Ben Affleck Smoother than Ever

2/28/2013 3:29 PM PST

Ben Affleck -- Smoother than Ever

Ben Affleck's smooth mug surfaced Thursday ... the first time since shaving his career-defining beard Sunday night at an Oscars after-party.

With some scruff starting to grow back, the 40-year-old rocked a 5 o'clock shadow as he arrived for a TED conference in Long Beach on Thursday.

TMZ broke the story --- one of the first things Ben did after "Argo" won Best Picture was take a razor to his critically-acclaimed beard in the bathroom hallway at Craig's restaurant.

Now he really is as slick as everybody says.