Is Facial Hair Professional?

By David Michael Newstead.

In America, the conventional answer to this question has been NO for a long time. But that’s changed in recent years, at least to some degree. Today, the professionalism of facial hair is open to a little more debate as our society is inundated with stubble-faced celebrities and hipster moustaches. As a result, razor sales have actually declined and work policies (depending on where you work) are more relaxed than during the Mad Men era. If facial hair is clean, trimmed, and well maintained, then it’s doubtful that anyone at the office would notice or care. But the fact that there is no consistent answer fuels further debate.

For example, having a neatly trimmed beard for a job interview seems fine.

Having a three-day shadow does not.

When you look at men in positions of leadership in America, they are almost exclusively clean-shaven in business and politics. There are notable exceptions to this rule, of course, but those are in the minority. Billionaire Richard Branson has a beard and Mark Zuckerberg might wear a hoodie to work every day, but most of us will be held to different standards, even if those standards are sometimes arbitrary.

In general, how you choose to present yourself and the impressions you make definitely influence the direction of your career overtime. That could include your facial hair or your wardrobe, personal hygiene, how attractive you are, or your overall attitude and demeanor towards others, etc., etc., etc.

But likeliest of all, these things really hinge on the whims of your employer.

But if there’s one case to be made in support of facial hair in the workplace, it has to do with fully accepting and promoting members of religious groups that value their moustaches and beards. Sikhs, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and the Amish are some examples and to make a blanket statement that facial hair is unprofessional is biased and exclusionary rather than just being an opinion about men’s style.

Fortunately for everyone, times are already changing.

NYT: Facial Hair is Back in Style in Business Settings