Do Surfers Have Beards? Pros & Cons You Should Know (+4 Tips)

Robert Elgar

There was a time when anyone thinking about a surfer would think of someone with bronze skin, bleach blonde curly hair, and a rebel lifestyle.

This is no longer the entire story. Since the origins of worldwide surfing, the surfer look has changed from a single idea to just about anyone with any look of any size.

Just as some surfers are bald, so do some surfers have beards.

Although surfing with a beard does not have a large effect on surfing, you may find that larger beards get in the way, it makes grooming your beard harder, and may even keep you warm on colder days.

In the following article, we will take a look at how having a beard may affect surfers with regards to the pros and cons, the image, maintenance of your beard, and more.

Is It Common for Surfers to Have Beards?

Surfing has never been much of a clean-cut, corporate look sort of a sport.

But even with the underlying cliches of how a surfer looks, there is a surprising shortage of big-bearded surfers in the ocean.

Without extensive surveys that span across multiple countries, there is no real way to come to an accurate conclusion why, although we can make a few educated assumptions.

By removing surfing out of the equation, it is still obvious that the percentage of individuals with beards is relatively low.

This is likely due to the social idea that a professional should be clean-shaven, have short hair, and dress to show they have money.

Although this status quo is quickly changing, a large part of society still follows its idea blindly.

With between 17 million and 35 million surfers in the world, it is easy to assume that the surfing population is no longer dominated by a rebel bunch of beach bums that “waste their lives” searching for the next big thrill.

Instead, the surfing world is made mostly of regular Joe’s spanning careers from housekeepers to lawyers to CEOs of multi-million dollar companies and everything in between.

When looking at what jobs surfers do in California, it is clear that the most densely populated work is home and health care. 

When last did you see a doctor or nurse with a huge beard or long blond curly hair?

This is likely the biggest reason why there are not more surfers with beards, but that is not to say that they don’t have them.

In fact, there is a large number of surfers with beards, some of whom have reached the top tiers of the surfing world.

Some of these pro surfers include:

Josh Redman

The Malloy Brothers

Chris Del Moro

Are There Benefits of Having a Beard When Surfing?

As mentioned before, wearing a beard does not have much of an effect on surfing, which makes its benefits small.

That being said, a beard could help protect you from the elements and may help with your “image” in the water.

Beards Keep You Warm

One of the main purposes of our body hair is temperature regulation. 

Simply put, a large beard can help keep your face warm while surfing in cold water, or when there is an icy breeze.

Although your beard will still become wet, it will provide better protection from the cold than no beard at all.

Sun Protection

Hours of over-exposure to direct sunlight can have a negative effect on our skin and health.

Because of this, there is no surprise that surfers sometimes have bad skin that has been weathered due to countless hours outdoors.

Wearing a beard and long hair creates a protective barrier between your skin and the harsh UV rays produced by the sun.

Although a beard often makes us look older, if you had to remove it, your skin will be as new as it was before growing your beard.

Surfing Image

Although it is not bleached blonde surfer’s hair, wearing a beard can help you fit into the cliche of the relaxed surfer.

This may make no difference to most bearded surfers.

But for some – especially when surfing in new spots where you do not know the locals – a beard may help you blend into the crowd as a well-seasoned wave rider.

What Are the Downsides Bearded Surfers Face?

As with everything that has a positive, there are a few negatives to create a balance.

Surfing with a beard will not hold you back much, but in the case that:

  • your beard is long
  • you have underlying skin issues, or
  • you live in a hot and humid climate

you may see some downsides from surfing with a beard.

Your Beard May Get In the Way

If your beard is particularly long, you may find that it gets in the way, similar to having long hair while surfing.

When popping up, a long beard may become caught under your chest or hand.

This is likely to give you a sharp jolt to the face and leave you falling from your board and taking a tumble along with the wave.

Shorter beards, however, are not likely to cause any such problems.

Skin Conditions

If you have sensitive skin, surfing with a beard may cause some irritation.

This is less because of the board and more from the salt in the ocean that dries out our skin.

A beard may make it difficult to remove all the salt from your skin after being in the ocean, which may lead to irritation, drying out, and in worse cases, infection.

This is why it is important to shower with fresh water after surfing or spending any time in the ocean.

Overheating

Just as a beard will help you stay warm in colder weather, it will do the opposite when temperatures are high.

Long hair and beards can make spending time in warm climates difficult.

Although the ocean will still cool you down, if you have a full head of hair, you may find that you are overheating much quicker than others around you.

Make sure that you choose your wetsuit wisely to avoid any problems with heat regulation during your surf session, especially if you have long hair and a big beard.

Does the Type of Beard Affect Surfing?

Most beard types will not cause much of an effect on surfing.

However, extremely long beards or particularly bushy ones may cause slight hindrances.

For example, an extremely long bear may get caught up when trying to stand up on a surfboard, while a bushy beard may slightly obstruct your eyesight.

Apart from this, there is not much difference in beard styles when it comes to surfing. 

How Does Surfing Affect Your Beard?

Surfing, and particularly the ocean water, affects your beard in much the same way that seawater affects your hair.

Sea Water Dries Out Beards

Because of the properties of salt and the effect of osmosis, saltwater draws out moisture from hair and skin.

This means that when exposed to ocean water for long periods, your beard will become dry and hard. 

This will leave it looking straw-like, will make it clump together, and will likely make it itchy.

The Ocean Adds Minerals to Beards

The ocean is full of minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and selenium which have all been found to have positive effects on hair and skin.

When spending long periods in the ocean, these minerals are absorbed by the skin, which in turn produces silky, soft, and healthy hair.

Surfing Bleaches Hair

Most of us are aware that the combination of sunlight and saltwater lightens the color of our hair, but many of us forget that our beards are included in this.

Ultraviolet light breaks down melatonin which is responsible for darker complexions in skin and hair.

With the help of seawater (whose crystals act as a magnifying glass), the sun will eventually begin to lighten the color of your beard.

Do Surfers Need to Take Special Care of Their Beards?

Surfers do not need to take special care of their beards, although doing so will keep your beard soft, clean, and healthy.

Not paying attention to your beard, especially if it is long and you spend a large amount of time in the ocean, could leave it dry, tangled, and uncomfortable.

4 Tips for Bearded Surfers

1. Wet Your Beard Before Surfing

Wetting your beard with fresh water will help reduce the amount of moisture that is lost from the hair while you are in the ocean.

Alternatively, you could use a natural oil such as olive or coconut oil which will create a waterproof layer between your beard and the ocean.

2. Rinse Your Beard After Surfing

Removing all the saltwater from your skin and beard is the most important thing you can do after surfing.

Not only will this reduce the chance of infection from sea bacteria, but it will take away any potential salt that will remain after your beard is dry.

Even if salt is dry, it will continue to draw water out of its surroundings.

Make sure you run your hands through your beard while rinsing it until there is no salt remaining.

3. Brush Your Beard After Leaving the Ocean

After rinsing your beard, it is a good idea to give it a light brush.

Doing this will help separate clumps of hair and leave your beard looking more full once it has dried.

This is even more important if you will not be showering straight after surfing.

If saltwater is going to dry in your beard, it is a good idea to separate any clumps so that the salt does not glue your beard together and cause knots.

4. Use a Beard Oil

Using beard oil after surfing or spending time in the ocean is a great way to restore moisture to the hairs and skin.

Beard oil will soften your beard while adding necessary nutrients to the follicles.

Although this is a good idea, overusing beard oil could cause your skin to stop producing natural oils, and therefore result in a dryer beard – which means it is important to use beard oil in moderation.

Should I Shave Before Surfing?

There is no reason why you would need to shave your beard before surfing.

Although the surf world is not dominated by bearded surfers, there are still a number of them carving up the waves.

Whether you want to shave your beard before surfing or allow it to grow out is completely up to you and will ultimately not make much of a difference.

Conclusion

The surfing world is full of all sorts of individuals – this includes surfers with beards.

Although beards are not part of the surfing cliché, there are still plenty of surfers who wear them.

Having a beard will not have much of an impact on your surfing (unless it is huge) and is, therefore, more of a personal preference than a strategic surfing choice.

Wear a beard if you want, and shave it if you like, there is space in the world of surfing for everyone.

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