Star Lotulelei and Ben Boulware Gym Beard

Panthers Star Lotulelei and Ben Boulware: The Battle of The Athletic Beard

The Carolina Panthers are most certainly an NFL team to watch. Whether it’s linebacker Thomas Davis’ recent contract extension or the team’s upcoming preseason face-off against the Tennessee Titans, there are tons of headlines coming out of this franchise. But perhaps the most important competition happening within the team concerns the gym beard’s grooming.

Star Lotulelei and Ben Boulware are involved in a gym beard battle royale to see who has the best facial hair. Lotulelei’s beard is the longest of the two, and he keeps it fresh with a biweekly trim. On the other hand, Boulware believes his beard has more character and thickness. But his care routine is lacking. If you think NFL athletes with beards are immune to everyday problems, think again. “I need some beard oil. I’ve been struggling at camp. Whenever I get out of the shower and comb it, it gets really dry, and just gets like, poufed up,” Boulware admitted during a recent news conference.

SB Nation declared Lotulelei the winner because of his superior length and established care routine. While it’s all in good fun, the friendly rivalry raises some real-world concerns about gym beard. Athletes sweat more than the average guy. And athletes like Lotulelei and Boulware spend a great deal of time outdoors, mixing dirt and grime along with the sweat. For the consummate athlete, beard care is even more important.

Taking care of your gym beard

There’s no doubt beards are taking over weight rooms and treadmills across the country. With the rise of the lumbersexual, a rugged man defined by his love of fitness and facial hair, a beard has become as essential to a workout as the weights themselves. But maintaining that gym beard requires a few extra steps.

Before your workout, remove any beard oils or pomades from your facial hair. While these products keep your beard hair soft and healthy during the day, they can clog your pores during a sweat session. Use a gentle face wash or beard shampoo to lightly clean your beard.

When you’re done working out, your body needs recovery (i.e. stretching, foam rolling, time in the sauna, etc.). Your beard needs recovery, too. You need another round of face wash. But this time, wash thoroughly to remove all the sweat. If you’re working out intensely multiple times a week, you should use a beard shampoo every couple days to ensure you’re really keeping your facial hair clean. And then, reapply your beard oil to restore your shine and keep your beard moisturized.

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Is a gym beard right for you?

This is simply a matter of preference. There’s no solid evidence that facial hair has an impact on your workout ability. In 2014, a study surfaced that showed the improved performance of several NFL players, including Jay Cutler, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger, when they grew beards. The study was more of an unofficial analysis—far-reaching and less science-based. Yet still, there seemed to be some measurable correlation between performance and beard growth.

Some publications have questioned if beards gave MLB players an extra advantage over their clean-shaven counterparts. But this hypothesis was also based on an analysis of stats and not a controlled study.

If anything, sporting a beard at the gym can make you look more like a pro athlete. When you see a pro-quality athlete looking back at you in the mirror, there’s no doubt it’ll be motivational. And maybe it’s this look, and equating it with the high-performing NFL and MLB players, that pushes you to destroy your workout.

Of course, this is all speculation. But one thing’s for sure—your gym beard requires regular care and maintenance. Pro or amateur, don’t skip this step.

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