Shaving a beard can be a surprisingly emotional event for many men and some have even labeled these feelings post-shave depression. Is it normal for a man to be upset by shaving his beard?
It is common for men to experience feelings of regret, doubt, or even mild depression after shaving their beard, as they often represent a substantial investment in both time and effort. Traditionally, beards are associated with masculinity, social status, and personal identity, so men must be prepared to stick to their decision to shave.
Read on to learn more about why post-shave depression happens, why men feel different after shaving, and how to handle shaving your beard.
Is post-shave depression a real thing?
Beards are about as manly as you can get. Just take a look at some icons of manliness throughout history: Hercules, Leonidas, Abraham Lincoln, Grizzly Adams all wore beards. Not to take anything from shavers, who are also manly men in their own way, but there’s just something about growing a beard that taps into something primal deep within you.
But beards aren’t always practical or good-looking. Sometimes it’s just time to shave it off, scary as the thought may seem. Emotions can run high when you are confronted with such a personal event. So what is in store for the bearded fellow who has decided to go clean-cut?
Altering your outward appearance carries with it the breaking of a bond, even if it’s only in a temporary way. The beard you’ve developed is a powerful personal symbol in how others view you and yourself. Casting off your metaphorical lion’s mane, there is certainly some feeling of loss and sadness, even regret. Many beard growers will experience some form of depression after shaving.
Is post-beard depression a real thing? If you look around the internet, you will find many stories from formerly bearded men who regale you with tales of their immediate regret, imminent pangs of loss, and warnings against the blade. There is no shortage of guys who feel a large part of their identity goes when the whiskers start hitting the floor.
But there are no formal scientific studies specifically geared towards connecting clinical depression and shaving your beard. It all comes down to your personal feelings.
Facial hair is a vestige of the evolutionary male experience. Prehistoric man was a swarthy specimen, with the throat and lower facial region growing especially thick, curly hair. Men and women all through history up to and including today perceive the presence of an especially large beard as a sign of dominance.
Beards are connected with traits such as dominance, aggression, maturity, and strength by virtue of their display alone. Shaving off your beard can feel like metaphorical self-emasculation.
But not all is lost when it comes to shaving your beard. There are ways to contemplate the change as positive rather than wallowing in a puddle of misery over an ultimately temporary act.
Why do I look weird after shaving?
You’ve taken months or even years of growing a luscious, manly beard, and now, freshly shorn, you may experience a shift in how you see yourself. Our view of our own bodies is very individual, but many beard-growers hold particular pride in cultivating their facial hair.
Sudden change brings a confluent alteration of this pride, as the source itself has been temporarily removed. Your bare face makes a return to center stage without the masculine covering you are so used to. The vulnerability of a clean shave comes as no surprise to anyone who has done it.
Another common piece of mental aftershock is a sudden onset of body dysmorphia. It is not simply that you look different; the mental element cannot be overlooked. There is some level of social or cultural influence when it comes to growing and cutting your beard.
Desirability from potential romantic interests wraps itself around many men’s influences for both growing and altering facial hair. This coincides with confidence and self-assurance. Cultures across the globe have different general opinions and social pressures regarding beards, and no one is immune to these.
Do beards make you look thinner or fatter?
Many younger men believe their facial hair can make them look older or more mature but can a beard also make you look larger or smaller overall?
A shaved face will likely make you appear smaller or thinner if you have a generally thinner or leaner body composition. However, in larger or heavier men, the defined shape of your clean face can either highlight “chubby cheeks” or help you shed perceived mass by literally thinning out your head shape.
It all begins with how you approach your new look. Will you allow the lost locks to bring you down and feel like a child or will you breathe confidence into the shave and give it intent? Only you can decide, and it is totally up to you to set the tone for how others see you.
Is it good to shave your beard off every now and then?
There is a long history of manliness covering nearly every catastrophe and triumph in all human endeavors. Shaving your beard may be one of the least integral examples, but it is a very personal one. There is a difference between growing a beard and letting a beard form. The former conveys intent, control, patience. The latter is a sign of apathy, laziness, and sloth.
If nothing else, your skin will thank you when you shave the stubble. The skin on your face is sensitive, and there are multiple benefits when you shave.
Just like you cut your hair, trim your nails, brush your teeth, etc., it is just the hygienic thing to do. Your beard may have been a cherished feature, but it is easier to clean and take care of your skin when you have easy access to it.
As far as physical health goes, it is certainly a healthy choice to shave. If you are thinking about it, there is a reason for this inspiration. Remember that no studies show that shaving causes depression, and in fact, many people report that shaving a beard can help you recover from depression!
How to Handle Shaving Your Beard
You probably spent months – or even years – growing, trimming, and generally cultivating your beard, and you’re rightly proud of it. But the time has come to shave it.
When you’re ready to shave your beard, remember to:
- Stick to your decision (but only as long as you want to)
- Take care of your face
- Embrace your clean-shaven manliness
Make a decision and stick to it
Your beard is a part of you that shows your conviction. Choosing to shave it is also a similar display. You may be shaving it for a job, you may want to cool down in the warmer months, or you simply want a change in your appearance.
All of these and more are valid reasons for shaving your beard and deserve your respect. Make a decision and stick to it.
Remember that the change only needs to be as permanent as you want it to be, and act accordingly. Should you consider a partial trim or reconfiguration, stick to it. If you go for a total skin-shave, go all in and own it. Hold yourself accountable! You can do this!
Moment of truth – you are a man
You are a man and must remember that you are in control of your sovereignty.
Once the decision has been made, you owe it to yourself to regard the decision as a firm one. This is the moment of truth when you face yourself (pun intended) and remember that your body, like your life, is fleeting.
Life is an adventure with infinite possibilities for change and improvement. Start acting like it!
Take care of yourself – “Look good, feel good, play good”
Shaving your face is not simply cutting the hair and calling it a day.
Just as you tend to your beard, you must treat your face with the same respect, taking care of it as you would the hair that grows from it. Your beard provided a level of protection from the elements, and you must take on this protection and be proactive.
Wash your skin and exfoliate, as the beard had trapped all kinds of unwanted “stuff,” i.e., dead skin, food particles, saliva, sweat, etc., close to the skin. Your face has become more sensitive under the layers of hair and needs bolstering to stay healthy. Moisturizer with sunblock is a good choice for making sure your vulnerable skin gets the protection it needs.
*To sum it all up…
Shaving your beard doesn’t have to be a change that brings you down. This is a time to shine just like any other! You’ve made a decision and you must trust yourself that it is the right one. By owning the decision and taking care to acknowledge that your beard is only a minor facet of you rather than a defining one, you can begin to see that shaving will ultimately enrich your life!