What do men prefer — stubble or a clean-shaven look? Some celebrities spell out their choice

What do Amitabh Bachchan, Vijaya T. Rajendherr, Prannoy Roy, Shekhar Kapur and Osama bin Laden have in common? What is the one thing superheroes can’t have, lest it interferes with their capes? What does Abhishek flaunt that Hrithik is happy to get rid of? Scratch your chin and you have the answer. The answer my friend is facial hair in plenty!

Saif gave up shaving and got critical acclaim for Omkara. And now, probably the biggest icon for metrosexuality in India, Shah Rukh Khan, sports heavy stubble for Chak De India. When Gillette recently roped in Simbu to endorse shaving blades, journalists wondered: How can the son of the man who made the beard his identity do a volte-face like this?

The star explained: “When I shaved this morning, Dad looked at me and said I looked handsome. His style is to keep a beard, mine is not to keep one.” At the press conference, the company announced 50 per cent price cuts on its cartridges and razors, to make state-of-the-art shaving affordable.

Yes, they do call shaving an art these days, what with studies showing them that “Smooth is Sexy” and women find clean-shaven men more attractive. Twenty-two-year-old clean-shaven Paras Tomar, who hosts the youth-based show “Minus 30” on CNN-IBN, says: “Since we prefer clean shaven women, it’s fair enough.”

As the bunch of twenty-somethings laugh out loud, we ask his producer Priya. “It doesn’t matter really. It’s all about inner beauty,” she says. “But who wants a good-looking pancreas,” Cary Edwards, RJ with RadioNRI shoots back as the group continues to laugh. His buddy VJ Paloma says men ought to be clean-shaven when on a date. “Definitely, women are attracted to clean-shaven men.”

“Women have always been attracted to smooth men, pun intended. Ninety per cent of the time, I would go on a date clean-shaven,” says Cary. Ajit Menon, fashion choreographer and model co-ordinator, believes that one can’t generalise on what looks better. “On some people, the clean-shaven look is better. Stubble suits some people better. Models who are between 18 and 23 tend to grow a stubble to look mature or to get rid of the baby-face tag used to describe them.”

He adds that stubble sits well on actors like Abhishek Bachchan or Prabhu Deva and that actors like Srikanth, Dhanush or Bharath keep a stubble because they would look much younger without one. Then, there are guys for whom both the looks suit. For example, Madhavan looks cute without stubble, and tough with it.”

Abhishek Shah, Managing Partner, Be Positive 24, has been carefully nurturing his beard: “I’ve never received more compliments than in the one year I’ve grown my beard. People tend to connect it instantly with Milind Soman until they pan down and notice my tummy. Besides, it’s also a matter of ‘shaving’ time. I get more quality time with my wife.”