After 24 months of unrestricted beard growing it is still the beginning of the journey…

SAMSUNG CSCThat may seem a ridiculous statement but bear with me as I attempt to clarify. Twenty four months ago, sporting a freshly shaved head and face, I made the decision to never cut any hair growing anywhere on my body. I became involved in beard research.After about six months I joined a beard forum and was diligent in reporting month to month changes. The first year was a year of adjustments, major changes in appearance, and discovering a terrific group of bearded men, enthused, curious, as well experienced beard growers willing to share, mentor, and encourage every man to discover the benefits of razor freedom. Check out the Beard Board. The yeard, or twelve month untrimmed beard was a great milestone and the first real test of dedication and commitment. Make it through that first year and things get easier because one is established as bearded among friends and family. Making it through the holiday get togethers, job interviews, marriages, and other major life events that can put pressure to shave on high. Without some kind of beard support many good men cave to the pressure and then experience regret about trimming or shaving their beards. This is the freshman year. Make it past that and the focus changes. I am speaking now to the full natural beard growers. There are many men who choose a neat beard and hair style for them and maintain that style over the years or enjoy exchanging different styles of head hair and facial hair combinations. Many signature looks have come out of this practice. For the purpose of this blog we will stay focused strictly on the full, natural, untrimmed journey to terminal length. There are many great sites for grooming and styling tips and support if that is your choice. There is no condemnation here toward trimmers, I used to be one myself, and any facial hair is better than none. I saw a T-shirt that says – There is a name for people without beards – ……WOMEN. I got a kick out of that.

During the second growing  year the beard reporting tapered off, 3 month, then 6 month, intervals seemed too shot. The beard became natural and less of an oddity with fewer changes to report. The time between my last, eighteen month, report and this one went by in the blink of an eye and not a great deal of noticeable change. Now my sophomore beard year is completed. I have earned an associate beard degree and happily enter my junior and senior years progressing toward terminal length. At this point I find many overachieving hairs two or three inched ahead of the flock. Those hairs are very adventurous, exploring on their own and ending up caught in, or soaked in, or covered with whatever may be within their extended reach. Like a toddler learning to walk can explore himself  into danger, beard precautions must be taken to prevent injury.

I am hopefully looking forward to having the longest beard in any room, a goal admittedly many years away, which is why I feel like I am still at the beginning of the journey. I do concede that, in fact, my journey is well begun, but subjectively still feel closer to the beginning than the end at this point.

2 Years

2 Years

This next year will be revealing and already I may be adjusting my expectations. While there are many hairs exuberantly growing past the bulk it is the bulk that I would like to see continue growing with some force. The length from lower lip to bottom of beard is more difficult to determine. I’ll call it 14″ at this point thicker at 13″ and a few hairs at 16″. It is natural for some hairs to grow faster and why a trim of those overachievers makes the beard look fuller. Since trimming is not an option for me anymore the wispy end of my beard calls for subjective measurements. So I excluded the longest hairs from the measurements but there are some really long ones at every location measured. Here is a reasonable account of the length – sideburns 9″, eyebrows 3″, top of head 12″,chin 11″,cheeks 8″ jawsides 12″, lower lip 1.75″, upper lip 1.5″ mouth corner 4″, lower lip to bottom 14″.

So the facial hair is still gaining length but thinning at the extremes. The head hair, on the other hand is growing solid and thick in spite of losing several comb-fulls every day.

Have added some Hemp oil to my blend of  jojoba, argan, castor oil blend. I have read some good things about Hemp oil and it does have a nice nutty taste for salads as well.

My favorite beard soap is still Alcatraz Rock Beard Bar but I also rotate among other natural soap products and never use shampoo.

I am happy to see more and more men wearing beards and would encourage all men to let their beards grow as well.

Drivers License

Drivers License

I had a friend comment to me the other day that he had forgotten what I looked like so I showed him my drivers license picture.  The person in that picture no longer exists. The old picture always causes  some issues when I present that license  for identification and the license won’t be renewed until 2016.  Anyway, it is obvious that growing a beard changes a man significantly. Beyond the physical appearance there are changes that occur inside the man. Changes in how the world is perceived and felt. The beard is comforting and warm against the cold of winter winds protecting it’s master from harsh elements. It provides personal security somewhat difficult to articulate due to its subjective nature but nevertheless real. The thought just occurred to me that  the beard is an identity thief. Growing a beard takes away your previous identity, removes facial recognition and gives the grower a fresh start. It requires patience and perseverance but like a wonderful witness protection plan you will be given a new identity over time. The longer you stay in the beard’s plan the more comfortable it becomes and while there is always the option to trim, shape or shave, that option becomes less desirable due to the deep bond and relationship that develops between the beard and the man.  If you want to completely change your life grow a beard and make a commitment to that beard. Many commitments start with three months or six months and there is a great deal of support available at the beard board to help you get through the awkward stages of early beard growth. Many a man gives up too soon because they see what appears to be a patchy thin beard and don’t think they could ever possibly grow anything presentable and usually they are wrong about that. There are many documented cases to be found that will encourage you to stay the course and see the amazing transformation that awaits your patiently resisting the temptation to shave. Really, after all, the only requirement to grow a beard is to stop shaving it off. That’s all I had to do and I am very content knowing I will never have to shave again.

Thank you for checking in and thinking about growing your own masterpiece. Beard on….

24 months Nov. 22, 2014

24 months Nov. 22, 2014

18 Month Beard and Hair Growth update

Today makes one and a half years of no shaving, trimming, cutting, or plucking any hair that grows on my body. Nothing major to report these last six months, just a continued acclimation and subtle length increases. Longer head hair has become more noticeable now than the beard requiring more grooming time due to its’ thickness and propensity for knots.

18 months 5.22.14

18 months 5.22.14

 

Hair has natural curls

Hair has natural curls

In keeping with the tradition and relative scientific value here are the rough measurements after 18 months of growing. Remember this was after starting with a completely shaved head and face.

Sideburns       8″

Eyebrows        2″

Top of Head  10″

Chin                 9.5″

Neck                10″

Cheeks              6″

Jawsides         11″

Lower Lip        1.5″

Upper Lip        1.25″

Mouth Corner  3″

Lower Lip to Bottom of beard 12″ – Yes I suppose now I can say it is a footlong beard.

A few more pictures…

5.22.14 Right3  5.22.14 Under

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.22.14 Right2 5.22.14 Front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having the beard is very natural and the last six growing months have not even seemed worthy of writing about. Naturally I still am impatient to discover the terminal length of all my hair, but in the meantime, life continues. I still inspire the occasional Santa comments from people but driving my smart fortwo probably garners more attention than the beard. During the first year of beard growing I was updating every month and very Larry & Smart  involved with beard forums and beard products, and beard competitions all of which were fine and fun. Now after 18 months I seem less interested in hair and hair growth. I don’t think I have the necessary competition worthy beard genes and that suits me just fine as I don’t really like to show off anyway. I am still interested in the beard competitions and happy the beard is making headway into the mainstream. Growing the beard was more like coming out as someone – in my case a bearded man. Now that I am a bearded man I can go on with other interests. Life is not all about the beard anymore but life with the beard is clearly a better life for me. The ups and downs of daily life seem tempered by the beard. It gives balance, continuity, and yes, strength to my life.  As a man of faith, which is the substance of things unseen, I continue to enjoy the blessings of life as they manifest. I have seen improvements and experienced setbacks, but as the beard grows, so do I. I continue to recommend growing a beard or, I should say, I recommend stopping shaving for a time allowing the man to experience bearded life. After a while you will realize it is a natural way for a man to live. So natural, in fact, there will hardly be anything to write about….

Here is the Yeard

Yeard6In the beard community ( a community with a lot of new growth recently, pun intended) the term “yeard” refers to a beard that has been growing, untrimmed, for twelve months, one year. So one year beard = yeard. There is some ongoing yeard controversy regarding trimming, shaping, necklines, cheek lines, as to when is a yeard not a yeard. As for me, I started with a completely shaved head Last November and have not shaved, trimmed, or cut, a single hair off my head.  I have lost many hairs in the comb, however, more from my head than my beard, and continue to shed hairs daily. It is normal to shed hair so if you experience a lot of hair in your comb, don’t worry about it too much.

My goal is to experience “terminal length” but that may be a misnomer because hair growth involves three phases. According to wikipedia, so it may be “terminal time” and protecting hair as it grows that determines one’s ultimate overall length. Beard hair and head hair are obviously two different types of hair. Personally, I notice beard hair grows faster than head hair. I also noticed that some hair is thicker. Using a digital caliper I found my head hair to be thinner than beard hair, with eyebrow and mustache hair thicker than chin hair. Obviously, there is plenty of time available when growing a long beard.

This is a cut and paste from Wikipedia;

“Hair follows a specific growth cycle with three distinct and concurrent phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen phases. Each phase has specific characteristics that determine the length of the hair. All three phases occur simultaneously; one strand of hair may be in the anagen phase, while another is in the telogen phase.

The body has different types of hair, including vellus hair and androgenic hair, each with its own type of cellular construction. The different construction gives the hair unique characteristics, serving specific purposes, mainly warmth and protection.”

I would add the beard does far more on many subjective levels. Growing a long natural beard brings a new perceived identity to a man and can overshadow all other personality traits. A natural disguise, or camo that designates a long bearded man into one of only a few categories available to the general public, processing the unusual appearance regardless of who the individual is behind the beard. This public perception is slowly changing as more men make the commitment to longer natural beards and work in a greater variety of occupations.  I have noticed recently more beards in TV advertising spots.

Anyway, now that I have completed my Freshman beard year, I think my analogy to a university degree will work for the next three growing years and then I may have to continue to graduate school if the beard is still growing longer. After four years with no trimming, a bachelor of beard term,  graduates should proudly display a very long beard diploma. We need more men enrolled in this life changing course. The first year commitment is probably the most difficult to complete and there are many dropouts for various personal reasons. I am very pleased to be starting my sophomore beard year now but also impatient to graduate.

The beard comments I receive now are positive, mostly references to Santa Claus.  I have had to pose with a stranger for a picture, now posted on Ramona’s facebook page so she could tell her nine year old “Santa came early”. I met Ramona, who was in charge of a hospital holding area, while my wife was in the ER for testing. Also met a man working transport who has been growing his very nice Amish style  beard since February. He stopped my forward progress as my wife was wheeled away from me toward radiology. He said keeping the mustache shaved helped him look cleaner for the hospital environment. After several minutes of conversation he helped me access through the restricted hospital maze card scanners to catch up with my wife and went on his way.  We had many laughs with nurses and technicians  in a normally stressful and somewhat depressing ER hospital situation. The beard was very useful in creating a much lighter atmosphere and cheering up other patients. One who boldly told me she wanted a new car for Christmas.

So here are some pictures of the yeard.

One year Nov. 2013

One year Nov. 2013

Yeard4  Yeard6

Since I started with a completely shaved head I have been taking periodic measurements from various locations on my head. It is interesting to see the different growth rates. These are the results after the first year. Remember your results may vary.

Top of Heard 6 1/2 inches
Eyebrows 2 1/4 inches
Sideburns 6 inches
Cheeks 4 inches
Upper lip 1 1/2 inches
Lower lip 1 1/2 inches
Mouth corner 4 inches
Jaw sides 8 inches
Chin 7 inches
Neck 8 inches
Competition measure length lower lip to bottom of beard is 9 inches or .075 inches per month for the first 12 months average.

Beard on….

Eleven Month Beard, plus Beard Protection Tip 1 and Tip 2

Here is my almost eleven month beard in a demo of how to use a T shirt and elastic headband to protect your hair and beard.

 

 

Tip 2

The mustache cup did not really work well for me and I wanted something to use at the Waffle House so I bought some 1/4 inch copper tubing, cut to lengths, polished and cleaned. I carry the small copper straw with me all the time. It works great to stir and drink hot liquids while keeping my stash dry. Cut a longer section for milkshakes.

Copper Straw 2Copper Straw

The large diameter makes cleaning easy using a twisted paper napkin to run through the inside of the straw.

Beard on….

Ten Months with a Quack Quack here and a Quack Quack there…

Thumbs Up Ten months

Thumbs Up Ten months

DuckCommander

Calling on Ducks

Calling  all  Beards

Phil

Philwithcall

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Phil Robertson, an intelligent, athletic, Louisiana man of faith, former commercial fisherman, founder of Duck Commander, star of Duck Dynasty, who is aligned with the Christian fathers of the United States of America, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others, created a better duck call and sold them to hunters while spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil was a  starting college quarterback, became a teacher, then commercial fisherman, outdoorsman and then invented a duck call that could command the ducks. Duck Commander was born.  Phil believes in being grateful for, and living off the land. He is raising his children and grandchildren to believe in the goodness of God and to love everyone. His story and testimony is now reaching millions of people each week through the A&E television show Duck Dynasty. This month’s beard update is a tribute to this great man, Phil Robertson.

Next month we will be talking about a few long beard challenges and unusual solutions. A way to enjoy a hot cup of coffee even with a large mustache, and how to protect your beard when sanding and grinding metal or spray painting.

Comb of the month is the 1637 Hercules Sagemann  480. This hard rubber comb is becoming more and more pleasing as my hair gets longer. The name link is to a German YouTube video of the Hercules Sagemann comb factory in Germany.

Beard on…

1637 Hercules Sagemann 480 Comb

1637 Hercules Sagemann 480 Comb

Nine Months is Neptune, King of the Sea Beards

Today is nine months of hair growth without any trimming. The theme is King Neptune. Since I do not live by the ocean I could not get the shot I would have imagined there hence the blue tint.

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Out of the Mist

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Hair is wet because Neptune just rose out of the sea and the kingly trident? Well it is a couple of wooden garden stakes and a baluster hot glued together. King on a very tight budget.