Men’s beards have quickly become a shorthand for ‘I work in a creative industry - or I wish I did’, while for for A-listers, they’re thing you grow when you’re trying to be taken seriously.
Similarly, ponytails, or its Millennial successor, the man-bun, is now a sign that you live in Williamsburg/Dalston/Berlin or for famouses, that you’re doing a period drama set in the Civil War era/mid Eighties.
So we’re used to seeing all sorts of versions of all sorts of hair growth, both head and hair. Sometimes it works perfectly, transorming our favourite leading men into a more masculine, rugged version of their former selves and sometimes....not so much. Here’s our run-down of the most spectacular forays into facial hair from the best to the very, very worst.
George Clooney 10/10
The poster boy for the transformative power of the beard, gorgeous George looks so majestic, so rugged yet perfectly preened, so utterly, entirely glorious with his salt and pepper facial hair that we may as well stop this list right here.
We won't, of course. We will simply say bravo Mr Clooney, there are men....and then there is you.
Matt Damon 9/10
Seriously, who HASN'T dreamt of f***ing Matt Damon – I mean what's not to like about a clean-cut, attractive in an ordinary sort of way, non-threatening, yeah ok fine, Hollywood hunk that can also write and stuff. But he's never got to the heady heights of number 1 in our celebrity hall pass list.
But NOW HE HAS A PONYTAIL. Yes, as unveiled at this week’s The Great Wall press conference, Matt is now the fit, cool bloke you met at sixth form college in 1997, who might do something arty in his spare time, dabble with motorbikes, engage in political debates in the Union bar and talk about his feelings until you fall asleep on his tattooed, athletically-muscled shoulder. WOOF.
Ben Affleck 9/10
We don’t know about you , but the sight of Ben Affleck in his turn in Argo as an extremely beardy, long shaggy haired, be-tweeded and corduroy clad CIA agent *slaps self around the face* was the stuff of our sexy Seventies academic fantasies and made us melt, quite literally into our cinema seats. (Sorry about that, Hackney Picturehouse).
The most recent pics of Ben with patchy, grey stubble arguing with Jen G (RIP Bennifer! :/) make us implore: Ben, grow back the beard, do the accent from The Town and we’ll consider taking you out for a few lagers. (BEN ONLY JOKING CALL US NOW WE’LL TAKE YOU ANY WHICH WAY).
Jamie Dornan 8/10
We can’t be the only humans whose hearts sank at the sight of Jamie Dornan’s clean shaven Grey look? While his short, stubbly beard in The Fall gave him a bit of a sexy, rough and ready edge (glossing over the serial killer part of it ahem), his smooth, denuded little boy’s face just felt a bit… meh.
So hurrah for the return of the facial fluff, as spotted this week on the streets of London town – our Jamie is now sporting a full-on and really quite luxuriant handlebar lip-wig which we are very much drawn to in a peverse, “let’s test out this velcro-effect thing” kinda way. So yes. Yes to the lady-tickler.
Orlando Bloom 7/10
The long elvish locks he sported during the Lord of the Rings endlessness must have shown everyone’s favourite Bieber-slapper that his fine boned features could definitely work with a bit of long hair – we are pleased that his experiment with the kind of goatee-based facial fringe we can only refer to as ‘Bard-esque’ has concluded and that he has returned to walking the streets of London with a clean face and a sexy man bun. Orlando you can borrow our hair elastics any ole time.
Brad Pitt 6/10
Dear Brad Pitt. However bad and trampy you make yourself look in pursuit of character roles that may or may not win you an Oscar – either with a ridiculous full-on groundskeeper-style chin curtain, dribbly little ponytail or both at the same time – we can still remember exactly how you looked in the Nineties with slightly long hair and a little bit of five ‘o’ clock shadow and we can still close our eyes and play the Thelma & Louise boning scene over and over and over in our heads. And nobody can stop us.
Jake Gyllenhaal 5/10
A man who has often flirted with a bit of the old face foliage, Jake is currently wearing a fullsome beard (and tufty hair) playing the part of Seymour in the Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors.
And while, whatever Tay Tay says now, there’s a special place in our hearts for any attractive man who’s also a very good actor and who’s indie and sensitive and cool and whatnot, we must draw the line at this full-some monstrosity of a womb-broom. This is one run we don’t want extended.
Jon Hamm 3/10
Jon, you sweet, crazy man, the best thing about your powerful and masculine good looks (apart from your generously proportioned Jon Hamm-bone, amiright laydeez) is probably your strong, chiselled lantern-jaw, the jaw that lit up Mad Men’s fictional offices like a veritable sex beacon and made men and women alike fall powerlessly under its preppy, fuzz-free spell.
So like, durr, if you cover it up, you are hiding your sex light under a bushel. Let your light shine Jon. Let it shine free.
Leonardo DiCaprio 1/10
After a winter spent partying extremely hard around the world on your superyacht, tossing off Grey Goose shots and nibbling Beluga caviar off the bottoms of internationally renowned supermodels*, you may be tempted to grow in a beard to try and get back into the swing of being an ordinary person.
Do not do this.
We are watching the current evolution of lovely Leo’s bushy, fluffy and un-trimmed- face fungus with horror. As your mum might say, “We just want to see your lovely face”.
Mel Gibson 0/10
Ba haha haaaaaaaa. Yeah, alright Mel. Nice one.
Words: Anna-Marie Crowhurst