I have a bit of a confession to make: bearded guys make me weak in the knees. There's just something about a little facial hair that gets me every time: a beard that's not too bushy (as in, Gandalf status) and not too patchy (like, Michael Cera's creepy barely-there scruff), but that heavy stubble that's juuuuuust right.
Sorry, clean-shaven, conventionally handsome Bradley Cooper, but I'm too busy checking out your bearded buddy Zach Galifinakis. And George Clooney? Not even worth a second glance without some scruff on his cheeks. Ke$ha is already on the beard bandwagon (I'm not exactly saying to take dating cues from her, since she also sings about chugging Jack and rolling around in glitter, but I digress ...). She knows that even a decent five o' clock shadow can transform any dork into a rugged, mountain-climbing hunk. And if he's already sexy? Forget about it. Totally irresistible. (There's a reason why Allie went back to Noah in The Notebook — and we all know it was his beard.)
Research shows that growing a beard keeps a guy younger-looking and cancer-free. Here are just a few of the infinite reasons why being a lumberjack's lady has its perks!
1. Beards Have A Storied History Of Badassery
First off, beards go way back as having prestige and power. From the dawn of time, a man's beard was a symbol of his honor, sexual virility and social status as a man. In the Middle Ages, just touching another man's beard was offensive and grounds for a duel. Otto the Great swore by his beard saying anything serious. Alexander the Great decreed that soldiers could not have beards for fear that they would be yanked on in battle.
For the ancient Greeks, a beard indicated his maturity. (You'll notice that Zeus — the head honcho of the gods — rocked a full beard versus the baby-faced Apollo, Hermes or Dionysus.) For the early Egyptians, the beard became a symbol of kingship, placing the pharaoh among the deities. And it was the Vikings who really perfected the art of manscaping by plaiting, forking or trimming and nick-naming their face fuzz.
So really, beards are rocked by Greek gods, rock stars, royalty ... shall I go on?
2. He Has Clear Skin
You're likely to suspect he has something to hide under that beard, but contrary to what you would think, under that bushiness is blemish-free, baby-smooth skin! Acne and folliculitis (hair-follicle inflammation) are oftentimes the result of shaving. This is because razors can irritate the skin and spread bacteria. As for the secret to his smoothness? His beard prevents him from rubbing natural moisturizing oil off his face and protects him from those bitter winds. No redness or dryness on this guy!
3. His Beard Keeps Him Wrinkle-Free
A beard is the fountain of youth. Funny to think of it that way, but according to recent research from the University of Southern Queensland, a man's beard blocks up to 95 percent of the sun's UV rays and we all know that over-exposure to the sun means a higher risk of melanoma. Actually, four out of five cases in men appear on the face, head or neck and the sun causes up to 90 percent of the visible signs of aging. So while we still suggest that he lather on that sunscreen, keeping up his beard will keep that chiseled jawline of his spot-free and baby-smooth.
4. ... And Yet, He looks Much Older And Sophisticated!
A survey this past summer found that fuzzy-faced fellas look as much as eight years older than those who are clean shaven. When a panel of women were shown a picture of Prince William, who is 31, with a beard, they believed he looked 36. So he looks more mature, without looking haggard or weary — it's like getting all the benefits!
5. He Looks Insta-Masculine
Sounds like a cliche, but there's legitimate research behind this: a study published in Evolution and Human Behavior proved that the more facial hair a man has, the more masculine both men and women perceive him to be. So if you're into the burly, testosterone-driven type, he should skip the razor for 10 days — that's the exact length of time the study found that women find men the most attractive.
6. He's Trendy
Maybe it's because of bushy-faced hunks like Ben Affleck and George Clooney. Maybe it's because of the growing popularity of No Shave November. Maybe it's because that scruffy hipster look is so "in" right now. Either way, bearded guys are on the rise. More and more men are checking in with their doctors to grow thicker beards, taking multivitamins and even prescribed medication that stimulates the male hormone dihydrotestosterone.
Amazon.co.uk found that sales of beard trimmers have grown by 47 percent this year, too. Think of all the men you can date!
7. He Scares Away The Bad Guys
There's a reason why bearded men are born warriors. A study published last year in Behavioral Ecology found that bearded men appear more intimidating to other men. The researchers think a beard makes a man's jawline look bigger, which can make him seem more aggressive when he's angry. You know he's a big softie on the inside, so you know there's no reason to fear the beard. You can walk down the street holding his hand on a dark night in confidence.