Beards On the Job: Are They Professional?

Beards have been around since the dawn of time. Growing something as natural as facial hair isn't something that should be perceived as nasty, unclean or unkempt. Recent years are showing the beard is coming back to popularity - especially amongst black men.

Hair growing from his face is defiant of the American standard that dictates that in order to appear professional and trustworthy (or not lazy), you must be bare faced. In the work place (depending on the job and how lax the working environment is), it is often required that men shave their facial hair.

For the black man, this can be a hassle, and even painful for some skin types. Unlike their White, Asian and Hispanic counterparts, black men have to worry about the dreadful razor bumps or ingrown hairs, causing inflammation and scarring.

I'm biased here, because I'm all for beards, but this has come up often: Are beards unprofessional?

Personally, I don't think beards are unprofessional. Coming from a very diverse work environment that required me to wear uniforms or business attire, I always felt like I was in a box. Most of my jobs allowed me to dress it up though, wearing complimentary jewelry, hair styles that reflected my personality (like the one time I streaked parts of my hair turquoise while working in a Photography Studio). What I appreciated about those jobs that weren't "square" was even though I was expected to look a certain way, I was able to be myself while still being able to do my job. Beards are no different. Not all jobs require men to be clean shaven, but it is recommended that if beards are worn to work, they're kept low and well maintained, which can make all the difference in getting/keeping a job. @lathrj, a member from had this to say:

"I too think this is quite annoying. However, I think that a nice thick beard can more easily be worn with out the negative associations. It just depends on the overall look. Perception is reality in our society. If your beard looks scraggly and unkempt, then people are likely to assume the same of its wearer. However, a well cared for beard seems to impose a different vibe. It would be nice to have the freedom to sport whatever look you like, but we just can't do that (in any regard of life, without enduring the scrutiny of others). It goes the same for hairstyles even. If you see someone, even a girl with wild hair and split ends all over the place, that's not too encouraging. Why would a beard be any different?"

 Bearded Dapper Gent:  Terrance Henderson , Photography by  Collis Torrington

Bearded Dapper Gent: Terrance Henderson, Photography by Collis Torrington

While sometimes the rugged look can be appealing, corporate settings require you to look clean cut at all times. The key to accepting beards is maintenance, showing proper care and attention to keep it looking clean and healthy, thus giving the impression that you too show proper care and attention to your job (that trustworthy perception). We're hoping that with The Return of the Beard, especially on some of these beautiful black brothas looking classic and dapper, companies will start allowing men to keep their manes.

Tell us your thoughts!