The Facial Hair Forecast: Are Beards Really Out?

Our report from the front lines of facial hair.


If you’re up-to-date on facial hair news (is that just us?), you may have heard about the much-reported phenomenon known as “peak beard.” A study released by the University of New South Wales argues that due to over-saturation, the beard trend will soon taper off. Basically, people are sick of ’em. We found this fascinating for two reasons: 1) Can beards even be counted as a trend? and 2) If they are a trend—and consequently nearing their end—what the heck will take their place?

 We immediately got on the phone with Joe McMenamin, owner of Groom, the old time-y-with-a-twist barbershop in Washington Square West. He’s one of Philly’s prime barbers, and if anyone can spot a facial hair trend, it’s him. “I’m getting a little tired of them,” he admits. Really? we almost shouted back. But you’re a barberIsn’t that like a manicurist getting sick of nail art??

“I think this year could have been its peak,” McMenamin says. “Everything has its time, right? . . .  It will take a while but it will eventually die out.” But if guys do start to go clean-shaven, he notes, it might just be a seasonal shift—hey, those things can get hot. “Summer isn’t the best time to have these beards, but guys are still holding on to them—the bigger, the better, really. The guys with smaller ones, the ones not as committed, may get rid of them.”

But not everyone agrees. Marcus Williams of Styles Inspired by Marc, an Americana barbershop in University City, is still seeing a strong beard presence. “I haven’t had as many shaves as I did [prior to] 2012 and that’s because of the impact of the beard on fashion, culture and everyday lifestyle.” Kathy Thomas of Style of Man, with locations in Manayunk, Conshohocken and Center City, views beards as a trend, but one that “is still going strong.” A nation divided!

But if beards are on their way out, we have to wonder what will take their place. McMenamin has a theory: “I think we might go into a very Kraftwerk, no-sideburns look. The pendulum swings so far. The Kraftwerk echoes the 1930 European images where there were no sideburns. I think there will a strong eyebrow this year, too.” Oh my God: Could we possibly see an eyebrow transplant surge?!

So, here’s the nitty-gritty: Can we say definitively that beards on their way out? It’s not clear, but it’s not looking good for beard oil, folks. And for guys trying to be ahead of the next trend, start shaving those sideburns.