I am convinced the gods put the trella for growing beards into the 80 million plus Millennials. Yes, the bearded gods of ancient Greece—almighty Zeus, curly Poseidon, and bushy Hades—they have struck the hearts of mortal men with the desire to look like them.
I can’t understand the trend really. Why would a beautiful young man grow a beard, and a thick bushy one at that, that makes him look like his pappou three decades later? Seriously it does not make sense. And what about hygiene? Those beards trap dirt, food morsels. I swear swallows can build nests in some of them. I can’t stand looking at those protuberances of hirsuteness. On the subway, when I catch a glance at so many bearded mortals, in the street, in ads, it makes me want to take a razor or a scissor and cut them off. I’ve wanted to scream: “Bro, the beard has to go! Get rid of it!” I get the urge to stand at 34th and 5th and pass out free razors. “Go home, young man,” I’d advise, “do the right thing. Shave it off!”
If it’s social expectation for women to shave their body hair, their legs and underarms, well it’s only fair that men do the same. At least women don’t spend their time absentmindedly stroking their overgrown hair. There must be a reason for this trend. Could it be that millennials are emotionally immature so they are trying to sport a beard as a symbol of maturity to convince themselves and others that they are “Bruh, real men”? Could it be that they wear it as a fetish? Or some kind of security blanket? I have seen them pet their fuzzy friends over and over without paying much heed to their surroundings. “Aup! I caught you stroking your bush again!” At least they shouldn’t be doing it in public.
A study from the University of Western Australia posits that men in complex societies grow beards as a badge to attract females and enhance their dominance. (Not for this female.) Men might be growing beards to appear more attractive to women and more dominant to other men, a study on monkeys suggests, a recent article in the Telegraph cites. Historians trace the popularity of facial hair in males to the scarcity of female sexual partners. It could be that modern millennials, as hip as they are, need to get even hipper given the competition for females since they face it not only live but online as well. It’s a jungle out there if you are looking to mate.
Beards and facial hair have always been connected to maturity and wisdom. Remember Moses? His beard grew to epic proportions once he had an encounter with the Almighty. Perhaps today’s hipster, who has been given bad press for immaturity and self-indulgence, wants to give off the aura of wisdom. More probably it acts like a power symbol which is an automatic female magnet as women are drawn to power, prestige, and all the good stuff that go along with it. According to the same article, “The team investigated 154 species of primates, and found more conspicuous badges in males of species where social and physical conflict were common and individual recognition was limited. i.e. The busier and more crowded with males a society becomes, the more competition there is and the more flamboyant the badges are.”
The craze is world-wide. In fact, some men are even paying to transplant beards if they cannot grow them. And where there is frenzy, there is entreprenuerial opportunity. This has opened up new avenues to capitalize on the craze. Hipster obsession with facial hair has created a lucrative niche in a new line of facial hair care. Research firm Euromonitor predicts men’s shaving goods, which have less to do with shaving and more to do with beard grooming, will grow 10% to $3.37 billion by 2020.
This is why a small Hellenic brand centered in Philly, Hercules Beard Co, was born. You would expect a bushy, brawny Greek god-looking type as its founder. Surprise! It’s a Greek American woman. Maria Mavromatis is the founder of Hercules Beard Co., a gorgeous men’s grooming line whose slogan is “Men’s grooming that harnesses the power of botanicals.” That’s Maria’s niche—men and natural botanicals. None of the synthetic lab-induced ingredients that make up most products.
Of course it features a profile of the bushy-bearded Hercules, the epitome of Greek macho demi-gods.
The philosophy behind her brand: “Hercules Beard Co. was established to bestow the power of these botanicals on the distinguished man, providing all-natural hair and skin care products made with integrity. Hercules grooming line boasts unique formulas that use the finest ingredients nature has to offer—without excess fragrances. Grooming tools and accessories are artfully selected so you wield only the highest quality implements. And for me, knowing my products help you look and feel your best is extremely satisfying.”
Maria moved to the US from Athens when she was a toddler. Her parents owned hair salons so she grew up immersed in hair culture. But she noticed that many of the ingredients had names that you had to look up in a chemistry textbook. She saw a niche in the market for naturally formulated grooming products. After college, that’s what she did. Tapping into her Hellenic roots, she unearthed the herbs and smells of her native Greece to bring a line of natural grooming products to the market. Her products include mustache and beard oil, beard balm, shave oil, pomade and even mustache sculpting wax. It’s all what a hipster needs to feel like a Greek god.
Hercules Beard Co. has been featured in many beauty and style magazines and comes as a welcome surprise in the monthly subscription sample service Birchbox. This March she unleashed a line of fragrances, the Hercules Man, named after specific locations in Greece such as Lakonia. She is clearly targeting the luxury end of the market. The gods are definitely smiling down on Maria and the Hercules Beard Co. She stated that men’s grooming, which has ben lacking in the beauty/grooming category, has seen year-over-year growth the past five years. “Men need access to good products just like women do,” Maria points out. “I chose the men’s category because they need more good options for grooming . . . as makers, we shouldn’t discount men as consumers. We all have hair and skin and need good products for self-care.”
She chose Hercules as her brand name as both a metaphor and a name that is widely understood. She wanted to associate the strength that botanicals have while drawing on her Hellenic heritage.
There are many speculations why the beard has made a comeback. However, only Hellenes know the real answer—it’s the gods. The bearded gods have returned energizing young men with the lust to look like them. Be immortal, grow a beard. Yes, Zeus, lives on the hairs of your chinny chin chin.