Want to create a drastic change for your professional headshots quickly?

Now before you grab the razor and go to work, let’s talk this through a little bit. In this article, I’m going to talk about the potential pros and cons of shaving for your headshots and offer some tips on getting a better, more comfortable shave. I’m also going to share some tips on caring for your facial hair if you are keeping it. I will include products that I actually use (affiliate links included. If you purchase from these links, I make a very small commission)

Headshot of Derek with a Beard

When I worked in professional theatre, there was an actor that came through that listed “fast facial hair” under special skills on his resume.  I and a couple of other clean-shaven lads thought that was cheeky and a gimmick to make sure casting people remembered him.

Years later I set out to grow my beard and it was anything but fast – so now I see why he listed that as a special skill! 

So first, let’s draw a line between acting headshots and professional headshots when it comes to facial hair.

If you are in the professional world, have worn facial hair for some time, and don’t see that changing anytime in the near future, I would advise against the razor. I’ll use myself as an example.  I’ve been wearing some sort of facial hair for over a decade and don’t see myself going without it. So there is no need to get that additional look in my personal branding portfolio that I’m never going to use. Plus if I went clean-shaven for a headshot, it would freak my wife out.

Let’s say that you’re the type of person that likes to work a little scruff or 5:00 shadow OR you tend to shave all of your facial hair every couple of months and regrow it. However, it works out, if you’re the type of person to change up your facial hair with some regularity, I would encourage you to bring your saving supplies to your headshot appointment. It’s easy to create headshots with and without your facial hair or with various styles (i.e., full beard to goatee to clean shaven, etc)

Actors, I can make a bigger case for you to do headshots with and without facial hair. If you can grow good facial hair, it won’t hurt to show casting professionals how you look with both. You might also want to have a shot taken with some stubble. Just look at the difference on Sam Elliot between Roadhouse and Tombstone!

Going Clean Shaven for your Professional Headshots? Here’s Some Shaving Tips

I’m going to offer some things based on my experiences and what I see on faces that step in front of my camera.  Naturally, if you don’t agree with me, do your own thing.(Here’s some other grooming tips to help with your professional headshots as well)

Don’t Use an Electric Razor

Electric Razors will not give you a good shave. They leave stubbly patches. You can’t get in close in places like under the nose, and they are notorious for causing razor bumps and ingrown hairs.

When To Shave If You’re Going Clean Shaven

If you are going to shave at home before your headshot appointment, do it AFTER you get out of the shower. The hot water will help soften the hair and give you a more comfortable shave.

When you shave, pull the skin on the area you are working taught.  Loose skin will cause more nicks and your shave will not be as close.

Use A Sharp NEW Razor

Here’s something the big razor companies don’t want me to tell you. You don’t need 3 blades and a comfort strip….nor do you need to be paying the prices that those cartridge razors cost. Let’s look back to what great-grandpa was using. A good safety razor handle and single razor blades are just as good (if not better) than the cartridges and MUCH cheaper. (and frankly just plain ol’ cooler)

Use a Good Shaving Soap (Notice I didn’t say shaving cream?!)

The second thing big razor does not want me to tell you is; Most canned shaving creams and gels are not the best way to lubricate for shaving.  Get a good shaving soap, brush, and mug.  I prefer a soap made with Lanolin. It is great for your skin and really helps it from getting chapped in winter

If you are going to wear facial hair – Tips For Your Beard For Professional Headshots

Before you get in the shower, trim your beard and mustache. With many styles, we should be able to see your upper lip. Random hairs hanging over your lip look sloppy.

Use a good beard wash and conditioner (you should be doing this daily).

After your shower, with a new, sharp razor shave your neck and line up your beard (don’t forget the shaving soap). Again, random hairs on your face will look sloppy.


After you shave, use a small amount of good beard oil, and if needed wax to style your facial hair.

YOU’RE NOT DONE! Don’t forget your NOSE & EARS

While we are cleaning everything up, don’t forget to take care of unwanted hair in your nose and ears. Today’s cameras see every detail.

So to answer the question should I shave for my headshots. I’d not do it JUST to do it, but if you change your style regularly or you’re an actor wanting to look more versatile for casting directors, a little range won’t hurt.

How to Find The Right Headshot Photographer

More tips on how to prepare for your headshot appointment

Follow Louisville Photographer, Ben Marcum, On Social Media