Predicting the death of the beard has become an annual tradition for so-called style experts all over the internet.
Recently historian Alun Whitney weighed in. He claims that beards have run their course, and that historical trends back him up.
Unfortunately for Alun and others predicting facial hair doomsday, some great tools exist to help us examine trends in near real time, so we can see if they're on to something, or just blowing smoke.
Google's Search Data Shows No Decline
Google Trends is a tool that shows the popularity of a search term over time, and Google Keyword Planner shows us the average monthly searches of keywords, or search terms.
Let's take a look at the search "beard styles", because it reasons that if men were no longer growing beards, there would be fewer men wondering how to style their beards.
Keyword Planner tells us that "beard styles" gets 60,500 searches per month, on average, and that all "beard style"-related searches (like "facial hair styles" and "beard care") add up to between 360,000 and 550,000 every month.
That's a lot of bearded information requested - by Americans alone.
Here's a graph from Google Trends that clearly shows searches for beard styles actually seem to be growing, not declining.
From November to January of this year, more people searched for "beard styles" than ever before.
Even the dip you see in March and April can be attributed to the historically lower searches during the spring months. I fully expect to see the graph continue upward as summer and then the holiday season approaches.
All this to say - beards aren't dead. In fact, their popularity might still be growing.
How To Keep Up With The Beard Trend
With so many men growing beards, how do you stand out?
For serious men looking to stay relevant and continue to give high quality first impressions, it comes down to the quality of the beard, and the attention to detail in your grooming routine.
Here are three tips to stay at the top of the beard game.
1. Don't be afraid to try a new style
One of the worst things we can do is get complacent with our style.
If your beard starts to look tired and dated, it makes you look like you have stopped caring, even stopped paying attention to the world around you.
Even a moderate style change can make a huge difference.
If you've been keeping a 3 or 4 inch beard, try keeping the same style, but bringing it down a couple of inches so that it more closely hugs your face.
Tighten up your look by keeping it short along the sides of the face, fade it into your hair at the sideburn, and make sure you're taking care of stray hairs by trimming regularly.
Had a goatee for years? Let your full beard grow out. Give it a bit of length and make sure you are grooming it daily. If you can't make it work, keep the full beard but try a stubble length.
If you're rocking a full beard, the possibilities are endless, but a more sleek, refined style like the Verdi is an easy first step into shaping your beard.
2. Pay attention to the little things
Attention to detail can make or break a man.
When people see that there are fly away hairs, a poorly trimmed (or not at all trimmed) neckline, or that you simply do not groom your beard at all, they're going to assume the worst.
If you can't even give your beard the attention it deserves, they'll think you don't pay attention in other areas of life, too.
Imagine the consequences when you're interviewing for a better job. Or trying to impress a potential mate.
You could lose out on a job or business opportunity, and even a relationship, because of your bad beard habits, so create a daily routine and make it a habit.
3. Condition daily with a balm or oil
Perhaps the most important method of your grooming routine, the foundation on which everything else rests, is the daily conditioning of your facial hair using a balm or an oil.
If you do nothing else, you will see significant results just from giving your beard a bit of moisturization.
Of course a balm helps control your beard and allows you to style it while keeping stray hairs in place, but your personal preference will dictate whether you use balm or oil.
The health, the shine, the overall cleanliness of your beard will be evident to all who look at it if you simply apply a bit of a natural moisturizing conditioner every morning.
Beards are not dead.
And that means more men than ever will be growing beards.
It's no longer enough to just grow a beard. You need a good beard to keep up with the competition. Get serious about your grooming habits and make sure that the more beards other men grow, the more yours stands out.