(Image from The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T)
Then I realized that there was one thing I hadn't done yet: simply letting it grow. So obvious! I put the clippers down.
So now I have a four-inch beard. It just reaches my shirt collar, but doesn't overlap it yet. It's very dense, very wavy. It's so much fun! You should totally do it! Here are some assorted observations and lessons learned:
- Reactions have been strongly positive both in and out of the workplace. I've only had one colleague tell me (to my face) that they flat-out didn't like it.
- Some coworkers have shown some trepidation by asking, "So... just how... long... are you going to grow it?" I'm not sure! My standard response is, "At least long enough to make wearing a bow tie pointless."
- It's fun to realize that this is the longest any hair on my head has been in thirty years.
- I usually have kept my hair and beard very closely cropped, so I only ever needed one product in the shower: a bar of soap. Over the past few months, however, I've had to buy all sorts of things I haven't needed in decades, like... a brush! A comb! Shampoo! Conditioner! Styling products!
- Speaking of styling products, I quickly discovered that mustache wax is neither optional nor just an affectation, unless I feel like having a mouthful of hair all day, which I don't, or having every beverage I drink run down my face with each sip, which isn't a particularly cute look. You can use wax to keep the mustache out of the way and have it still look natural; you don't have to make curlicues or go all Salvador Dali. After applying the wax (which takes some practice), you can comb and brush it out to look brushy and more-or-less normal.*
- On the other hand, why not use the wax to make curlicues or points? The possibilities are endless. I did discover, however, that having three-inch-long hair spikes on either side of my mouth is perhaps a bit much for my workplace (ha ha, they'll get over it).
- One colleague said to me, "Whenever I grow out my beard, I start looking like a lumberjack or a bum." I replied, "That's where wardrobe comes in." You won't look like a lumberjack in a Luciano Barbera sport coat.
- People ask me about it SO MUCH! I expected that, but have still been surprised at just how much of a conversational topic it has become.
- Do I have a facial hair fetish? No. Beards don't "turn me on" in and of themselves. I do love facial hair, but I don't love it, if you know what I mean.
- Just in the last couple of weeks I've had complete strangers express their admiration for my beard. It's kind of strange.
- I've always been insecure about my abnormally long neck. I got taunted for it all through school, and people have constantly commented upon it all my life. Now nobody can see it!
I'll keep you posted with any noteworthy beard developments.
*Update: if your facial hair is long enough, and you're mustache-wax-curious, but would like to try it out before buying some, try plain ol' glue stick! It's basically the same stuff (a wax-based adhesive), holds really well, and washes out easily with soap and water. I keep a dedicated stick at my desk at work for touch-ups.