I grew up in the foothills and plains of the Colorado Rockies, among bikers, hippies and outdoorsmen, men who were no stranger to beards. My dad counted friends among them all, he worked steel up until the industry collapsed and always wore a beard. Never too long, never too short, just prominent enough that the one time he shaved it off (he lost a bet) my younger brother and I couldn't even recognize him and were convinced a stranger had broken into our house.
I had a contentious relationship with my father as a teen, who doesn't, so it didn't occur to me that growing out my beard was my way of paying homage to him as a role model. I thought I was just being rebellious, the only 16 year-old at my school with a full beard. Thankfully, I grew up a lot and came to see having a beard as simply a means of personal expression and as a connection to my father.
About a decade ago, I decided to stop trimming and styling and just let it all grow in. It was around that time my dad was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. He survived, but the chemo and radiation left him beardless and unable to grow it back. So now I'd like to think of my beard as a tribute to him.
We've all got a beard story, and we'd love to hear yours. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your beard or moustache story and we may run it and send you a bunch of free stuff. Don't forget a few pics as well! Speaking of pics, the included photo was shot by my dear friend MostExalted, who also happens to be a fellow bearded gent.
I grew out my first baby beard when I was 16 years old and had a whole lot more hair on my head. That's me, about a year later. (I had kind of a reverse mullet-thing going on, this was immediately following a phase where I had an actual mullet for years.)
This was a dark time, before beard products existed, and I struggled with both itching and flaking, using harsh dandruff shampoos on my beard to try to keep it in line. I also bleached it one time in an ill-advised attempt to copy Mr. T's look, but that's a story for another time.
So don't be young dumb me, treat your beard right with a shampoo built for beards and a balm or an oil that's going to help soften while it soothes the itching and flaking. There's no need to suffer friends, make sure your beard story has a happy ending!