Is it time to shave off the beard?

"I can't understand men with beards. I can only imagine they have given up on women because women have given up on them." 

The man who delivers this opinion is someone you may know, but who for the purposes of this blog prefers you not to. A regular lantern-jawed face on the television, voice on the radio and a newspaper columnist to boot, he's a man with solid opinions about lots of things. 

There is a direct relationship between how unshaven I am and how much sex I get.

He doesn't like beards. Nor moustaches. Not even the annual fundraising bristle-fest about to draw to a hairy close known as Movember. "Despite its noble charitable intentions, I think Movember doubles as a conspiracy by married women to get out of sex for a month," asserts our stubbornly clean-shaven man.

"I have discovered as a husband of 20 years that there is a direct relationship between how unshaven I am and how much sex I get.

"The longer I let it grow, the less I get. You don't see 007 with a beard, and there's a reason for that - because he'd never get laid."

The marriage killer

Growing a beard, he jokes, would be a good way to get rid of his wife. "But for now I love her madly, so it's a close, wet shave for me every day. If we're going out on a date night, twice a day - why risk a stubbly chin killing all that hard work?   

"I can see how a well-trimmed stubble can look 'rugged', but surely only for a naughty moment - you wouldn't marry it. Beards are obviously also used to hide some of the less desirable jawlines of some men, but luckily that's not me."

With our man's strong anti-beard stance in mind, I was to-ing and fro-ing with a colleague in NZ the other day when I raised the matter of a moustache that had appeared on his profile picture. "Yep, Movember," he replied. "You have that in Aus?"

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So everybody's growing. Maybe, then, it's time not to, to give facial hair the flick. Turn over a new leaf for summer.

If the beard's got to go, how do you do it? I've often shaved off a few days' growth and found the razor gets clogged too quickly. The answer is one of the new breed of clippers on the market. The Schick 5 groomer is one I've tried with success, but there are many others out there. Or, if you're bearded and resolved to take it all off, add a bit of ceremony and get a barber to do it with a cut-throat.

High maintenance

Should you go from being a beard wearer to clean-shaven, there's a lot more to do and a lot more to spend, too; not least on razor blades.

Again we turn to our well-known man, who from his convictions about facial hair clearly has plenty of experience ridding himself of it. So what are the options?

"I used to electric-shave and swore by it compared with the messy, wet-shave routine. But as my eyesight has deteriorated, I've worked out that it actually takes longer and is far less reliable," he says.

"With a wet shave you don't have to look closely, you just know that you've done a good job and you know when you've finished, because all the important bits no longer have shaving foam on them. You never really know with an electric shave whether you missed a bit."

The thing about a wet shave, he points out, is that you need to shower immediately afterwards to avoid the risk of leaving an embarrassing blob of shaving foam in your ear all day. Which means your morning routine needs to be highly organised, something we men don't always excel at.

And then there's the exorbitant cost of blades, although our man seems to have found a way to make them stretch.

"I find it very hard to pay $34 for a box of four replacement Gillette wet shave blades - you feel like you do when you buy a printer for $60, and then have to spend $200 on a cartridge to make it work," he says.

"But you can't skimp on a wet shave. The expensive blades with five blades on each head are much better than anything disposable, and anything that's gone before, so I pay up and get a good job done. I don't know the last time I nicked myself with one of those expensive blades. Never, probably. They are worth it. Plus, with so much cutting power, they last three months before they start to grate. So I reckon $34 for a year's shaving is pretty good."

Keeping the cost down

Even the big razor companies seem aware of men's unease about the cost, though, with at least one leading brand bragging in ads plastered all over public transport about offering "a better price".

If the cost of keeping blades up to your face is a major sticking point for your clean-shaven new look, you can economise like our hero has done. Or there are other alternatives to the big supermarket-stocked brands.

Man Scape has previously looked into the Dollar Shave Club which delivers multi-blade razors at about 50 per cent off the cost of the big names. 

Now Sydney entrepreneur Oscar de Vries has joined in with Oscar Razor. For $120 a year you get a year's supply of German-made blades, shipped to you quarterly. Seems like a bargain to me. And you can probably afford to change them more regularly than our man does.

Summer's almost here. Is it time to drop the face fuzz?

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