Late last year we held a market stall in Sydney's inner west. It was a great experience for the Milkman team and provided a refreshing change of pace to life in the office and lab.
As we don't have a physical Milkman store right now, it was wonderful seeing customers and engage with our products first hand. It was also positive to see what people liked and disliked about our products, and change some people's perceptions of what male grooming is all about. We introduced people to grooming products, answered questions, offered advice and got some excellent insights into the average bearded male.
We did notice that there was a recurring theme across the day. The theme was, that men aged 35-60 with short beards would shave them after 2 weeks to a month. Given their ages, we decided to dub their beards "Dad Beards". While their reasons for shaving varied, the source of their problems could have been solved with regular maintenance and upkeep. Reasons included; patchiness, itchiness, and dry skin. Other men shaved as their partners became dissatisfied with the appearance and feel of their beard.
While we love all beards great and small, many of the ones we saw were chaotic, dry, brittle, probably smelt and had dry flakey skin. If these men are upset with their partner's nagging, I can’t really sympathise with them. Yes a beard is a symbol of masculinity, they should be grown wild and free, but if your beard looks unkept, smells and feels bad then how can you fault your partner?
We have compiled a list of the main reasons men shave their "Dad Beard" off. We have also addressed the sources of these problems and how to fix and prevent them.
Beard itch is one of the leading causes of men shaving. But what causes beard itch? And what do you do for beard itch? Beard itch occurs across three stages of growth.
- New stubble: When new stubble is coming out it is quite sharp and pointy. We found that most people’s itchiest spot was around the neckline, due to the folds and creases in the neckline being constantly jabbed by the sharp stubble. A way to overcome this is to use a boar hair brush to exfoliate the skin. Another benefit of the brushing process is that you are pulling those sharper points with each stroke of the brush. It won't be soft and irritation free overnight but it will softer relatively sooner. Application of beard oil is perfect for this stage also as the oil is designed to soften and moisturise hair.
- Early beard growth: If you leave your beard to grow naturally you will pass that initial stubble itch phase. As the beard hair gets longer, it becomes softer and less itchy, before another cycle of itchiness starts again. This itch is due to your facial skin starting to dry out. If you are one of these people who lives in this cycle, I urge you to brush your beard with a boar-hair brush to exfoliate dry skin and then apply moisture in the form of an oil or balm.
- Longer beards/tangles: As your beard gets longer it may start to get tangled. This tangling leads to irritation as the hair is bunching and pulling whenever you move your face. If you don’t brush or comb your beard then these tangles can cause unbearable irritation. How do you stop this? By oiling, combing, and brushing!
It’s too messy:
A big contributor to shaving is having an untidy beard. This is an easy thing to solve but most men avoided any sort of beard styling, to correct the problem. What took us by surprise was that most men were wearing nice clothes, had their hair cut neatly but their beards were messy, even with such short growth. The first step to overcoming a messy beard is to brush it and comb it. Using a beard balm is a great way to keep untamed beard hairs in line, and makes brushing your beard easier. Most men had some knowledge of beard oil, however, a lot of them looked at us funny when brushing was mentioned, “Brush my beard?” "There are beard specific brushes?". To that, we simply answered, "If you had messy head hair what would you do? Shave it off? No, you would put some product through it, brush it and comb it".
Growing a beard takes time. Sometimes growing it into certain style will take longer than others. A popular style among beardsmen is to grow the beard long through the chin and neck and keep the sides short along the sideburns. This style can be accentuated with a fade haircut, giving your face a more angular look. A lot of men didn’t understand that beards grow differently. The most common early natural beard is one of uniform length all the way around, kinda like a face afro. There was an assumption among the men that that’s how their beards grow and if it looked bad short then it would look even worse long. If you want to get your beard into a certain style or shape then some level of grooming has to be done. Either trimming to accentuate different areas of your beard or by using a wax based beard product that gives you greater styling capabilities. Ideally, if you want your beard to look good a combination of trimming, styling, and products are needed. If you want to learn more about beard trimming click here
The Male brain works in funny ways. So many people on the weekend said: “ I wish I could grow a beard like yours, my beard is too patchy". What was odd however was 90% of the men that said this had a thicker beard/stubble growth than mine. The difference between me and them is that I know patchiness goes as the hair grows in. My biggest advice to all men wanting to grow a beard is, just keep growing. A beard can’t be grown overnight, you need months before you start seeing results that change your perception of your own beard, and overcome those awkward growing lengths. For more info on how to deal with a patchy beard click here
If there was one thing you need to eliminate its beard dandruff. There were a few blokes on the weekend who suffered from beard and skin dryness. If your beard looks visibly dry and brittle then I could not imagine the itchiness you must feel. Dandruff can be caused by not exfoliating the skin. Also, by using regular head shampoos in your beard you may be drying out your skin and hair which leads to dandruff. The high soap levels in many regular shampoos are not designed for your face and beard and actually dry your facial hair and skin. If you are going to wash your beard use a beard safe wash and only do it a couple of times a week. You can overcome beard dandruff by brushing with a beard brush and by hydrating the hair and skin with an oil or beard balm.
Another leading cause of men shaving their beards off is their lady. To ensure that they stop nagging you might have to do a few things to your face. Clean up your cheeks and neckline if you have a short beard. Brush it, comb it and use conditioning product like an oil. If you think about it, it really doesn't take that much longer than shaving your face. If anything regular maintenance takes less time than giving yourself a proper full face shave. Take their perspective; they have to kiss you, spend time with and be seen with you in public. If your beard is soft to the touch, looks presentable and doesn't shower them with beardruff every time you hug them then most of your nagging problems will be solved.
To all the "Dad Beards out there I hope this has been an informative article. If you are one of those blokes that are new to grooming products or have a partner that nags you constantly about your beard then I hope this article has been helpful to you. If you have any other questions regarding beard maintenance or any other grooming questions feel free to ask us. Beard On!
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