No sooner had talk-show host Stephen Colbert debuted his salt-and-pepper “Colbeard” in September than “Jeopardy!” emcee Alex Trebek unveiled his own distinguished facial fuzz. The competitive comedian immediately challenged the quiz master to an on-air trivia contest on “The Late Show.”
Colbert shaved before the beard-off could happen, but the message was clear: Facial hair has moved to mainstream programming.
“Beards are totally acceptable these days, even in conservative corporate settings,” says J. Clark Walker, master barber at the downtown Martial Vivot salon. “I don’t think seeing a beard and a suit together is frowned upon any more.”
While many styles are in — from Bradley Cooper’s five-day stubble and Sean Combs’ chin strap to LeBron James’ luxurious Garibaldi — Walker says he grooms plenty of natural looks.
“Five years ago, I was making sure all the edges were really sharp and crisp,” he tells Alexa. “Now, I’m doing lots of blended necklines that are less sculpted. A beard with a stronger mustache is pretty hot right now.”
As for length, Walker says short-to-medium face bushes are most suitable for prime time. “If you see beards longer than an inch or two, that would be considered aggressive. You can’t ignore that.”
Xavier Tirado, barber manager at the recently reopened Freemans Sporting Club Barbershop on the Lower East Side, says that he’s seeing 50 percent more beard customers than a decade ago. “Most men ask for an oval shape,” he says, adding that professionals favor a clean look.
Even military men want to grow beards. More than 16,000 people have signed a Change.org petition asking the military to allow its members to whisker.
“I want to grow long locks of love on my face that will make me feel like a manly man,” writes Ed Beebe, who penned the online request. “This is free of cost to the government and can have morale-boosting potential for military members.”
Despite the upkeep and obstacles, soldiers, civilians and celebs say that beards boost confidence. Just ask 85-year-old fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld (left), who debuted his snow-white whiskers — a la Kenny Rogers — earlier this year. Or 61-year-old television personality Steve Harvey, who just reinvented himself with a full fleece of gray.
“I’m gonna just do something different, man,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “I’m gonna stay fly till I die.”
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