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The hipster beard is a facial hairstyle that achieved popularity among the hipster subculture in late 2005 and early 2006. These beards can take a number of different forms, but, like most hipster fashion, they blur the line between an ironic celebration of unattractiveness and an attempt to impress by looking good. Within a few years of their introduction, hipster beards were already the target of a massive backlash, regarded by many as symptomatic of pretension. Despite this, this style of beard appears to have had some impact on the acceptability of facial hair among American males. Prior to this period, full beards had typically been worn only by older males, but the hipster style made them more acceptable to young men.
Hipster beards are diverse, but in general they are full and slightly scruffy, with a 'natural' appearance. A neatly-trimmed goatee, the most common form of mainstream facial hair for young men prior to the advent of the hipster beard, does not qualify. Style writers have described it as evoking a feel of scruffiness in order to project an anti-corporate image. Shaggy beards are incompatible with the image of corporate employment, evoking musicians, artists and other counterculture figures.
Despite the generally rough appearance, growing a hipster beard requires a level of maintenance. Most beard wearers prefer to avoid growing a "neck beard," and therefore have to shave the upper part of the neck. Many wearers also trim the mustache around the mouth, stopping it from getting in the way of the lips. Some hipsters also cultivate traditional "handlebar" moustaches, which can require extensive grooming and styling.
Within a few years of the rise of the hipster beard, it had become one of the defining characteristics of the hipster. Kari Ferrell, who became known as the "Hipster Grifter" for obtaining a job at hipster mouthpiece Vice magazine under false pretenses, had a tattoo reading "I Love Beards." By the late 2000s, the beard had spread beyond the hipster subculture, with non-hipsters beginning to wear full, if usually neatly trimmed, beards.
The adoption of beards among non-hipsters was accompanied by a backlash against the hipster beard in some segments of the media and popular culture. By 2009, fashion writers were increasingly critical of the hipster beard, while many hipsters had come to regard the wearing of full beards by distinctly un-hip celebrities such as Sting as evidence that the trend had run its course. These reservations did not prevent full beards from being increasingly common as a fashion choice for young men.