Facial hair scientifically proven sexy.

By Seriously Science | August 29, 2013 12:00 pm

Hipsters aside, most of the straight women I’ve talked to have stated a strong preference for clean-shaven men, which makes the research presented in this paper a bit of surprise. When shown pictures of the same men with differing facial hair lengths, both men and women expressed a preference for full beards and heavy stubble, respectively. But pictures are one thing, and beard burn is another. We demand a followup study that requires the participants to actually kiss those hairy faces!

The role of facial hair in women’s perceptions of men’s attractiveness, health, masculinity and parenting abilities.

“Facial hair strongly influences people’s judgments of men’s socio-sexual attributes. However, the nature of these judgments is often contradictory. The levels of intermediate facial hair growth presented to raters and the stage of female raters’ menstrual cycles might have influenced past findings. We quantified men’s and women’s judgments of attractiveness, health, masculinity and parenting abilities for photographs of men who were clean-shaven, lightly or heavily stubbled and fully bearded. We also tested the effect of the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptive use on women’s ratings. Women judged faces with heavy stubble as most attractive and heavy beards, light stubble and clean-shaven faces as similarly less attractive. In contrast, men rated full beards and heavy stubble as most attractive, followed closely by clean-shaven and light stubble as least attractive. Men and women rated full beards highest for parenting ability and healthiness. Masculinity ratings increased linearly as facial hair increased, and this effect was more pronounced in women in the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle, although attractiveness ratings did not differ according to fertility. Our findings confirm that beardedness affects judgments of male socio-sexual attributes and suggest that an intermediate level of beardedness is most attractive while full-bearded men may be perceived as better fathers who could protect and invest in offspring.”

Related content:
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: If you want to get hired, better shave that beard.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Innocent until proven bearded.TLE
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Frequency of pubic hair transfer during sexual intercourse.

  • RAM

    Looking at the sample image I can only say there’s something wrong with this study. I don’t like to go around full bearded, I like more the clean shave style but, I definitely don’t want to look like the clean shave in the picture, his haircut is awful, I would like the haircut of the full beard picture instead. I mean, the study could be polluted with those subtle details.

    • gbacoder

      you’re surely mad or a time waster, or very poor at jokes. Hair is identical. Now come back with better comments ha

      • RAM

        It’s sad you think that. There’s no need to be so clever to notice they’re not. But if you have any doubts you can put a piece of paper covering the eyes down on every face. It takes you no more than a minute. If this is an image used in the study there’s a chance the people looking at them are looking not only at the facial hair.

        • gbacoder

          well you seem to have got the votes, but personally I still cannot see much difference. maybe it’s me. anyway’s no worries either way, this is not something to worry about. hope you have a nice day :)

          • RAM

            No prob. And you’re right, we need to be sure and rule out other variables. Have a nice day too.

        • gbacoder

          ok I can see a small difference in the one on the right. best thing would be another experiment, just to make sure. I cannot see there being much of a difference, but point taken, in science, we need to be sure, so apologies for being a little troll like there.

      • agnes debinski

        There is a slight difference when it comes to these two hairstyles, although personally I wouldn´t consider that detail significant. I find both hairstyles equally suitable, but that´s just my point of view. Apparently some people feel otherwise.

  • Joaquina

    I do find him more attractive with heavy stubble and full beard. But most of my girlfriends disagree with me. I think it might have to do with daddy issues. My father used to have a full beard for the most part of my childhood.

  • Ce Gzz

    Ironic my dad was always shaven…and is a gread dad of 3 and an ideal husband for my mom.

  • joanooo

    Never farther from the truth! Ick to beards!!!

  • Pale HorseMan

    I think something’s wrong with this study, too. Every woman I asked (about 20) said they hated facial hair. Most liked a slight bit of stubble, said that was sexy, but all said a lot of facial hair was gross and hurt to kiss. A few said they thought a man looked like an uncivilized animal with face hair. I think the scientist who ran this test probably didn’t want to shave.

    • mojtaba

      judgment depends on hair. while a full bearded looks beautiful with a fairly long hair (as we see in pictures) just a light stubble looks attractive with a short hair.

  • duelles

    Every woman I’ve ever slept with never objected to my heavy stubble. So many other shortcomings to complain about.

    • disqus_ZdYl4a12r7

      Heavy stubble may look best, but in fact can be entirely abrasive a chafing in sensitive places. I also tend to think the clean shaven face makes one think higher income status, whether or not that’s true.
      Bearded = granola guy/dad
      Light/medium stubble = youth bar-scene guy/college
      Clean shaven = guy with an office job/serious career

      • duelles

        Stubble, not 65 yet, retired and very comfortable. Casual clothes for traveling and a winning smile. Those things make it on a woman’s list. However, any woman with a list can walk.

  • Virtuous2012

    Nobody’s addessing the menstrual cycle angle. That could be relevant.

    • agnes debinski

      I wouldn´t count on it.

  • agnes debinski

    I truly relished reading
    this article, as it was really interesting to me. Now I would like to comment
    on this matter:
    While there are women, who
    do find beards more attractive than shaven faces and/or faces with light
    stubbles, most female friends I know aged 18 to 60, despise full beards. Some ladies
    don´t mind and/or like a light stubble. I happen to favour full beards, but so
    far no woman ever agreed with me on that! I don´t think it´s a Daddy thing
    (well not in my case), as my Dad never ever had a beard, not even a light
    stubble. He is the most clean shaven man in the world. I suppose I associate
    beards with somebody very much in touch with nature and rather easy-going. A
    guy with a beard might also have a down-to-earth attitude and sense of humour.
    Besides the three musketeers had beards. So a beard can also be seen as a sign
    of courage. I sympathise with all of these qualities, so I suppose these might
    be reasons for my liking of full beards. Last but not least, I suppose a guy
    with a beard might perhaps be a guy, who is not overly shallow (a man who
    hopefully does not pay attention to appearances as much as many people do,
    otherwise he would be clean shaven – like the guys in commercials). In
    addition, I think we have been educated to believe Santa Clause is generous,
    and so guys with full beards are too. But who is we? A bunch of guys and one or
    two girls – women like me. It seems to me, that most women do not find full
    beards attractive. Do women actually associate full beards with fur? (One guy
    who commented on here made that suggestion). I guess so. I think most women
    also associate full beards with aggressive guys (such as criminals e.g.), with
    extremely impoverished guys (such as homeless dudes e.g.), with men, who have
    given up on themselves (depressed guys or alcoholics e.g.), with isolated
    mountain men (who might perhaps even be lunatics). None of these men are
    considered attractive by the vast majority of women. I think on a deeper level
    all women feel attracted to a certain kind of man. Either the sophisticated
    kind or the nature-loving dude, while most women would pick the sophisticated
    man. (Most women I have discussed this topic with). After all most girls and
    grown women do find guys, who remind me of Twilight Zone, hot. Or alternatively
    well tanned and clean shaven muscular or slender guys. Not so many women have a
    weakness for men, who might be mistaken with a werewolf in the dark. And yet I
    must admit, that I am one of those few women. Don´t get me wrong, I am not into
    werewolves! But I like the idea of an easy-going, down-to-earth, courageous and
    generous guy with a healthy sense of humour and a strong dedication to nature.
    Yet, I must agree with the guy (he commented on here), who said the vast
    majority of ladies find it painful to kiss guys with beards. That is true (according
    to what I´ve been told by all sorts of ladies). While most women do, I don´t.
    Actually, I find it pleasant. But remember: You´re not obliged to have the same
    kind of taste I´ve got! After all, I´m quirky! And for the record: My Dad is a
    great guy, although he doesn´t have a beard (neither full nor even a light
    stubble)! So you really don´t have to find full beards sexy, just because I do!
    But don´t hit on my Dad – he´s married to my Mum and they are a happy couple! Okay,
    Daddy topic off, beard topic on (and it´s about time for a conclusion): I most
    sincerely believe the scientists, who carried out the survey described above,
    somehow managed to find those few women on this planet with the kind of taste
    I´ve got – thus a tiny little minority of – let´s face it – quirky women! Or the
    women surveyed didn´t answer according to their actual feelings – they said
    what they thought society expects them to say. Most women will say how they
    really feel among friends, but suffer from overadaptation (they will provide
    you with those responses they think you want) when being in an unfamiliar
    surrounding and/or while speaking to strangers.

    • disqus_ZdYl4a12r7

      I associate older men with beards, in fact, makeover shows often have older men with beards shave them off to appear more youthful. Gray becomes very apparent in beards and ages a man about 15 years easily.

      I also associate beards with strict religous groups, generally not very open to female equality, and on that basis, find them a bit off-putting.

      • agnes debinski

        One would have to generally old to look old thanks to a beard. A few days ago I saw a man of 60 years enter a tram. He was clean-shaved. And wearing red pants. He was trying to hit on young ladies, who escaped from that dude – leaving him back alone and surprised that his red pants and his clean-shaven face were not able to hide his 60 years of age. There is nothing quite as amusing as wrong perception. You will NOT look younger just because you shave off your beard! Or because you wear red pants. Oh dear, if I got a hundred Dollars for having to bear every woman-hating dude without a beard, I would have been rich by now! So don´t try to tell me stuff about gender equality being related to beards. And whatever you are talking about – strict religious groups – well that´s an entirely different topic – that should not be discussed here, as it has nothing to do with the topic itself After all strictly religious people are reckognised mainly thanks to the way they dress! Any five-year-old could tell you that! (You can tell from miles away who is a whitness of Jehova e.g. because of the way they dress.) And I must add: I can´t take you seriously, as you don´t even have a name (or you don´t have the courage to leave comments as yourself!)

  • Bruce Schroeder

    I Agree flawed data his eyes are smilen in second two not first two. It being #movember I shall conduct my own studies this next month. I shall continue to shave other body parts as I please. no data shall be shared or recorded. unless asked and I can remember. WHY.

  • ace8842

    I grew a goatee and got loads of compliments from women, totally unexpectedly. One just game out and said it looked sexy. I am not used to getting compliments over physical appearance, but it seems women smile at me more and treat me differently…I have more stature.


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