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Male grooming: To shave or not to shave?


As manufacturers of, among other things, shaving paraphernalia, you can understand why the people at Dutch electronics firm Philips are keen for all men to have smooth faces.

But with its latest attempt to encourage men to shave, it has been mercilessly ribbed on social media sites for trying to make perhaps the most obviously self-interested point of all time. And also for insulting a key 21st-century demographic: the bearded male.

Under the guise of a blog with the title, "the joy of a clean-shaven face", it draws on a mixture of celebrity, pop culture and ancient history to make its point – men have, apparently, been shaving since flints were discovered in 30,000BC.

There are reasons for them to feel concerned: facial hair has become more fashionable again recently and close-shave rivals Gillette have just reported a decline in sales. Add to this an Australian study published in Evolution and Human Behavior last month, which revealed that women prefer men with "heavy stubble" or on the "threshold of masculinity", then you can see why the razor peddlers might have become scared.

So perhaps in an attempt to appear "with it", the company cites the likes of Robert Pattinson and Daniel Craig as those who "enjoy a clean shave" (except, of course, when a role requires them not to).

It preaches that those without beards give out an impression to the world that they are "smart, classic, professional. A man with nothing to hide. (Or to hide behind)".

The blog continues along this ill-conceived line of beard-bashing with this: "Man is the only clean-shaven ape of the entire species. Now isn't that something to be proud of?" Here at The Independent, where beards are de rigueur among the gents, we think that is something to be suspicious of.