What A Man's Facial Hair Says About Him, According To A Beard Scholar

11/07/2013 12:11 pm ET | Updated Sep 06, 2015
  • Dana Oliver Executive Fashion And Beauty Editor, The Huffington Post

man's facial hair
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Fellas, we know that we can be a bit judgmental, but first impressions are the most lasting. That's why we feel it is our obligation to point out when the hem length of your suit is all wrong or to run in the opposite direction when we detect Merrells on your feet. And whether you realize it or not, your facial hair also says a lot about you.

The editors here at HuffPost Style have a strong attraction to scruffy-faced guys (read: Ryan Gosling) because they appear to be the most easygoing and laid-back. However, after recently chatting with Allan Peterkin, a pogonologist (aka beard scholar), Dove Men+Care facial grooming expert and author, the confidence of a mustache-wearing male like "Sons of Anarchy" star Charlie Hunnam is turning us on.

Does this facial hair expert have you all figured out?*

Full Beard

george clooney

An "older" man's beard. "I think the association for a lot of people is that it's scholarly beard, or academics often have those beards," says Peterkin. "Full beards also have religious associations (think of Moses or Jesus). So that one comes with a lot of historical weight. It's a bit of an old-fashioned style but we certainly see young men wearing it these days."

Goatee

brad pitt

A man who's stuck in the past. "This [facial hair style] hit in the mid-1990s. It was a bit of a statement then, but it's sort of become the overly done expression. Some men still wear it, but one guy I interviewed said, 'If your dad and your dentist still have goatees, it's time to change your look,'" says Peterkin.

Scruffy/Stubble

ryan gosling

A man who is up on the latest trends. "If you just scan men's magazines -- Esquire, GQ, etc. -- probably every one to three ads have a guy with stubble as the main expression. Sometimes you see it superimposed with a mustache on top or with bigger side burns, but stubble is sort of the base," says Peterkin. "The only misconception is that people think that it's easy and you just roll out of bed. But you do have to maintain it."

Sideburns

jemaine clement

A man who likes to have fun. "Everyone thinks of Elvis when they think side burns. I think college campuses and hipsters in Brooklyn are where men experiment with it the most. It's a playful look," says Peterkin.

Chinstrap

50 cent

A man making a pathetic cry for attention. Peterkin says, "It's for a guy who wants to push the envelope and also wants to be asked about his facial hair. Everything has been done under the sun, so I think men are sort of looking for what's the thing that they don't see on their street or in their workplace."

Mustache

thomas lennon

A man who is a bit cocky. "Historically, it's had the baddest rap of all the facial hair expressions. Then in the '70s, the mustache took on a sexual connotation -- there was the swinger mustache, the porn mustache and then the gay/bisexual mustache," says Peterkin. "The mustache comes with all that baggage, but it's eased up recently because of charity movements like Movember. I think younger guys who wear it are confident enough to believe that you can read their mustache in any way and not really care."

Horseshoe Mustache

hulk hogan

A man who is rebellious. "This one was always thought of as the biker mustache and then the wrestler. Or whenever a famous person like Hulk Hogan adopts the style, it becomes associated with him," says Peterkin.

Handlebar Mustache

david beckham

A man with a pleasant personality. "We think of barbershop quartets, southern gentleman and the famous baseball player Rollie Fingers... this sort of old fashion, sipping tea on the porch kind of association," says Peterkin.

Soul Patch

howie mandel

A man who is a bit off-beat. "During both both World Wars, men particularly in America were clean-shaven. Then every decade after, there was a little pocket of facial hair," says Peterkin. "In the '50s, beatniks had soul patches, and then hippies adopted the look in the '60s."

Mutton Chops

lemmy kilmister

A gentleman with a big heart. "What comes to mind for me is a Victorian gentleman with a monocle or the a general in the North called 'Burnside.' But it's a very Victorian expression," says Peterkin.

Clean-Shaven

jake gyllenhaal

A man who is a bit preppy. Peterkin says, "Before, men used to be wed to a look, it was a life-long expression and not a fad. I think young men are going back and forth between having some sort of facial hair and now going clean-shaven. I think men are freer to do that than before. And I predict that we're going to go back to that 'Mad Men,' clean-shaven look."

*In the past, Dr. Peterkin acknowledges that a man's facial hair would say a lot about him. "You could read his politics, read his religion and read his class. But in sort of the late 20th and mid-21st century, you can't really know what the facial hair means unless you ask the guy," he explained. "We all project meaning onto beards and mustaches but that may not really align with who the man is."

How does your facial hair measure up to these celebs?

Celebrity Male Facial Hair

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article contained a direct quote from Peterkin that referred to General Burnside as being from the South.

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