After moving to Yellowknife almost two years ago as a heavily shorn, near-hairless military man, I noticed the majority of men here sport facial hair of some shape or size. As well, images of great bearded pioneers, miners and explorers in days of olde abound. Even X-Men’s Wolverine is said to have originated in the NWT! With an extended paternity leave freeing me from my employer’s facial hair restrictions, I figured it was my time to take the “yeard” – a full year beard-growing journey – to discover what vast lengths I could achieve. Here are a few tips I gleaned along
How to Convince Your Better Half
Convincing your better half to let you take on this arduous task may be extremely difficult. Uncertainties will be expressed: “Where will I kiss you?” “I will miss touching your face.” I have to admit, being amorous with a beard can be tricky. The displeasure of a moustache in the mouth for both parties is rattling! The best way to convince your special someone is to sell the lifelong dream. The bucket list. Say things like, “I need to do this to feel fulfilled in life,” and “My childhood dream was to have a full Viking beard.” Definitely don’t just start to grow it. Piss off your spouse and you may get a spiteful set of shears in the night.
Carrying yourself amongst common folk once you’ve decided to take the bearded journey is a pleasure, especially after your growth surpasses the “dirty ruffian” or “unkempt” look. Acquaintances may walk briskly past you in Trevor’s Independent Grocers, mistaking you for some unruly hooligan. Once you’ve convinced them you are who you say you are, be prepared for their envy, shock and awe.
Even more curious is the interaction within the bearded community itself. Beard-nodding – much like the Harley-Davidson or Jeep wave – is a requirement. This is not to say that there isn’t competition amongst these beardsmen. Beard envy is common.
There are an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to shaping a man’s facial mane. I opted for the “I am all that is man” beard, similar to that of prominent bearded Yellowknifers the Snowking and Loren McGinnis. Choosing a beard style that suits your growth and its peculiarities is important and may require a Google search. Once you’ve found the bearded hero you’d like to emulate, let the grooming begin.
Bearding has made me a collector of countless men’s products I previously hadn’t known existed; the most important being beard oil. Beard oil does not give you the slick, dripping, greasy mess you may be picturing, but rather it allows for a clean, shiny, softly scented and tangle-free beard. Though I have not found a local supplier, many products can be ordered online from folks like The Urban Beard out of Toronto, Ont., and Big Red Beard Co. in Victoria, B.C.
Soap and Conditioners
A clean beard is a healthy beard. Beard specific products can be purchased and used with exceptional results, though I have found common shampoo and conditioner work very well. The combined products help maintain essential oils, promote growth and prevent such nasty things as beardruff.
There is nothing more important to a beardsman than his comb. You must carry this tool at all times and treat it like the concealed weapon it is. You may possess several combs for detangling, shaping and moustache taming. Don’t limit yourself to beard and moustache combs. They can be hard to find and costly. The ideal comb will be made of wood for its static free qualities. Especially in the North, cheap plastic combs tend to add static and can damage, kink and snag the hairs leading to a thinned out ratty look. However, Kent’s plastic, hand-made saw-cut combs work well, and are available online.
The moustache and beard, though commonly joined, should be regarded as separate entities. Moustache wax is not exclusively used by circus folk and eccentrics. It can tame and shape the everyday moustache. A thumbnail’s amount, which is mostly bees wax, will go a long way. Moustache wax can be found locally at Bijou Boutique and at Ragged Ass Barbers.
Don’t necessarily trust your barber (not to say Ragged Ass Barbers won’t do a good job) to understand the importance and complexities of shaping your beard. Read up or watch an internet video on beard trimming. It’s up to you! Don’t trim your beard after visiting the Black Knight (or any drinking establishment). Set aside a significant amount of time without children or household duties to do this vital task. Don’t trim your beard if you break up with your significant other. Seek comfort in the fullness of your facial hair and knowing that this kingly and savage appearance will find you a new mate, for sure.
Bearding and Winter
Having a beard is ideal for life north of 60. The natural face pelt reduces the bite of that -40 we have all come to love and respect. Mind you, the beard isn’t always great in winter. Icicles, which are rare in Yellowknife due to the lack of freeze and thaw, can definitely be seen on the bearded man’s face. These condensation stalactites form the moment you set out the door, attaching themselves to your moustache and running the length of your beard and beyond. They continue to grow as long as you are outside, giving you the appearance of a winter warlock. Children will definitely point and laugh as you briskly trudge past their school.
Bearding has been a form of male expression for centuries and is a refined art form all of its own. Men’s facial hair has symbolized such things as wealth, wisdom and experience. By accenting the male’s chin and emphasizing the teeth, the beard makes a man appear more ferocious and dominant. The beard can both repulse and attract. Some believe a beard can be trusted. Some believe the beard is hiding a deep and dark mysterious man. However you see it, why not give bearding a try? Please grow responsibly and take care my fellow Yellowknifers. Beard til death.