I believe that self-expression is one of our most important duties in life. It is intertwined with our identities and also our relationships to others. Leaders from all walks of life, from Gandhi to Ansel Adams to Oscar Wilde to Madonna, have mused about the concept of self-expression and its importance.

When we present ourselves to the world, we are always saying something... whether we consciously intend to or not. Given that this messaging exists either way, we may as well embrace it. This expression is not just the clothes we choose to wear each day, but also how we craft an aesthetic using behaviours, grooming, brand affiliation, mannerisms and association with others. There's really no limit to the number of ways in which we can convey who we are.

While I have always loved dressing for how I feel and what I am doing at any given moment, it took me a while to hone my sense of self to the extent that I could commit to an aesthetic and stable identity. Turning away from the corporate life definitely released me from that pressure to adhere to personal appearance policies, but I then needed time to settle into a new way of living, thinking and being, and find the person that I wanted to be perceived as. Once I had done that, I was better able to invest in that stable self-expression. While the wardrobe situation is still a constantly evolving beast, I have really hit a groove with my grooming... I found the mo'.

My facial hair preference is very short stubble and a slightly longer moustache. No sideburns. To me, this conveys a 'mainstream, commercial creative' archetype that I am very happy being associated with. I bought my first beard trimmer, a basic Philips model, about six years ago... and basically used it to death. I don't know how it still functioned after being thrown around so much. I only replaced it this year, with another Philips model, while I was in Sydney with a soon-to-expire store voucher. The new shaver gave me more versatility and precision in my grooming, and also came with a second trimmer designed to clean up around the beard. I've actually ended up using them both, which surprised me because it seemed like overkill in the grooming gadget department. I really love using them both, together.

So, fast forward to September, and Philips asks me to road test their fancy - and I do mean fancy - new shaver, I was UP... FOR... IT. Cue the Philips S9000 Prestige Electric Shaver with ContourDetect, BeardAdapt and anti-friction SkinComfort rings. The specific challenge presented to me was to mow down seven-day growth... and, let me tell you, the hair on my face is not sparse nor slow-growing.

So I received the already-assembled shaver, charged it up on the QI charging pad [the future is here], and got mowing. Apparently it can be used both wet and dry; I chose dry, mostly out of habit but also because I don't like it how wet hair clumps together and sticks to everything. That said, the shaver head is easy to remove, dismantle and rinse.

Being a shaver and not a hard-core trimmer, it did take a few little circles to get all the hair, especially on my neck where the hair lies really flat. I was still impressed, however, that it was effective on my week-long growth. The S9000 Prestige also comes with a separate adjustable-length beard styler, which I used to trim and clean up the the edges of my moustache. I thought this was a great inclusion, because it means you have the best of both worlds - trimming and shaving - and have everything you need to craft and maintain a personalised look: sideburns, mo, crafted beard, goatee... whatever you want.

In terms of comfort, I liked how each of the three heads on the S9000 pivoted; it was more comfortable and more effective on my jawline and throat. Because my hair was quite long and close to the skin in some parts, I had to apply more pressure and have a few more goes at removing it in some areas. I've been trimming my hair for years, which makes my skin more delicate and sensitive, so it took a few uses of the s9000 for my skin to adjust to an electric shaver. The S9000 was still much better than a razor - last time I shaved with a razor, there was blood... I'll leave it at that. The S9000 Prestige is definitely more gentle, especially with repeated use.

I wasn't planning on trading in my existing Philips trimmer, but I do plan to stick with the S9000 for a close shave. It's just so much easier than shaving with a razor, especially on my usual moderate-length stubble. Plus, my skin feels so soft afterwards... and the clean-shave highlights my beloved mo'.

You can find more about the S9000 here.