As an elementary school teacher in New Mexico, Nick Mischel had to keep a certain appearance.
“In teaching, you have to be relatively conservative,” Mischel said. “I was able to have a goatee, but not a full-on beard.”
Three years ago, he quit teaching and pursued his dream of being a barber — a traditional barber who performs straight-razor shaves and does it while looking the part.
“I’ve changed my whole identity looking like this with the long beard,” said Mischel, who works at Freddy’s Barber Shop in Arvada. “If I could barber in the 1800s, I would be right there.”
Parker Mayor Mike Waid said he’s had facial hair since fifth grade and doesn’t like the way he looks without it.
“If you think about it, societally, beards are one of the few masculine accessories that a man has to work with,” Waid said. “It’s fun.”
Eric Lough, founder of Denver-based The Famous Beard Oil Co., said while beards have become more common in recent years, especially in Colorado, they are far from a new trend.
“Of course, there is an influx of beard-growing over the past few years, but to me, personally, beards are always around and they’re never going to go away,” Lough said. “If you look throughout history, in every old picture you see, there is a man with a beard.”
Mischel said his beard attracts business as well as attention.
“Since I have this look, and I’m interested in having the same look as my clients, it kind of advertises for me,” he said. “Lots of times, I’ll be at the store and someone will ask me about my beard and I’ll tell them I’m a barber.”
Tyler Johnson, of Lone Tree, said he’s grown facial hair for the majority of his adult life. He has been working on his current beard for four years.
He routinely gets asked about his look.
“You don’t normally go and randomly compliment people as they walk down the street, but people randomly stop and compliment me on my beard as I’m walking,” Johnson said.” I’m used to it now, but when I’m with someone who isn’t used to the attention they’ll say to me, ‘Does this happen all the time?’ And I’m like, ‘pretty much.’ ”
Brad Wann, of Highlands Ranch, has worn a beard for more than 20 years and advises if you go down the path of looking different, you should always expect the unexpected.
“Just this year, I was in a crowded coliseum, when two women walking by just had to feel my beard,” Wann said. “One actually reached out and touched it without asking. I’ve had total strangers ask to take photos with me.”
Lough, a self-described beardsman, said people treat him differently because of his facial hair.
“I get called sir a lot,” Lough said. “There’s more respect.”
In Colorado, full beards are a common occurrence.
“It fits with the lifestyle,” Waid said. “When I’m out in the elements in the winter time, it absolutely makes a difference and keeps your face warmer.”
Waid notices an unspoken bond with many of the men with beards he comes across.
“Sometimes,” he said, “it’s just a look.”
Wann agreed that beards and the outdoor lifestyle go hand in hand.
“The more I did mountain-themed events, the more I wanted to look the part,” Wann said. “From being a pack burro racer to reindeer wrangler, it just fit well.”
In addition to being a good fit for the climate and character of the state, Lough said Colorado also offers a number of barbershops that know how to maintain and trim your beards because of their popularity.
“I really don’t think I’ll shave it off completely,” Lough said. “There were times throughout the years that I trimmed it down pretty short, but I felt bad about it and grew it back.”