To shave, or not to shave? That is the question.
If you can’t decide whether you should keep your scruff or your hard-grown beard, you’re not alone. A beard isn’t something a man parts with easily, especially if he’s dedicated months or years to grow it out.
Growing your beard out can be a fun and rewarding experience. Bearded men enjoy a host of benefits, including extra protection from skin cancer caused by UV rays and warmth in the winter months. There may come a time that you need to let it go; but how do you know when it’s the right time to say goodbye? If any of these scenarios sound like you, then it might be time for you to remember what your face looks like without your trusty beard. You may also want to know more about irritated skin after shaving.
1. You Have a Patchy Beard
The struggle with a patchy beard or beard dandruff is often a crossroads: do you get rid of it, or push through the patchiness and hope that it fills in over time? If you’ve never grown a beard before, waiting it out can get you closer to the beard of your dreams, but some guys simply just don’t grow thick facial hair. There are products out there that are designed to help increase beard growth but don’t fall for claims that a product will “cure” your patches.
Beard patchiness and lack of beard growth is caused by your androgens - the hormones that regulate the growth of your facial hair, among other things. The best-known hormone in this group is testosterone, which plays a major role in determining male characteristics such as the growth of facial hair. It sends out the signals that tell your body to generate the enzymes responsible for hair growth. All of this is a fancy way of saying that your patchy beard may be a sign that your body isn’t producing enough of those enzymes to help you grow a thick beard.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you should turn to products that claim to boost your body’s natural production of these enzymes. Patchy facial hair isn’t a sign of illness or a shortcoming that you can overcome; it’s just a product of the unique way that your body functions. Not everyone can grow a bushy beard. So if you’ve tried to overcome your natural patchiness and your beard doesn't seem to be growing any thicker, it may be time to bite the bullet and shave.
2. You Have an Important Interview Coming Up
One-tenth of a second is all it takes to form a first impression. If you have an important interview or meeting coming up then you may want to consider shaving your beard. Give yourself a good hard look in the mirror and be honest about what you see. Are you scruffy or scraggly? Still working through that patchy stage? A little bushy around the edges? A well-grown and well-groomed beard can absolutely be part of a polished look, but if that’s not what you’re working with then you may need a clean shaven face for that interview. If you’re going to keep the beard, then you definitely should trim it up with a quality beard trimmer which doesn't require a shaving cream for a clean look.
Hesitant to shave off the weeks and months you’ve spent cultivating this look? Before you pull the trigger on buying that razor, take a look at your prospective employer’s website, and search for any press releases with photos. Look for photos of current employees to see whether they’re showcasing any men sporting beards. If the company culture seems pretty laid back and your particular brand of facial hair is well represented then you may be able to maintain the beard for the interview. That said, if you have even the slightest bit of doubt, the safest strategy is to suck it up and shave. Even if beard culture is prevalent at your potential new office you can never go wrong with a clean, polished first impression.
And remember - you can always grow it back after you nail your interview!
3. You’re Looking To Beat The Heat
It’s no coincidence that a lot of men trim their beards close for the summer, or even shave them off altogether.
Sporting a long beard or other fuller beard styles in the heat can look cool but it certainly won't help you to feel cool. Having that extra layer of hair can feel like wearing a blanket on your face.
It takes a great deal of resolve to keep your beard in summer. You'll have to commit to finding other ways to compensate and stay cool, but maybe that's a price you're willing to pay to keep your look consistent year-round.
4. You've Achieved Your “Beard Goal"
If this is your first time growing out a beard, maybe you set a goal for yourself. Shooting for a meard? Maybe a yeard for good measure?
If you’re not familiar with the meard and yeard lexicon:
Meard = month + beard. In other words, your goal is to grow your beard out for a full month, at which point you decide whether to keep it or maintain it at that length. No Shave November, for example, is prime meard season. Similarly, a yeard = year + beard; same concept, but mentally committing to a whole year of growth. Every man who wants to grow a beard starts with a different beard goal and, once they’ve reached it, they start thinking about where to go from there.
You can target whatever feels right to you, depending on how fast your hair grows. You’ll likely be happier with your look if you start with a clear strategy instead of haphazardly growing scruffy whiskers in perpetuity.
5. Your Lady Friend Isn't A Fan
Lots of men are convinced that their beards make them look more masculine, but our significant other may not be on board with the look. If your significant other is trying to convince you to shave it, you have two options: you can wait it out to see if your beard grows on her (after all, if this is a new look for you then she might not be used to it yet) or you can oblige her and shave. Happy wife, happy life, right?
Fortunately, this is a conversation you may never need to have. Some studies have shown that women find men with facial hair to be more attractive than those without. This won’t be true across the board, of course - everyone has a type and their own personal preferences - but if you’re single and thinking about growing a beard it shouldn’t get in your way of meeting that special someone.
6. You Don’t Want To Keep Up With The Upkeep
Scruff doesn’t require any real maintenance; you can trim it on your own at home and can get by without using any products or adding specific steps to your self-care routine. A full beard is another story. As your facial hair gets longer, so will the list of products that you’ll want to have on hand to keep it looking full and healthy.
You’ll need to trim up your beard just like you do with your standard haircut (but probably more frequently, depending on how your facial hair grows and what kind of beard you’re working with). You can do this at home with a pair of facial hair scissors, but some men prefer to go to a barbershop to use a professional’s expertise.
You should also purchase the right products to take care of your facial hair. Beard oil, for example, is formulated to supplement the oils that your body produces naturally that help your beard and your skin happy and hydrated and give your beard a noticeable shine. There are also leave-in beard conditioners designed for the same purpose.
If your beard comes with a mustache, or if it gets a little unruly in humidity, then you may also want to pick up some beard wax to help keep everything in place over the course of the day. You can also get specific shampoos, brushes, and combs that are designed with beards in mind. If you aren’t interested in taking the extra steps required to maintain a healthy beard then you might be better off with a clean-shaven look.
There are lots of factors that you should consider when evaluating whether to keep your beard or let it go. This is by no means anti-beard, but if you struggle to grow thick facial hair or aren’t ready to take on the upkeep then there’s no shame in going back to a hair-free face.
If you’re still undecided, you can always crowdsource your decision through Beard of Hope! This online charity lets you ask your friends and family to donate to either a “save” or “shave” team for your beard, and at the end of the campaign whichever side has raised the most money has made your decision for you! This is a stress-free way to decide your beard’s fate while also raising money for a worthy cause.