Back in Spring 2014 we were warned that “Peak Beard” was a thing after research conducted by the University of NSW found that, when people were confronted by a succession of images of bearded men, images of clean-shaven men became more attractive to them.
“Peak Beard” is the term for the point at which the current fashion for beards means that there are more beardy men than non-beardy men in a given group and therefore the proportionate attractiveness of said beardy men is diminished.
To put it in simpler terms: people just get fed up of looking at beards after a while. Fair enough. I myself have sported some form of face hair for more than two thirds of my life, but what does a beard really say about the man behind the face fuzz?
The smallest area of facial hair coverage you can correctly call a beard, a goatee covers the chin only.
Formerly cartoon shorthand for the bohemian; the goatee appeared on the chins of many a plaid shirted young man during the 1990s and, in many cases has stayed there ever since.
A neatly trimmed, joined-up goatee and moustache combo is often a “grown up” follow-up to a less kempt youthful chin sprouting.
That bald guy you work with, the one with the goatee and 'tache, he holds strong opinions about Soundgarden, trust me.
The style of the goatee is often more dependant on the style of moustache worn with it.
The pointy 'tache and pointy goatee combo (the Van Dyke – named after 17th-century Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck) is still pretty much the mark of the artist/writer/musician/actor, while a rounded goatee and pointed 'tache might be considered more professorial and “traditional”.
The exact opposite of the goatee where every bit of the beard but the chin is covered. Without a moustache I'd argue that muttonchops are not technically a beard, merely very elaborate sideburns, but maybe that's just me.
Favoured by the Victorians as they were, muttonchops might be the mark of a historically inclined beardo.
Team this beard style up with a wardrobe of vests and trucker-caps as opposed to waistcoats and top-hats however, and you're looking at a different kind razor dodger.
Muttonchops are not a beard style for someone who wants to go unnoticed yet, secretly, all men wish they had the bottle to sport them.
Mainly because they think they'll look like Lemmy, or Mr. T in Rocky III. Sadly, most won't.
A couple of years back now we were seeing a lot of men who had stopped shaving and started trimming. A lot. Which looked like it was more work than shaving to be honest.
What might be termed “the George Michael beard” seems to have largely vanished now, presumably because many who sported it have either gone on to the next stage of growth or else gone back to shaving.
It's worth pointing out however that studies have shown that there is an optimum length of growth at which face hair is perceived as most attractive and that length was termed “heavy stubble” - the exact midpoint between clean shaven and actual beardedness.
There are, of course, many distinct, nuanced kinds of full beard but for simplicity's sake I'll break them down into three basic categories:
People who have this first type of full beard may be aiming to pass through to the following types or they may not.
What type of man chooses to grow a “normal” full beard (by which I mean a beard that covers their whole face but is mostly neat and tidy, maybe as much as an inch in length)?
Any man who thinks he can grow a decent beard and get away with it, is the short answer. We live in an age where beards are seen as acceptable and many men are enjoying that because shaving is a massive pain and a waste of time.
These men come from all walks of life, they are your brothers, your cousins, your grandads and they have beards. Why? Because they can!
This is what happens when a normal beard gets out of control and starts to look like it's not a deliberate choice so much as an accident.
Many men sporting a normal full beard rely on friends and family to let them know when their beard is getting to the worrying stage so that they can rein things back in with a bit of a trim.
Some brave beardys on the other hand are merely passing through...
This is what happens when a worrying beard gets so long it starts to look deliberate again; like you've had to make a concerted effort to grow it.
Whether it's the wedge-faced Hackney hipster, or the voluminous, stormcloud-like chin blossom of a venerable gentleman, the achievement has been unlocked and the ultimate hairy-faced goal reached; they have reached their beard's peak. Congratulations to them!