Every year since the 1980s, the Stanley Cup has featured not just giant dudes on skates, but some of the most impressive facial hair outside of a logging camp. The playoff beard started with the New York Islanders and has spread not just throughout the NHL but to fans and players of a whole range of sports including Major League Baseball, Canadian Football League, National Football League, and even the National Basketball Association. The practice generally resembles that of hockey in that players don’t shave until they either win a championship or are eliminated. The theory is this: players and fans stop shaving when the team enters the playoffs and don’t start again until the team is either out or wins.
The tradition has even gained a charity component. The Beard-A-Thon campaign launched in 2009. The campaign encourages hockey fans to grow playoff beards not just for superstition, but for charity. It’s been a huge hit: In 2009, the Beard-a-thon campaign was launched to encourage fans to grow their own playoff beards for charity.
Since 2009 over 50,000 fans have taken part in the Beard-A-Thon, raising more than $3 million for charity. As of June 2015, this year’s campaign featured 3,921 participants and brought in more than $210,000 for charities including among others the Garden of Dreams Foundation (New York Rangers), Kings Care (Los Angeles Kings), the Mario Lemieux Foundation (Pittsburgh Penguins), and the St. Louis Blues 14 Fund.
But is the play-off beard tradition in jeopardy? Also in June 2015, Mark Lazarus, the chairman of NBC Sports told the Chicago Tribune that he is pushing the NHL to eliminate the practice in order to make hockey players more telegenic. This harkens back to the days when rulers such as Henry VIII of England and Peter the Great of Russia taxed facial hair to discourage beards.
If you want to grow your beard in solidarity with your favorite team, to take a stand for tax-free hirsuteness or simply because you think it’s a great fashion choice, let us help you do it right.
The first step, of course, is to simply stop shaving. Be prepared to endure some itchy, awkward weeks at this point but push through. The itch will get better after a few weeks especially if you take care of it.
Sometimes guys don’t wash their beards (bad) or use bar soap if they do (also bad). The former gets disgusting fast and the latter dries our your beard and skin. Instead, use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, whether specially formulated for beards or the standard kind. If your beard hair is especially coarse, try a leave-in conditioner.
First off, resist shaping or trimming your beard for a few weeks, depending on how fast your beard grows. You should however set clear beard boundaries on your cheeks and neck. An inch below your actual jaw line works well for the neck, and follow your “smile lines” along your cheeks up toward your sideburns.
Then wait. Allow your follicles to reach their full potential. Once they have, get down to your local Eighteen Eight salon. If you’re growing your beard long, trim every few months but if you’re keeping it on the shorter side, trim every few weeks.
A last thought and a hard truth: sometimes you have to give up. Not everyone can grow a beard, whether due to genetics, job requirements or partner preference. If you’re trying for three months and still look like a hedge that’s been hit with a weed-whacker, it’s time to embrace the clean-shaven look. Hey, it worked for Cary Grant.