Meet the District Beardsmen – a group of gentlemen in the Washington, D.C. area that I brought together for this photo project. They are a random mix of tech dudes, hip-hop performers, party animals, and artists. Coming in as strangers prior to the shoot, it was cool to see them interact with each other. It wasn’t long berfore they were trading beard grooming tips and sharing their various art forms.
As a fairly new beardsman myself, I took great pride in gathering these fellows for this project. I can identify with their journeys, as this is my third beard since mid-2012. I kept cutting it off, because I didn’t know how to groom it properly. Before I started grooming it a little, it looked really crazy. The reason I let it grow, when I did, was because I discovered how much time I saved by not having to shave my face 2-3 times each week.
Now that I have the beard and have developed some grooming habits, it has become almost a ritual, connecting me to my masculinity. Having and growing a beard is a big part of maturing. It makes you feel like a full-grown man – a masculine man. Beards scream aggression and masculinity. They demand respect, and make you feel well-refined and cultured. Not every man can grow one, so I’m thankful I’m able to experience it. My beard isn’t completely connected, but it’s slowly making its way.
Here are the various beard journeys of the District Beardsmen:
I’ve been seriously bearding for a little more than a year. Prior to that, I would finesse the goatee, the faint beard, and even the pretty boy chinstrap. One day, a barber gave me the greatest bad haircut ever. The day was December 20th, 2013. I had asked for a fade and a full line-up to include the beard. This barber came highly recommended, so I didn’t even analyze his work. It wasn’t until hours later that I walked by a mirror and noticed he’d rounded the corner of my beard within about 2 inches from my jawline. I was forced to shave everything except my mustache. That was the day I vowed that nobody was touching my beard again.
It’s been a fun journey since growing out my beard. I love my look and how the bearded community continues to uplift each other. I’ve met many new people this past year, and I’ve ventured into new things. I truly believe my beard has brought me wisdom. My strength is in my beard.
I started growing my beard during the winter of 2013. Typically, I grow out my beard in the winter, then shave it off in the summer, but this time I decided to keep it. I grew to really appreciate it, not only because of the attention I received, but it complements my bald head! I wash my beard once a week, comb it out every day with my old school afro pic, and I moisturize with beard oil which is amazing! My wife always compliments me on how sparkly my beard looks afterwards.
My beard has grown with me and has gone through many stages in my life. I have been with my wife for 11 years, we have 2 kids, and 1 on the way. My beard is my own and helps me maintain my own identity, outside of the husband and daddy role.
Event Promoter/Big “E”ntertainment / Bus Operator/WMATA(Metro)
I’ve been wearing a full beard off and on since 2001. My barber is from Philly (Dannon Cook at Like That Barber Shop), so he has all the best tricks when it comes to beards. My daily regimen is simple. I wash my beard every morning, use shea butter, and pick my beard out.
My most memorable moment was when I cut all my facial hair off. For some reason, I wanted to try something new. I went to my mom’s house and she told me, “Don’t ever come in my house looking like that ever again.” So trust and believe I’ll never cut all my facial hair off again!
I have been wearing a beard ever since I could grow a healthy one. My father is a tattoo artist and has always had interesting facial hair. When I was finally able to grow a masterpiece, I asked him how he chose styles for his facial hair. He shared with me that his beard is one thing that sets him apart and makes him unique compared with other artists. I took this to heart. The last time I walked into my pop’s tattoo studio was around Thanksgiving of last year. Everyone looked over and was saying, “Damn Martin, we can tell he’s your son, look at his unique facial hair.” It was amazing to get that reaction, but what was even better was that after pops saw my mustache and beard shaped up really well, he told me that he’s going to grow out his mustache in the same style. Now tell me, wouldn’t that make you feel accomplished knowing that your father wants to repeat your style? It did for me.
Today, some consider the beard a trend. I disagree because it’s always been my style. As a hip hop artist, I’ve been compared to every well-known artist with a long beard – starting with Freeway, Rick Ross, and most recently Stalley. I get it, but the beard has become a part of my music and brand.
It took me a long time to grow facial hair (2009 to current) and even longer to finally find a barber to maintain it. My barber is Barber Buff from Maryland. He’s very meticulous when it comes to my beard. At each weekly visit he washes, blow dries, and shapes it. Clippers, a razor, and scissors are used during this process.
My beard has become a part of me and I can’t imagine my face without it. My goal is to have a full, healthy and thick beard. My advice to anyone who wants to grow a beard is to be patient, find a good barber, and have a simple, but healthy regimen.
I started to grow my beard out about six years ago. At the time, I just had my second kid, changed jobs, and stopped eating meat. It was the beginning of a new chapter for me. My beard represents growth and the quest to be a better person. It symbolizes a commitment to be a better father, husband, brother, and son. I get it trimmed once a year and shaped up twice a month. For grooming, I normally use different beard oils during different seasons. I use citrus scents in the summer and more earth tone scents like sandalwood in the fall and winter months.
My two-year old son is obsessed with my beard. I think he wants one. He often pulls and tugs at it when I put him to bed at night. My wife prefers my beard when it is longer and gets upset when I trim it. She likes the different beard oils I use. I love my beard, it has become a part of my look and my overall style.
This is my third beard. I grew the first one when a college friend was deployed to Iraq. I told him that I would not shave until he returned. Upon his return, I chopped it off, but a few months later, he was deployed again. Needless to say, the cycle was repeated. I grew my current beard because I missed the look. Now, it’s a part of my brand. I guess you can say, “It grew on me.”
I’ve been able to grow facial hair since about 17, but could never maintain a full beard until I was 24. The first time I actually grew a beard was in the winter of 2012. I decided on a whim that I was going to stop shaving and see what happened. As my beard grew longer, I got more and more compliments. In the spring of 2013, I shaved because it was getting hot and I was tired of constantly rubbing it. I regretted the decision.
In the fall of 2014, after much persuasion by my best friend, I decided to grow my beard back. In order to keep it from going completely wild, I use scissors to trim it every couple of weeks. I try to refrain from touching it as much as possible so it doesn’t get coated in unwanted oils. I often steal some of my girlfriend’s Alba Botanica conditioner when I shower to clean and moisturize my beard. While it’s still damp, I rub in some Beardbrand Tree Ranger oil. This regimen keeps my beard smooth and natural.
I don’t plan on letting my beard grow crazy long, but I do plan on keeping it for the foreseeable future. Having a beard makes me stand out; which as an artist is a great thing.
About the Author & photographer:
LaVan Anderson is a Washington, DC based self-taught photographer, and graphic designer, with a BFA in Media Arts and Computer Animation. You can view more of his work here: http://www.everydaylavan.com/
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