Keeping a beard respectable
January 11, 2013 5:58 PM   Subscribe

My friend is growing a beautiful bushy beard and moustache. After several months it's wonderfully luxuriant. But, it's got to the stage where he can't eat without spillage. As for soup, forget about it - he can hardly have a mouthful before he has to wield a napkin and wipe spoonfuls away. My friend is very elegant and finds this sloppiness excruciating, especially in public.

How on earth did the Victorians manage? They had full beards, impressive whiskers, and seven-course dinners including soup and custard and blancmange and partridges and champagne. Did their valets come and give them a wipe and comb through after every meal? Is there some overlooked use of the finger bowl we're no longer very aware of?

Have put this in the clothing beauty and fashion category rather than food and drink, because it's such a beautiful beard.
posted by glasseyes to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have a fairly big beard and... I'm not trying to be smart but... I just stick the food in my mouth and not my beard.

The only thing I do do is keep the mustache from growing too far down over my upper lip. I use an electric trimmer along the bottom as needed.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:06 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, basically the only way to eat with a luxuriant beard is to have very good aim with dainty forkfuls/spoonfuls and one hand on the napkin. When I have a large beard, it is to the extent that I wipe my mouth maybe every other time I stick something in there. The trick is to make wiping your mouth-area a reflex, and getting really quick and subtle at it. Do it right and you end up with never more than part of a single fork/spoonful at a time.

On the plus side, it keeps you from horfing down your food, which is always a good thing.
posted by griphus at 6:06 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

the only thing I do do is keep the mustache from growing too far down over my upper lip.

Oh, yeah, this. After I shower, I brush my moustache as far down as it goes over my lips, and use an electric clipper to trim it to above-lips level.
posted by griphus at 6:08 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Trying to understand the problem, as a veteran of several good beards.

I assume he's not dragging his beard through the soup bowl. More likely he's either a) spilling the contents of his soup spoon before it reaches his mouth, or b) drooling.

Neither of the latter two problems has anything to do with a beard. But I'm going to further guess the problem is (a) -- a habit that in a smooth-shaven fellow would just put a little soup on the chin, to be easily wiped off, but in a bearded fellow would be a bit messier.

But in any case, all 3 of these problems are training issues. He needs to learn to eat more carefully. It can be done.
posted by LonnieK at 6:14 PM on January 11, 2013

re: victorian era 'staches...

some men used mustache spoons and mustache mugs. i have a mustache mug and it's awesome.
posted by nadawi at 6:23 PM on January 11, 2013 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh man. All you kindly bearded guys, if you'd like to post pictures of the whiskers, that would be so cool.
posted by glasseyes at 7:42 PM on January 11, 2013

Another beard veteran here and another call to trim more aggressively. Depending on how manageable his face hair is, keeping a beard looking nice and staying out of his laté can be lots of work. Up to and including as much work as shaving. In addition to keeping the upper lip above the actual lip I have to keep the sides, just at the edge of the mouth trimmed as well. If you can get your teeth on any part of it, it's going to get in your food.

And there are some things you just avoid. Corn on the cob, ribs, nachos. Any food where they bring you a bib.
posted by Ookseer at 7:42 PM on January 11, 2013

If he doesn't want to trim his mustache short, the next best thing would be to style it so it goes sideways instead of hanging down — which FWIW is what those impressively bewhiskered Victorians would have done.

That's a pretty high-maintenance style, and he'll still have to eat carefully. But it'll at least make tidy eating possible — unlike the soup-strainer look that it sounds like he's sporting at the moment.
posted by and so but then, we at 7:54 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

(Another advantage of a short or side-swept mustache: it makes the proprietor of said mustache a lot more pleasant to make out with.)
posted by and so but then, we at 7:57 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

it's easy and necessary to trim, especially the mustache. just shape the mustache to the Cupid's Bow with scissors and you can't go wrong. most men keep the sides shorter than the jaw, chin and mustache. shave the neck up to first neck fold and trim the area under the chin from jaw to jaw shorter than the rest.

does he know the wonders of combing his beard? this is not a grooming thing but a pleasure thing. like a Q-tip in your ear but better.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 9:44 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Note that the common coffee lid is the contemporary moustache cup. Also, tearing a cupcake in half horizontally to make a cupcake sandwich prevents icing incidents.
posted by zamboni at 9:49 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

tearing a cupcake in half and making a cupcake sandwich is the only acceptable way to eat a cupcake, mustache or no.
posted by nadawi at 10:40 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah he needs to either trim that thing or keep it styled and out of the way. Keeping it out of the way involves growing everything out long and waxing it. There is an annoying in-between period where it is too short to really stay in place even with waxing, but long enough that the hairs get in the way. I am actually growing through this phase at the moment, and it is problematic but at least it's temporary.

If he can commit to growing it out and keeping it styled with moustache wax, all sorts of amazing new facial frontiers will open up. However, most bearded men, even those with fairly full beards, keep the moustache trimmed above the upper lip because it's just easier.
posted by Scientist at 11:13 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

He must trim the upper lip hair-- or train it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:49 AM on January 12, 2013

I recently watched this movie, Mansome, that featured a hugely bearded guy named Jack Passion. He seemed pretty nutty about his beard, but they showed him holding a napkin against his beard while eating, I guess to keep it out of the way and to catch any drips.
posted by orme at 7:13 AM on January 12, 2013

My luxuriantly bearded husband avoids this problem by keeping his mustache trimmed to upper-lip length. When he lets it get too long, it gets in the way when he's eating, and he looks like a wall of facial hair with no mouth. Careful grooming is the key here.
posted by bedhead at 12:41 PM on January 12, 2013

Speaking as the happily-besmooched spouse of a man with facial hair — trim the mustache to just-above-lip-level and be mindful while eating to avoid dripping on the beard/soul patch (if present). And feel free to use napkins frequently while eating. No shame there.
posted by Lexica at 7:04 PM on January 12, 2013

Here is a photo of the mister from a few years ago (this years beard is even bushier). As you can see from the photo he keeps the moustache part of the beard trimmed off of his lips. He does this by brushing his moustache straight down and using a small pair of scissors that came in his clipper kit to trim any whiskers that stray onto his lips. I think he does this once every week or so.
posted by deborah at 1:12 AM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers everyone, and thanks for the picture deborah, I loves it.

There's something about untrained facial hair which I find very appealing (on men, anyway), especially when it's soft and curly and combable and smells of conditioner. So am a bit disappointed that moustache-trimming seems to be the practical solution. Not that I have any rights over the beard in question, except admiration from afar.

It makes you wonder about cavemen and Vikings etc. Was there ever a time when having a beard slathered with soup and mead and grease an inescapable secondary? - tertiary? - masculine sexual characteristic?
posted by glasseyes at 9:48 AM on January 13, 2013

Best answer: So are these dudes appealing enough for you?

Because they've all got trimmed and/or styled mustaches along with a full beard, but to my eye they've still got the soft-and-curly-and-combable thing going on rather than the Rigid Uptight Little Anal-Retentive Hipster Mustache thing that all this talk of trimming and waxing might call to mind for you.
posted by and so but then, we at 12:13 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ahahahah they are sweet but my friend is even better! I'm sure there's no way he'd let me post a picture though.

Thank You! I give you 'best answer' gratitude for pictures.

I bet that David Dade has soup problems.
posted by glasseyes at 3:14 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

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