The rough with the smooth

Head to head Beards are back in fashion, but for some they will always be a thing of horror. Hirsute fashion guru Richard Benson takes on bristling broadcaster Sally Meen

"I decided to stop shaving on Halloween (there's no link there), and I've had my beard ever since. It's interesting to see it grow, it's like being able to have a different kind of a face. Men have got a limited palate when it comes to making their face look different, whereas women grow up with a whole science of ways to change the shape of their face, and can do things with make-up. If women had facial hair they would have spiked-out beards and daft moustaches and all sorts of permutations! They wouldn't give a toss what men thought about it.

I like the way that my beard looks. They can be quite kind to your face, and add a bit of gravitas. I think it's as wrong to generalise about beards as it is about hair. Saying beards are unhygienic is like saying the hair on your head is unhygienic. As long as you shower once or twice a day then it's fine. If it's decently trimmed and groomed it looks as smart as anything else. We use bearded models in the magazines - the last issue but one of Arena Homme Plus had a bearded model on the cover. Because there's a bit of an upswing towards a slightly rougher, folksy kind of look, there's a few fashion photographers using bearded models now.

As far as women not wanting to kiss a man with a beard, I think it works the other way round because the big problem with men and kissing is stubble, which when it's really short has that kind of slightly razor-sharpness to it. But the beard is softer. To be against beards per se is a silly prejudice. People have always explored different ways of expressing themselves through how they look, and beards are just part of that. I'd urge people not be hidebound by preconceptions and see past the beard, to the whole man."

Richard Benson is group editor of `The Face', `Arena', `Arena Homme Plus' and `Frank'

"Beards are face-fungus. They look dirty. I'm very fastidious, and would never let a man come near me if he hadn't been freshly washed, and scrubbed and shaved (my husband is probably the cleanest person I've ever met). All the men that I think are fabulous haven't got beards, I've never been out with anyone with a beard. Facial hair is unattractive and best got rid of. Beards look unfinished, scruffy and unkempt. It's like going out dressed up to the nines but with dirty hair. The ones that are very short and cropped and funny-shaped just look ridiculous, especially those that look like the letter "O" around the lips - what is that all about? It's just a nightmare, they look ludicrous.

I cannot give you a logical reason why I could not trust someone with a beard, but for some reason I can't. I can remember an old man who used to live near us who had a beard that was long and curly and always looked a bit suspect, and I can remember thinking, `What's he hiding under that beard?' because you always wonder. Have they grown a beard to cover either bad skin, a scar or a pointy chin or something?

I don't like kissing men with beards, especially men with long beards, it's like kissing a gorse bush. I don't even like to give my stepfather a kiss at Christmas because he's got quite a big, curly beard. It's frightening. If men want to change their appearance all they have to do is to wash, get their hair cut and put on different clothes - there's a million different ways to alter their look without growing a beard. You know, women do have facial hair. We, however, have it plucked or sugared off. We don't make a feature of it - surely men should return the favour."

Sally Meen is a Talk Radio presenter and freelance TV broadcaster

Interviews by Fiona McClymont

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

    £18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

    £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own