Beards have been all the rage lately, even proving popular enough for someone to coin the term “lumbersexual.” As far as terms go, “lumbersexual” isn’t quite as bad as “man bun,” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still cringe-worthy. It shouldn’t be surprising, though, that facial hair has made a comeback. After the horrible things that happened to men’s fashion in the late ’90s and early 2000s, an over-correction was bound to occur.
In an attempt to get away from the pedicures and tight pink shirts of the “metrosexual” era, urban men moved way too far in the other direction, chasing a masculine aesthetic from a time when men were men and the infant mortality rate was through the roof.
The recent trend may have been one of growing facial hair in an attempt to emphasize your masculinity, but you may actually be better off going clean-shaven.
First, while popular culture has embraced beards on men, the business world is much less progressive. Yes, there are some office environments where facial hair is commonplace and an employee won’t stand out if he decides to grow one, but in general, the business world is a more conservative environment than Hollywood or the fashion industry.
There’s also limited evidence to support the idea that men who interview for jobs with beards get hired less often than men who interview clean-shaven. It could be that interviewers view clean-shaven men as less lazy for being willing to shave beforehand, but displaying a willingness to conform to traditional expectations is also probably part of it as well. Either way, if you’re interviewing for a job, it’s probably worth shaving.
Business executives also tend to be clean-shaven, indicating that you may limit your ability to move up in your company if you hold off on shaving.
From a dating perspective, you’re also likely better off with a clean-shaven face than with a beard. In the same way that well-done classic hairstyles for women are going to attract far more men than flash-in-the-pan trends like shaving the sides of their heads, following the beard trend may only work for you while beards are still popular. Barring certain trends, women have been shown to find clean-shaven men the most attractive.
You may gain more respect from men for your thick beard, but it’s unlikely to get you any more dates.
There’s also the problem that comes with a trend becoming so popular that it feels like everyone is following it. The more common an attractive trait becomes, the less attractive it becomes, as well. A few years ago, men with beards were much more rare than they are today, leading the way for women who were frustrated with boyfriends who kept stealing their favorite honey apricot lavender moisturize to find those few bearded men exceptionally attractive.
Now, though, many social circles are inundated with beards, mustaches, and a few days worth of scruff. Growing a beard isn’t nearly as unique or rare anymore, which means you have to grow an even bushier beard or bigger mustache. The alternative, of course, is to stand out in the sea of beards by rocking the clean-shaven look.
Researchers in charge of studying cultural trends are actually already saying exactly that.
“It appears that beards gain an advantage when rare, but when they are in fashion and common, they are declared trendy and that attractiveness is over,” said Robert Brooks. “The bigger the trend gets, the weaker the preference for beards and the tide will go out again.”
There’s certainly nothing wrong with keeping your beard if you like it and want to do so, but at the same time, there are quite a few compelling reasons to do so. So what do you think? Is it time to embrace the clean-shaven look?