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From Jamie Dornan to Darren Clarke: Why Northern Ireland celebrities are sporting trendy beards, but is it a fad that's going to keep growing?

By Claire McNeilly

Published 06/06/2015

Jamie Dornan played Christian Grey in the film version of Fifty Shades Of Grey
Jamie Dornan played Christian Grey in the film version of Fifty Shades Of Grey
Golfer Darren Clarke
Actor Kenneth Branagh
Footballer Stuart Dallas

Actors Jamie Dornan, Kenneth Branagh and John Lynch each have one.

So too do sports stars Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell, Ulster Rugby's Chris Henry and Iain Henderson, as well as Stuart Dallas, the Northern Ireland striker.

'It' is, of course, the ubiquitous beard, and these famous local faces have all now grown one.

No surprise, then, that sales of razors and blades have dropped a massive 3.6% since last year.

Procter & Gamble, which owns the shaving giant Gillette, recently revealed razor sales were falling in all its developed markets.

The trend of beard growing shows no sign of decline, although no one seems to know how it all started.

Social scientists have put forward a view that it's a fightback against masculinity being under threat from the so-called metrosexual male (in other words, a man who is meticulous about his grooming and appearance).

Others have said it's to do with not having time to persist with the dull daily routine of shaving.

Whatever the reason, the marketing research firm Mintel believes that it is unlikely to change this year and the company has predicted another tough year for razor sellers.

In stark contrast, male products such as beard oil have been flying off the shelves in local salons.

Jason Shankey Hairdressing, which has five premises, has just signed a deal with the world's largest distributor of professional hair and beauty goods.

That means Shankey's Male Grooming range - comprising beard oil, hair styling paste, moisturising balm and After Glow, the hairdresser's first signature unisex fragrance - will be available in 250 Sally Salon Services stores across the UK from next month.

"We're offering our clients these four new products because male grooming is so popular at the moment," Mr Shankey said.

"More and more men are paying close attention to their image and looking for different ways to pamper themselves."

His business partner, fellow hairdresser and wife Brenda, admitted that she's partial to a beard - although her own husband is clean-shaven.

"Jason grows a moustache every year for Movember (an annual event that sees men grow moustaches in November to raise awareness of male health issues) and he hates it," she said.

"It doesn't suit him and I don't find it very attractive.

"A well-maintained beard makes a man look sexy. It gives a face a sense of character."

She added: "I admit I do like to run my fingers through a male client's beard."

Whether it involves growing whiskers or not, men believe in taking care of their appearance.

Mintel found the proportion of men using five or more products on the face or body saw a hike of 6% from 11% in 2013 to 17% last year.

Belfast Telegraph

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