Study finds that men with beards are more attractive to women
Over the past few years, the humble beard has undergone a bit of an image change. While they were once considered quite scruffy and unkempt, a well-kept beard is now quite a fashionable feature to have. In fact, you can hardly pass a hipster coffee shop or scroll through your Instagram feed without seeing a young bearded dude sipping a chai latte or cuddling up with a cute dog.
Aside from just being a fashion trend, though, beards are actually pretty important when it comes to men finding someone they want to date. In fact, they could even make the difference between finding a partner and getting overlooked for someone else.
This is according to a 2016 study published in the journal of evolutionary biology, which discovered that heterosexual women find men more attractive when they have beards compared to when they are clean-shaven.
"In many species, male secondary sexual traits have evolved via female choice as they confer indirect (i.e. genetic) benefits or direct benefits such as enhanced fertility or survival ... Male‐typical facial features such as a pronounced brow ridge and a more robust jawline may signal underlying health, whereas beards may signal men's age and masculine social dominance," the study explains.
Given this, it makes sense that women would be biologically more inclined to favour bearded men; after all, we're still subject to instinct just as much as any other member of the animal kingdom.
In order to test this theory, though, scientists asked 8,500 women to rate men with and without beards, and asked them whether they would consider them for long- or short-term relationships. The men in question were first photographed clean-shaven, then five days after shaving, then 10 days after shaving, and finally four weeks after shaving.
The faces were also manipulated to be either more masculine or more feminine in order to determine which other factors might affect a man's attractiveness.
Overall, the study found that "masculine faces are judged as more attractive for short‐term relationships over less masculine faces, whereas beards are judged as more attractive than clean‐shaven faces for long‐term relationships."
It also concluded that "extremely masculinized and, to an even greater extent, extremely feminized faces were least attractive when clean‐shaven and that stubble, and to some extent full beards, dampen the polarizing effects of extreme masculinity and femininity, possibly by obscuring the facial features that contribute to these overall shape cues."
Basically, then, a beard softens particularly harsh features in hypermasculine men, and adds a bit more rugged charm to guys with more feminine faces. But this only favours guys who are looking for a long-term relationship.
In the short-term, women preferred more masculine faces - both with or without facial hair - to feminine faces, regardless of whether they were clean-shaven or not.
So, guys, if you're looking to settle down with someone, you might want to consider ditching the razorblades and working a more natural look for a while. You never know - it could make all the difference.