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I am obsessed with facial hair. What? Don't believe I can write an entire blog on the sprouting of hair on the face? Oh how you underestimate me…. Facial growth is an obsession for men. Whether you give into the urge to grow it or not, the daily grind of shaving means you are obsessed with removing it. Even blokes who complain that growing a beard is not for them are quick to acknowledge great follicle adventures of the chin in others. Growing a beard, a moustache, sideburns or even designer stubble is something that every man has a crack at  once in their life. If you doubt that premise, may I present to you the facts? Who amongst the gentleman readers has not had a raging hangover? A lost weekend of debauchery  that means you can't  muster the energy to face the task of lathering up and scraping the razor while looking through bloodshot eyes? Two days growth is the beginning of designer stubble my friends. When folks begin to notice you haven't shaved, then you are making some facial hair statements you might not even be prepared to face.Lets go over the ground work of the facial fuzz obsession shall we. There has always been an element of the coming-of-age about the first sproutings of the face. The days from early Year 9 through to end of year 10 (3rd and 4th form for the old school) are filled with attempts, aborted and retried as many times as a NASA launch of trying to prove you were as hirsute as the dude in your class with the mo. Tom Sapountzis was my hero during this phase. It might alarm you to know he was of Greek descent….or perhaps not. Needless to say he had a magnificent mullet that cascaded to his collar and was cultivating a very dicey porno moustache with immense pride. he actually carried a small comb around with him and while making a joke out of brushing the bum-fluff, there was never any doubt he was so  pleased with the growth that he wanted to make a point of grooming it. I got lucky when my sideburns came in. It was little more than the fluff on Tom's  top lip but it meant that a classmate nicknamed me Elvis. I was  embarrassed at the time and  took it as a cue to shave, yet no more than  a decade later, I was rocking pointy siddies and  trying to perfect the point of a rockabilly/Elvis-is-in-Vegas era hipster 'burns. At this first flush of facial hair, I went down the local Coles and got me a razor and shave cream and went about butchering my baby face for the first time. Here is a great insight into why men hate to shave. Are you ready? It sucks. Razor burn, cuts and nicks, in-grown hair and my one true nemesis- Patches you missed. It's a rich tapestry of inconvenience  and discomfort . Now,  I realise women suffer  the same slings and arrows with the legs and pits but remember  Kramer's retort to Elaine when she brings this up- 'Yep- But not everyday!' Shaving is a drag, literally and metaphorically. The thought of it drives you to ensue the ritual some Sundays just because it save five minutes of your morning. I mean what's the point when by midday your stubble is coming in anyway? The  fresh faced 15yo equipped with a Bic disposable razor, Imperial leather shaving foam and not a  clue in the world as to what he's doing had no idea where it was all heading.I didn't even wet my face first. Just whipped that foam on and dragged a crappy double-blade across it, intermittently dipping it in ice cold water to get the gunk off. I ended the initiation looking suspiciously like Norman Gunston.While my coming of age was sadly, I have later discovered , not in the generation of the 'tasche (more on this later) the times were ripe for the return of the goatee. I have no idea why- A bit movie star (you had to have one to play twenty-something, even Ben Stiller rocked one.)  One piece Kurt Cobain is the coolest dude alive, topped off with a slice of why  the hell not? In the mid-Nineties you weren't anyone without a  chin strap. The goatee was everywhere and with some alarming results. One of my best mates in high school grew one in first year uni.  I hadn't seen him for a few months and when I did my eyes bulged! His jet black hair, which he wore floppy, of course,  was now matched with bright red masterpiece that sat a good inch off his chin. It looked insane, you wanted to ask, in order: How? Why? Did you dye it? A black haired Redbeard-It was awesome.I started my goatee and took to facial hair growth immediately. The goatee was the Ganga of facial fuzz narcotics. For reasons I have never really know I have had sideburns since the moment I could grow them, so I had always  smoked I guess. The sideburns have felt so a part of my face that I have never really bothered to find out why. I have shaved them off completely and immediately I felt like I was missing something. They have changed lengths often, blooming in full with the aforementioned Elvis point right down on the jaw line. The last time I had a haircut, my very earnest Hong Kong hairdresser spent an age cutting my hair, the scissors flicking and clicking away in a Edward Scissorhand-like fury for a good hour. He finished his masterpiece by very politely suggesting he trim my siddies. He proceeded to take a good inch off. My burns have always sat at the level dictated by the end of my earlobes, that  has always been a conscious point of spirit level matching. His assertion that they should be shorter took me by surprise. They were trimmed to mid-ear, just about where the tragus is. (The little notch in front of the ear canal- you know like a little retaining wall.)  Whether it was his suggestion that I was too old to get away with them that long, or his thought that they should be that long regardless, I took his suggestion on board and they rested at that length for a good six months….Then I went on holiday and grew a beard.Ahhhhhh, the beard. The wonder of manhood in full bloom. I have two rules that I believe all men should abide by. They are nowhere near as highfaluting as- Thou shall not kill, of Thou should not covert thy neighbours wife….I find them to be common sense really. No, my rules of the bloke are much simpler and easier to get right.1) Every bloke should grow their hair long once in their life.2) Every bloke should grow a beard once in their life.Don't get this wrong. Long hair is a gift for the young. if you haven't gone the long hair option by 25…. 30 max, you have missed that sailing my friend. Long hair on an older gent is disturbing and …well frankly wrong (unless you're Johnny Depp, then the rules don't apply- Damn you Depp and your Dorian Grey inability to age.) If you don't believe that to be true- GET A HAIRCUT! Seriously, you can't get way with long hair and you are kidding yourself if you are trying.But the beard? Oh the beard is always an option. Beards are the full-form of the facial hair obsession. They are fun to grow, great to play with and change your look just enough to get people noticing and commenting. It's like getting a haircut without spending a cent. You sprout the beard and you get a holiday from shaving and some well-meaning  compliments to make you feel good. Blokes will comment too. If you get a haircut, I guarantee none of your mates will mention it unless its a shocker. I have a mate who got his hair cut so badly recently that when I saw him after it I had to comment on how much it resembled a toupee! That is the ONLY time you get some bromance from a hairy, when its a chance to rip you. You grow a beard and the cheerleaders are your mates. People just like to see change I guess.I have experimented with every style imaginable in  the face fuzz stakes. From the soul patch, which I grew with the high minded ideal of emulating one of my jazz idols Dizzy Gillespie, and then had to ditch once the Shannon Noll push took it on;  to the full beardy-weirdy- Let it all grow wild. There is a very large range to work with in between those styles. -The soul patch, initially just a triangle beneath the lip grew a line down my chin after the stylish French footballer Robert Pires pioneered the chin-dribble.- The business beard, which requires you to shave the upper cheeks and neck to give it a nice and  tidy form. I have sculpted that further to give it a thinner, follow my jaw line aesthetic …..but I started to look way to boy band to keep it up.- The detached moustache goatee, which is referred to as the anchor style goatee.- The Chinstrap goatee, no moustache, just chin fluff.I have to stop myself there to get back to the point.Oh wait, that is the point…or the bare minimum of what might be construed a point.Anyway,  thanks to the wonders of Movember I have been given licence to rock the moustaki for close to a decade and let it grow as outrageous as I feel. Movember is responsible for the resurgence of the art of facial hair and I for one am thrilled. The  crossover is occurring right now on any hipster street in Melbourne. Young dudes in secondhand trilbies with moustaches. The very first year I joined the Movember cause I grew a plain old, workaday dad mo. Nothing elaborate, tight and trim across the top lip- Nothing fancy. It scared both my wife and I how satisfyingly it sat there. I looked like I was born to have the moustache. It rested so happily there that it didn't worry me to look in the mirror and see it- I looked for the all the world like I had always had it. I began to wonder whether I had been born out of time. … My hairy chest and magnificent mo might have seen me open the bowling for Australia in the 70's.Movember Year Two, saw me go the bandidto. I let the handlebars roam off my face and made sure it looked like I was participating in a charity event. The dad mo had scared me into being outrageous, less I forget to get rid of the soup strainer that so happily rested on the top lip after the month was over. I now  bring a new twist to the party each  Movember season-  Dickensian muttonchops, linked to the mo. Pencil thin sleazy mo and last years model, the twirly moustache…..That was fun!I can't rationally explain the need to grow facial hair but there is no doubt that a least once a year, I doth the  chin music for the hell of it. I can't not get my fuzz on at least once every twelve months and I doubt I will ever stop. Movember might be my wife's only saviour. She detests the feel of my beard and is relieved when I shave again. Knowing it is only a month or so a year keeps her sane I'm sure.I guess my role model in the pursuit of facial growth is my  dear old dad. He  has always worn the full beard and his only maintenance is a trim when he goes to the hairdresser. I have never known him without the wild bristles that envelope his face and once, just out of curiosity I asked him when he last lathered up….He looked off into the distance and strained for the memory of clean-shaven face. After a while he said, with a precision you can hardly doubt- '19……..65.'1965! That is a lifetime's commitment to the wonders of facial hair.  When I start to grow a beard, my mother always complains that I am starting to look like my father- Like that's an insult.  My  dad has been the beard since the 60's. He is the Obi Wan to my Luke. He knows the ways of the follicles. My daughter rubbed her hand on my bearded face the other day and said- 'Oh just like Poppy!'  and I smiled at her compliment.People don't remember my father without the beard, it is his signature look. It saved copious amounts of time when I was a kid. Drawing dad was a five second job. Draw glasses, nose and a mouth and scribble like crazy- too easy and highly satisfying to boot. While I envy his carefree existence of never shaving, the truth is I find myself getting bored of the beard after a period of time. I yearn to remove it and start again. The big plus with shaving off a beard is the amount of compliments you receive. You start to grow a beard and folks encourage you.  You shave it off and people say things like- ' Oh that's taken five years off you.' It used to be ten….but I'll settle for five.If I haven't convinced those amongst us who can to go the beard by now, well I would feel a failure. There is, I'm sure, a raft of psychological reasons for the obsession for growing the beard and all its variants  but I sincerely don't want to know. I just want to wallow in the love of  the greatness of the facial hair. I admire men like Oklahoma City Thunder basketballer James Harden, who is letting his beard grow unchecked. A wondrous forest of a beard that is rapidly moving towards covering the text on his number 13 jersey. I salute  Hashim Amla, the South African cricketer who once informed a journalist that a devotional Muslim beard should be the exact length of a clenched fist. I marvelled at Joaquin Phoenix's awesome crazy beard and I will always be thrilled when a public figure brings the facial hair.My favourite fun fact is that the only member of ZZ Top without the trademark to-the-knees- beard has the surname- Beard. That is BRILLIANT.So don't let me stop you. The only reason  to not grow a facial masterpiece is your own hangups. 'Ooooooo- It's too itchy.''My partner doesn't like it.''It's too patchy, I can't grow one properly.'Man up. Mr. Bragg, proprietor of this here website, was once vehemently opposed to any form of facial growth. Being a blonde-haired gent, he was most assuredly worried about the wispy nature of the growth. Then one fine day the resistance was over and he cultivated the designer stubble look. He has never looked back, only shaving for special occasions, one of which was the be my best man. The honour he bestows upon the occasion by shaving is a under appreciated gift. His journey from anti-growth to constant growth should be an inspiration to all.The beard is a gift to all men and if you haven't tried it at least once, and I mean properly- Not give it a week and then decide its too itchy; then I suggest you have a crack. It is hard not to fall in love with.Viva the fuzz. ...