There was a time in the 1960s during a Kennedy-Nixon debate (the debates were one of the first widely watched political fights) when Nixon was widely thought to have the losing side because the faint shadow of his stubble made him appear untrustworthy. From then to now, the beard has seen a revolution worldwide. Tony Stark and David Beckham have been real style icons, while cricketers like W G Grace, Vivian Richards were the early trendsetters. Now, everyone wants to have a beard like Ranveer Singh or Virat Kohli, and it’s back to being linked to masculinity, virility, and strength.

No wonder, then, that there has been a boom in the demand for beard growth products. “As our society has evolved, it’s not a taboo to keep a beard in office. Even partners are appreciating men in their bearded looks, further fueling the trend. No wonder beards are cropping up on menswear runways and fashion shoots,” Rohit Taneja, Director of Consumer Insights at Bombay Shaving Company, says.

There are plenty of men who believe it’s a great time to ditch the razor and let their stubble grow. Even though a number of them probably found themselves to be looking at a totally different person in the mirror, it seems to be just what they need. Saurabh Gupta, MD and Chairman of Denver, says that it isn’t just that more men are sporting beards, but more young men are growing it out, and investing wholeheartedly in their grooming.

“Even businesses are getting beard- friendly,” he says, “The current trend for beards, particularly among younger men, is linked to their increasing popularity within the West after a comparatively long period out of favour.” The recent surge of pogonophiles (having a love for beards) is an extension of muscular athleticism witnessed in Indian society and for experts, younger men consider beards as an extension of their personality. “The idea of ‘quarantine beard’ flourished during the pandemic, and plenty of consumers let their facial hair grow out of laziness or to experiment with their looks (as they didn’t have to go to work). Cricketers, actors, and other celebrities have sported the bearded look, thereby stoking interest among the youth to grow their beard and jump on the ‘Virat Kohli’ bandwagon,” says Taneja.

Ravina Jain, the founder, and CEO of The Skin Story & The Beard Story, and emphasises that this summer is going to see more variety in beard trends as offices have started resuming. “The beard trend is definitely going to extend well into the year, and we have seen how 2021 and the lockdown diaries have influenced a vast majority to experiment with their facial scrub. However, this year is also predicted to see a rise in men’s beard grooming regime as travel and office resumes. There could also be a surge in men choosing professional and polished beards that highlight the trimmed and tamed facial look,” she adds.Looking at the  increased attention of men towards beard styling, the global beard grooming products market is set to grow at a CAGR of around five per cent during the forecast period (2022-2027). So then comes the question of how to maintain your beard because, at the end of the day, one doesn’t have to make a big leap from ‘man with impressive beard’ to ‘grizzly forest man’.

Sharing some tips on beard grooming, Yatan Ahluwalia, grooming, style, and etiquette consultant and columnist shares, “Trim evenly. Ensure to maintain a short and even length all around. It’s important to have sharply defined lines both on the cheek as well as under the jawline. Cut or snap the few odd long strands of hair that may make your beard appear untidy and uneven.” For Jain, apart from combing, oiling, and keeping the lustrous shine, the face mane needs to have the right products like shampoos, conditioners, beard oils, and balms to keep the facial mane shiny, soft, and supple. Debabani Guha, national trainer at L’Occitane En Provence India, shares, “Depending on the growth and density, washing your beard every alternate day or once in three days should be fine. In fact, Indian men are more inclined toward less grooming products. The use of beard oils facilitates healthy growth. They do work if used regularly. Include them in your routine.”

ESSENTIAL BEARD PRODUCTS by Saurabh Gupta

Beard oil: Those who are new to the beard grooming journey, the primary product you’ll hear about is beard oil. Beard oils will condition and soften your facial hair while helping your mane look tons fuller.

Beard balm: Now that your beard is feeling soft and searching full, it’s time to tame those stray whiskers. After washing and drying your beard, use a beard balm to condition and moisturise your facial hair and give it some shape.

Beard wash: Eating with a beard can be a messy event. So you’re going to need a beard wash to properly clean out your bristles.

Trimmer: Using a trimmer is a risky move if you’re not careful. To avoid this, use your trimmers to clear up your cheeks and neck. Attempt to keep it far away from your beard, just to be safe.

Beard comb: As you begin styling and grooming your facial hair, you’ll quickly see the worth of a top-quality beard comb.

BEST BEARD STYLES OF 2022 by Geet Rathi, director of marketing at Man Matters

• Short Stubble

• Short Boxed

• Hollywoodian

• Goatee

• Chevron

• Chinstrap Beard