As President Lincoln here will tell you (from the funny t-shirt section) facial hair can make or break the man. If you have the right face, a good looking goatee can do a lot for you.
Unfortunately, for certain types of men (and you know who you are) “growing a beard” is rapidly converted into an excuse to simply never shave. Shaving is a key portion of looking sharp. Also, if you grow facial hair quickly it can add a great deal of cool variety to your look. But like nuclear power, it can be used for good or evil.
First of all, the most important thing to remember about facial hair is: not shaving is not the same as growing a beard. A beard should be cultivated and have a direction, not simply letting hair grow out of your chin. Honestly, having a beard should always be more work than being clean shaven.
My face grows a natural goatee of sorts, and for years I thought that not shaving is all I needed to do. Then a friend of mine showed me some stuff and I saw an immediate improvement. First of all, I learned to even it out and keep the sides nice and thin, for a better look. I had to trim the mustache to keep the hairs from hanging into my mouth, and shave the portions under my lip to either side of where the soul patch would be if I were to grow one. Overall, a dramatic improvement.
At one of the malls near my house there is a place called The Art of Shaving. If you have no idea how to deal with the hair jungle on your chin go there or somewhere similar and have them show you how to trim and maintain your face. Buy whatever products they recommend. If there is no such place nearby go online and find some tips and instructions. Seriously, a good beard is an investment in time. Good beards=Tony Stark from the last Iron Man movie, Riker. Bad beards=Grizzly Adams, Sasquatch, most of the men from Deadwood, anything that could be accurately described as a “flavor saver“.
As for the decision to grow a beard or not, that is a matter of personal preference. Some guys grow facial hair and have incorporated it into their persona to the point where you wouldn’t recognize them without it. Others (like me) grow one until they get board. If you are of larger stature a beard can be a great idea, as it will hide certain features and give people something to focus on. It really depends on your face. I would recommend taking a picture of your face, grow (and trim) your beard, and take another picture in as close to the same light, distance, and angle as possible. Then ask every woman you know (not strangers) for their hopefully unbiased opinion.
If you have decided not to grow a beard, then shave every morning. Fortunately if you are following my advice you will have recently showered and will be in your bathroom in a grooming frame of mind. By the way, for the first 12 years of my shaving life I would shave before showering. Then a girl in my dorm laughed her ass off at me and told me that if you shave after your shower the hot water makes the whiskers softer and less painful to shave off. I am embarrassed to admit she was right.
Personally I recommend shaving cream and a safety razor. Electric razors never seem to get it as complete as possible. At one point I thought I would be more bad ass if I got a classic strait razor and learned how to do it the old fashioned way, but for the most part that was just an experience in bleeding. Stay away in my opinion.
By the way, the bitterest disappointment of my life is that my face is incapable of growing good sideburns. If you can pull it off cool, but your sideburns should never be allowed to grow out far enough to be in danger of occluding your ears.
Next post: Grooming Part 4 Scents