Some guys look at aesthetic outliers like Indiana Jones or Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy – heroic men with classic “bad boy” stubble – and think: I should do that! I look good when I haven’t shaved for a few days.
Hold it right there.
As George Michael (another looks-good-in-stubble outlier) once astutely noted: “I know not everybody has got a body like you.” In other words, your body is unique.
And so is your style. Should you sport stubble or go clean shaven?
If you’re like Indiana Jones and you can pull it off, do it. But if you’re not, here’s what you should do… and why.
Why stubble is sometimes less desirable than clean shaven.
Some will say that stubble is for Indiana Jones, and that’s about it. Here is the reality: Many men look much better with a daily shave. Period.
At least, that is what researchers from Victory University and University of Lethbridge found in a 2012 study published in Behavioral Ecology: “Women…do not rate bearded faces as more attractive than clean-shaven faces.”
There are pragmatic reasons to shave every day as well, including:
- You can exfoliate your face;
- You can avoid breakouts and irritation caused by ingrown hairs;
- You can look more youthful (and why hide a handsome face?)
- Depending on your profession, you may climb the corporate ladder faster. As this CBS news article reports, “anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of adult males are clean-shaven, while the percentage of senior executives without facial hair appears to be significantly higher.”
Why stubble may be viewed as a sign of apathy, or disinterest.
Why, exactly, does stubble seldom look as good as people think it looks?
Here is a possible reason. We tend to associate crisp grooming with health and power and alertness. Someone with stubble may seem “out of it” or “exhausted” because when we actually are sick or overwhelmed or depressed, we tend to forget to take care of ourselves, including shaving.
Hence, many people have a subconscious association between “stubble” and “exhausted/sick/poor.” Likewise, we have an association between “clean shaven and/or well groomed” and “alert/healthy/wealthy.”
“Either shave like a man; take the initiative, actually grow your beard, and make it look amazing; or up your game and go with extremely good stubble.”
That said, there is a reason for the huge trend toward stubble.
We need to be fully honest here: stubble does look excellent on some people. It is true.
The type of hair growth, color of the hair, the rate of growth, the extent of stubble, and the degree to which you maintain the stubble matters, aesthetically.
Stubble, Clean-shaven or Beard? Trust Your Inner Gut
Recognize the look and style that fits you as a man. It is about embracing your attitude, your presence – not hiding it. Your inner gut will tell you who you are.
- Either shave like a man, using a safety razor like we have discussed in previous articles;
- take the initiative, actually grow your beard, and make it look amazing; or
- up your game and go with extremely good stubble.
So be bold. Make a decision. Knowing whether and why stubble, full beard or clean shaven is the right path depends on the man who travels it.