Fuzz buzz: examining the on-off relationships between celebrity males and their facial hair

BETWEEN a surprise wedding proposal and a heated debate on its attitude towards women, this year’s Rose of Tralee Festival was anything but dull.

Fuzz buzz: examining the on-off relationships between celebrity males and their facial hair

But it’s host Dáithí Ó Sé’s facial hair got everyone talking.

The usually clean-shaven star hit headlines when he turned up to the Dome with whiskers last week.

Meanwhile, across the pond, Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman also left viewers bristling when he debuted a grey beard earlier this month.

From Abraham Lincoln to Che Guevara and, more recently, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt, beards have been coming in and out of fashion for centuries.

So why is a grown man sporting a beard such a “storm in a shaving mug”, as Paxman put it? It’s a chin-scratcher, Dáithí told Feelgood. “It’s very strange that people have taken such an interest in my beard. “At first, they really didn’t like it, but as they’ve gotten more used to it, the tide has turned.

“I’ve had a beard a few times over the years and really like it.

“The bottom line is that if my wife Rita begins to dislike it, it will have to go.”

If a recent study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour is anything to go by he may start trimming it before long.

Researchers in Australia found that women find men with 10-day heavy stubble the most sexually attractive of all.

“Stubble on a younger man can hint at a certain wildness,” says psychotherapist Trish Murphy. “It’s about virility and sexuality.

“The recent trend for beards could be perceived as a backlash against the ‘pretty boy’ look of the noughties.

It could certainly account for why Roscommon actor Chris O’Dowd is rarely seen without a bit of scruff off screen: “I generally have a beard when I’m not working and always have,” he said in a recent interview.

Even squeaky clean TV presenter Craig Doyle has been spotted with a burgeoning beard.

Bearded fashion designer Brendan Courtney says that he simply got sick of shaving.

“Even though I have a beard four years now, people still meet me and say, ‘Oh, you have a beard!’ I’ve always hated wet shaving, so have always had stubble at least.

“I love my beard, but they’ve become very common now,” he adds. “I like to think of myself as a trailblazer in the beard community.

“A beard is the ultimate expression of masculinity. When I grew mine, my stock went through the roof!”

Ironically, the Grizzly Adams look takes time and grooming.

“It takes a lot of effort to look like you’re not making much effort,” says Gavan Glynn of GMALE Urban Spa for Men in Ranelagh. “When you see guys with nice, neat beards, that doesn’t happen naturally.

“We get a lot of guys with both designer stubble and beards. Most just get a trim to leave about a centimetre of hair and take away the prickly feel of the beard. We also shave above and below the beard so it doesn’t look so scraggly.”

Make-up artist Derrick Carberry admits his fashionable facial fuzz takes more work than being clean shaven.

“My beard is my ‘thing’,” says Carberry. “It started out as designer stubble about six years ago before letting it grow. Having a beard is definitely more about fashion than function, as there’s a lot of maintenance.

“My routine is twice weekly: I use beard dye to cover any greys, a razor to shave it into the desired shape and an electric razor to trim the hair. But it’s worth it, especially since I look about 12 without it.”

Ever the perfectionist when it comes to preparing for a movie, Oscar winner Daniel Day Lewis (56) took matters into his own hands for the role of US president Abraham Lincoln. To get the look, he decided to grow his own chinstrap, conceding: “It was a little bit scratchy now and then.”

After growing some grizzle for upcoming movie The Monuments Men, George Clooney (52) joked that it made him look a little too mature: “I was a little surprised how grey it was when it came out. You’re like, ‘What the hell happened?’ I was young once, but now I’m old.”

“A beard can be a very contradictory thing,” says psychotherapist Trish Murphy.

“Whereas a five o’clock shadow is considered sexy on a young man, if that grows into a full beard it can be seen as a bit wooly, a bit outside mainstream society.

“Women want their mate to have a good standing in society. Somewhere in us, we would be thinking: ‘Could this man be a bank manager?’

“It’s hard to trust people if you can’t see their features,” she adds. “But as they get older, men can have beards [because] we trust them more. There’s something very attractive about a grey beard.”

For those thinking of going down the Dáithí route ahead of ‘Movember’ — a fundraiser for prostate and testicular cancer — grooming expert Gavan Glynn has some advice: “It’s better to grow your beard in stages than to just stop shaving and let it go wild.

“Let it grow naturally for about a week, then get it trimmed down and let it grow again until it reaches the desired length.

“Wash it with a gentle face wash like you normally would your face.”

“My advice for grooming is little and often,” says Brendan Courtney. “And use a scissors, not just a clippers.

“If you’ve got a beard or stubble, it’s important to exfoliate as often as possible,” adds Gavan, “especially since you’re not shaving, which removes any dead skin cells.

“Finally, use a light moisturiser that’s not too oily to keep your beard looking it’s best.”

* www.LennonCourtney.com

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