When it comes to your facial hair, you probably ride on either extreme: You cater your scruff to what a girl wants; or, you don’t care what women think and grow whatever the hell you want. Well, if you’re single, the state of your facial hair can attract flings or long-term relationships, depending on how you style it, according to new research from Wiley.
In the study, published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, researchers had 8,520 women rate the physical attractiveness of men with varying degrees of facial hair, all of which were manipulated using computer graphics. The researchers also played with traditionally male-typical features, like a more pronounced brow and jawline (which, the team says, can signify underlying health—thanks to evolution; beards on the other hand can signal a man’s age, even social status, and dominance.
Beardedness (or lack there of) had a major influence on a guy’s sex appeal and perceived masculinity.
When women viewed clean-shaven men, those that were masculinized and, even more so, feminized were viewed as less attractive than men whose faces were unmanipulated. In other words, it was unanimous across the board, whether women were looking for one-night stands or potential husbands.
Stubble was deemed most attractive overall and received higher ratings for flings and short-term relationships than full beards.
Full beards were attractive to women searching for long-term relationships. The researchers believe beards make men seem more “formidable”—in a red-blooded, strong, and strapping kind of way—that gives women the sense they can provide direct benefits, like enhanced fertility and survival. Who knew your beard was so meaningful?
“Sexual selection via female choice has shaped the evolution of male ornamentation in many species,” the authors said. So, consider your beard the equivalent to a peacock’s plume or a deer’s antlers. And check out brand new story on the five best beard styles to try.
5 Tips for Growing a Great Beard
You’ve still got time, but you better hurry. Things get hairy this November, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay sharp. No Shave November—alternately known as Movember—has become the ultimate test of a man: Originally created as a way to spread awareness of men’s cancers, it is simultaneously a challenge to see which of your friends can become the scruffiest and scraggliest, all in the name of a good cause. But if you can afford to stall your shaver for a month, why not go beyond that and see what you’re really made of?
- Let Your Hair Go Wild
Let your hair go wild. Obtaining a solid beard takes at least a month, so shaving in midOctober should give you a fullfigured fuzz to be proud of come November’s close. While we want you to look your best always, it’s highly recommended that you hold off any heavyduty shaping or trimming for at least the first month. This way, you can understand how your hair naturally grows and get an idea of what kind of shapes your beard can take.
2. Skin comes first.
Man to man: It’s okay to admit that you’ve never done this before. And while your follicles will become the star of the show, the base player—the skin underneath—has just as important a role. If you aren’t aware of your skin type (whether dry, oily or sensitive), Kellett suggests heading to your barber, who should be able to point you in the right direction.
3. Stay moisturized.
Understanding your facial hair and having a barber who knows his stuff are two major keys to unlocking your beard’s potential. Moisturizing daily with the right stuff is key. There are millions of products out there, but Kellett has a favorite: “In my opinion, you can’t go better than coconut oil. It’s natural, it smells good, washes out, adds all the nutrients that you would need.” Any chump can be lazy enough to grow a beard, but maintaining a healthy face won’t leave a disaster area should you ever ditch it.
4. Fight the itch.
At some point on your journey to facial freedom, your skin may fight back. The dreaded itch is no joke, but it’s no reason to reach for your razor. Just keep shampooing and moisturizing, and your face will eventually adjust to its newfound glory.
5. Shape it up.
Once you’ve conquered a month of maintaining your skin, growing your hair and fighting the itch to shave it all off, you should have a perfect canvas with which to sculpt a facial masterpiece. “Some guys like to keep it sharp, others like to go natural,” Kellett says. “A lot of guys now are going for the fullbeard look—a little bit more narrow on the cheeks, more angular towards the chin. It shapes the face a little different.” Of course, regular checkins with your barber will help, but you’ll save time and money by putting in work at home, with nothing but a razor and a dream. “It takes a lot of time in front of the mirror to get it right,” says Kellett. “And if you mess it up, you’re always welcome to come in!”
Credit: Men’s Fitness