One does not need to be at the tip of the cultural spearhead to understand that something has changed in America and its relationship with men’s facial hair. From athletes to actors to hipster college kids (but not presidents), beards, mustaches, and facial hair have experienced a renaissance that would make our country’s Gilded Age robber barons proud.
Gleaning insights from Google Trends, a nifty tool Google provides that allows you to see the popularity of search terms over time, it becomes clear that the rise in interest in men’s grooming is more than imaginary.
Take for example the image below for the search term “straight razor”. A clear upward trend is present for this shaving instrument that you used to see more often in John Wayne movies than hip barber shops that serve whiskey and play jazz records:
“Facial hair” has shown an equally impressive rise in popularity:
And finally, perhaps the most dramatic chart to show the renewed interest in beards, check out this startling graphic for the term “hipster beard”:
Who or what should we point to perhaps for the rise in interest in men’s facial hair? If there were one force, it’d probably be the internet. Why? Because it is the ultimate leveler that gives anyone with a connection access to information. If for example you were a young man in the 1960’s and just about to start shaving, you could really only turn to your father for advice on grooming and your selection of products was limited usually to the men’s toiletries aisle at the local drug store.
Today, men of all ages have access to unlimited information about the wide variety of different shaving instruments out there, complete with instructional youtube videos. In addition to this, one can purchase shaving products from all over America and the world with a couple clicks of a mouse. Men themselves tinker in their garages and apartments, trying to concoct new shaving products that they feel are a cut above the rest, while still others might spend hours researching for the perfect aftershave.
All of these trends come into one super trend: men have taken a bigger interest in their own appearance. And not only do they have the tools they need to access information about how to assess quality for clothes and toiletries, it has become socially acceptable for a man to finally take an interest in what he wears and how he grooms himself. Contrast this with how many men were sometimes portrayed in popular culture at the end of 20th century, that of a confused group of individuals that needed the assistance from a female regent to make the right selections in clothing, cologne, and other everyday items, so as not to offend established social standards of taste and decency. Yes, men have come a long way in last decade and it will be fascinating to see how these trends evolve in the future.