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A barber shaves the beard of a customer at the barber shop "Barbearia Campos", open since 1886, in Lisbon on July 16, 2013. (PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)


Women more attracted to men with facial hair than those who are clean-shaven, study finds

By WITW Staff on May 20, 2017

The “end of beards” has been announced several times, but the enduring popularity of facial hair in recent years has proven that prognostication to be premature. The results of a new study on facial hair and how it influences sexual attractiveness is likely to bolster the beard’s staying power. Last year, scientists at the University of Queensland in Australia looked at the link between beards and sex appeal, masculinity and relationships. They asked women to rank men with various levels of facial hair growth, and came to some surprising conclusions. In general, men with heavy stubble were seen as the sexiest, followed by those with short stubble. Meanwhile, their clean-shaven and full-bearded counterparts were less attractive. But this varied based on what the women were looking for. Scruffier men (those with light stubble, followed by those with heavier stubble) were most desirable for one-night stands, while those sporting heavy-stubble and full-beards were preferred by women looking for serious, longer-term relationships.

According to Dr. Barnaby Dixson, a full-bearded human behavioral ecologist and co-author of the research, both sexes associate beards with older, more masculine men and characteristics such as generosity, sincerity and confidence. On the negative side, they can be associated with antisocial traits like aggression and social dominance, which might help explain why full beards are seen as less positive for a short fling, but positive when you are looking for an “alpha male” to protect your family, the researchers theorized. According to the study, there are several factors influencing why men decide to grow a beard: They are more popular in crowded cities with lower average incomes, for example (the authors theorize that in these more “competitive” environments, men might try to ramp up their masculinity), and become less popular when beards are seemingly everywhere. “When beardedness becomes too common, it is less attractive than when it is rare,” Dr. Dixson wrote. “This may explain why fashions and trends in beardedness fluctuate over time.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.