A learned man once said that with a great beard comes great responsibility. I might totally be making that up, but there’s no two ways about the fact that it’s as difficult to maintain a beard as it is to grow one. So, while cultivating a magnificent beard definitely puts you in elite company — from Leonardo da Vinci and Karl Marx to Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman (TIME magazine recognised these as among the greatest beards in the history of humankind) — it also entails the meticulous job of grooming and ensuring its healthy being.
An added challenge in India is deeply-rooted in our assumptions of beards being more cultural and societal than personal. Murugu Nathan, a IT sales manager from Bengaluru, experienced his own set of troubles while growing his salt-and-pepper beard upon returning to the country after a stint in the States. “For a year and a half, I just let my beard grow out. I could have easily gotten confused for a homeless person, and even my parents were really disappointed in me,” he laughed, and added, “but things got easier once I styled and groomed it thereafter. There were questions raised initially at my workplace too, but I let my work speak louder than anything else, so that was taken care of.” For the curious, that’s an example of what really goes into growing a glorious ziff.
And now that you’re taking so much interest in facial hair, let’s find out what it takes to keep the beard prim and proper, once it’s assumed the desired density from being a ‘frumbierding.’ Event manager Vishal Singh (the brain behind the Bharat Beard Club), who has been sporting a fully-grown beard for the past couple of years, took us through his grooming routine.
“On an everyday basis, I rinse my beard with a beard wash, before using a conditioner. Applying some gel upon stepping out of the shower keeps it nice and soft. It is then advisable to use a special comb or brush, to avoid curling; the key here is to use the ones with more distance between the teeth. Inspired by women getting their long-ish hair blowdried, I once tried doing the same with my beard, and it worked wonders. So blow-drying is highly recommended, followed by a nice oil massage, which ensures enhanced growth and healthy skin,” he explained.
He also added that bearded men, like him, and also various members of the club, prefer to get a beard spa session done twice a month. The process involves a thorough wash and trimming the split ends to even out the creases. The application of balm and steaming of the beard are carried out simultaneously, after which it is washed off and oil is applied, to keep the beard and skin moisturised. You should avoid using a wax, unless you really want to become a beard model, or give that moustache a real twirl.
It might all sound a bit elaborate, but a man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do. And if you don’t belong to the legion of beards, at least don’t ask annoying questions like “When are you going to shave it?” or “Why have you grown it?” As a pogonophile once said, “A man grows a beard for himself, not for the pleasure of others. Don’t like it? It sucks to be you!” And this one I’m definitely not making up.