Should I shave off my beard?

Beard growers will often face the question:

Should I shave off my beard?

should i shave my beard

yeard = beard grown for a full calendar year without any trimming or grooming above the Adam’s apple or below the cheekbones.

Yes, I sometimes have had to shave off my beard, and I’m sure others have too. As much as we like to tease those that suddenly go clean-shaven, there are some real benefits to shaving it completely off from time to time.

  1. An underlying skin condition that really needs time to heal.
  2. Employment-related concerns in many fields (I once got hired as an extra in a historical re-enactment film being made for a museum on the condition that I shaved. I wanted the new experience, so I agreed).
  3. Growing a yeard.
  4. Frequently having your beard violently pulled on (happens in combat sports such as jiujitsu, MMA, and raising children).

Now, I’m going to assume you’ve already tried my three things to do before shaving off your beard and you still think it has to go.

Whatever the reason, you need to plan your approach. Don’t just go in there with your rusty old razor and start whacking away. And its a good idea to document the process as much as you can, so you can compare before and after pictures for your own benefit.

Here’s the general procedure:

  1. When your beard is dry, use your beard scissors and comb to trim as close to the skin as possible. This is going to make it much easier for your razor to come in and clean up.
  2. Take a shower. Just washing your face and neck is not ideal. You really want your skin to have some exposure to the warm humid air for several minutes to reduce problems with shaving after a long hiatus.
  3. Massage a shaving oil (or any kind of oil really) into your beard and the skin underneath.
  4. Lather your shaving soap/cream, and coat your beard with it.
  5. Pause for reflection. No really, let your beard and skin really absorb the oils for a minute or so. You’d might as well use that time productively, so go ahead and look yourself in the eyes (I’m assuming you’re in front of a mirror at this point) and ask if you are really, really, really, sure you want to do this. This is also a good time to prepare your preferred razor. I like a Merkur safety razor with feather blades, personally.
  6. The point of no return: Shave your beard. With the grain. I’m not going to go into great detail here on how to shave, but when I first learned wet shaving, it took me a long time to realize that the grain grows in patterns you have adapt your stroke to. Also, let gravity do most of the work. You don’t want to press into your skin (a bad habit we get from growing up using cartridge razors). Rinse your face and neck with warm water and get a good look at the 9 year old boy looking back at you.
  7. I like to get as close a shave as possible if I’m going from a full beard to clean shaven. This means I’ll re-apply my cream and make at least one more pass, across the grain. If things are going really well without any nicks or other mishaps, then I’ll lather up a third time and do a third pass against the grain. Yes, this takes time.
  8. I like to do a final rinse with very cold water to close up the pores and tighten up my skin. If you’re gonna go full metrosexual (is that still a thing?), you can even apply a mask that has been cooled down in the fridge.

Clean up after yourself, properly dispose of any razor blades lying around, and go show your younger self to your significant other, who is probably wondering why you’ve been taking 5 times the normal time for your shower.

Don’t get too depressed about the loss of your beard. You can always grow it back later. Once you’ve already grown it out before, you can enjoy the process of watching it grow in without any of the worry about if it’s going to look good.


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