Beards Are Dead: Why Shaving It Off Was One Of The Best Decisions Of My Life

I woke up on my 28th birthday and realized this just wasn’t working – “this” being my life. Sure, I had my two French Bulldogs, Dutch and Dillon, and a sweet 1987 convertible, but I also had a tiny apartment above a wind chime store (how is that even a thing?), a depressing job packing small boxes into bigger boxes at the box factory (how is that even a thing?), and a barely-running 1987 convertible.

Oh, and like so many men in their late 20s, I had a beard.

Growing a beard seemed like a no-brainer as a young man. I would look older and wiser, with something to stroke whilst pondering whatever bearded men ponder, but more importantly, a beard would cover up the remnants of acne from my teenage years so I could finally be a hit with the ladies.

Yes, I naively believed a beard would transform me into a rugged badass. I was so very wrong.

The reality of bearded life was much different than my fantasies. For one thing, it didn’t grow quickly or uniformly. Initially, my face was a pathetic pastiche of black fur interrupted by barren stretches of baby-smooth skin where my beard could find no purchase.

Then once it grew in, I learned that keeping it neat and clean was not easy. It required special shampoo and conditioner – for some reason the stuff I used on my head just didn’t cut it – and an ever-growing assortment of oils, balms, and waxes. The high cost of beard ownership was totally unexpected.

And the ladies? Sure, when I spent an hour trimming every stray hair and slathering my beard in a variety of sandalwood-scented products – everything for beards smells like sandalwood – I did alright. But that wasn’t every day. Or even most days.

Instead of the full beard of a badass, my beard was more like the scraggly face pubes sported by an overly confident teenager. Obviously I was no chick magnet.

Career-wise, my beard didn’t do me any favors either. With little time to go through the full beard care procedure each morning, my face was a mess that left me destined to work in back rooms and poorly lit warehouses, out of sight of customers and better-groomed coworkers. And if such positions didn’t exist, employers created one just to keep me far from anyone’s gaze.

So why am I describing my beard in the past tense? Because after reflecting on that 28th birthday, I decided I needed to change – beginning with the end of my life as a bearded man.

It was not an easy decision to come to, having not been clean-shaven in years. Would I even remember how to shave? And what would I stroke whilst pondering whatever clean-shaven men ponder? Despite those admittedly idiotic reservations, I continued down the beardless path.

I grabbed my trimmer, removed the guard, and went to work. It was a good start, but once my trimmer could trim no more, it was time for the Schick Hydro® 5 to get that perfect shave I hadn’t experienced in years.

I pulled out my can of shave gel, wet my face with warm water, and lathered up. Then I put the razor up to my face, stared into my reflection, and bravely proclaimed, “This is it, don’t get scared now.”

Emboldened, I began the final step in removing my beard for good. I smoothed on some Edge® Shave Gel, and then, with each stroke of the razor I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders – and face to boot!

With a splash of cold water and gentle patting with a clean towel, I was free to admire my handiwork. The whole shaving routine had come back to me without any effort. Just like nobody ever says, shaving after having a beard for many years is just like riding a bike!

As much as I wanted to keep staring at my new, handsome face, I had work to do. It was time to free myself from the menagerie of tiny, odd-shaped bottles and tins containing beard care products I had accumulated over the years.

Tossing them into a trash bag, I would never again be a slave to overpriced oils emblazoned with cheap clipart of hipster arrows and anchors. Satisfied with what I had done, I took a deep breath of fresh bathroom air that would forever be sandalwood free.

Facial hair

I definitely felt better about myself, but what would the rest of the world think? A *recent survey from Schick Hydro and Edge Shave Gel of 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+ showed that 59% of Americans ­­– including a whopping 69% of Millennials – agreed that whether or not a man has facial hair is a huge factor when it comes to forming a first impression. And when it comes to the workplace, 70% of Americans are more likely to hire a man without facial hair. For the first time in years, the odds were on my side.

With confidence oozing from my newly naked pores, it was time for a more fulfilling career. Having worked in a bank in my pre-bearded life, I thought returning to the field would be the perfect bookend. And as luck would have it, a nearby bank was hiring personal bankers.

I first was given a phone interview which I easily got through thanks to being free from the distraction of itchy facial hair and no longer having to wipe beard oil off the phone every 30 seconds. A few days later I was offered a final interview at the branch with the manager and when the date arrived, I awoke surprisingly calm.

I waltzed into the bathroom and performed my simple shave routine. No more staring at my beard products, praying for help to soothe my savage beard. Shaving meant I “shaved” an easy 15 minutes off my morning routine while also leaving me with zero anxiety. So I put on my best suit, glanced at my handsome reflection for one final confidence boost, and headed out.

The interview went perfectly. I was confident and chatty, having no trouble finding the right words and never once did I nervously tug at the beard that was no longer there. But best of all, the job was mine.

And that was just the beginning. With my new job secured, I said goodbye to the box factory and every other job where I was kept far away from the public. And after a few months at the personal banking game, I made enough in bonuses to move far away from the wind chime store (really, how is that a thing?).

And the ladies? For a while I played the dating game and it went well. Making a clean shaven first impression seemed to confirm the fact that *nearly 1 in 3 Americans (31%) feel wild facial hair would be a bigger turnoff than an ex in a dating profile picture.

Once I got my sea legs under me, I became close with my new neighbor, an esthetician who adores my neat appearance. Oh, and I still have the convertible, but I was able to fix it up and now drive topless without fear of catching bugs and debris in my beard. Yes, everything is going smoothly.

Beard-is-dead

In 2015, Joel Alexander, of Instagram hipster beard fame, decided to shave it off too and wrote a fitting eulogy to beard culture. Read it here.

*This editorial was produced in partnership with Schick Hydro and Edge Shave Gel for a recent online omnibus survey to 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+ that showed some surprising results when it comes to shaving related to career moves and dating.

Facial Hair and Career Moves:

  • More than half (59%) of Americans, including 69% of Millennials, agree that whether a man has facial hair is a major factor in forming a first impression of him.
  • If they were equally qualified for the job, 70% of Americans are more likely to hire a man without facial hair than one with it.
  • 67% of Americans feel that clean-shaven guy is more likely to have a larger bank account than a man with facial hair.

Facial Hair and Dating:

  • More than half (59%) of Americans, including 69% of Millennials, agree that whether a man has facial hair is a major factor in forming a first impression of him.
  • Two thirds (66%) of Americans, including 75% of Millennials, think a man who regularly shaves his facial hair is more likely to have better bodily grooming habits elsewhere.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 Americans (31%) feel wild facial hair would be a bigger turnoff than an ex in a dating profile picture.

 

 

(*)Citation: Wakefield on behalf of Edge Shave Gel and Schick Hydro (Spring 2016) [online omnibus survey of 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults aged 18+]

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