Facial Hair?
Your beard hair grows through follicles cells on your faces, the hairs themselves are produced by a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone. This hormone is produced by testosterone, thus the link between testosterone and men’s beards.
Your beard hair is rooted in the bottom layer of the skin, the root of the hair is made of protein cells and grows via the nutrients of nearby blood vessels. The hair root grows through microscopic shafts in your skin, which are referred to as follicles. As more cells are created, the hair grows out of the skin and reaches the surface. Sebaceous glands near the hair follicles produce oil, which nourishes the hair and skin.
The hair follicle is what produces the individual strands of hair, and can be found all over the beard area of your mug. The follicle is responsible for the shape of the hair it produces, as well as the texture.
Interestingly, women have the same amount of face follicles as men but due to women’s naturally lower testosterone, the hair on their faces is much less pronounced.
Generally, women’s bodies make about 1/10th to 1/20th of the amount of testosterone as men’s bodies.
Why Do Men Grow Beards?
Testosterone is how beards are grown but a more important question is why?
Sexual dymoshinisism, a fancy term for the evolved sex difference, seeks to explain a characteristic that has improved your chances with the opposite sex, in order for your genes to get passed along to the next generation.
Some theories suggest that men’s beards fit into this category ‘Women came to find thicker beards more attractive because it implied that the owner of said beard would be stronger and more dominant
In a study focused on women’s perceptions of men’s attractiveness masculinity and dominance they found that ‘’ women perceived male faces with full beards as the most masculine, aggressive, and socially mature; the women also thought these men looked older.’’ Attractive Men
Another theory revolves around beards and how they are perceived by other men. Research has shown that ‘’Men found full beards as appealing as heavy stubble. Men also noted a greater perception of masculinity as facial hair increased’’
The beard as a sign of masculinity and dominance is found in other mammals as well, most prominently the male loin whose mane evolved as a ‘visual method of communicating strength and status to other males.’ It’s also believed a beard/ Mane provides a level of protection to your neck and face.
‘’The mane has often been viewed as a shield that protects a males neck during fights against other males’’ A thick beard may offer protection for your jaw from a blunt impact, like getting punched in the face.
The beard acts as a barrier for the jaw due to a ‘longer time frame in force delivery’ between bearded and non-bearded faces.
We wouldn’t recommend our breaded brethren to try this out for yourselves but it’s an interesting theory nonetheless.
Why You Should Maintain Your Bread
A poorly maintained beard is a sorry sight to behold. There’s a reason movies depict male characters at their lowest point with a poorly maintained, wild-looking beard, at it’s worst it makes you look homeless and at it’s best, makes you look like a disorganised mess of a man.
This is detrimental to both the man and the beard, as ‘’Women and men from both cultures judge bearded faces to be older and ascribe them higher social status than the same men when clean-shaven.’’
A well-maintained beard is appealing to the eye, at a base level it signals hygiene and this in turn subconsciously coveys you have been willing to invest time and effort into your appearance.
This can speak volumes to the opposite sex, showcasing a level of maturity in your willingness to be presentable to others.
Beards also save you from irritating your skin with constant shaving. Constant daily shaving not only irritates your skin but it constantly strips it of the skin essential oils, leaving it vulnerable to becoming dry.
Not only does this lead to the above-mentioned irritation, but over time it ages your face, as dry skin is more prone to producing fine lines and wrinkles.
How to Maintain Your Beard
Wanting to maintain bread and doing it are two different things. Your facial hair is different to your head hair, so you can’t just use any old shampoo in it.
Beard hair also has a higher density and stiffness, allowing it to hold it’s shape due to this higher resistance.
On top of this, no two men’s beards are alike. Taking all this into account, beards take extensive maintenance and a little bit of patience.
Know Your Products
There are no shortages of products that can be used in your beard, the biggest problem comes in selecting the right product for you and what the difference between them all.
The most common one you’ll hear about is beard oil. You want to look for an all-natural, free of any chemical additives that can cause any unwanted skin reactions. A quality natural oil will contain vitamins and nutrients that can help to repair damaged hair follicles, reduce dry skin and protect your hair from the elements as well.
When it comes to hydration, your bread oil helps to hydrate your beard hair, as well as the skin underneath it. As your beard grows, it’s length and thickness make it difficult for the skin underneath to be healthy. Beard oil can seep through the hairs ( hydrating them on the way), reaching and nourishing the skin underneath. This helps to reduce dry dead skin cells, which cause you to have an itchy beard and ultimately dandruff.
The oil also works to soften the hair, helping to make it easier to groom.
Beard oil is at it’s best when used on a beard that naturally holds it shape if you don’t need your beard held in place, beard oil is a great way to look after it without altering it’s natural shape.
It’s important to note that it’s you should avoid beard oil if you’ll be in direct sunlight for any period of time. We’ve spoken before about the effect sun can have on your skin and we’d definitely discourage covering your face in oil and then heading out for a day at the beach. Use the above-mentioned balm in this scenario.
Like beard oil, beard balm nourishes and hydrates your beard, it is different in it’s physical consistency though, as unlike the oils it has a base made up of things like beeswax or shea butter. This base makes the balm into a creamy, waxy substance that is designed to provide additional hold to your beard that cannot be found in beard oil.
Beard balm is ideal for those men who find their beards to difficult manage, going everywhere and often having a lot of dandruff. Beard Balms combination of vitamins and nutrients, combined with a base hold, helps to keep your beard healthy and well-groomed.
Beard Shampoo/ Conditioner
Like regular hair shampoo, beard shampoo is a compliment to a grooming routine, just like you’d still use hair wax after shampooing, your beard oils/ balms are still used after shampooing your beard.
Whenever we wash our beard (or hair for that matter) we strip some of the natural oils from our beard. Ideally, your beard shampoos are free of chemicals and reduce the number of natural oils it stripes while washing. Cleaning your beard removes dirt, dead skill cells and grime that has built up over time. We generally tend to wash our beard twice a week, as to not constantly stripping it of natural oils.
Your beard naturally oils itself via small glands, known as sebaceous glands, which are located at the root of your hair follicles. The glands can only produce a finite amount of oil and the amount varies from person to person.
That’s why generally speaking, we recommend supporting your beard with some form of oil or balm, especially if you operate in an environment that exposes your beard to a lot of the elements and or pollution.
If you don’t support your beard with a proper care routine, you run the risk of it becoming a dry, fizzled split end mess that becomes impossible to manage. The opposite side of this is that with regular washing you will have a more vigorous beard, which overall requires less frequent use of beard balm or oil.
Shampooing is also a great way to get rid of dandruff in your beard. Dandruff occurs as your beard gets longer and the skin underneath dries out. This can largely be avoided with beard oil but if you do find you have a build-up of white flakes, then shampooing is an excellent proactive step in cleaning up your beard.
If you comb your hair you can comb your beard. Outside of applying products to your beard, a sure-fire way to help maintain your beard is to brush it regularly. Combing your beard hair regularly helps to tame wild hairs and distributes the natural oils from your facial skin and beard evenly around your beard.
The type of brush you use is also important. Using a cheap $2 Dollar store plastic brush can do more harm than good. The plastic raking across your hair and skin can damage the hair follicles and the skin underneath, especially with enthusiasm. A bristle brush, one with hoarse or bore hair can help clear dirt that has accumulated throughout the day.