Take Control Of That Beard

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Author: Courtney Rubin
Date: July 5, 2020
Publisher: The New York Times Company
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,303 words
Lexile Measure: 1310L

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Sure, the unkempt mountain-man look was easy to rationalize under lockdown, but now it's time for a trim -- at least.

If you're one of many men who grew a pandemic beard because it seemed like less effort than shaving, it's time to rethink that. Unless the look you're going for is unkempt mountain man -- which, OK, anything goes these days -- beard care takes time and effort.

''I think it's important for people to realize that a beard has to be maintained, otherwise it looks ridiculous,'' said Michael Gieseke, 40, of Pittsburgh, who couldn't even trim his during quarantine as part of an agreement with his three sons not to cut their hair. ''I don't know that I would have had the willpower to do this if I had to go out in public.''

Thankfully, Pittsburgh began reopening in time for Mr. Gieseke, the dean of student affairs at Point Park University, to get a haircut before a (virtual) board of trustees meeting, but the beard-grooming he had to do himself. After all, newly reopened barber shops in many states, including New York, can no longer offer beard trims (or hot towel shaves) because of the requirement that customers wear masks.

So what's a beard newbie to do? You could just shave it all off. But if you want to keep yours -- and make it presentable -- here's how.

First, let's answer the mask question.

Beards can prevent the N95 mask from sealing correctly, but ''having a beard is unlikely to make a big difference'' in the protection offered by cloth masks and other face coverings, Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious disease specialist and a clinical professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health, wrote in an email. (Cloth masks, he said, are also worn more to protect other people than you.) Nor is Dr. Swartzberg aware of any greater risk of coronavirus transmission with a beard. ''I'm...

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