Having a behemoth beard is cool until you realize just how much debris it collects: According to a recent-ish report, beards amass more germs than dog fur, which is astonishing when you consider their penchant for rolling around in all kinds of gunk.
This bacteria comes from an assortment of places, of course, but surely one of the more common sources of beard rubbish is food and drink — the two things that invariably push through our whiskers to enter our mouths. Having a beard should not mean living life as a crumb accumulator, though, so I asked a bunch of veteran beard-havers for tips on eating and drinking without winding up with half the meal in your bristles.
When in Doubt, Use a Straw
Bearded man Colin Robson says drinking can be especially troublesome with a long mustache, but he recommends an unprecedented technique to avoid a soaking wet tashe: “I basically curl my lip over the top of the bottle, so my mustache is held back by my lip,” he explains. “I put my whole mouth over it and make sure the stache is pushed up toward my nose. That really only works for bottles with a smaller mouth, though.”
Since this approach can be somewhat limited in practice — it’s not exactly going to work on a pint glass — beard influencer Philip Bottenberg suggests snagging a straw whenever possible.
Know Your Enemies
Abstaining from particular foods because you have a beard sucks, I know. But in certain circumstances — say, during a date or a business meeting — foods that are bound to result in a messy beard should probably be avoided. “Ice cream is every bearded man’s nightmare,” Bottenberg warns. Robson adds, “Super saucy things, like barbecue, get all over the beard, so I need a ton of napkins and give it a good wipe after every bite. Soups can also be an issue with the drippage.”
Change Your Approach
“When my mustache is a tad long, I sometimes use a finger from my other hand to hold it up and out of the way,” says beard devotee Aragorn Hansard. “I’ve even mused about developing a ‘stache scaffold’ for just that purpose.” Essentially, though, if you’re eating a sandwich, use two hands, and use your index fingers to hold the ‘stache out of the way while you guide the food into your mouth with the others.
On a more general level, Bottenberg suggests taking smaller bites and opening your mouth wider than you would without a beard. To that end, cutting the likes of burgers and sandwiches into halves, then biting into the angled ends can also provide them with a more direct route into your mouth, resulting in fewer crumbs and sauces ending up in your beard. (This might also have the effect of making you look like a giant baby, which somewhat negates the point of that lustrous beard, but hey, do what you gotta do.)
Using different utensils can help with this, too. “I remember my dad used chopsticks as his favored utensils,” says Hansard, as they can encourage smaller bites. “He’d use them to pick the food out of his beard after he finished. I always found it amusing.” Again, whatever works!
Befriend the Bathroom Sink
No matter how adept you become at eating with a beard, the consensus among these bearded dudes seems to be that accidents happen, but the cleanup can be simple and easy. “After every meal, I go to the bathroom, quickly wash my beard and check if anything ended up in there,” Bottenberg says. Robson adds, “Sometimes a bathroom trip is necessary for a wet paper towel.”
Hansard, meanwhile, suggests another avant-garde approach he picked up from his bearded father. “When he wasn’t using chopsticks, he’d sometimes comb his beard with a fork to get the crumbs out,” he says. “Mind you, this was at the table right after finishing the meal.” Innovative!
Hope that helps, beardos. If not, well, there is one other option…