Any man that has ever attempted to grow a beard has wrestled with the question of how long to grow it. The bearded angel on one shoulder tells us not to upset society and the norm by keeping it neat and tidy...the bearded devil however pushes us to go longer, thicker, wilder!
It's not as easy as deciding long or short. That's simply too black and white for us bearded folk. We need solid arguments to mull over before we abandon our Barbers for a few weeks while all hell breaks loose on our face!
Here are five key things to think about before choosing your beard style
1. The Shape of your Head!
Heads come in all shapes and sizes and some are more complimentary to beards than others. I personally have a long face, so when I've had a very large beard my head feels like it has doubled in size! I have trimmed mine recently to shorten the acres of head that I have.
Wider faces can look swollen or chubby with a fuller beard. This type of face is more suited to a short or stubbled look.
Sunken cheeks can be covered with a fuller beard whereas a wide jawline makes for a well-shaped beard.
Look in the mirror, assess that head of yours and make a decision.
2. Your Job
As annoying as it may be, the job you have plays a role in how long and big you can go. Carpenters and painters may find sawdust and paint in their long beards quite frustrating so may opt for a shorter look.
The corporate world continues to frown upon wilder beards...recently a solicitor I met with scoffed when I told him what type of business I had. "I never see any beards around anymore", he chuckled. I looked him in the eye and said, "You're hanging around with the wrong crowd".
3. Beard Thickness
Who wouldn't want to grow a monster beard just once in their lives? I would encourage every bearded man to do it, but some simply can't.
A patchy thin beard is the curse of many a man that longs to run his fingers through a full thick beard. I often tell men that ask me how to get round this to either cut it short and be happy with that, or go full out and see if that sparse beast eventually turns into a beauty.
Fuller beards make for better longer beards.
What you like to do, who you hang around with and where you live play major roles in your beard choice.
Hotter countries may have shorter bearded men...the idea being that a long beard will insulate your face and make it sweat more. I, however, have never been affected by the heat even when my beard was huge travelling around Spain in the middle of summer!
Endurance athletes can also find it tough...trying to aim food, water and gels into your bearded mouth while running long distances can be difficult and a little messy. Some swimmers can feel their beard drag through the water depending how long it is!
Do you have a husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend that influences your beard style? Some are more accepting than others and you can feel real pressure from loved ones to adjust the length of your beard.
5. Hair Colour
Have you ever seen a man with a multicoloured beard? I bet you have.
Irishmen can have a crazy mix of red, black, brown, grey and blonde in theirs! If this is what's going on it may be best to keep it short (depending on the look you're after). As your beard grows, so does how noticeable the colours become.
As you age, the grey in your beard can become much more prominent. This can work well giving a distinguished look or make you feel a little older.
It's all about personal preference, but a one or two coloured beard may be best if thinking of going long.
So there it is! It's not a simple decision but one that must be thought about and made work for the life you lead. I've always said that growing a beard is an adventure and deciding how long to go is one of the crossroads you'll inevitably come to.
The guidelines are there and other people will have their say, but you're the one that will have to decide which way to go.