Facial hair is a catalyst to male metamorphosis. And the latest metamorphosis -- the goatee -- is a throwback to the 1950s, when beatniks, those artsy and devilish-looking cats were the intellectual rebels.
Today the goatee is more a fashion statement than an act of rebellion, although a rebellion against shaving may be one motivator. The short, neat, mustache paired with a chin-only beard has been spotted on the likes of Bruce Willis, Adam Rich, Paul Reubens, Mickey Rourke, Rob Lowe and members of the bands the Smithereens and Los Lobos.
"It's certainly a trend," said hair salon owner Allen Edwards. "You see it not only in men, but in boys -- younger men. You see these young, clean-cut guys with goatees and it looks kind of contradictory."
The style is part of going back to basics, said Mr. Edwards.
"Guys are buying pickup trucks. It's hipper not to be so flashy today. The goatee goes along with that," he said.
Frankie Payne, 29, a Los Angeles actor, said he has been wearing goatees off and on for the past five years, in part because it's easy and gives the face a break from shaving, but also because he said the look gives him a chance to change his image.
"It adds an edge to my look. Sometimes a hairstyle (change) just doesn't do that," Mr. Payne said. "Facial hair adds a lot of drama.
"Women can color or cut their hair to change themselves. Facial hair gives men a chance to change."
Laurent Dufourg, co-owner of the Jose Eber salon in Beverly Hills, said the goatee look is also popular in New York and France, and although the trend started awhile back, it is becoming more visible. One of his clients, actor Richard Grieco, now sports a goatee.
Mr. Dufourg himself wears a goatee, which he trims every two days, and an earring, he said, because it makes him look younger.
"A goatee is fun. But it's more a question of fashion than trying to achieve a rugged look," he said.