Should I grow a neckbeard?
April 29, 2004 3:46 PM   Subscribe

My shaving inevitably irritates or cuts my neck, even though I only shave at most every other day. I'm thinking about letting it grow into a neckbeard to supplement the Amish look I currently have. Is this merely mildly detestable or an all-out wrong? I'm not looking for shaving tips.
posted by angry modem to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're going for a corporate cubicle job, a neck beard certainly won't help. Otherwise, go for it!
posted by Fantt at 3:47 PM on April 29, 2004

My friend Andrew had the same complaint, and began growing a neck beard the Christmas before last. By summertime, the thing was quite gnarly, but very novel, especially for a 20 year old surfer on the beach. Guys generally approved, especially older surfers, who waxed nostalgic about the good old days of long-haired, bearded, short-shorts wearing surfers. Reviews from the ladies were mixed at best, but young Andrew perservered.

Whilst surfing the north break of St. Augustine pier with me one day, Andrew ate shit, and somehow managed to get a baby eel stuck in his neck-hair. It wasn't until much later that evening that he discovered the little eel corpse, when we went to a party at a mutual friend's house. A drunk female party-goer playfully ran her fingers through Andrew's neck-beard, only to find a sticky, putrid little snake. She screamed, dropped her beer, and threw up all over the place, including on Andrew. He's been clean-shaven ever since.

The two lessons I learned from the whole experience were
#1) More body hair = more places for dead animals to hide.
#2) Only drunk girls are interested in neck-hair.
So I guess, in conclusion, I would caution against growing a neck beard, especially if you're going to be in contact with small animals with any frequency.
posted by saladin at 4:05 PM on April 29, 2004 [27 favorites]

Shave in the shower (at the very end of it) and change the angle/direction in the neck/adam's apple region. Go slowly around there too--i rush and nick myself all the time.

and what saladin said, of course : >
posted by amberglow at 4:06 PM on April 29, 2004

posted by ColdChef at 4:21 PM on April 29, 2004

Chicks will not dig this.
posted by pieoverdone at 4:22 PM on April 29, 2004

I am one chick who wouldn't dig this, but then again, most guys don't dig the unshaven thing, yet my husband is perfectly happy with my Yeti legs.

In other words- if it would make you more comfortable, and the warmth of the extra hair in summertime, as well as the extra grooming you would have to do is worth not being nicked, then go for it.
posted by headspace at 4:35 PM on April 29, 2004

Chicks dig romance novels and Hummel figurines. Who cares what chicks dig? Grow some balls. Grow a beard. Not necessarily in that order.
posted by TimeFactor at 4:42 PM on April 29, 2004 [1 favorite]

As a fellow bearded man, I've got to go back to why we apparently even shave in the first place--it's read as a measure of our overall ability to take care of ourselves. Beardedness is still socially acceptable, but well-groomed bearded men are automatically a notch or two higher on the scale than guys who just let it all go. It's read, even if subconsciously, as an indicator of a larger lack.

That being said, if making a statement is part of your plan, then go for it. If you're even raising the question, though, it's probably not a great idea.

It seems like you've got two options, basically:

1) Go for the neck hair, but go for the full-on beard that's long enough to effectively hide the hair behind it. (If avoiding the "ZZ Top" look is a realistic possibility. Most guys do not the facial hair density to pull that off. I know I don't.)


2) As amberglow suggests, focus on your shaving technique. The most important things you can do are:
- make sure you've got a really sharp razor
- have very warm, well-moistened skin
- go with the grain over an area before you think of going against it at all, and
- re-moisturize immediately after you shave

If you think about the "classic" shave that you'd have to pay $25 for nowadays, it's all there a reason. The steaming hot, wet towel, the almost oily, rich lather, the scarily sharp razor, and they always go with the grain. You walk out of one of those, you've never had a closer shave in your life, and your skin's totally unblemished.

Your neck could easily be like leg hair--much thicker and coarser than your facial hair. Even if you buy a bag of disposable razors and throw one away every time, it's worth it.
posted by LairBob at 4:43 PM on April 29, 2004

If you keep it well trimmed, this is one chick that would be okay with it. Just don't be like my boyfriend and go for the Jesus know, facial hair before the invention of razors.

On preview: Don't listen to TimeFactor. Or at least not for the reasons he (so thoughtfully) provided. ;)
posted by amandaudoff at 4:44 PM on April 29, 2004

A prof of mine has some wild neck-lining going on. It makes his head look gigantic.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:35 PM on April 29, 2004

Chicks dig romance novels and Hummel figurines. Who cares what chicks dig? Grow some balls. Grow a beard. Not necessarily in that order.
posted by TimeFactor at 4:42 PM PST on April 29

that's awesome.
posted by eastlakestandard at 6:04 PM on April 29, 2004

It's repugnant. You said no shaving tips (which would be the bright way to go), so I'll suggest looking into laser hair removal instead. If that's too queer, or too expensive, then you'll have to deal with looking either stupid, or bloody. Have a nice day!
posted by stonerose at 6:10 PM on April 29, 2004

Response by poster: I'm going to have to say stonerose's answer was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks everyone!
posted by angry modem at 6:58 PM on April 29, 2004

Seriously, though, angry modem, I have to stress the value of shaving every day. I know this seems counterintuitive, but over time, it looks and feels much better than shaving intermittently. I had awful neck-shaving problems: ingrown hairs (I have a wiry, dense beard) and shaving bumps, but now I just use soap and a kind of gritty, sandy exfoliant to clean, and a good (Sensor Excel-type) razor and shaving cake applied with a brush in the shower. Although you'll never mistake me for Miss Georgia, I no longer dread shaving.
posted by stonerose at 7:24 PM on April 29, 2004

I'm gonna agree with stonerose, with the addition that you should grow a whole Moses thingie if you can't bear shaving, rather than just a "neck beard"...'cause...daaaaaaaaamn...that's just NOT a good look on any planet, and people will ask you if you lost a bet.
posted by biscotti at 7:27 PM on April 29, 2004

saladin, that's the best dead eel story I've ever read.

I used to be entirely against facial hair, but I kind of like the Kurt-Russell-in-The-Thing look. It'd need to be awfully bushy, though.
posted by Hypharse at 7:28 PM on April 29, 2004

I've had this problem as well, and best that I can surmise, the reason you're having these problems is because your hair doesn't grow in the same direction. If you have wavy hair on top of your head, or cowlicks, you probably have cowlicks on your face or neck as well.

There are three solutions.

1. Shave very carefully, and in the direction of the hair growth. This is virtually impossible for some guys (like me, maybe for you). The problem is that some of your hairs are going in one direction, like a swirl, but butt up against other hairs that are going in another direction. No matter how carefully you shave, you'll never be able to shave each hair in the correct direction, but all it takes is a couple of incorrectly shaved hairs to cause all that pain, and blood, and ingrown hairs and sundry crap.

2. Grow a beard. As noted, women hate this. Women pretty much just have to shave their underarms and legs -- two places where it doesn't really matter if you screw up. Because women don't have to deal with shaving their precious beautiful faces, their opinions are worthless. That's right, I said it (but TimeFactor said is so much better!)

3. The best solution for you, my friend. Buy an electric hair trimmer. Be sure it's a good, quality one like the kind haircutters use when trimming up the back of your neck. The key is that it should cut as short as mechanically possible, but be of a good enough construction that it won't snag your skin and maul it all to hell. Then, every couple of days, run it over your face. This will give you a rough, Don Johnson effect.

Now, I don't know what your opinion is of the scruffy biker-dude-Don-Johnson type, but I can tell you, it's the only solution I've found that satisfies the major criteria:

a. You can shave very quickly.
b. No more ingrown hairs.
c. You'll look reasonably presentable.
d. Since hair doesn't grow at a constant rate, this allows all your facial stubble hairs to play "catch up" with the faster-growing hairs, thus you'll look less patchy and more manly.
e. Women don't seem to mind as much.

That last point has a caveat, however: any serious kissing could rough up a girl -- all that stubble acts like a kind of natural sandpaper. That sucks, sure. But look at it this way: when the time comes that anyone actually complains about it, you'll already have a girlfriend, which means you can then start shaving normally and deal with the nicks and blood and ingrown hairs. She'll have to tolerate it, since you're doing it for her!

Am I brilliant or what?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:38 PM on April 29, 2004

That baby eel story damn near made me vomit, and any tolerance for neck/face hair I once had has now soared out the window. The neck hair sounded pretty bad to me beforehand...but I am just not a major fan of facial hair in general unless it is very very well groomed.

Anyways, what about trying Nair or another depilatory cream? They make ones for sensitive skin and I hear that they no longer smell like sulfur.
posted by catfood at 9:16 PM on April 29, 2004

Anyways, what about trying Nair or another depilatory cream?

Ahem. NO.
posted by stonerose at 9:29 PM on April 29, 2004

I've always thought the neck beard business was pretty interesting. I'd love to show up at a client meeting with a full on neck-beard and talk about their optimizing intranet or some nonsense.

However ... I would really recommend you try using a skin lotion with aspirin -- these are really great for preventing razor irritation. I've used both TendSkin and Paula's Choice Skin Relief Treatment with success.

I've even seen a few "recipes" online for how to make your own by crushing up aspirin and mixing with witch hazel or something like that. Though I can't vouch for the effectiveness of the homemade stuff.

A small dab before bed, and a small dab after shaving will really help prevent ingrown hairs and shaving irritation. It can be a little pricey but since the amount you use is very small a little bottle will last a long time.
posted by treebjen at 10:59 PM on April 29, 2004

Just buy an electric shaver and give up. I did and I get all the girls, as you well know!
posted by shepd at 1:49 AM on April 30, 2004

Ahem. NO.

I'm not sure why I'm getting snapped at...I was just offering a suggestion, and since it's cheap and does no permanent damage, I don't know of any reason why it's not worth a shot. It's certainly cheaper than a decent electric razor or laser hair removal.
posted by catfood at 4:58 AM on April 30, 2004

I was never a big beard fan, but now that I've been thoroughly traumatized by Saladin, I never want to touch another again. It's not so much the idea of touching a dead eel as wondering what else could be in there, if a dead eel didn't get noticed.

This is one of the best sites I've seen on alternatives to shaving.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:21 AM on April 30, 2004

catfood -- I tried TendSkin a while back and it never really worked for me. I probably could have put myself through a better application regiment -- applying at night and then again in the morning; waiting a proscribed amount of time, etc. But in the end it seemed like more trouble than it was worth.

Another thing is, if you don't drink enough water, or don't spend some time each day scrubbing your face, your skin will be far more prone to ingrown hairs.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:40 AM on April 30, 2004

I love neck beards. I know women who do too.
posted by corpse at 7:03 AM on April 30, 2004

I am a chick. I like neck beards. I like beards in general. My boyfriend right now has a beard. Face + some neck, not the whole neck. I have dated other guys with beards. When my bf announced out of the blue that he was going to law school [which I had seriously mixed feelings about] our "compromise" was that he grow out his silly programmer-guy goatee and grow a full-on beard. When I dated a guy with a real-Amish neckbeard however, it was like going out with a guy with a mohawk, people would point and say things as if the neck beard also made him deaf, it was really super odd. SO, if you can handle a little ribbing, I'd say go with the neck beeard, what the hell? If you're a little more concerned with fitting in and not having people make comments, either grow a long beard and shift from Amish-guy look to Mountain-man look, or reconsider getting some shaving tips.
posted by jessamyn at 7:16 AM on April 30, 2004 [1 favorite]

I have pretty full beard, only trim my mustache some times, and my wife says she likes and doesn't want me to shave it. Other girls had also expressed interest in me with a full beard. So, there are at least some girls who like/don't mind full beards. I look vaguely Amish since the part under my face and the top of my neck grows up more than my cheeks and whatnot.
posted by skynxnex at 7:24 AM on April 30, 2004

The women i know tend to agree that men with copious, unkempt facial hair are either compensating for weak facial structures, or hiding bad skin. There is really nothing sexay about a beard or ungroomed facial hair. It is just too reminiscant of grandpa, jesus, neanderthals, the amish, or a crazy homeless man; none of which i'd want to have sex with.
posted by naxosaxur at 7:31 AM on April 30, 2004

since growing my neck beard my life has gotten so much better, i've started dating the most wonderful beautiful girl ever, annoying people dont bother me as much at bars, i've gotten more responsibility at work, i've lost five pounds, birds have pecked out the eyes of my enemies, my bowel movements have become as regular as clockwork, and my italian neighbor keeps cooking me awesome pasta

grow it out, dont be a slave to the shave, but keep it straight, dont let it get so that animals can get stuck in there, jesus christ thats fucking disgusting!
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 8:00 AM on April 30, 2004

I never like anyone I'm dating to have facial hair, but I do like a little stubble. I like the look, and the friction thing can have its purposes [cough]. So, don't be afraid to go with the stubble thing that will result from the electric razor option.

And Saladin, that eel story is sidebar mention-worthy.
posted by orange swan at 9:47 AM on April 30, 2004

I have to say that facial stubble is one thing I really miss about sleeping with men. All that...Scratchiness.
Not so good for kissing but plenty good for other things.
Oh Orange swan, I see you agree. The stubble fans win out!
posted by pomegranate at 12:31 PM on April 30, 2004

re: Nair snapping.

Ancient male wisdom claims that the depilatory cream in Nair will grossly irritate sensitive male cheek flesh, forever damaging the tender boy-ego. Don't do it.

Regular shaving will, in fact, toughen your face up and it will be less painful as you grow older. I still hate doing it, though. The only thing worse is the pustulating patchy psoriasis I develop under long-term beards - something a fellow tenderskin may be prone to.

Also: beards obviously provide a great baby-eel catching hazard, so unless you are a beach dweller and seek to supplement your diet, I'll vote for shaving. OTOH I've done my beard time and undoubtedly shall again. Just keep away from the eels, for everyone's sake.
posted by mwhybark at 7:11 PM on April 30, 2004

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