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5 years, 7 months and 19 days……that’s how long I’d had a beard before beards and COVID masks became an issue.

That’s 2,058 days! That also happens to be the age of my second born son Ben. Granted it’s not as long as some guys, Santa for example has had a beard since the age of 12, and Hagrid was clearly born with one! (Although neither have had the issue of their beards and COVID masks!) But still it feels like a long time to me. And it’s always been a full beard – no goatee’s or solo moustaches here or other beard styles. Which is why having to shave it all off would be quite tough for me. Then beards and COVID masks happened!

“Santa for example has had a beard since the age of 12, and Hagrid was clearly born with one!”

But, never the less, that is exactly what I have had to do recently. You see I am also a full time nurse. Normally I work in the operating theatre but with the arrival of COVID-19 I have had to transfer part of my time to ICU and help care for COVID positive patients. Obviously this involves a lot of personal protective equipment – including properly fitted face masks. And beards and COVID masks just don’t work; (these are FFP2 filter masks, not standard surgical masks and you have to have a seal) so the beard had to go for my safety and my patients. At a time when everybody is growing a beard I have had to shave mine off!

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But of course I couldn’t just let it go without causing a fuss and having some fun! So, I reached out to all the Beardsmith followers on social media and had a little competition to see what beard styles I should trim it down too. This also led to a little fundraiser once I got to the final stage before being fully clean shaven – more on this in a bit.

Beards and COVID masks - Circle beard/Walter White
So here is step 1 – The Walter White! As you can see I look pretty shocked already!
Beards and COVID masks - Van Dyke
Step 2 was a Van Dyke beard! I’m kinda liking this one and getting into the swing of things. I have to say (gratuitous plug here!!) that my skin as i’m shaving down is amazing!!! Not a blemish, spot or dry patch anywhere – thank goodness Beardsmith products really work!
Beards and COVID masks
Little bonus Step 3 here – Not sure what its called? Maybe a Soul Man?

Straight onto the final step before being clean shaven, and this is the style that was most voted for…..its the Magnum P.I!

Beards and COVID masks - Solo Moustache

I absolutely would never normally wear a moustache and it does feel pretty strange! Snapped a couple of photo’s for a bit of fun….

Beards and COVID masks - Magnum P.I
It’s The Selleck!!
Beards and COVID masks - Freddy Mercury
And my personal favourite the Freddy Mercury!

Strangely enough people kept telling me to keep it! So I decided that if I could raise a small bit of money for my local dog and animal shelter I would keep it for 1 day…..very foolish thing to do! Within 5 minutes I’d raised that and more! So I ended up making over 500 euro for them and keeping the moustache for 4 days! Not what I’d expected but brilliant to raise some money for a great charity. The only problem was I was starting to like the look! It also turns out I could pull off a mean Freddy Mercury!

Beards and COVID masks - Reality!
So, after some strange (and increasingly worried) looks from my wife I finished the process and went clean shaven…….that’s COVID mask marks over my head, nose and cheeks – just evidence that the new clean shaven face did the job!

I’ve now been clean shaven for a few weeks and am having to maintain it. I’ve had to buy razors and shave cream. I’m not a particularly happy bunny about it, but needs must and I’m looking forwards to growing out my beard again when things settle down in the hospital. And if anybody else is planning to grow a beard in the near future – first or otherwise, I will probably do a photo diary to help explain the different stages, what to expect and things you can do to help get through the awkward stages. (If you think this would be a good idea leave a comment below and i’ll try to find a way for us all to grow in tandem!)

“I’m looking forwards to growing out my beard again when things settle down in the hospital.”

So what have I learnt from this? Well first up, I can actually pull off various beard styles!! I can definitely see me changing up my beard styles more regularly in the future – and most definitely the moustache will make a reappearance at some point…..who knew (just don’t tell my wife)!!

Secondly, different beard styles are great fun, it’s not necessarily being bearded that matters – I’ve never been one for saying this is the fashion and this is the style so this is what you must do.

“Clean shaven or bearded we all have to have our own style and be comfortable in our own look.”

Men have a lot more flexibility in there looks nowadays, beards seemed to have settled in nicely over the past few years – it’s not that men now have to have a beard to be cool, or have to be clean shaven to look professional. It’s more about individual style and making your look work. Society and fashion are reflecting this diversity more and more and that is a great thing! Men don’t need to all look the same.

“Beardsmith stands for something more….being comfortable with yourself and making grooming fit in with your life.”

A lot of beard care brands say GROW a BEARD to be a man….but Beardsmith stands for something more I like to think. Style, fashion and good grooming yes, but more importantly being comfortable with yourself and making your grooming fit in with your life.

Which is why the question of beards and COVID masks ended up NOT being a tough decision for me. I’m comfortable with who I am and how I look – I prefer to have a beard, but not if it puts me, my family and my patients at risk! I’m already looking forwards to growing the beard back – but i’ll enjoy the change while it lasts! And in the future if the question of beards and COVID masks rears its head again (Hopefully it wont!!) I’ll make the same decision again!

Bearded man hiking on the Wild Atlantic Way

4 Comments

  • Val Centeno says:

    Great article Matt!! I’ve had to do the same but we’ll get back to it someday. Cheers!

  • Smith Charles says:

    Great blog, Matt. Thanks for the plug. Cutting my beard is out of the question . Being a “real bearded Santa” comes natural to me. Like you said, I’ve always had facial hair. I have NEVER cut my mustache, EVER. Don’t know how you got up the nerve to do it, but I understand. One of our finest surgical techs passed away last week from the Covid 19. I’m sure that they practice safe medical practices, they’ve been locked down since March. Here in NE Texas, we have huge refineries that produce odorless gases that if breathed are instant death. I know some of the guys that work there and ALL have to be clean shaven to wear the gas masks . So, I know that wearing a mask probably doesn’t do much good with this long Santa beard. I still wear one for other people , not for myself. Stay well, Brother. Keep telling yourself “It will grow back”.

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