Anyone that hasn’t been living under a rock for the past few years, has more than likely noticed noticed that beards have become a fashion mainstay for millennial men. Unlike other trends, beards are versatile—they work for every type of lifestyle, personality, and face shape. This is one of their big draws, after all.
Today, a beard is an essential part of the personal style of many millennial men. A whopping 82% of 18-35-year-olds, a clear and overwhelming majority have some form of facial hair. It’s seen as a confidence booster, a personal preference, and even an extension of a man’s personality. More and more men of all ages are growing amazing beards, whether they’re famous or just regular guys.
There’s no doubt that beards have quickly come back into fashion or more specifically beards are everywhere, and with their rapid return, it’s time for an updated guide for millennials on growing and caring for a beard today, especially considering the fact that beards haven’t always had the nicest reputation in Western society.
With the reappearance of beards in mainstream culture, we’re also seeing cultural changes like beards in the workplace and in academia, despite the fact that just a few years ago the clean-shaven standard was king. Keep reading below to find out everything you need to know about the millennial beard trend, how long it’ll be here, and how to bridge the gap in university and work environments between the no-beard generation and millennials.
Hipster Trend? Why Beards Are Here to Stay This Time Around
Everyone’s probably heard jokes about hipsters, cosmopolitan lumberjacks, and plenty of other hipster trends, especially when it comes to beards. It’s true that the “lumberjack” style beard was a big trend in hipster circles before it gained a heavier following in popular culture, but every trend has a shelf life. Fanny packs and chelsea boots have all but gone the way of the dinosaurs now, so how can anyone be so certain that beards are here to stay this time around?
Well, let’s take a quick look at the history of beards around the world. For much of human history, beards were used to signify strength, health, and vitality. Beards have always been a point of pride for individual men for centuries but suddenly, around the 1700’s, beards fell out of fashion in western culture (the jury is still undecided as to why).
Beards began to be seen (unjustly) as barbaric, unclean, and thus, unfashionable. Cue the clean-shaven trend, giving rise to an entire industry of shaving products and services, and for many men, a continuous case of razor burn.
Over the last 150 years or so, beards have enjoyed a few decade-long comebacks, but fashions inevitably changed and they once again fell out of favor. So what is it exactly that guarantees that beards are here to stay this time around?
The answer is simple: Millennials. Millennial men, more specifically.
While millennials are often charged with killing a slew of different hobbies, industries, and products, they can be thanked for being part of the ‘beard revival’. But what is it that drives the interest in beards for the millennial generation? There are a few forces at work here.
The first big driver in the beards-are-here-to-stay movement is the fact that men are able to be much more open about grooming today. Until recently, men were ridiculed for caring too much about their appearance. It wasn’t masculine to use moisturizer, to have styled hair, or to care too much about one’s presentation. Men were supposed to care about other things and leave the mirror-gazing to the women.
While mirror-gazing isn’t exactly what’s going on these days in the lives of millennial men, they aren’t neglecting their appearance either. Men today are more open to presenting an individual style that they’ve built or curated, rather than the white t-shirt, blue jeans, clean-shaven face that became somewhat of a uniform of young men of the previous generation.
More and more frequently, a beard is featured front and center in the personal styles of millennial men—cared for, worn with pride, and admired by others.
Beards certainly require some maintenance— trimming from time to time, washing, conditioning, etc.—and this requires some time, attention to detail, and a few high-quality products like beard oil or beard shampoo and conditioner.
Millennial men are comfortable enough in their masculinity to deviate from the “men don’t care about their appearance” trope, and the well-kept beard trend of this generation is adamant proof of that.
While millennial men have chosen to buck tradition and have opted for creating their own personal styles (beards included, obviously), another big driver behind the beard trend is a bit more rebellious.
Razors are expensive and have to be replaced often. No matter how good a razor might be, razor burn is still a common problem, and most men hate dealing with it (and with good reason!).
The body positive movement has traditionally focused on women, but millennial men have also hitched a ride on this trend over the last few years—why should men remove hair that grows naturally from their face with expensive and wasteful plastic-and-metal razors and deal with the itching of razor burn and new hair growth? Who made those rules?
Millennial men are, without a doubt, foregoing the tradition of maintaining a clean-shaven face. That doesn’t mean they’re just running around without any regard to how their facial hair looks.
Millennials are using beard care products to condition and groom their beards. The end result looks just as nice and orderly as a clean-shaven face.
The reason for a man to shave in the past was to look as though he had put some effort into his appearance that day.Beards accomplish the same end result today—they take some effort and care, but millennial men have overwhelmingly chosen beard maintenance over daily shaving, and it doesn’t look like they’re going back to shaving any time soon.
A final important driver of the beard trend for millennials is the fact that others find them attractive, and men feel attractive while sporting them. With the proper mindset, beards can give men a lot of confidence – they can cover acne scars and double chins, add shape and shadow to a man’s face, and they definitely catch the attention of others.
The millennial generation isn’t nearly as obsessed with fashion branding as the generations before it, nor are they obsessed with confining themselves to one or two very standard looks.
Millennials are happy to accept and show others that they are unique, with their own personal interests and style. The beard is yet one more way for men to personalize that style.
Taking into account the importance of personal style, the boldness of millennial men to redefine what “well-kempt” looks like, and the freedom that men have today to show an interest in their personal appearance, it’s safe to say that beards are back. This time, they’re here to stay.
Keeping a Beard at University
Different men have different beards and thus, different grooming needs. These needs can change over time, too, so it’s important for each man to try different styles and beard products and experiment until he finds what works best for him.
Some men might take longer to grow a beard than others. And one man’s beard and hair growth can change quite a bit from his freshman year at age 18 or 19 to his graduation date at 22 or 23 years of age.
Most men will see some difference in how fast, thick, or evenly their beard grows in throughout the 4 years. Care routines might need to change and different beard care products can be experimented with.
Beard shampoo will help to keep beards looking healthy and shiny while being gentle on the more sensitive skin of the face. Depending on skin type and climate, some men might prefer to use a beard conditioner or beard oil. These products should be mainstays in a millennial man’s grooming kit.
Although some high schools have policies about facial hair or hair length for boys, most universities don’t. This means that university might be the first time in young men’s’ lives that they’ve had the freedom to grow out a full beard. If that’s the case, it’s important to pay attention during the growth phase.
It’s necessary to figure out more or less how much growth is normal in a given time period and how to properly maintain a beard.
Finding a good barber can go a long way, but it’s also important to have the necessary products and time to do daily/weekly upkeep without going and paying for services, especially since university students are notoriously light on extra spending money. Establishing a beard care routine is an important part of keeping a beard looking healthy and well-kempt.
The atmosphere at universities is generally relaxed, and in today’s culture, there’s no discrimination or judgment against young men with beards (the same wasn’t true for young men in the 50s!).
The most important part of maintaining a beard in university is staying stocked up on the proper beard care products, because a healthy beard needs care the same way a head of hair needs care.
Beards in the Professional World
Beards fell out of favor in Western culture in the 1700’s, and although they had spurts of popularity here and there, they’ve overall been seen as unprofessional until quite recently. European fashion trends turned and with it the the world pivoted to follow them, the most notorious example being of Peter I banning beards in Russia. A clean-shaven face was the standard for any office job, position of leadership, or customer service job—until now, that is.
Just as millennials have transformed so many other facets of daily life, they’ve had their go at the modern workplace, and times have indeed changed. “The workplace” today might still be an office, factory, classroom, or courthouse, but it could just as easily be a tech office, hospital, or a living room.
Millennials today have more diverse career options than ever, including jobs that didn’t exist twenty to thirty years ago. While suits are still a given in some work settings today, many offices are surprisingly casual.
Throw freelancers and telecommuters into the mix and we have a new class of professionals that wear what they want. And more and more often, they choose to wear beards.
A beard used to be seen as the mark of a tough guy, maybe even a troublemaker. However, the public perception of beards has changed at about the same rate of the popularity of the beard in recent years.
No one is shocked to chat with a customer service representative that has a beard. No one is offended or frightened by professors or doctors with beards. And because today’s beard trend involved beards being well-groomed and cared for, they look great on the faces of professional men.
While society in general has loosened up on the beard trend over time, some industries, companies, or offices might still have some uptight misgivings about beards so for a professional that’s going to maintain a beard, grooming and care is key. That means using high quality beard grooming products and also establishing a routine that suits each individual best.
Having a beard in certain workplaces might be cause enough for whispers from the older generations of workers, so having a well-groomed beard is an important point to prevent any hassle.
Rocking a beard in a professional setting also means that after eating, a man should do a quick beard check and make sure he hasn’t gotten any food stuck in his beard, especially before going to talk to the boss or meet with a client.
Additionally, it’s important to avoid any nervous ticks or behavior (running hands through the beard or twirling the end while thinking, for example), as this will distract others and call negative attention to a man’s beard. A professional man should keep his beard clean and cared for, but shouldn’t have his hands all over it all day.
Beards are popping up in the boardroom, the warehouse, and everywhere in-between. Millennials have done quite a bit to bring the beard back into mainstream men’s fashion, and it’s here to stay.
There’s an ever-expanding market to cater to the needs of men with beards, and it’s become an accepted and admired aspect of the appearance of millions of young millennials.
Beards are much lower maintenance than shaving every day, and while there may be some resistance to the acceptability of the beard, it’s eroding quickly. Bringing beards back might be one of the less controversial things that millennials have been partially credited with and changing, but it’s making a profound impact in the fashion world, professional world, and all the spaces in-between.
So long as they’re well-groomed, many men feel confident with a full beard on their face. Having a beard is part of being a modern gentleman, and there is certainly no shortage of help online for men to start growing their own beards, seeking out quality beard care products, and developing a sense of confidence in their facial hair.
From the startup to the classroom to the office, beards are back and they’re shaping the fashion landscape for the foreseeable future. Great job, millennials. Keep it up!