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By GINGER ANG
alltherage@thestar.com.my

SO if you haven’t been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you’d have noticed a resurgence in the popularity of facial hair. Once the domain of hipsters and Duck Dynasty, now no longer. Lumbersexual is in, people.

But while the rest of the world waxes lyrical over the utter hunkiness of face fuzz (BuzzFeed, we’re looking at you), who’s leading the charge over here in Malaysia?

Can't see the haters: Instagram account Beards of Malaysia offers a glimpse into the lives of ordinary bearded Malaysians.

Can’t see the haters: Instagram account Beards of Malaysia offers a glimpse into the lives of ordinary bearded Malaysians.

Enter photographer and stand-up comedian Prakash Daniel, who’s shining the spotlight on local beardspo (beard inspirations) with
his Instagram account @beardsofmalaysia.

“I love taking portraits – you really get to tell a story with them. And I’ve always wanted to take photos of my bearded friends,” he says, running his fingers through his beard. “It was just for fun at first, but then the idea for this project came along.”

Facial hair lover Daniel, 33, admits he didn’t grow up wanting a beard. But why the change in heart? “Because I can,” he says.

“I had a goatee that I’d shave off occasionally. And any guy with facial hair will come to a point where he goes, ‘okay, maybe I should grow my mustache or goatee out.’”

Since starting Beards of Malaysia in February, Daniel’s taken and curated over 50 portraits of bearded men around KL, snapping everyone from street vendors to local celebs (actor Tony Eusoff features in one post).

This bushy-faced KL-ian sports some fabulous mutton chops.

This bushy-faced KL-ian sports some fabulous mutton chops.

Scrolling through the page, you’ll find interesting anecdotes from men from all walks of life, united in bearded brotherhood. In one photo, a goateed Burmese refugee smiles at the camera. He’s quoted, saying, “It’s bad times in my home, but I am happy here.”

Though they’re making waves in street style, beards are more than a fashion statement. According to Daniel, they’re culturally and religiously significant. “In certain cultures, they believe that facial hair can ward off bad spirits.” he says.

Warding off bacteria, however, takes more work. Daniel washes his beard daily and uses a special conditioning beard cream. “Facial hair is softer than normal hair.” he says. “It gets really dry if you don’t take care of it.”

But fret not: beard care products can be found easily these days, although Daniel recommends trying homemade remedies. “These things can be very expensive. You’ll save more money by making your own.”

Just Google “how to make your own beard cream” and take your pick from the over 2,000,000 search results.

Beards are the new black: More young men are growing out their facial hair, often choosing bushier 'lumbersexual' styles.

Beards are the new black: More young men are growing out their facial hair, often choosing bushier ‘lumbersexual’ styles.

So what’s next for the shutterbug? Daniel’s working towards putting together a Beards of Malaysia exhibition and photobook at the end of the year, as well as a YouTube channel featuring videos on male grooming tips. “It’s not for male model-types, but everyday guys, you know? Guys with tummies, big-sized guys.” he says. ”I mean, if you just put in a little effort into the way you dress, it helps.”

As for the beard itself? “I’m planning to keep it till November. After that, we’ll see what happens,” he says. “At the end of the day, I just want to tell Malaysian stories – using guys with beards.”

Beard-growing 101

What’s going to happen, and how to deal with it.

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1. The itch

The first few days of beard growth will bring ingrown hairs and dry, irritated skin. Ignore the impulse to claw at yourself and lather up with plenty of moisturiser. Relax, the itching should subside by the end of the week.

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2. The waiting

Some grow Viking-worthy beards in no time. For the rest of mankind? It’s not quite as simple. Your newly-emerging facial hair may look like an unmown lawn, but hold off on the trimming for at least a month.

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3. The decision

The beard maketh the man. Ready to start shaping up? You’ve got two choices: head to the pros and book an appointment with a dependable barber, or take your chances with a DIY trim. Either way, look for a steady hand and sharp razor.

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4. The sculpting

Want a beard like David Beckham’s? Experts recommend letting your beard grow a good inch below the jawline. For a more #lumbersexual look, try fading your beard out below the neck.

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5. The cleaning

There’s a reason why they call it the crumb duster. We all love a thick, lush beard, but daily shampooing and conditioning is a must. Running a comb through your beard in the shower also helps straighten hair and exfoliate skin.

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