Beard Benefits: Why Growing Your Facial Hair Can Be a Great Idea
Welcome to Rough and Tumble Gentleman! Today we’re talking about BEARDS, and why we love them.
We’ll start with… well, let’s start with the perhaps the most important benefit:
Science Says Women Are into Dudes with Beards
You may have heard: beards are over, done, gone, out.
No longer stylish, yesterday's news, passe.
There’s only one problem:
Science says that women really like beards, in a way that transcends trendiness or fashion. There’s something about beards that women (many women, that is—certainly not all) are intuitively attracted to.
And that makes sense, if you think about it—straight women are into men; physically mature men produce facial hair. From an anthropological standpoint, it checks out.
But what’s particularly fascinating is that studies have shown that women like different types of facial hair in different ways: women who wanted a fling/one-night-stand preferred men with stubble, whereas women who were looking for more long-term commitments were attracted to men with fuller, well-kept beards.
We’ve talked about this in our post about why mustaches are so rad, but that also makes sense: stubble conveys a sort of devil-may-care, beautiful-mess type of look, whereas a beard needs a little more tending. If you want a fling, you go with the bad boy who’s a little out of control; if you want to settle down, it makes more sense to do so with the guy who can take care of himself.
Either way, the beard benefit is clear: there are a lot of ladies who are specifically attracted to beards. Win/win!
You're in Amazing Company
Let’s get personal. It's hard to overstate the amazing range of men who have embraced the bearded lifestyle, and they quite literally range from "Cave Man" to "Jesus" to "David Letterman."
If you decide to become bearded, you will have as your compatriots:
Early Man. Ever seen a painting of a caveman with a mustache? Nope! Beards all day for cavemen. Beards are, quite literally, the original "look" for human man, and that may be why ladies love a man with a beard. And honestly, how could you improve on the original?
Jesus. Our Lord and Savior always had a beard, right? That's what we thought. Nope! Apparently some archeologists found some plates in Spain, and they feature images of Jesus sans-beard. And why not? Everyone likes to switch it up every once in a while;
Sophocles. OK, let's be honest: unless you are specifically studying Roman-wait-sorry-Greek playwrights, you probably don't know who Sophocles was. We didn't. He's one of those guys who you've always heard about, but never really learned about. Anyway, Big S got nominated by History.com as having one of the best beards in history, so we thought we'd mention it;
Mr. T. That's right, we just jumped from Sophocles to Mr. T., and for good reason. If you weren't around in the 80s, it's hard to explain what a big deal Mr. T. was: he was B.A. Baracus on the A-Team (and "B.A." stood for—of course—"bad attitude"), he was Clubber Lang in Rocky III, and he was in countless videos and commercials urging kids to stay in school and keep off drugs. He's actually a really motivational figure—he was the youngest of 12 kids, and he came very, very close to making some reaaaaaaally bad decisions (such as literally becoming an assassin), but kept his head and now is a family man with a relatively peaceful life—and a very serious beard;
Gandalf. A wizard without a beard is just some weird dude who roams around town muttering spells. Gandalf had a long, majestic beard, that was tangly and dirty when he was Gandalf the Grey, and turned beautiful silken white when he became Gandalf the White. He's a reminder to all of us, wizards and non-wizards alike, that a beard is that rare fashion piece that gets BETTER as you age;
Hagrid. Say it with us—"I've got a beard, Harry";
Rasputin. Monk, big fan of orgies, mystic. The fella who may have destroyed the Russian House of Romanov. Have you ever read about Rasputin's life? He was a certified lunatic and if we're being honest, his beard was a mess. Beard balm, bro! Check it out!
Obi-Wan Kenobi. Mr. “High Ground” himself rocked a well-coifed beard in Episodes II and III. We were fascinated by Obi-Wan's beard decisions—because after all, when you have a beard, you have to make choices about how you'll wear it. Obi-Wan's beard was tightly-cropped, orderly, and well-kept, because that's who Obi-Wan was: he loved order, structure, and reliability. When you see him in the desert in Episode IV, he's let himself go a little bit, and his white beard is a little more disorderly. Well done, George Lucas! That guy really put some thought into that Star Wars franchise; you guys should check it out.
Leonardo da Vinci. Everyone always talks about how da Vinci created amazing inventions and paintings and stuff, but do they ever talk about the amazing BEARD he created? No. And that's a shame, because his beard is magnificent. Look at the length of that thing! That's commitment. No wonder he was so successful.
David Letterman. He never had a beard, and then he retired, and now he looks like a Maine lobsterman. Dave's beard is a good example of how your beard can reflect where you're at in life: your beard can be a monument to good grooming and organization, or it can tell the world, "I'm over it."
Kenny Rogers. We're going to be honest—Kenny Rogers is before our time, and even though we literally don't ever remember hearing "The Gambler," somehow we know every single word of it ("You've got to knoooooow when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em..."). It seems like the average American male somehow has those words injected into his psyche early in life, and they lie in wait, ready to spring forth at the right moment;
Jim Morrison. You know, Jim Morrison—the coolest guy in the world until you turn 26 or so, and then you realize he's kind of a tool;
Claude Monet. That's right, Claude Monet (and that's "Monet" pronounced "Mooooooooooooooney" because Claude was a baller). Claude rocked a beard and founded French Impressionism, arguably one of the most beautiful forms of painting you'll find; and finally
Ernest Hemingway. Noted journalist in the Spanish Civil War, novelist and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and world-renown adventurer who was an ambulance driver in World War I, was present at the liberation of Paris during World War II, and survived two plane crashes while on safari in Africa. He's wasn't a perfect man, but—wow. For a lot of men, a beard is a symbol of masculinity, whereas Ernest Hemingway is a symbol of masculinity.
Beards Protect from Skin Cancer
Back to those advantages.
It’s true! It turns out that “beard benefits” are “health benefits,” and there’s a whole range of healthy advantages that come from having a beard. Perhaps the most important: having a beard protects your bearded skin from skin cancer. Here’s how it works:
The sun provides a whole bunch of nutrients we need, including Vitamin D, which helps maintain mood and prevent depression, but there’s a whole lot else the sun delivers that are really, really bad for us.
Among of those negative agents is ultraviolet radiation, which can cause damage to the DNA in our skin cells—causing rapid division of those cells and eventually skin cancer.
The whiskers on your face block much of those UV rays, thereby shielding your skin from those agents that would harm you.
And not only that—one of the main causes of wrinkles is not only old age, but also exposure to sun. Covering your face with a manly mat of facial hair is apparently a great way to ward off wrinkles! Who knew?
Beards Can Save You a Ton of Time
Your shave routine may not take a lot of time—ten minutes in the morning, maybe fifteen—but all that time adds up, and if you decide to beard yourself, you can save a TON of time on your grooming rituals.
Beards really only need a little bit of care. After you’ve grown it and learned how to shape it, upkeep is pretty minimal: you need to shampoo it once or twice a week, trim it once a week or so, and use some beard oil or balm to keep it healthy (and that only takes a few seconds). Once you’ve got the beard you like, the time you spend grooming your facial hair can drop significantly.
And if you’ve got a full plate—maybe you’ve got exams, or you’re in those weeks after the birth of your first child, or you’re caring for a sick loved one—that extra time can be a god-send, and you can maximize the time you need to spend on taking care of your top priorities.
It’s funny—while a lot of guys are really concerned about how long their grooming routines take, there are a lot of guys who love the shaving routine and the time it takes, and really luxuriate in it. If that’s you, we’d urge you to check out wet shaving. Sleek double-edge razors, luxurious small-batch shaving creams, wonderful-smelling pre-shave oils and balms—it’s pretty wonderful.
Beards Can Cover Skin (and Facial Structure) Imperfections
There are plenty of us who had a rough go of it during our teenaged years, and have acne, acne scars, discoloration, and/or pock marks. They’re tough to hide, and even though there are formulas that do so, they 1) can be a real pain to apply, and 2) don’t always work (or even worse, melt off during the day).
You know what’s a great cover for those skin imperfections? Yeah, BEARDS. I bet you knew where we were going with that. BEARDS are great for covering skin imperfections.
All that’s probably obvious. But there’s another really great thing about beards: they can strengthen a jawline, and that is an unbelievably wonderful thing. Allow us to explain:
A jawline is one of those features associated with masculinity, and the science seems to back that up (when researchers gave subjects anabolic steroids, they noticed a range of changes in the subjects’ physical features, including a more aggressive jawline). If you look at your average movie star or model, chances are they have a very strong jawline.
A well-grown, well-maintained beard can really fill out a jawline. It obviously won’t change the structure of your face, but it makes your face appear longer and fuller, and depending on the length of your beard, it can make your jawline look broader and more chiseled. That can be a dramatic change in look, especially if you’re not a fan of your jawline.
It’s a Good Substitute to Shaving
We love shaving—after all, we built a website devoted entirely to the topic—but there are some guys who just hate it, and we totally get that. No matter what kind of razors they try and no matter what kind of shaving creams they use, they get bumps, irritation, and acne.
If that’s your experience, a beard can be a welcome change. You can ditch all that no-fun stuff, and embrace a look that (as we’ve mentioned above), many women are attracted to.
If you experience “shaving agony” and you want a change, you might be surprised how much you like yourself with a beard. It may take a while to grow—that’s true for most guys—but hang in there.
It Keeps You Warm!
We’re all soooooo sophisticated these days, that we feel somewhat divorced from the animal kingdom. But guess what: just like the rugged beasts you see on the Nature Channel, your body produces hair to keep you warm, and it’s almost surprising how much warmth your facial hair can capture.
If you don’t believe us, do this: grow out the hair on your head and the hair on your face. Start at the beginning of the summer, so by the time the winter rolls around, you’re nice and hairy, and you can experience the winter with your head hair and facial hair. Then, shave it all off, and go about your business.
You will be absolutely amazed how cold you are, and how much heat your facial hair and head hair retain. If you’re one of those chilly-all-the-time guys, then 1) you’re lucky, because chilly-all-the-time guys tend to be thin, and 2) a beard might be a nice change-of-pace and help you keep some of your body heat.
It's About as Manly a Look as You Can Get
We’ll be very straight-forward about this one, because it’s pretty amazing: a beard is a universally-recognized symbol of masculinity, and you can travel anywhere on planet Earth, and your fellow humans will recognize a beard for what it is: a symbol of manhood.
There aren’t too many universally-understood symbols, and the best part? You can control this one! If you’re capable of growing a beard, you’re able to put a symbol of masculinity right on your face. Talk about controlling your image! If only it were so easy to control all aspects of our image.
And the best part is—it's the manliest look you can get with the least amount of effort you need to put in. Sure, you could hit the gym for the next couple of years, or get a whole bunch of intimidating tattoos of skulls and loose women, or get a job as a bouncer or longshoreman or bodyguard, but if you don't want to put in that much effort—all you have to do is hold off on shaving for a few months, and wallah! You're sporting a universally-recognized symbol of masculinity. No gym memberships, tattoos, or dangerous careers required.
That Seems Like a Good Place to Stop
There you have it! The benefits of growing a beard. There are others, but that seems like enough for now.
If you’re interested in growing a beard, we hope you follow those instincts and give it a shot. A beard may only be a bunch of weird hairs growing out of your face—and it means different things to everyone in the world—but with the appropriate appreciation, you can see it as a club of men you’ve been initiated into, a benefit to your health and attractiveness, and a boon to your feelings of masculinity—and brother, that’s not too shabby. Good luck, have fun, and all the best to you!
Michael Morris is the head writer here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman. He's got a ducktail beard and loves Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's married to the woman of his dreams and lives in Brooklyn, NY.