It's a funny old world, the beard world. Like motorcyclists who nod to each other, and VW camper van owners who beep one another, beards create a fraternity amongst those who have them. There is a sort of fellowship that bearded men have amongst themselves, giving rise to forums, clubs, gatherings and competitions. We kick off our featured beard series, then, with Danny and take a peek into his world of beardry.
Danny has been visiting Watson’s Barber’s to keep his beard in tip top shape for over two years. Back in the good ol’ days, in the summer of 2018, Danny booked in at our establishment for our Complete Beard Treatment service, trusting us with a full set many men can only wish for.
It is indeed a model beard and very much a part of his identity. However, despite being the case, and a resolute member of The British Beard Club, during the last lockdown, Danny made the decision to ‘shave off’ and start again.
WB. So, Dan, the last time I saw you before the first lockdown your beard was about 6” long. 3 weeks later you posted a picture of yourself on Instagram with a very short beard, the equivalent to a No2 or 3. My reaction was one of surprise, to say the least, commenting that it must have been “an adrenalin kicker” to take such drastic action. What was the reason for your decision to lose your beard?
DR. By the start of lockdown I'd had a long beard for about three years, but as most people do I'd been gradually changing its shape. I'd become nervous about having a bushy "uncle Albert" looking beard so, over the last few visits to your shop I'd been getting you to take away the bushy edges and remove the bulk.
Unfortunately rather than improving how I felt about my beard the result was looking more and more bedraggled. I'd gone from worrying about uncle Albert to looking like Catweazel in a matter of months. I didn't want to face growing it out whilst I was unhappy with it and so it was time to reset. It also allowed me to stop shaving my head and see how my hair was doing. Not good.
WB. I’ve witnessed this progression from a bushy beard to one that lacks strength and, as you put it, looking “bedraggled” a few times. It’s more the case with a longer beard when it reaches the stage of being too long to look tidy but too short short to lay down under its own weight. It’s at this point that people begin to ask their barber to cut it back, worst still, cut it back themselves.
Looking over the photos of your regrow, it’s clear to see that leaving well alone during the first 3 months is crucial for achieving a long beard that has fullness. At the 3 month stage your beard is clearly not a picture of what most would count as tidy, but trimming back then would have greatly compromised what you have now. It’s clear that your decision to go for a reset was the right one.
WB. I’m sure you’ll take this in good humour, but with a huge white beard and shaved head you have a very unmistakable look. Interaction with others is very much affected by appearance, and the length and shape of a beard will influence that more. How do you feel others react to you when they meet you for the first time? I'm thinking in terms of your work life and social life.
DR. Ha ha good question. I do get asked if i'm a biker a lot, which I'm not, or into heavy metal, which again, I'm not particularly into. Socially the bearded look is received well and I take all comments in good humour. In a pre-COVID world I would alway be asked about the beard, especially when out around town and occasionally even asked for photographs, which can be a bit strange.
I did a course in Belgium a year or two ago where the ice breaker involved writing your first impressions of a person on a post-it note and sticking it to them before you had spoken to them. All of mine said things like "Wise", "Experienced" or "Knowledgeable". At the time I thought, oh you mean old looking. People alway think I'm much older than I am, which is not yet 50.
The colour of my beard means Christmas can be interesting too. With good humour I've done the Santa thing for work a few times which was fun but it gets tedious having people shout Ho Ho Ho at you all evening when out and about.
Professionally, I don’t know of any real issues it's caused, I'm an Engineer and I've worked in the medical industry, which means wearing a beard net for hygiene and for safety on production line machinery. Away from the shop floor it doesn't seem to be an issue. For example, I applied for a new role at a new company last year and really ummed and ahhed about whether to shave it off. But I stuck with it and got the job.
WB. You’re now into the eighth month since beard reset and I’m sure you take great care of it. Tell me about your beard grooming routine, and do you have any tips for others with long beards?
DR. I've always struggled with beard itch even with a longer beard and, for me, washing my beard a few times a week with medicated shampoo really helps a lot. In fact, without that routine I guess I'd be clean shaven. I use and would recommend T-Gel medicated shampoo. Other than that I have a few other routine things that have helped me to improve my beard.
Here's the routine I usually use 2 or 3 times a week.
1. Wash well with an organic unscented soap (supplied by Watson’s Barber’s).
2. Rinse well in warm water.
3. Wash again with T-Gel medicated shampoo.
4. Rinse and then rinse with a colder water.
5. Apply Watson’s beard oil and comb through with a stiff comb.
6. Blow dry on a cold setting. I dry from underneath using a round brush, brushing the beard up whilst drying, usually until it's up past my face.
7. Blow dry with a hotter setting, now brushing down and out following my beard shape. I blow dry my mustache into shape at this stage.
8. Apply a beard balm. I'm using Beard Monster at the moment and really like how it leaves my beard.
9. Once I've worked in the balm I restyle with the hairdryer and brush again.
10. Visit Watson’s Barber’s every three or four Weeks.