Beards in Pittsburgh: Why Now?

Pictured: Louis Snyder Photo by Timothy Cox Louis' favorite product is Ravn Rom Beard Balm from Mad Viking Beard Co.
Pictured: Louis Snyder
Photo by Timothy Cox
Louis’ favorite product is Ravn Rom Beard Balm from Mad Viking Beard Co.

Chin cozee, soup catcher, face sweater. Whatever you call them, there’s no denying that everyone these days has an opinion on these mesmerizing face bristles. From grooming products catered specifically to men with facial hair to online dating sites made solely for those who desire to date this specific group, beards have become an unexpected facet of our contemporary landscape.

Behind these beards though, are men who wear them for a multitude of varying reasons. And, for whatever reason, facial hair is becoming more popular and sought after than ever before.

Pittsburgh, like many cities throughout the country, has hopped aboard the facial hair bandwagon. Steel City Beard & Mustache Club has taken this trend to the next level. Founded by Seth DeSabato in 2011, this organization’s primary function is “to support and promote the growth and respect of facial hair” in Western Pennsylvania. Recently, the club helped Point Breeze native Connor Barrett become Man of the Year for best facial hair in the nation.

But this group is also dedicated to community outreach. These whisker clad philanthropists are less focused on the competition and more concerned with providing an environment of all inclusive camaraderie that can give back to the community. They regularly participate in Open Streets Pittsburgh.

Louis Snyder, a member of Steel City Beards & Mustaches, says that growing a beard was an act of rebellion. “While most kids dyed their hair black and painted their nails I decided to grow a beard…it slowly became a part of my identity”. Since the age of 13, Snyder has dawned facial hair and says it has served as “a conversation starter” that has aided him in his social life.

Just like any aesthetic trend, the resurgence of beards and mustaches have inspired a magnitude of grooming product lines to pop up. Mister Grooming & Goods in Lawrenceville is one of many establishments that have started to reemerge and offer an old fashioned barbershop experience paired with modern day luxuries.

But not all men are interested in the more material side of this trend. While some individuals have taken to mustache waxes and beard balms, others are more interested in the nostalgia surrounding the burly man of yesteryear who chops down trees with an unkempt beard wrapped tightly around his chin in the dead of winter.

Regardless of personal reasons, the reemergence of the beard seems to be related to a shift in traditional beauty standards and growing acceptance. The last decade has fostered an environment in which all kinds of groups, previously unrecognized, have been able to find one another and create communities based on common interests, no matter how niche.

A recent study on MC1R (the gene found in redheads) inspired a photo series which has inspired a spontaneous online community for a group that makes up only 3% of the population. Technology has undoubtedly been an instrumental part of connecting all different groups of people and will continue to do so. Even though the beard trend may seem amusing at best, it’s proving to be a fundamental part of a much larger movement.

Don’t forget to check out Steel City Beard & Mustache Club’s biggest fundraiser of the year Beards for Beasts III! All proceeds go to Animal Rescue League.