Beards in the Workplace: Shifting Perceptions of Professionalism

In recent years, beards have made a comeback, becoming a defining feature of contemporary style. But amidst the resurgence of facial hair trends, a question lingers: Are beards considered unprofessional? 

In this article, we’ll delve into the ongoing debate surrounding the perceived professionalism of beards in different contexts. 

By exploring historical perspectives, examining shifting attitudes, debunking stereotypes, and providing real-world examples, we aim to debunk common misconceptions and encourage a more inclusive understanding of professionalism that embraces individuality.

Historical Perspectives on Facial Hair

Beards have been an integral part of cultural and religious practices for centuries. 

From the ancient Egyptians to the Vikings and beyond, facial hair has held various symbolic meanings across different civilizations. 

However, the 20th century witnessed a shift towards clean-shaven appearances, influenced by changing fashion trends and social norms.

Perception of Beards in the Modern Workplace

The perception of beards in the modern workplace has evolved over time. Today, attitudes are shifting, and many workplaces are becoming more accepting of facial hair. 

It’s essential to recognize that personal style and professionalism are not mutually exclusive. The key lies in striking a balance between self-expression and adhering to the expectations of one’s professional environment.

Factors Influencing the Perception of Professionalism

The perception of beards and professionalism can vary based on cultural and regional norms. 

In some cultures, beards are seen as a symbol of wisdom and maturity, while in others, they may carry negative connotations. 

Furthermore, different industries and sectors may have their own standards and expectations regarding employee appearance. It’s crucial to consider these factors when evaluating the perceived professionalism of beards in a specific context.

Debunking Stereotypes and Biases

It’s time to challenge the clean-shaven myth. The notion that a clean-shaven appearance automatically equates to higher professionalism is unfounded. 

Professionalism is not solely determined by outward appearance but by competence, conduct, and character. 

Additionally, well-groomed beards can be a sign of attention to personal grooming and professionalism.

Case Studies and Real-World Examples

Bearded man in the office long shot
Source: istock

Numerous companies are embracing diversity and inclusivity by redefining their standards to include bearded employees. They recognize that professionalism extends beyond physical appearance and is rooted in competence, skills, and values. 

Successful professionals with beards in various industries serve as inspiring examples, demonstrating that facial hair does not hinder professional success.

Navigating Professionalism and Self-Expression

Finding the right balance between personal style and professional expectations is crucial. 

To maintain a professional appearance while expressing individuality, proper grooming and maintenance are vital.

Regular trimming, styling, and keeping the beard clean and well-kept contribute to a polished and professional look. It’s essential to communicate your intentions and personal style choices effectively to colleagues and superiors.

Embracing Diversity in Professional Appearances

In conclusion, it’s time to embrace diversity in professional appearances. The perception of professionalism should evolve to include a range of self-expression choices, including beards. 

By recognizing that professionalism is not solely tied to outward appearances, we can foster more inclusive and nuanced workplaces that value individuality and authenticity.


Q1: Are beards appropriate for all professional settings?

A: The appropriateness of beards in professional settings can vary. It’s crucial to consider cultural norms and the specific expectations of your industry or workplace. While some fields may have more traditional standards, others are increasingly accepting of diverse appearances, including well-groomed beards.

Q2: How can I maintain a professional appearance with a beard?

A: To maintain a professional appearance with a beard, regular grooming is essential. Here are some tips to help you keep your beard looking polished and well-maintained:

(1) Trim and shape: Regularly trim your beard to maintain a neat and tidy appearance. Use scissors or a beard trimmer to remove any stray or unruly hairs. Consider visiting a professional barber for shaping and maintaining the desired style.

Bearded man in the office long shot

(2) Cleanliness is key: Keep your beard clean by washing it regularly with a mild beard shampoo or cleanser. This helps remove dirt, oil, and any product buildup. Remember to rinse thoroughly to avoid any residue.

(3) Moisturize and condition: Just like the hair on your head, your beard can benefit from moisturizing and conditioning. Apply a beard oil or balm to keep the hair soft, hydrated, and more manageable. This also helps prevent itchiness and dryness.

(4) Brush or comb regularly: Use a beard brush or comb to keep your beard looking tidy and free of tangles. Brushing or combing helps distribute natural oils, stimulate hair follicles, and promote healthy growth. It can also help train your beard hair to grow in the desired direction.

(5) Pay attention to the neckline: Maintain a well-defined neckline by trimming or shaving the hair below the jawline. This gives your beard a clean and well-groomed appearance. Consider using a razor or electric trimmer for precise shaping.

(6) Be mindful of length and style: Depending on your workplace or industry, certain beard lengths or styles may be more appropriate than others. Choose a length and style that suits your facial features and aligns with the professional expectations of your environment.

(7) Keep it smelling fresh: A pleasant scent can enhance your overall appearance and leave a positive impression. Use a beard-specific cologne or apply a light fragrance to keep your beard smelling fresh throughout the day.

Remember, maintaining a professional appearance goes beyond just your beard. Pay attention to overall personal grooming, including well-kept hair, clean and presentable attire, and good hygiene practices.

By taking care of your beard and presenting yourself with confidence, you can successfully maintain a professional image while embracing your individuality.

About MGU Team

The Men Glow Up editorial team consists of a group of enthusiastic writers with a keen interest in men's grooming, style icons of yesteryear. Connect us via Pinterest or Facebook or Twitter.

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