Gents, you had best rethink that five-o’-clock shadow: Apparently beards have jumped the shark. The death knell rang back in January, when the New York Times published a trend piece announcing that the “Brooklyn beard” had gone mainstream. And for the last two days, the internet has been a-twitter over an Australian study that supposedly proves—using, you know, science—that being hirsute is old hat. (The study actually finds that rarity is attractive, so it’s the ubiquity of facial hair that makes a clean-shaven bloke stand out, not his babysoft bare cheeks).
So should you reach for the razor, or is this just more meaningless fluff? We polled some style and grooming pros on whether you should shave your beard or simply tune out the noise.
Brian Trunzo, co-founder of Carson Street Clothiers (carsonstreetclothiers.com)
“This talk of ‘the beard trend’ disappearing is ridiculous. Men have been growing beards since the dawn of time. At this point, it’s simply a stylistic choice someone makes, either as a celebration of manhood or simply because it looks great on the beard-grower’s face. I grow a beard each fall, then shave it off once the weather regularly climbs over 60, which is usually around April. I’m beardless now, but to think that I wouldn’t grow a beard next fall because it’s no longer trendy is laughable, or at the very least warranting of a string of absurd emoji faces to describe my disgust at such a claim.”
David Hart, menswear designer (davidhartnyc.com)
“Personality, charm and style are the first thing you should notice about a man. A beard is a strong statement, but it shouldn’t be the only one you make, and it definitely should not be considered an accessory. Of course, there are men that can carry a beard with style and panache, but I always tell guys to groom and dress themselves in a way that makes them feel confident. And with summer approaching, who doesn’t want to feel the sun on their face? In my opinion, beards are best for the winter and colder months.”
Mckenzie Santiago, CEO of Brooklyn Grooming (brooklyngrooming.com)
“This is a personal decision and shouldn’t be influenced by a trend. I haven’t noticed that the trend is over. It’s springtime, and people like to shave around this time of year. Personally, I think beards are sexy, whether or not they’re in style, and always will. However if you want to change your look then by all means, shave it off. It will grow back.”
Brad Lande, VP of Birchbox Man (birchbox.com/men/box)
“It’s really up to each individual. Our Birchbox Man subscribers have consistently told us that having a beard is one of the best ways to show off a bit of your personality. Thankfully, the number of beard-maintenance products has increased dramatically over the last year—as well as the consumer’s demand for them. From Mr. Natty’s Beard Elixir, Billy Jealousy’s Beard Envy Kit and Stubble and ‘Stache’s Beard Conditioner, it’s never been easier to maintain a good-looking beard year-round.”
Hael Fisher, VP of Gotham City Beard Alliance (gothamcitybeards.com)
“Our core mission at the GCBA is to promote the acceptance and tolerance of facial hair in all its forms. As a member with a rather large beard, I can attest that our members pay no credence to this type of study. It’s just more fodder for news [outlets] seeking to ride the coattails of what is a major upswing in the popularity and acceptance of facial hair. We don’t seek to be trendsetters or fashionably forward but rather wear our beards, goatees and mustaches as a point of pride and distinction. So in that regard, we have always been ahead of the trend.”
The takeaway is this: It’s your mug, so keep it shaggy or smooth for whatever reason you like. Can’t be arsed to shave? Fine. Can’t fill in a gappy beard? Don’t even try (and for God’s sake, don’t do this). The only external opinion worth considering belongs to the person who has to kiss you; beyond that, being subservient to someone else’s style is the worst look of all.