How to get the best beard

By Janetta Mackay

We ask four men with very different individual looks how they wear a beard well

Fashion designer and brand manager Benny Castles showcases his beard. Photo / Babiche Martens
Fashion designer and brand manager Benny Castles showcases his beard. Photo / Babiche Martens

MOBEEN BHIKOO

Being a director at Stephen Marr, mostly working out of the Newmarket salon, Mobeen Bhikoo has plenty of handy professional insights to offer on the growing trend of beard-wearing and how to ensure a stylish result. Of his own facial hair, which he has happily sported for a couple of years, he says: "I grew it because I don't like feeling like a bald chicken when it's really clean shaven."

What do men with facial hair need to consider in terms of their overall look?

The texture of people's facial hair can be quite different from the hair on their heads, for this reason you need to make sure the hair is taken shorter and thinned out in the right areas for a person's face shape. A great example is where someone has a double chin. If you have lots of bulk under the chin it can make this look worse than it really is. The sideburns can also have a big impact on face shape if they are not groomed shorter than the hair around the sides of your head.

When cutting the hair of man with a beard what do you have in mind?

I keep lines slim from the top of the sideburn down to the jaw line to accentuate and slenderise according to face shape. I'm always looking at the moustache, making sure it doesn't hang over the lip and catch food, and keeping the hair underneath the bottom lip short so as not to make the chin look fatter.

Are men actively asking for advice on how to wear their facial hair?

No, not really. I think people generally think it's something they can do themselves or they just let it go wild,

What advice do you offer?

Facial hair grows much faster than the hair on your head so it needs to be trimmed every 10 days, especially the sides and overhang from a moustache.

How do you care for your own beard?

I run over it with clippers twice a week to keep it maintained.

Will the bearded look last for you?

I never did it for fashion and prefer how it feels, so it's something I will stick with.

Any other expert advice?

The lines on a beard should always be kept softer around the edges. As with hair on the head, a beard needs to be washed, conditioned, combed or brushed. For the guys out there who decide to pull, twist and chew the edges of their mo - it's just not right. And remember to check after every meal.

BENNY CASTLES

As one third of the World design triumvirate, Benny Castles has never been scared to play with conventions of manly appearance, on occasion combining gentlemanly tweeds and purple paisley shirts with a W.G. Grace-like beard. Going all woolly long before the modern "fashion" beard mutated from designer stubble to its current bushman incarnation did carry risks. "I used to get people wanting to gently stroke it, like I was a pet poodle ... people wanting to touch you on the face is both sweet and creepy. These days, outside of the derogatory slight every now and again, my beard is mostly unacknowledged, which is fine by me."

Why the beard in the first place?

Firstly because I'm lazy. The other point is that it gives a certain maturity so that it makes people take me more seriously. What I think first encouraged me to grow it was that in every book I read the male protagonists always had a beard or moustache and were congratulated or even judged on them ... see Proust talk about Robert Saint Loup's moustache.

I have now had a beard, on and off with no real thought to its growth, for eight or so years: that is where the hair grows. When it comes to my facial curating, I am simple-minded. It grows into a beard, then I cut it off, then it grows back ... I see it being like my photosynthesis.

Do you feel different than when clean-shaven?

Shaving makes me feel less protected and reminds me that I have a face, which can be unnerving.

Does having a beard influence how you dress?

No, the only thing that influences my choice of clothing is World's creative director Francis Hooper, who does not have a beard, but would look a treat with a Fu Manchu goatee. A beard should go with anything and everything you might choose to wear, as long as it goes with your face.

If you shave it off what do you think will be on your mind about the big reveal?

Very little, usually when shaving I am genuinely trying not to make a mess.

Anything else you would like to add?

Every man should grow a beard at least twice in a lifetime; you could couple it with a duel if you need an occasion.

CLIFTON PIPER

It's been a while since a TV newsreader modelled any whiskers, but TVNZ network stylist and natty man-about-town Clifton Piper knows how to pull off the look. Viva asked TVNZ if it had a policy regarding facial hair for onscreen staff and it said no, but added: "In general terms, both TVNZ and our viewers expect that anyone who appears in front of the camera is professionally turned-out with particular care given to their standard of dress and grooming so there are no distractions from the information being provided." This sounds sensible to us, but we wonder if Clifton's example of how to integrate a beard into a smart professional appearance may prompt others to try it.

What prompted your first beard?

I've been bearded since I was 18 years old. Shaving always caused a rash so I decided not to do it; it wasn't a fashion decision in those days.

What sort of reactions do you get now?

Apart from a few compliments during Movember, people haven't really known me any other way, so I would only get a reaction if I shaved it off.

As a stylist in an industry where presenters are almost invariably clean-shaven, do you get men hankering after your look?

If they are, they keep it well hidden. There are some people around the office who notice when I do a different look, but no envy or questions.

Is yours a fashion look that gets tweaked or do you stick with the shape?

I'll stick with it and just clip it, I can't stand shaped beards. I don't mind a moustache or a big Deliverance beard as they can look really good. It seems to be an on-trend look these days.

How do match facial hair with what you wear?

I have a pretty clean-cut look in general, I think it strikes a good balance for somebody with grown-out facial hair.

What's your advice to newbie beard growers?

To achieve something like I have, grow it out for a few weeks then clip it back to a No 1 to see if it suits you. It seems to look a lot tidier after it is clipped, which some people prefer.

How do you maintain it?

I just clip it to a No 1 myself. People with longer beards often shampoo it, which would look hilarious if someone walked in on them in the shower.

The thought of being clean shaven makes you feel ...

Scared! It's been so many years, I can't remember what it's like. I have quite a big mouth so my dark beard camouflages it, I'd be all teeth otherwise.

Last word on beards ...

Each to their own really. The only facial hair I don't like is overly groomed, it needs to look natural.

MARK WALLBANK

Restaurateur Mark Wallbank, the man behind Rocco and MooChowChow, is cooking up another hot Auckland dining venture. Although much too busy to even think about shaving, he did find time to let slip that he has just returned from a two-week research tour around Australia and Asia, so our informed guess is expect something Asian-inspired. Keep an eye on the corner of Ponsonby Rd and Brown St for a mid-April opening.

Describe your current look?

Hot (and slightly sweaty in this heat).

How does facial hair go down in the food business?

No issue - as long as you have a great, clean and well-groomed appearance it works well. So long as it's not waxed and sculpted ... that's just creepy.

How long have you worn a beard?

I've had facial hair on and off for many years. It's easy to manage - shaving every day is a pain. I can create a few different looks, but I'm not fond of the over-clipped look.

Do you feel different bearded than when clean shaven?

I love it: I feel a bit rough, yet prepared and ready for what the day (and night) throws at me. I change my look on a regular basis, but being bearded works for me best (so my friends tell me).

Is it a temporary or a keeper?

For now, I will stick with it, but I never make promises about what lies ahead.

How does it factor into your overall look?

I also take pride in my appearance. Gym first, clothes second, facial hair third.

How do you care for it?

Quick trim every few days, and feed it with beautiful wine and food.

Final say ...

Never judge a book by its cover or a man for his beard - beauty lies within.

- VIVA

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 02 Sep 2014 08:18:42 Processing Time: 616ms