What Your Beard Says About You
First impressions are everything when it comes to making new friends, going in for a job interview, or being on a first date. Knowing what to wear and how to present yourself is a major part of expressing who you are – and this includes your grooming techniques, namely: how you groom your beard. What do you want your beard to say about you? At the very least, what do you want others to think about you?
Who Should Wear a Beard?
Traditionally, adult males wore beards. They were a signal of maturity and stature, and in some cases, they were even part of religious practice. The expectation of being clean-shaven is a modern notion, one that’s generally tied to the white-collar workplace, where the norm was a clean face and a business suit for many years. More recently, the beard has returned in both style and acceptance, even in the workplace, and yes, even when wearing a business suit.
Because facial hair is, again, an acceptable style for virtually any occupation, age, and demographic, the question is not so much who is allowed to wear a beard, but rather who should have a beard and who shouldn’t. Short answer: the only people who shouldn’t wear a beard are those who lack the confidence to do so for some reason or another. You can only look your best when you feel your best, and if you aren’t comfortable wearing or doing something, then don’t do it until you become comfortable. With that, we heartily recommend that everyone else should, if they choose, be able to wear a beard in pretty much any situation.
Another question to ask yourself: would a beard complement your features? Most people look good with a beard, but that doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone. Since beards are bold, it’s a good idea to solicit an objective view on whether or not your beard complements your other features.
The Implications and Societal Perceptions of Wearing a Beard
Now that we’ve determined that most men should wear a beard – if they want to, at least – we can now focus on what your beard says about you or how society generally perceives your facial hair. While we focus most of our attention on beards, a well-groomed mustache is an acceptable choice for some individuals; however, be careful that your mustache says the right things about you and doesn’t make you look...shady, for lack of a better word.
Numerous studies have shown that bearded men might be perceived as more aggressive and less sociable than clean-shaven men. Many of these studies based their findings on still images rather than in-person interactions. We recognize that wearing a beard comes with a sense of manliness and dominance – and that may be perceived as aggressive compared to a clean-shaven man – but this is something you can disperse by a genuine smile, that is if your beard doesn’t cover up or negatively alter your smile.
Similar perceptions will develop in job interviews and on dates, though these situations tend to be for the better. In our experience, a well-groomed beard does just as well as a clean-shaven face for a job interview. Stubble or a weak beard, however, are less effective tools when attempting to secure a job. An employer wants to see commitment and composure during a job interview, something that both a dedicated, groomed beard and clean-shaven face convey.
For dating, the implications may be the opposite, as stubble has found its way into a man’s sex appeal. Dating has a lot of layers to it, and the way your potential match receives your facial hair will come down to their own preferences. If they don’t like your current facial hair, remember you can always grow out your stubble or shave your beard – if you know how to shave your beard, that is. Plus, a strong first impression is never a bad thing – unless it’s, well, a bad first impression. Wear what makes you feel your best and most comfortable, and you will likely see the best results possible.
What Type of Beard Should I Wear?
Now, how to groom a beard can tell the most about you. If you have a long, scraggly, unkempt beard, this may signify that you are also a scraggly, unkempt person who’s messy, disorganized, and lacks dedication to personal hygiene. Harsh, we know. Alternatively, a person with the same length and style of beard – yet trims, shapes, applies beard care products, and brushes it daily – may come off as a well-groomed, mature, and socially-dominant individual. Because of this, we urge you to dedicate more time to cleanliness and attention to detail when wearing a long beard.
A short, clean beard is a good compromise. It doesn’t take as long to grow or as much upkeep to maintain, and it can look professional in the workplace yet won’t feel overwhelming or intimidating. You also have plenty of styling options when it comes to grooming your short beard, such as choosing the hair length on your upper-lip, shaping the chin hair to be longer and fuller, or even adopting the Van Dyke style – we don’t suggest this unless your facial features can fully pull it off.
For an artsier person, the beard canvas opens up quite a bit more than someone who works as an attorney for a large firm. Either way, it is important to contemplate what impression you want to send out into the world before you choose how to wear your beard. Further, there is nothing wrong with a little trial and error to see what works for you.
To Beard, or Not to Beard?
The first step to wearing a beard well is awareness. Your facial hair can say a lot about you before you’ve even interacted with someone. Balancing your personal preference with the message you want to send is an important part of being successful while also wearing a beard. Whether it be in your career, on the dating scene, or even among your family members, choosing the right facial hair, knowing how to groom a beard, and pairing your beard with the right look, composure, and level of confidence is as important as anything else you use to express who you are to the world. It’s time to take a personal inventory and make sure that your beard is sending the right message and not inhibiting life’s next steps.