Some men freak out over the notion, while others seem pleased beyond all reason when it becomes apparent - they've got a neckbeard.
In the article below, we're going to break down precisely what a neckbeard is (both the real deal and the slang definition). Moreover, we'll discuss what promotes its appearance, and if you don't want one, how to make it disappear.
What is a Neckbeard?
Before we begin, though, we should probably go over what a neckbeard is. Neckbeard… What does that mean? It’s actually a pretty self-explanatory name.
There are a few different meanings attached to the term "neckbeard." For example, the Urban Dictionary defines it as, "Talkative, self-important nerdy men (usually age 30 and up) who, through an inability to properly decode social cues, mistake others' strained tolerance of their blather for evidence of their own charm."
Of course, that's not the definition that men who are all about facial hair use. No, indeed, the true meaning for beard aficionados has everything to do with style. The guys who dig it achieve this hair-on-the-neck fashion intentionally by ensuring all the face areas from the jawline up are shaved. In contrast, the neck is left untouched, and thus, over time, a neckbeard is born.
Now, if you take a look at old black and white photographs, it's easy to see that this type of beard used to be in vogue way back in the 1800's. However, neckbeards have become something of a trend once more.
For example, Jonah Hill and David Beckham have been caught with unkempt, scraggly hair all over their necks while their faces were as smooth as a baby's behind. Older gents like Country and Western music legend Hank Williams Jr. and comedian Redd Foxx have also been known to have velcro-patches of hair on their necks.
(You may not remember, but Foxx played the dad on the sitcom "Sanford and Sons" back in the mid-70s). In fact, Redd Foxx was one of the first African American celebs to rock a neckbeard on primetime TV!
With that said, although there is a sub-culture of somewhat contrarian dudes who want to grow a neckbeard, it's not an overly popular style. Regardless, if you're one of the few, the divergent, the intrigued, by all means, let no one stop you from giving it a go.
The Neckbeard Insult
You saw the urban slang definition of a neckbeard already. Yet, you may not know that there's an entire set of insults surrounding the word. Super long hair sprouts around Adam's Apple have nothing to do with some of the references we've seen.
There are cringeworthy memes depicting slovenly, physically unappealing men with a penchant for hanging out in their parents' basements all over the internet. The image calls to mind the villain in one the best episodes of South Park, entitled "Make Love, Not Warcraft."
In any case, "neckbeard" as an insult began back in the early 2000s. Eventually, it corresponded with the kind of personality traits that just about zero women in their right mind would find attractive (even gaming chicks).
In essence, these traits define uber-geeks who don't know how to shower or behave like normal people in social situations. The picture just gets darker … you know what? Seriously, just go watch that episode of South Park. It depicts in exquisite detail the pop culture definition of a neckbeard.
But These Definitions Don't Have anything to do With hair!
You're mostly right. However, one thing a lot of these geek memes have in common is the fact that the (mostly) young men in them have wispy, porcupine-like, patchy, or weird curly growths shooting out from their chin and neck areas. Most of the guys depicted wore fedora hats (a bit like Indiana Jones), which led to the whole fedora fashion trend.
In any case, it wouldn't be surprising if you decided against the fashion if the image of these scraggly, scabby men is what you think of whenever you hear the word "neckbeard." After all, you may be someone that believes strongly in being well groomed and that sentiment extends to your beard. If that’s you, then you should check out Beard Gains’ wooden beard combs.
Just remember, some cool people have rocked the style. Therefore, it's not a given that regular people are going to recoil in horror if you choose to make the neckbeard a sign of individuality.
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The Neckbeard Style Today
Contemporary neckbeards don't have a lot in common with traditional neckbeards. Even though there are men who have formed a sort of sub-culture around the type of neckbeards you might have seen in days of yore, that's not what most think about today. In contrast, current adaptations appear as sparse patches grown conspicuously on the neck.
Neckbeards in today's setting then mostly refer to beards made up of long, uneven patches of scraggly hairs that are grown below the Adam's Apple. This gives the contemporary neckbeard its messy, typically disheveled look.
The Involuntary Neckbeard
The truth is that without intending to, some men develop a neckbeard. In fact, there are a few things that can impact a man's already sparse and patchy beard growth and make it look like a neckbeard. We'll lay out a few of those below.
We're not talking about dealing with things like acne or other skin conditions that are difficult to control. Instead, what we're talking about are those situations that are entirely within a man's ability to improve his appearance. The health of a man's beard is dependent mainly on the skin's health.
Now, your beard might be naturally sparse, but you can give the hair on your face and especially your neck, a chance for a full beard. By helping to provide your skin with the right nutrients, keeping it hydrated and moisturized with beard oil from Beard Gains, etc., and by keeping it clean with Beard Gains shampoos and conditioners, you can optimize your beard's growing conditions.
No Stress Management
A man's immune system is strongly connected to how he manages the stress in his life. If you're stressed out, it can lower your immunity, which can cause the hair on your scalp, face, and neck to grow less hair. Some things, such as mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, can help reduce stress levels and potentially help with beard care and its overall growth.
Clean Up Your Neckline
Beard stubble starts to get a bit thicker around the one to four weeks mark. This is the well-known stage of beard growth where you look all scraggly and like you live with your parents and haven't gone job hunting in months.
Some might think you're intentionally growing a neckbeard during this same time frame. That's particularly true if the hair on your cheeks and chin is sparse while the hair below your Adam's Apple is growing faster, longer, and thicker. To prevent that from happening, keep your neckline trimmed.
You Don't Sleep Enough
Sleeping is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and your beard growth depends on it. As Shakespeare once said, "And for your thought-sake, sleep a night o’er it."
When you don't get enough sleep, your beard growth suffers. That's because sufficient sleep helps recharge your immune system and lowers stress levels. When you don't get at least eight to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep, your beard may not grow as fast, as full, or as thick as you'd like.
Related: How Often Should You Wash Your Beard
Are You a Neckbeard or Are You Growing a Neckbeard?
The question really shouldn't be whether "you are a neckbeard." You might be a geek or a beach bum. You could be working class or white-collar, a bad boy or a frat boy. The real question is whether you're trying to grow a neckbeard "on purpose?"
If you are, great, just make sure you shave your face above the jawline and don't touch anything below it. Voila. You're on the way to being the proud owner of a contemporary neckbeard, and you shouldn't allow urban slang or internet memes to determine your style.
Alternatively, if you don't want a neckbeard, but a regular beard instead, ensure the neck area below the Adam's Apple is entirely shaved clean. It's that simple.
You may not be aware of it, but with every passing day you are growing one. Thanks to the recent influx of new neckbeard/hipster-beard hybrid photos there has been some concern. It is time for us to recognise that the neckbeard is a legitimate lifestyle choice and open up a dialog regarding the deeper meaning of having or being one.
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