“Beard or no beard, that is the question.”
The answers to this are all over the place, depending on the kind of situation you’re in.
Beards are usually a fashion element, but for guys that are youthful looking a beard is simply a practical necessity. They need a beard to come across as more serious and convincing.
Other times though shaving itself is a practical choice that solves a real problem you might have, such as time, effort and money spent on maintenance. Sometimes you need to shave your beard to keep or get a job.
Another tricky situation is whether to shave the beard if your girlfriend absolutely hates it.
Finally, shaving or trimming a beard can be a surprisingly emotional choice, especially if you’ve invested a lot of time growing it, and effort in maintaining it.
At this point, it feels like a part of your identity so shaving it off can feel like removing a part of yourself.
Reasons NOT to shave your beard
You’re growing a beard and don’t like how it’s shaping up
Beards can take a long time to properly grow, so if you’re in the process of growing one but don’t quite like the results so far then have a little more patience.
Lots of good looking beards need time to grow out before you can do the really interesting styling with them.
Shorter stubbles or beards don’t work well on many guys, but longer ones absolutely do. Maybe you’re in the latter category and need your beard to be a certain length before you can do anything with it.
Let it grow. The reality is it can take people years to grow to the length they need for their desired style.
You’re concerned about patchiness.
Patchiness is something lots of guys are worried about, thinking that if they have a few gaps in their beard they should just quit growing one altogether.
That’s rarely the case though, and there are lots of different good looking beard styles specifically created to tackle patchy beards.
A good example of this is Jason Momoa’s beard. The guy has pretty sparse cheeks but he’s played around with lots of good lucking beard styles, such as the one below.
Finally, sometimes the best cure for a patchy beard is to just let it grow out and figure things out later when you have a more glorious hairy chin halo.
A great example of this is Keanu Reeves. The guy’s beard looks like it’s been shot to pieces in Vietnam, but after letting it grow a bit more it absolutely looks amazing on him.
Moral of the story is that patchy beards aren’t bad, they’re just harder to grow and make them look good.
You think beards are out of fashion
If you’re going to shave your beard, don’t do it because you think they’ve fallen out of fashion.
Beard styles however? Yes, these ones do come and go over time.
Ultimately, beards have been around for thousands of years, and they’ll still be around for a few thousand years more until the last man loses his last hair follicle.
If you decide to shave your beard, don’t do it because you think they’re “not fashionable anymore”.
Do it because you’re tired of whispering sweet lies to women who gently caress your glorious warlord mane. That’s serious work in and of itself, and even the most patient manliest manly man will eventually get tired of this.
You look too young without a beard
Because of damned genetics, some guys just look too youthful when they don’t have a beard.
You’d think that wouldn’t be a problem. After all, who doesn’t want to look young?
This can be a problem though, since guys who look too young may not be taken as seriously as those with an older, more serious appearance.
Beards absolutely help in making you appear older, which in turns give you “gravitas”, or the ability to have people listen to you and take your opinions seriously.
For people in this situation, a beard isn’t just a fashion accessory. It’s almost a necessity, especially if your line of work requires convincing others you’re right (which means practically any job that involves colleagues).
If you’re seriously not in love with your current beard, then first experiment with other beard styles that are easier to maintain before going clean shaven.
Reasons to shave your beard
First attempt growing a beard failed and you want to try again
Having a good looking beard isn’t just genetics, it’s also about proper maintenance and having a good beard care routine.
Below is an example of a guy who failed his first attempt at growing a beard, but had a spectacular success the second time around.
Finding the right routine for you can take quite a bit of effort. Here’s what the guy above had go to through to have his dream beard the 2nd time around:
What I did the second time around. I bought supplies to make my own beard oil—and a round brush. I learned a routine that works for me and I realized that the length in the second photo is about the longest length for me without looking wispy.
Shower: Wash the beard with water every day and only condition it 1-2 times a week (use a beard conditioner, but any brand should work). The days I don’t condition, just water and any soap runoff from my face, but I don’t scrub the soap into the beard.
Drying: Pat dry (don’t rub) out of the shower with towel.
Styling: Take a hair dryer on low heat and a round brush. I slowly work the beard down (never up), starting with the cheeks (thinnest area for me) and then I work the goatee, then finish with drying the moustache (normally handlebar). Once 85-90% dry, I add my beard oil, work it in, then add styling balm. When I add the styling balm, I go downward. Again, never up for me. Finally, I add a very SMALL amount of wax to the moustache.
Trimming: I never trim when wet—aka, morning for me. When I trim, I hit the cheeks, sideburns with a 10.5mm guard, and go down, again (repeating theme) never up! The moustache is not being trimmed at present (going for terminal length). The goatee is free handed with beard trimmer with no guard (so I can see what I’m doing). I try to get wispy hairs when I see them with some scissors.
I think that’s about it.
The reasons you grew a beard are no longer there
It’s possible you grew the beard at a time when your sense of personal identity was different than the one you have now.
At the time, having a certain type of beard such as a lumberjack, goatee, Van Dyke or long stubble felt like a good fit for your personality, your identity as a person, and how you wanted others to perceive you.
People change though, and Present You might be a completely different person that Past You from 2-3 years ago. Sometimes change happens so fast you’re a different person than the one you were 6 months ago.
If you feel your current beard style, or just a beard in general, is not a good fit for you then by all means shave it into oblivion.
Ultimately, to carry a beard you must be one with the beard. If your beard has to depart from your face for you to feel like your true self, then it must be done.
Cleaning and maintenance feels like a waste of time
A big problem with beards is that they require effort to clean and maintain.
Shorter beards not so much, but longer ones can definitely require a long and very involved process requiring all sorts of specialized beard care products such as oils, conditioners, trimmers as well as very precise steps to make sure the beard looks a certain way.
But it’s not just about the time, it’s also about the money. Beard maintenance costs can add up if you often need to go to barbershops, buy expensive oils, conditioners, wax, balm etc.
Unfortunately, these beard care routines need to be done, or else you’ll end up with the unkempt and dirty river troll look.
If you feel your beard is more of a chore than a pleasure, then shaving it is the right choice and will make your day to day life much more enjoyable.
But first though, consider trimming it to the point where it’s an easy to care for stubble. Perhaps that’s a good in-between solution that might work for you.
You want to try a new style of beard
It’s possible you love having a beard, you just don’t like the way your beard looks right now.
You might have a new beard style in mind, but that one would require you to shave (almost) completely.
While not ideal, part of the joy of having a beard is being able to regrow it whenever you want and try different styles.
Shaving a long, carefully maintained beard can be anxiety inducing and lead to buyers remorse LINK. But if you’ve been thinking about changing up your beard style for weeks or months now, then that’s a sign you subconsciously really want to make a change, and shaving off your beard is worth the temporary absence of glorious facial hair, in order to grow a new glorious lion’s mane.
[MAYBE] Your girlfriend intensely dislikes the beard
Just to be clear, this one is a strong maybe.
Many women don’t like beards, especially the bushy kind, since they see them as unhygienic or dirty.
Also, it physically bothers them since the hairs can give them scratches or itches and are generally extremely unpleasant to the touch.
This situation isn’t easy to be in, because it puts into balance your own desires, sense of personal identity and pride, with the give and take typical of a relationship.
Ultimately, if this is the main reason you’re thinking of shaving your beard then it’s best you look at the relationship as a whole, and see how your beard fits into it.
For instance, is your relationship generally balanced, or does she constantlydemand you do X,Y,Z to make her happy? When you ask her to do something you might enjoy (wear X type of clothing, perfume etc.) does she mostly turn you down?
If she’s always making demands of you, but those demands never seem to make her happy, then chances are shaving the beard won’t satisfy her either.
It’ll just be another demand in a long list of past demands that will satisfy her for the moment (because for her, she “won”), and will make you feel less like yourself.
The situation is different if your relationship is balanced, and your girlfriend is an overall reasonable and caring romantic partner.
If she invests just as much as you (or even more) in the relationship, then her complaining about the beard means it’s a genuine turnoff, a clear, well-defined problem that objectively makes the relationship worse for her.
If this is the case, and you’re serious about the girl, it might be worth trimming the beard. Completely shaving it might not even be necessary.
As for the actual length, it’s not always necessary to ask her what beard length she’d like. She might not even be able to accurately tell you.
Based on past interactions, you probably have a good idea of what beard size / style works for her. Don’t ask or tell her that you’ll shave. Just go one day to the barbers, do the deed and surprise her.
Is this an ideal situation for a beard lover? No, it isn’t.
You’re too young to have a good looking beard
Depending on a genetic lottery, guys usually reach their maximum beard growth potential at around 22-24 years old.
If you are below this age it’s almost certain your beard growing powers haven’t reached full potential, so you’ll likely have a few patches of beard growth, broken up by big areas of empty skin where nothing grows.
That’s normal and not much you can really do about it.
If you feel this is you, then don’t bother investing much time and effort into your beard. Beards are cool, don’t get me wrong, but you just haven’t reached your full Wookie stage where you can go crazy with the beard styles.
That being said, if your current beard growth allows you to experiment with stuff, then by all means do so. Just know that if you like beards, then you will 100% reach a point where you’ll shave it anyway so you’ll start growing a proper full beard.
Job requires it
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do if a current or potential employer imposes a no-beard policy. In most cases, they are within their legal rights to do so.