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Jake Gyllenhaal plus beard
Jake Gyllenhaal plus beard

There was a period when naming five guys under 50 with more than stubble on their chins was a challenge, and the statement “I only date guys with beards” limited your options to a small pool of oddball oldies at the pub. Beards were the undisputed forte of Santa, pirates, Jesus, and strange uncles.

How times have changed.

Nobody knows how it happened. Like tribbles, hairy faces just kept appearing until popular culture was brimming with beards. Sure, one cutie bellwether probably kick-started the revival, but until Daniel Arsham creates a crystallised, corroded installation explaining it all, we’ll never know.

To clarify, it’s not about a letting it all go/giving up attitude. This isn’t limited to the kind of wild beard-and-barefoot combos that kickstart a Hair revival. Taking care of the feature foliage has led to an increase in beard grooming ranges and an ever-evolving field of fashion that’s all about shaping the strands on the face. These suckers are groomed, and occasionally, accessorised.

Embedding flowers in your beard was big for a while, disturbingly reminiscent of sci-fi stories that saw humanity evolve into plant-like creatures (cheers for the nightmares). Then things got seasonal, what with Christmas baubles decorating beards, and God knows what’s going to happen on Valentines Day… Hell, trend forecasters are probably counting down the hours until we all have to live through a scrunchie-for-the-face trend.

This year’s beard fashions begin with fluoro. Why add colour with accessories, when you can colour the hair itself? The addition of colour does add a whole new spectrum (get it?) of decorative possibilities. Who knows what the future holds. Maybe beards will go the way of tattoos, and you’ll see optical illusions and inspirational quotes in the mix.

Jokes aside, it’s fun to see men embracing the fuzz. For a while the removal of body hair–from here, there and everywhere–bordered on Ken doll proportions, so it’s liberating to see facial hair fighting back. The marketing of hot man hair was helped along by some of the world’s sexiest bearing beards on the red carpet (please, no date jokes). Jared Leto is an aficionado, and the trend certainly didn’t suffer at the hands of Chris Hemsworth and Ryan Gosling.

If the many links to Buzzfeed lists of bearded hotties is anything to go by, facial hair is a firmly established, sexy and style-savvy choice. (Even if you can’t grow one, you can buy a beanie that has a knitted fake beard attached, so you won’t feel left out.) Interestingly beards and long hair aren’t an automatic duo, the beard having developed an autonomous presence. Facial hair is worn with whatever cropping of the locks you like: buzz cut, undercut, messy bob, long strands, even the ever-controversial topknot.

Naysayers are predicting the end of the beard, but with so many different ways to wear it– the border shaved into semi-circle arcs on the cheeks, partnered with a long moustache, inclusion of a soul patch, shaped to be longer in the front than on the sides, twirled on the ends, more plaiting and weaving than a mind can handle– the allure of the beard should linger for a while.



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