From Aquaman to ZZ top; popular culture has embraced the ideal of the manly beard. The beard itself adds an extra layer of mystique – a face covering – that makes people more intriguing. It also creates an aura of strength, solidity and virility. Certainly, mythical hard-men, like the Vikings, have entered into folklore: tough Nordic soldiers who struck fear into the hearts of their victims. Even superheroes, like Wolverine, emerged on our screens sporting full beards. It gives a character a certain edge that someone who is clean shaven could not pull off.
Brian Swan, co-founder of Unstoppable Beard, certainly identifies with this type of rugged masculinity. He sports an impressively long and thick beard and is, himself, the consummate outdoorsman. Since leaving his 9-to-5 job, 15 years ago, he and his wife Rhonda Swan, traveled the world, enjoying countless adventures. He’s a keen surfer and diver, and will have a go at anything nature can throw at him. But the devoted family man cautions against forming a certain impression of someone just because they look quite tough, spend their time outdoors, and have a full beard: the prevailing stereotype of the unkempt surf dude who doesn’t have time to ‘worry about his appearance.’
Beard care is manly
In Swan‘s case, this could not be further from the truth. He felt that many men, especially beard wearers, labored under the misconception that it’s not manly to buy self-care products and ‘pamper’ yourself. However, that thought is definitely changing amongst his male clientele. The term ‘metrosexual’ encapsulates a new expression of masculinity. Instead of having to fit into a preconceived, Victorian ideal of what it means to be a man, men are now free to express themselves through their appearance.
The old-fashioned idea that men shouldn’t be concerned about their image, since it’s a ‘feminine’ trait, is slowly beginning to change. Society is moving away from the belief that anyone should be defined by societal norms: everyone should be free to express themselves how they see fit. Newer brands are moving forward with advertising and marketing that reflects diversity in race, ethnicity and gender. They are packaging products in ways that avoid old stereotypes and encourage gender fluidity within the beauty market. Unstoppable Beard encourages men to join a community of beardsmen where everyone is free to ask questions, seek advice and reach out for tips on “looking their best, and being their best, in all areas of life.”
Beard care is practical
Of course, there’s also an inherently practical side to beard care. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone should have a proper beard care regimen. Perennial problems like acne, dandruff, and beard itch are hazards that every beard-wearer must face. In order to avoid these problems, there are a few sound pieces of advice to follow:
- Firstly, dermatologists generally advise that men should wash their beards on a daily basis. Pollution, dirt, grime and germs can all wreak havoc on fine whiskers. Professionals suggest that without this daily washing, pores can get blocked up and skin can become irritated. Red, angry skin will make life miserable.
- The second step, straight after washing, is to apply some type of moisturizer. The most popular product for beards is oil. The reason oil is so effective is that it penetrates not only the beard hairs but also to the skin below. The skin directly underneath the beard is prone to becoming dry, flaky and itchy, a feeling that often is all too common to the beard-wearing fraternity. To minimize this problem, it’s best to apply a small amount of oil to the fingers and start to run it gently through the beard, touching the skin beneath. It’s best to go easy at first, as you can always add more later on.
- The third step is to trim your beard so that it stays at your chosen length. The most scientific way to achieve this is to measure it with a ruler. Then, simply snip off the excess with scissors or use an electric shaver, with the guard set to a little below your ‘ideal’ length.
- These steps prep your beard for the final phase, which is to comb it out. This fully detangles the follicles, removes any debris, or stray hairs, and allows you to style your beard into your chosen shape.
Care for yourself and the environment
When Swan decided to create Unstoppable Beard, he was obviously thinking of how men could take care of themselves, but he also wanted to care for the environment. His great affinity with nature, especially the ocean, makes him all too aware of the plight that delicate ecosystems are facing worldwide. Swan likes to start most days on the beach, near his Bali home. He loves to exercise on the sand, swim in the ocean and practice surfing. Over the years, he has witnessed, firsthand, the gradual increase in rubbish.
“Plastic waste is one of the biggest problems.” Also, pollutants released directly into the water damage the delicate, natural balance. Fish, coral and other forms of marine life suffer as a result of mankind’s inability to manage the waste problem. That’s why Unstoppable Beard’s range is specifically designed to be eco-friendly and sustainable. The company uses local production facilities, in Bali, where possible, to reduce their CO2 footprint and support the local economy. The natural ingredients that go into the products are also designed to do no harm to the environment.
With image-conscious, and eco-conscious, consumers waking up to beard care products, the global market is anticipated to jump from around $19 billion, in 2020, to around $27 billion at the end of 2025. This is largely due to a shift in fashion that really took off around 2010, and has continued ever since with Gen Z consumers. The ‘hipster’ trend brought the full beard back into the mainstream. This time, however, it’s not the preserve of the religious zealot, lumberjack or Viking marauder, but the go-to fashion accessory for the thinking, caring and thoroughly modern man.