The Covid-19 pandemic may have forced people to work from home but it is has also given many an opportunity to try different looks and styles. Among them — men who were too shy to experiment with their beards on a regular work day.
While the office space, more often than not, demanded a clean-shaven look, men have used the luxury of time available in lockdown to grow their facial hair beyond the three-day stubble. From sporting a French beard to nurturing a full-length one, there’s no holding back now. If there are any blunders during experimentation, they can simply hide behind their screens — something that was not possible pre-pandemic.
While experimenting may be at its peak, it also demands an equal amount of care, especially during the monsoon. Mid-day.com reached out to experts to understand the challenges and how to overcome them during the season, while also continuing to experiment and style one’s beard.
Beating the season
Growing a beard is definitely advisable during the monsoons but keeping the length in check can help maintain it better, according to experts. It is also why shorter beards are ideal because they require lesser care than longer beards. General beard care can be simply defined in three words – cleaning, trimming, and moisturising.
Balaji Purushothaman, managing director, Wahl India believes that most men actually take good care of their beards during the summers and winters but forget to nourish their beards during the monsoon. “Men generally tend to face trouble with acne and itchy skin during the monsoon. Frizzy beards are also quite common due to excess moisture,” he explains. The ideal way to maintain a beard this season, he says, is by keeping it clean at all times and eating a healthy diet.
Using a beard wash or conditioner can help, says Shruti Gagandeep Arora, senior technical manager for hair at Enrich Salon, echoing Purushothaman’s advice on the need for cleanliness. However, it doesn’t stop there. “In order to maintain a healthy beard, it is very important to get it trimmed regularly. This will help you to understand the right shape of the beard that would suit your face.”
Busting the myths
While there are many who are enthusiastic about growing beards all year round, there are others who avoid them for reasons including maintenance and some misconceptions.
Purushothaman says very often men don’t grow beards because they think it is a ‘food trap’, which ends up looking unhygienic. However, he stresses that it is up to the individual to keep their beard clean and glorious. Even those who attempt to grow them are sometimes unhappy by the growth and give up. “Many think that beards grow at a uniform pace but that is not really the case. The hair around the chin grows faster whereas the hair around your cheek takes longer to fill in. Therefore, there is a need for grooming and beard trimming to ensure uniformity,” he explains.
Arora adds that many people think of beards as dry and flaky and that is why they do not opt for it. That beards look unprofessional or that they do not need grooming products for maintenance are some of the other misconceptions she sees often.
Getting under the skin
Beards may look really good on the outside but what many forget is to take care of the skin under it. For the beard to look good, it is important to wash the beard twice a day, suggests celebrity dermatologist Dr Rashmi Shetty. “The washing is necessary because you don’t want sweat and humidity affecting the skin in that area. Fungal infection is very common during monsoon in the beard area,” she explains. The founder of Mumbai-based Ra Skin and Aesthetics adds that during the season, humidity may affect the beard and make the hair rough, so using beard conditioners, moisturisers or balms can keep the hair from becoming frizzy and avoid skin irritation.
However, Dr Shetty warns that good skin care may not always lead to good facial beard hair as hair growth is genetic and hormone dependent. If genetics and hormones aren’t in your favour, it isn’t the end of the world because that is where grooming comes into the picture and can work wonders for you.
While the products to enhance your beard and the way it looks increase by the day, Dr Shetty says people should bank on natural options like coconut oil, which can help the beard, hair and skin. “It’s light, does not smell, it helps the skin under the beard from dehydration and also sometimes a thick beard might have something called folliculitis- infection of the wrong hair route and coconut oil has antibacterial and antifungal qualities as well,” she elaborates.
“Long beards can become itchy sometimes and in need of a good moisturiser like coconut oil, as other creams will make it messy,” she concludes.
Using beard oil is not only good for the beard health but also helps maintain the shine on it. Arora explains, “It is advisable to use beard oil before bed so that the oil gets time to seep in. While Dr Shetty suggests coconut oil, Arora adds jojoba oil, argan oil and sunflower oil to the mix. The jojoba oil, which is high in anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, prevents infection, dryness or dandruff. Argan oil, on the other hand is rich in Vitamin E makes hair frizz-free, soft and shiny, whereas sunflower oil, which is rich in fatty acids and Vitamin A, B, C, E simply helps maintain moisture level and prevents breakage.
Taking care of beards and your skin are only two aspects of beard hair care, as with so much fuss, it also deserves adequate styling to accentuate the facial features. Purushottaman says there are different kinds of beard styles that one can try out depending on their face cut. “Men who have rectangular faces can sport a full beard, mutton chops beard, chin curtain or an extended goatee. All those with a round face, generally look nice with a goatee, soul patch or a chin strap, while men with squarish faces can possibly rock the balbo, goatee and moustache.”
This may seem like good guide to start with but styling is subjective and one should sport any kind of beard they like as long as they are comfortable with it. Taking care of your beard is an enjoyable activity especially for those who are looking to sport it this monsoon.
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