To Beard or Not To Beard – Studies Show Bearded Men Are Becoming Unattractive

June 9, 2014

man shaving

Men who’ve been trying to grow in their beard may want to reconsider. A new study out of the University of New South Wales suggests that the growing popularity of beards has actually made them less attractive.

When beards are ubiquitous, people perceive them to be less attractive, according to the study in Biology Letters by a team of Australian researchers at the University of New South Wales. “The bigger the trend gets, the weaker the preference for beards and the tide will go out again,” researcher Robert Brooks told the Guardian Australia. “We may well be at peak beard.”

Let us pause for a moment to bask in the phrase “peak beard.” So what does this news mean for people who cannot actually grow beards?

Well, it means that clean-shaven people are viewed as more attractive when such faces are rare, according to the study.

Researchers asked 1,453 women and 213 men to rate the attractiveness of different images of 36 men’s faces.

Each man had been photographed when he was clean-shaven, with five days of facial hair growth, 10 days of growth, and at least four weeks of untrimmed growth.

Some of the participants were shown mostly “full” beards, while others were shown images of mostly clean-shaven men. A third group was shown a mixture of several types of facial hair.

The researchers found that the rarer a trait is, the more attractive it is to others – which is known in scientific terms as “negative frequency dependence.”

Beards have become so popular that surgeons are even reporting a spike in interest in facial hair transplants. The study, published in the journal Biology Letters, suggests that a trend reversal may be on the horizon as the clean-shaven look becomes more attractive to others.