Growing a Beard

Some things are easy to do, and others hard to do. You’d think that the easier the thing, the less you’d have to do. Take growing a beard. It involves doing exactly nothing. Not growing a beard should be harder than growing a beard because not growing a beard involves shaving.

I was thinking about this because every year around this time, I get it in my head to grow a beard for winter. I live in a place where it gets cold in the winter, and a beard seems like just the thing to keep my face warm. Every year I give it the old college try, doing my best to do, well, nothing, and every year, somewhere between the 2-3 week mark, I cave. I decide that (a) what beard I’ve managed is too itchy to live, and (b) for all of the hard work I’ve put into growing the thing, I have little to show for it. I usually make this decision while in the shower, and by the time the shower is over, my face is beardless.

But not this year.

This year I decided that, come hell or high water, I was growing a beard. I kept careful notes this time. The last day I shaved was the morning we have our family photos taken. Day 12 was the worst as far as itching goes. Between days 10-12, I was washing my face three or four times a day, because the soap and warm water seemed to ease the itching. After day 12, I no longer noticed the itching. Sunday was 3 weeks, so today is 22 days, and here’s what I have to show for it:

My beard, 22 days in.

It seems the beard should be fuller, given how much time I’ve spent doing nothing. Three weeks of hard work avoiding the razor has produced something, but not much. I’m not sure how I should feel about this. Truth be told, I feel a little annoyed. My brother, for instance, can probably shave in the morning, and have about as much of beard as I do now by late afternoon. I know people whose beards come in full and dark (and much more quickly than my own). Not only is mine slow to grow, but its coming in a variety of shades, many of them leaning to gray and white, but enough darker color splattered here and there to hint at Jackson Pollock.

I have a theory about beards. I bounced my theory off Kelly last night, and she agrees. Men with lots of upper body hair but little hair on their extremities, grow beards more easily than men with lots of hair on their extremities, but little upper body hair. Need I tell you which category I fall into?

I shouldn’t complain. It is something out of my control. All I can do is nothing. So far, that seems to have worked, although I might need two months before this thing fills out. Good thing that winter doesn’t actually start until late December.

I can tell that it is growing, and more than ever before, however. My face does feel more insulated when I walk in the cold. This morning, it even felt like ice might be forming in the moisture collecting in the hair on my face. At night, when I press my face on my pillow, I pause because it seems like there’s something there between my face and my pillow–and there is.

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I keep looking at myself in the mirror to see if I notice any progress. Even in the car, I’ll pull down the mirror under the sun visor and check the progress. I guess that’s because it is a novelty to me.

I will continue to do nothing for another 3-1/2 weeks in the hopes that this thing will start to fill out. I looked online for tips for growing a beard, but like most things online, the tips seemed ridiculous and largely unbelievable.

A few people who’ve seen me asked if I was growing the beard for Movember. I’m growing the beard to stay warm in the winter when I am outdoors. Given my snail’s pace, Movember probably wouldn’t work for me. I’d need Mocember, Manuary as well.


  1. I get it in my head to grow a beard for winter. I live in a place where it gets cold in the winter, and a beard seems like just the thing to keep my face warm.

    Hah! I grew my beard for a similar reason. I started growing it around December 2017, and it took a few weeks for it to start filling out (according to Google Photos). I thought I might take it off for Summer but it didn’t seem to have much of an effect with the Summer heat.

    That said, I have needed to trim it now and then so I don’t look like a wild person …

    1. I keep telling myself I’ll shave it on the first spring morning when I heard both birds, and lawnmowers. But with an entire winter in between, who knows? Growing the beard has been a reminder to me how grateful I am that I am not a Hollywood actor. I’d be in a lot of trouble if the director told me that I needed a beard for the role, and the shooting starts in a month.

      1. The nice thing about it, is that once it’s basically grown, you can just ignore it for the most part, with occasional maintenance. It’s certainly easier to maintain than shaving every day.


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