“Inside every clean-shaven man, there is a beard screaming to be let out,” according to psychologist Robert J. Pellegrini. Interestingly, not all facial hair is created equal. Every style has its own distinct personality indicators, and anyone who has ever rocked more than a clean-shaven face knows the burly power of a mustache or beard in speaking volumes without saying a word. “The male beard communicates a heroic image of independent, sturdy, and resourceful pioneer, ready, willing and able to do manly things,” said psychologist Robert J. Pellegrini in conclusion to a study on the almighty beard. And, founder of Brooklyn Grooming, Mckenzie Santiago, upholds the beard as “classic and manly, a symbol of something old-school and sexy.”
However, there is far more to be said when it comes to facial hair personality profiles. Here is a guide that may provide some insight on just what that face bush may truly indicate about your identity — in addition to all that perceived masculinity and maturity, of course.
1. The Woolly Wild Child
The full-on scraggly, all-over beard belongs to a very specific man — not many can pull off its wild ways. He is likely a creative and unpredictable specimen, perhaps a hunter or a woodsman at heart, but also one who is extremely comfortable in his own skin, as such facial growth is often stereotyped as messy and unkempt. But, such a forest of facial growth can be a blockade to new beginnings, be they jobs or relationships. So, the Woolly Wild Child may also be a temporary phase for many men — surfacing upon unemployment or after a breakup when razors become a thing of the past and personal grooming gets shoved to the back burner.
2. The Distinguished Gentleman
A fully-grown but impeccably groomed, “older man’s” beard has all the makings of a discerning chap who knows his place in the world. The beard doesn’t wear him — quite the contrary, actually — nor is he concerned with the air of older maturity that it lends. In fact, he embraces it. With all that sophistication comes also an intelligent yet strict, Type-A eye for detail, as successfully maintaining a neatly groomed, full-on beard requires a high level of meticulousness and care. “I think the association for a lot of people is that it’s a scholarly beard, or academics often have those beards,” says Allan Peterkin, a pogonologist (aka beard scholar). And that likely isn’t too far from the truth. That his facial hair also looks similar to that of the “The Most Interesting Man In The World” is perfectly fine with him, as the Distinguished Gentleman is pretty interesting himself.
3. The Shape Shifter
For facial hair agnostics and commitment-phobes, the trimmed goatee is a go-to, even if it is slightly outdated given its heyday hit in the mid-1990s. The bearer of said style is open to experimentation mainly because he is still figuring out his face, and the goatee is a holding pattern until something better comes along. He also may find satisfaction in this style’s ability to add masculine character, shape, and definition to a chubby pout or a soft chin. That said, the goatee is often the gateway to a more robust beard, or just as likely, a return to clean-shaven status when the mood strikes.
4. The Show Off
The Narcissus of facial hair, the chinstrap is nearly silly in its required mirror time as both the shaved areas and the hair must be trimmed with extreme accuracy and precision. But a chinstrap stud revels in the time spent for physical and facial perfection, recognizing the show-off status of the fruits of his razor labor. He is used to getting attention and to getting what he wants — or doing whatever it takes to get it. “It’s for a guy who wants to push the envelope and also wants to be asked about his facial hair,” says Peterkin. “Everything has been done under the sun, so I think men are sort of looking for what’s the thing that they don’t see on their street or in their workplace.” But, the chinstrap remains one of the more rare forms of face fuzz because even the most ego-driven have their limits when it comes to grooming time.
5. The Cocky Hipster
The mustache-wielding hipster rides a fun wave and rarely takes himself or life too seriously. The look may be considered rather creepy by some and silly by others given its history. As Peterkin puts it, “the mustache took on a sexual connotation in the ’70s; there was the swinger mustache, the porn mustache and then the gay/bisexual mustache.” But, now, that bad rap is subsiding. So, for the real mustache man, the ’stache simply bolsters his confident, cool-kid, slightly indie cred. However, for the less dedicated of the hipsters, the style is merely a transitional phase indicating the prior trimming of a fuller beard or an adolescent move into adulthood.
6. The Cautious Creative
The stigma-laded soul patch doesn’t come without plenty of preconceived notions, as it’s viewed as a rather ridiculous afterthought by some and as a beatnik, hippy look by others. But not all tiny-patch-displaying dudes deserve such disdain. He is likely an offbeat yet creative visionary who pushes the envelope just enough before crossing the line. That’s where the fear of commitment comes into play. He may work in an industry that frowns upon facial hair but is rebellious enough to test that rule with his own bit of individual soul.
7. The Scruffy Hotshot
The intentional stubble is the GQ of face manes. Its model-esque way is ubiquitous across men’s magazines and the celebrity set, so the scruff-centered guy generally has an underlying trendsetting and style-conscious attitude. Overall, he is a laid-back, play-it-cool dude with a bit of a devil-may-care attitude. Because of its hotshot personality, the wearer may be single and playing the field because, well, he can. Done well, the stubble must be carefully maintained, and he knows it. It takes time to look intentionally un-groomed — call it the no-makeup makeup look for the guys. Sloppy, roll-out-of-bed fuzz has no place here.
8. The Up-and-Comer
As for that messy, roll-out-of-bed scruff, it often characterizes the young up-and-comers who are perennial after partiers. They spend the whole night cavorting around no matter the day of the week. Office hours, of course, arrive too early in the morning so the unintentional, ill-groomed scruff is used nearly as a badge of honor for those late-night excursions. The up-and-comer may believe he looks a lot better than he really does with the sloppy, uneven stubble. The alternative is that he simply doesn’t care, which could indicate a lack of reliability and tact. The fact that he wears the sloppy scruff in public indicates that such delusions will only disappear when he grows up.
9. The Throwback Kid
Sideburns are to the face what the mullet is to the hair — a hotly contested style statement that can either be retro rad or just really passé, depending on who you ask. But the throwback kid wears the furry side chops with the ultimate confidence, complementing all his tatted-up leather and grunge angst. He likely keeps one foot firmly planted in the lifestyle of several decades past and the other foot on the pedal of a motorcycle or a vintage hot rod.