Men who journey into fatherhood whilst wearing a beard join the ranks of some of the most elite fathers in history. Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air had a tidy one. Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead has fuller, more natural chops. Papa Smurf had an iconic look. But whether the beard is short or long, tidy or messy, deliberately unkempt or immaculately styled, there are a few things that its owner (wearer?) can do to ensure that it makes a strong transition into being a dad beard.
First, let’s clear up some misconceptions. A couple of years ago there were reports that beards somehow contain more poo molecules than a toilet bowl. These reports were based on crappy research that has since been widely discredited. You may hear stories of kids who have had allergic reactions to beards too, but that can often be attributed to the type of product used for washing the beard, and not the beard in-and-of itself.
Beards are great. Dads beards are even greater. The haters can be, for actual scientific reasons, ignored. That said, dad bears do require though.
Four Tips for Dads With Beards
- Keep it short (if you’re very busy). If you’re comfortable rocking the professional trimmed look it can save you plenty of time in your grooming routine.
- Keep it lustrous (if you’re very beardy). Moisturize your beard to avoid roughing up baby’s skin. Your partner may thank you too.
- Employ the hand. If you’re concerned about dermabrasion on sensitive cheeks, cover your beard with a hand as you snuggle up or kiss smaller kids or babies.
- Maximize your time. If you have time in your day to use beard oils and conditioning products, include them in your routine. But if you’re tight on time? Use the same conditioner you use for your hair.
Beard length can have some implications, especially for super-busy dads. Beard expert Dr. Allan Peterkin, Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at the University of Toronto and author of The Bearded Gentleman: The Style Guide to Shaving Face, says that during those first months of parenthood, shorter might mean better. “I think what most men can carry off and manage is stubble, the Five O’clock shadow look,” Peterkin says. “Beyond that, sort of a short, professional, tidy beard that just takes the occasional clipping to keep up is ideal.”
For dads in the trenches who are juggling the responsibilities of work, baby care, and sleepless nights, a low-maintenance beard might just save some of that precious time. “Men with small children are always busy and preoccupied, so whatever you grow you want to make sure it is easy to maintain,” Peterkin says. “Nothing too elaborate. I guess that would be the number one deciding point.”
Keeping a short style can have practical benefits too. Babies have a serious vise grip and if dad has a longer beard, Peterkin says, the baby might grab at it. This is good motor skills practice for baby, of course, so for dads with a high pain threshold, this may not be an issue.
Babies and toddlers are excellent at making messes, both food-based and bodily-function-based. Longer, fuller beards pick up that inevitable mess more easily, which means additional cleaning. And it is quicker and simpler to clean spit-up out of a short beard than a long one. For fathers committed to a full beard style, however, these inconveniences are minor.
It’s true, however, that longer chops can be rough on baby’s skin, especially if dad’s beard is particularly dry and coarse. The risk here is dermabrasion from cuddles and playing, and dads who have bristly beards know that their partners can sometimes experience some discomfort from intimate encounters, too.
“What it’s called for adults is ‘snog burn’,” Peterkin says. “I’ve heard from some women that they like the look of their man’s beard, but they didn’t like the feel of it, because of the dermabrasion.” This is also true for young kids with sensitive skin, making beard conditioning a priority.
Beard oils can soften the scruff, making time with dad a more pleasant and less scratchy experience. There are, or course, plenty of products on the market to keep your beard lustrous and soft, but in a pinch normal hair conditioner can help too. There’s no need to overcomplicate it, Peterkin says. For the sake of simplicity for dads on a time crunch, the normal shampoo and conditioner used for the top of the head can be used on the chin, too. “If you’re in a rush where you just hop in and out of the shower,” Peterkin says, “then a hair conditioner does a good job of keeping things soft and luxurious for little ones.” For added protection, dads can cover their beards with their hand, making it easier to kiss the kid without risking scratches.
For the sake of a few minutes of extra grooming, trimming, and conditioning, parenting while bearded is simple and awesome. And it takes about the same time maintaining a squeaky-clean look does.