The awful truth about beards


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Gavin Johnson, Columnist

Let’s be clear about something: I am a proudly bearded man. I’m sure many readers share this sentiment, sporting many styles of facial hair.

I feel that a good beard should feel like a good pair of jeans: fitted and comfortable with a complimentary shape.

Unfortunately, there are no beards that fill this criteria.

Of course, there are many different styles of beards that compliment a variety of face shapes. And sure, a beard may feel as though it fits in just the right way.

However, no beard is comfortable. Not a single one.

This realization may be hard to accept for most men, but I assure you that the comfort of the beard is an impossible burden.

And no, I don’t mean that keeping your beard clean is too much of an ask. Beard care is a process any man can implement into their morning routines with ease and keep a perfectly-groomed beard.

But even the perfectly-groomed beard will fail to be comfortable 100% of the time. Facial hair becomes a complicating factor while eating and drinking. Masks cause a constant itch where they meet your beard. Sometimes masks are flat-out impossible to fit correctly on your face. And once your facial hair grows to its perfect length, you’ll be stuck with constant razor burn on your face where you don’t want your beard to be.

Many of us have seen the myriad of news articles that preach against facial hair, and you may have dismissed them, deciding that there was no way the beard they referred to was your beard.

What holds us back is the pride in our beards, the illusion that these articles are not saying your beard is the dirty one. 

Instead, as a CBS report claims, there are health risks that could occur to any of us while growing out facial hair. For example, the beard is an excellent place for bacteria to grow. There is a chance for viral infection carried by your beard as it becomes a point of transmission, and there is a possibility of skin infection.

The best argument for shaving the ‘stache is revealed at the end of the CBS report, “If you’re not up for the upkeep, clean-shaven is the way to go.”

Everyone has had a bad beard day. And sometimes, even a mask won’t be able to hide it. This begs the question: why bother?

If my math is right, it would be worth it several times over to spend the same time shaving as you would with any beard care routine, all while avoiding any risks of viral infections, bacterial growth and folliculitis.

You might disagree and say that the beard is, in fact, more comfortable than a clean-shaven face. In the pursuit of making your beard comfortable, you might have achieved something close. And yet, you still risk the possibility of the aforementioned health risks.

You may have forgotten the feeling of a clean-shaven face. Maybe you have spent so much time growing your facial hair that shaving would simply mean throwing that progress away. Any number of reasons could be holding you back from the rational decision of a clean shave.

You might even have the rare chance to never miss with your beard care, or have the perfect style for your own face.

It’s not a bad thing to take pride in your style, or the time you’ve spent to grow it. Sometimes a third party has you coerced against the comforts of a clean shave. But if it was up to me, the best way to go would be the shaving cream route over the beard oil.