AS you read these words I will be enjoying a week off and my husband will be channelling all his energies into cultivating a holiday beard.

With each passing day his jawline will disappear further beneath a fuzz of facial hair and I will find it increasingly hard to keep from mentally shaving it off every time I look at him.

At the end of the holiday he will announce that, actually, he quite likes the bearded look, it goes with his jumpers, and he might keep it for a bit longer. And so the ever-growing beard fraternity will have claimed another victim.

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If you haven't worked it out for yourself, we are living through a beard epidemic. What had until now been the preserve of social workers, eco-warriors and grandpas is now the height of fashion. As was once the case with rats, city dwellers are now never more than six feet from a beard. Across the land, previously clean-jawed men are channelling their inner chimp and tossing those razors aside.

Now I will concede that there are a select few individuals whose looks are enhanced by their beard and its removal would make them appear odd, but for the majority of bandwagon-hopping beardies, this is not the case.

While a shadow of stubble can have a certain appeal, in the main, beards fall into three categories, none of which is good. They are either overly shaped and sculpted, which suggests vanity and is therefore very unappealing, or they are big and bushy and unkempt, which makes you look like you are a survivor of a shipwreck, or they are straggly and patchy, which makes you look like the survivor of a shipwreck who failed to flourish on the island.

I once read a theory which stated that throughout history, when economic times were good, male pin- ups (to use a quaint term) tended towards more "feminine" fine features, and when times were hard, the vogue was for butch, lantern-jawed alpha types whose features were presumably associated, on some deeply subconscious level, with being good providers and protectors.

As with all trends, though, once a look reaches a saturation point among the population it quickly morphs from a "must-have" to a "has-been". Already, the hipsters are proclaiming that we have reached, what has been dubbed Peak Beard. So if you're currently rubbing your chin thinking that this could be the look for you, then stop, you've missed the boat. But don't worry, give it another 30 years and I'm sure it will be back.