More and more men are choosing to grow a beard, something that was once considered highly unprofessional. But you may be wondering, are beards professional?
Whether or not a beard is considered professional depends mainly on the industry. While many workplaces are accepting of beards nowadays, some are not, usually due to safety or hygiene concerns.
Also, even workplaces that accept the bearded look will not allow men to keep wild beards that have not been groomed. A few stereotypes about beards still exist in the workplace, and you must commit to maintaining a well-groomed beard to be viewed as a professional.
Keep reading to learn more about some industries that do and do not consider beards professional, as well as how to maintain a professional beard and avoid negative stereotypes in the industries that allow them.
Industries Where Beards Are Considered Professional
Barbers and tattoo artists were some of the first men to wear a beard in their professions. Barbers can showcase their skills by keeping a well-groomed beard, and tattoo artists can demonstrate that both beards and tattoos can be professional.
While you may have to wear a hairnet, chefs and servers are usually allowed to maintain a beard these days. Bartenders can also look dignified with a beard and without having to wear the hairnet.
Men that work in the healthcare and sales fields may have beards. People tend to view these men as older and more experienced, so they may even be more likely to trust them.
Many mechanics have beards, which might even protect their faces from debris that may land on them while they are underneath a vehicle.
Essentially, the vast majority of industries in the modern era are accepting of beards.
What matters more is how well-maintained and groomed they are. A tidy, regularly-brushed, and clean beard with well-defined cheek lines and necklines is rarely going to cause trouble in most workplaces.
On the other hand, an untidy, poorly-kept, greasy beard may actually cause you some grief and potentially even a meeting with HR in those same workplaces.
Having said all this, there are certain fields and workplaces where beards of any length may, in fact, be considered unprofessional.
Industries Where Beards Are Considered Unprofessional
“Unprofessional”, “unacceptable”, whatever you want to call it – in some industries beards will most likely not be tolerated.
Any men who wish to join the military, the police force, or a firefighting squad must usually be clean-shaven.
For each of these professions, being clean-shaven ensures that you are following good hygiene practices and that no facial hair will get in the way of protective face equipment.
The US military does have quite specific rules for what length of facial hair they would potentially tolerate.
It isn’t long – ¼ – ⅛ inch beards are usually the maximum length.
Another field in which beards may not be considered professional are the stricter corporate workplaces.
The banking industry does come to mind. Strict dress codes and facial hair policies may line up well with the diligent work ethic they look to nurture.
But there’s another factor that does come into play when figuring out whether or not a beard will be considered “professional” in a particular industry.
Let’s talk about it.
Age, Beards, And Professionalism
It’s important to mention the importance of age and generational differences in how beards are perceived in the workplace.
Although this is a generalization, in general, more traditional professional industries where the employers are predominantly older are less forgiving when it comes to facial hair.
Beards are far more likely to be found in workplaces dominated by the younger generations. It’s just more acceptable now than it was a few decades ago.
This is something to bear in mind. If you’re applying for a job at a tech startup, there’s a good chance your beard will definitely be considered professional or acceptable.
But at a corporate workplace where the bosses are more likely to be older and clean-shaven, you’d probably be better off grabbing for that razor as well.
Long And Full Vs Short Beards And Professionalism
Long and full beards are often harder to make professional-looking than short beards.
If you want to play it safe in whatever field you may be working in, the shorter the better.
Heavy stubble and short beards are rarely going to be considered unprofessional in any workplace. They don’t draw too much attention, and they’re also easier to groom and maintain than longer beards.
Long beards are more likely to draw unwanted attention. Plus, their additional maintenance requirements make them harder to keep tidy in the workplace.
As I mentioned earlier, there may also be some hygiene issues in certain workplaces such as restaurants.
If you’re ever unsure and want to play it safe, start off in a new workplace with a short beard and gradually increase its length over time as you get to know it better.
What Are Some Workplace Stereotypes About Bearded Men?
There are a few workplace stereotypes about beards, but all of these stereotypes can be viewed positively. If you have a beard, others in your industry may think the following:
You Are Assertive
Since beards are often culturally tied to figures of authority, most people will see you as a dominant person in your field. Whether people view you as aggressive or confident might depend on how neatly kept your beard is.
If your beard is wild, people may decide that you are wild or short-tempered. They may also see you as disorganized and unreliable.
Once again, the grooming of your beard is crucial. Whether or not positive or negative stereotypes will be applied depends on it.
You Are Mature
Facial hair hides soft angles and makes most men look older. Due to this, others will think that you are mature, which then leads them to believe you are experienced.
Overall, they will be more likely to trust you. Again, many men in the healthcare and sales fields benefit from this.
A well-groomed beard also suggests that you know how to look after yourself and “have it together”.
This also encourages trust.
You Are Modern
As beards are still fairly new to the workplace, people may praise you for setting trends.
If they think you are modern, they will probably also think you are very resourceful, creative, and think a little differently to the norm.
There’s nothing wrong with “bucking the trend” and standing out in the workplace. The style and shape of your beard may even help set you apart.
If your beard is in poor shape, though, colleagues and employers might just label you an outsider or eccentric. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – originality is encouraged.
But it would be foolish to suggest that the opinions of others don’t matter when it comes to succeeding in the workplace. The fact that you’re reading this article suggests you understand that too.
How Should a Beard Be Maintained to Be Professional?
To be seen as a professional, there are a few steps you should take to keep your beard well-groomed. Professional men with beards will benefit from the following things:
Keep It Trimmed
Keeping your beard trimmed is very important. Like the hair on your head, trimming it keeps your beard looking happier by removing strays and split-ends. Trims keep your beard neat, which is a critical part of looking professional.
Keep It Washed
Most professionals advise that you wash your beard whenever you shower, so probably at least once a day. To wash your beard thoroughly, use shampoo or body wash on it and rinse it well. If you do not want to do this in the shower, it can be done over a sink.
While it is not required to use them, beard shampoos do exist if you want to make sure that your beard looks extra classy.
But beware of using beard shampoo too much. Natural sebum oil is important for keeping the beard well-moisturized and also gives it a nice, gentle sheen.
Overusing beard shampoo will simply dry it out which can make a beard look weak and lifeless.
Use shampoo once or twice a week at a maximum. Wash your beard with water daily, however, as this will almost always be enough to do the trick.
Use Proper Tools
The beard grooming market is huge these days with a countless number of toys and tools you could potentially try out.
But keep it simple. You don’t need much.
Get yourself a boar bristle beard brush and get into the habit of brushing your beard daily once you have around 3-4 weeks of growth.
Beard oil is also great for keeping moisturizing and nourishing the beard hair and the underlying skin. Once again, use it daily.
To keep your beard trimmed correctly, use a beard trimmer that comes with several different guards. One specific guard will not always be right, especially in places where your hair grows thicker or thinner.
Varying the length slightly based on the thickness of the facial hair is a great way to get a very natural-looking trim.
In addition, using beard scissors instead of an electric trimmer will allow you to get a lot more precise with it. Being able to snip stray hairs that stick out as the beard grows longer is very powerful.
It’ll prevent you from trimming too much, as is often the risk of using electric trimmers.
Take a Comb To Work
Combs are really only useful once you have around eight weeks’ worth of growth. Before that, using a brush alone would be enough.
But once you’ve got enough growth, the benefits of beard combing definitely become clear.
They’re great for detangling and styling beards once they become long enough. The teeth of a comb are longer than the bristles of a brush.
Plus, they’re handy. It’s a great tool to take with you to work to help you style on the go.
There will be times when your beard gets messy, whether you mess with it a lot, eat lunch between working or experience strong winds. Keeping a comb on you will allow you to maintain and fix your beard all throughout the day.
Although beards were once viewed as a taboo in the professional world, they, as with tattoos, are becoming more and more accepted.
Some industries are more accepting than others. There are also stereotypes about beards that may be viewed positively or negatively.
Men in most industries can typically sport a beard, as long as they are well-maintained.
In contrast, men in the military, police, or firefighting squads often can’t have proper beards for health and safety concerns. Light stubble is usually all they can get away with (if that).
Other workplaces typically allow the interviewer to make a choice about hiring or turning away bearded men. In general, younger people are more accepting of beards.
If your workplace allows for beards, so long as you keep it properly trimmed and washed, there is no reason why you wouldn’t be seen as an assertive, mature, and modern professional.