To shave or not to shave? Meet the Dubai residents balancing big beards with face masks
Eleven purveyors of sizeable facial hair share tips on keeping their beards under wraps
Growing and maintaining a sizeable beard requires a certain level of commitment. There's the itchiness and cleanliness to contend with, in addition to the daily challenge of at least pretending to have some semblance of control over said facial follicles.
The rigours of sporting a significant thatch of facial hair have increased considerably since wearing face masks became mandatory in public in the UAE. So The National's Chris Whiteoak photographed 11 bearded Dubai residents in their masks, and spoke to them about dealing with their bristles over the searing summer months, the optimal positioning of a mask over voluminous facial hair and what prompted them to grow their beards in the first place.
Some beards appear to have emerged purely by accident, while others, such as the one Shayan Pervaiz, 40, sports, were purposefully cultivated as a response to the pandemic.
“It was a statement I was making as a protest against the rapid spread of Covid-19 at the time, which could be curtailed by something as simple as everyone being responsible and vigilant,” says the Afghan national, who plans to continue growing his beard until global travel returns to “normal(ish)” levels.
Some of our subjects smother their beards in oils, balms and jellies, while others let nature take its course, only stopping to de-fuzz every few months. And many have had to adopt new strategies now that masks have become a permanent over-beard fixture, especially when there’s an onset of itching.
“If no one's looking, I have a good, full-on rough bear-style scratch,” says Keith Dallison, 59, a voice-over artist, video editor, and 50-plus model and actor. “But when one is in company, one has to refrain and be more subtle by striking the thinking pose and letting your fingers sort the problem."
And how far are they willing to let things go? For some, partner pressure appears to be the only thing holding those follicles in check. Others have more random metrics for acceptable length. “Resting on my chest is about as long as I could get away with, I think,” says British sales manager, Stuart Forrester, 45.
Updated: September 8, 2020 10:50 AM