Perma Shave

"The hero finds
Despite his trouble
He never has
To deal with stubble"

Heroes have hectic lives, often taking them to strange places for days or weeks on end as they go on their adventures. However, they rarely get the opportunity to shave or clean up between car chases and explosions... and they still somehow manage to keep a baby smooth face!

Somehow these guys manage to find the time to get out their shaving kit (or an electric razor) and clean up after being put in a dungeon and before escaping from The Dragon. Of course, this can be Played for Laughs by implying the character just doesn't grow facial hair at all. While everyone else has a Beard of Sorrow-type growth from the circumstances, he is as smooth as a smarmy preteen or smug elf.

This is also extremely common for female characters. If a female character bares a little skin or even has a full on nude scene, expect her to be as smooth as a newborn baby. Even if she's been in the wilderness for weeks and/or is living during a time period where shaving female body hair would be extremely difficult if not impossible if even culturally expected.

Of course it's just as commonly justified as the character being both Crazy-Prepared and so dedicated to maintaining his personal appearance he always shaves (often before everyone else woke up). If he ever should stop shaving, it means he is suffering some kind of emotional breakdown.

While this trope is the opposite of Perma Stubble, both can coexist if the stubbly hero has a Bald of Awesome. See Time Passage Beard.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Transmetropolitan: Spider Jerusalem's permanent baldness is justified in the first issue. After returning to civilization after a few years growing lots of hair in the mountains, he requests the computerized shower to give him a top-to-bottom cleaning. The shower obliged by stripping all the hair from his body...permanently.
  • Superman in the Pre-Crisis version didn't grow facial hair in a yellow sun environment, so grooming wasn't normally an issue.
    • However, the Post-Crisis version had Superman having to periodically shave using his heat vision reflected back on his face. In fact, that fact was a dramatic point in an early story of this era when Clark had to suddenly travel to South America and didn't have time to shave his Five o'clock shadow off. So, when a crisis developed that required Superman, Clark didn't dare get into costume considering his unshaven face would be a dead giveaway for his secret identity.

    Films — Animated 
  • The title character in Tarzan manages to somehow stay clean-shaven while presumably not even knowing what a razor IS. This is an Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: he is also clean-shaven in the original novel, but it explains how he remains so, as well as why he bothers.

    Literature 
  • In The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes has been secretly living in a stone hut on the moor for several weeks, and yet "he had contrived, with that catlike love of personal cleanliness which was one of his characteristics, that his chin should be as smooth and his linen as perfect as if he were in Baker Street."
  • In Starship Troopers, Rico notes that when Sergeant Zim is waking them up at insanely early hours he has a clean shaven face and otherwise excellent hygiene.
  • In Codex Alera, Tavi is told he's got to meet this trope when he temporarily finds himself in command of a legion, if only for the morale of his troops. The obvious implication is that a leader who is so rushed that he can't find time to shave isn't in control of the campaign.
  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin apparently never has to shave. However, when describing his deceased father he does mention that Tullen Beadwater had to shave every day or he'd grow whiskers. Maybe it's an age thing; Jerin's not quite sixteen.
  • In one of the Discworld novels, Ponder Stibbons reflects that despite all his best efforts he has never been able to grow a "proper" wizard beard. In fact, the most facial hair he is ever given in the illustrations is a barely-there dusting on his upper lip and chin.
    • Additionally, Carrot Ironfoundersson, a dwarf (by adoption) completely lacks the full beard that would be common to dwarves, without any apparent effort on his part.
    • In Monstrous Regiment, Polly is complimented on achieving this, by officers who don't know she's a woman. Several of the top brass are also known for it, and for promoting it among the troops. They're women too
  • Male tributes in The Hunger Games never grow facial hair while they're in the arena. It's not known what the Capitol does to them to prevent them from growing beards but whatever it is it's only temporary since several male victors grow facial hair later in life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory, more or less. When everyone comes back from the Arctic at the beginning of season 3, everyone else has massive full beards; he has a tiny, neatly trimmed goatee.
    • This reflects the actors. Jim Parsons naturally has a very light beard but regularly ALL of the characters are well groomed. In between season breaks Johnny Galecki (Leonard) is usually sporting at least some stubble, to the point you barely recognise him as Leonard.
  • Glee: Kurt Hummel is, naturally, incapable of growing facial hair.
  • An interesting female example that shows you should take the term "reality" show with a grain of salt, the women of Survivor. The men will develop a full Jesus beard while on the island, but most of the women tend to stay fairly smooth-legged throughout.
  • In one time-travel storyline of Dark Shadows, now-human Barnabas Collins is chained up for at least a few days. Every time the story shifts to him, not so much as a whisker is visible.
  • Angel, being a vampire, doesn't grow hair. In After The Fall though, he becomes human again and he has to start shaving again.
  • In Supernatural, Dean remains clean shaven during the year in purgatory while Castiel grows a beard.
  • Doctor Who:
    • This is present throughout the Classic series. Usually the Doctor and companions have access to the TARDIS (or sometimes UNIT) to provide ablutory supplies, and they usually don't stay in places for very long, but it doesn't change anything even when they are stranded.
      • This was most common in the Hartnell era, which frequently left the crew in place over weeks or months, like undergoing a quest on the hostile planet Marinus or trekking through Skarosian caves or across China, and ran the end of one adventure directly into the beginning of the next (the 60s tie-in novel Dr Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks went out of its way to include a scene where the Doctor gave Ian a futuristic electric shaver to explain this).
      • Season 12 (with the Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry) also involved a long sequence of events linked directly into each other over a period of weeks or months with TARDIS access lost near the beginning - not only do the Doctor and Harry remain perfectly smooth-faced while stuck in a Skaro war-zone but Harry's sideburns even get an obvious trim during a teleportation.
      • The Fourth Doctor might qualify generally - the general idea behind his look is that, unlike his predecessor, he now has a relaxed attitude about his personal appearance, wearing scruffy old clothes and with uncut Messy Hair (that Tom Baker refused to let the makeup artists comb between scenes as he felt it would be out of character for the Doctor to do so). Yet he never betrays a hint of stubble, and his sideburns are always beautifully groomed. We know he's capable of growing a full beard, as he wears one when artificially aged in "The Leisure Hive". Either he's deliberately cultivating the careless look, or this trope's in play.
      • Leela, a Nubile Savage in a very short skirt, also keeps her legs perfectly shaved in a variety of horrible situations and long before she has any opportunity to know what a razor even is (though as her culture is a Future Imperfect version of Western culture, female body hair beauty stigma might have evolved into a cultural taboo for her people).
    • The new series makes a point of averting this, giving the Eleventh Doctor a Time Passage Beard after several particularly extreme bits of waiting.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time's Finn, unlike most cartoon characters, actually ages, but despite going from 12 to 16, his face appears to be as young as it ever was. Subverted as it turns out that BMO is plucking Finn's facial hairs while he sleeps to keep him "forever young". Finn isn't aware of this, all he notices is his lip hurting the next morning.

    Real Life 
  • Something of an Enforced Trope in the American military, due to dress and appearance standards meaning that the soldier must be clean-shaven in all uniform combinations—justified in part by the need for gas masks to have a tight seal. Of course, dress and appearance standards can be the first thing to go when in a battlefield environment, with many growing so-called Deployment Mustaches or spending more time worrying about more pressing concerns.
  • Also an Enforced Trope for anyone working in a Fire Department. The SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) -REQUIRES- that the wearer be clean shaven (except for a mustache) in order to obtain a tight seal so that the toxic environment can't get into the mask (and suffocate the wearer). The Military does the same thing with MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) gear to protect soldiers from NBC environments. One bit of stubble in the wrong place can mean the difference between you getting out of the situation, or going home in a (sometimes very small) box.
  • Some men also simply don't/can't grow visible amounts of facial hair.