Charlie's Blog: Grow a Beard or Shave?


Grow a Beard or Shave?

But you have to understand, my beard is so nasty. I mean, it's the only beard in the history of Western civilization that makes Bob Dylan's beard look good.

The decision to grow a beard is primarily aesthetic. Men grow beards because they are trying to achieve a certain look. This may be for vanity or because a certain lady likes a man with a beard. The decision to shave off a beard is primarily career based. Men will shave to get and keep a job. For those who have jobs that permit facial hair, they are faced with a dilemma. Should they grow a beard or shave?

Before we begin this discussion, it would be helpful to eliminate other forms of facial hair that you might consider. The first is the mustache which is the facial hair of choice of porn stars and dictators. The second would be variations of the goatee which is the facial hair of choice of sleazebags and child molesters. Now, these generalizations are most likely inaccurate. But consider the square mustache of Adolf Hitler. That style was quite popular at one time. You can see it on Charlie Chaplin. But Adolf pretty much killed the square mustache. Like it or not, these forms of facial hair suffer from guilt by association. You are unlikely to rehabilitate them in the mind of the public. Do yourself a favor and skip these forms of facial hair.

The choice is fundamentally binary. You can grow a full beard, or you can shave it clean. Either path will keep you free of the negative associations of the mustache or the goatee. Abraham Lincoln had a beard. Jesus Christ had a beard. The beard is a good option in that regard.

Now, some people will try to argue for having a beard for utilitarian reasons. They think a beard requires less maintenance than a daily shave. But this argument is misleading. Shaving requires a razor, shave soap or cream, and aftershave. A beard also requires those things because you are still going to be shaving. The alternative is to have an unsightly neck beard crawling down your throat. If you are especially hairy, this growth will connect with hair on the back of the neck making you look a bit like sasquatch. You're still going to be shaving.

Beards require their own care. Along with a razor, you have to get a beard trimmer, a beard comb, a beard brush, and beard oil to combat beard dandruff. Beards require work. The alternative to this is the bum beard that you see on homeless people.

The other utilitarian argument for a beard is that it keeps your face warm in cold weather and the winter. This argument is only partially true. You will notice that mountain climbers don't grow out their beards. The reason for this is because beards accumulate ice. This results in your face becoming colder instead of warmer. You are better off wearing a balaclava or other face covering. In the summer, those beards are just hot and scratchy.

The utilitarian arguments for shaving are numerous. The first and most basic reason for shaving is that it is cleaner. Ancient Egyptians and Romans shaved their faces. Why? I think the most basic reason is it helped to combat fleas and lice. Shaving in the ancient world was not as easy as it is today, yet those ancients expended considerable energy and resources to do it. Men with beards like the barbarians and Vikings were considered dirty and unclean. This is because they were.

The military learned from World War I the value of shaving and having short hair. Hair is nasty and creates a nice home for insects. There is also the issue of dry skin and dandruff. Men who shave appear cleaner because they are cleaner. There is a reason why military men lost the beards after World War I.

The other utilitarian argument for shaving is that it makes a better seal for gas masks, dust masks, and surgical masks. If you have a job that requires these types of masks, you are better off shaving your face. World War I had chemical warfare which is another reason the military started to mandate a shaved face.

A third utilitarian argument for shaving your face is that beards get food and drink stuck in them. Guys with beards often find foam clinging to their upper lip after drinking a beer or crumbs hiding in their whiskers. This helps attract rats to your face along with the fleas and the lice.

A fourth utilitarian argument for shaving your face is professional. Despite the liberalization of facial hair policies at some firms, businesses and organizations overwhelmingly expect and demand that you be clean shaven. Even in places that let you grow a beard, you are still better off shaving your face.

Growing a beard is overwhelmingly an aesthetic issue. A beard makes you look more masculine. The problem is that gay bears and leathermen sport beards to achieve hypermasculinity while being very homosexual. And your typical Marine Corps drill instructor will certainly kick your ass if you mock his baby face. The sad fact is that beards are seen on tree hugging hippies and man bun wearing hipsters. The beard may make you look more manly, but it is not going to make you be more manly.

Like it or not, the weight of these arguments are in favor of shaving your face. It's your face, and if you're willing to pay the price, a beard may suit you. Just don't make the argument that it is for anything other than looks. I must also add that if you have a patchy or pathetic beard like Keanu Reeves then you are wasting your time with the beard. You might think you look like a lumberjack or a sailor, but the world will see you as an unkempt lazy bum.