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September 01, 2020 6 min read
Hygiene, Science, Growth & Health Facts ...
For many people – both men and women -- not a whole lot of thought goes into beards (or any facial hair, for that matter). It’s merely a superficial opinion, does it look good or does it look bad? Even those with beards may not give it much thought beyond its length or style. And, we get it – the way it looks is definitely what influences your decision to grow a beard or shave it off. But, what if there were some other benefits to letting those whiskers grow?
Sure, we could throw all sort of anecdotal evidence at you, but we don’t want you to just take our word for it. For the facts we’re presenting, we’ve got articles to back up what we’re throwing at you. So, without further ado - on to the facts!
BEARDS CAN PROTECT YOU
Well, we suppose if you grew a long enough beard (we’re talking Cousin It) then you’d have some sort of amazing forcefield around you. In practical terms, what we’re talking about is protecting your face from bacteria.
You may remember a few years back, there was some research that came out that showed bearded men actually had MORE bacteria on their faces (including that of the fecal persuasion). Well, this was a very small sample size, and not exactly rigorous (it was a local new affiliate, so of course, there’s a sensational angle). So how about something a bit more, shall we say, rigorous?
For that, we’ll turn to the Journal of Hospital Infection. They swabbed the beards of over 400 men at two different teaching hospitals, and then compared the results to that of the clean-shaven men working at the hospital. The conclusion? The bearded brethren were much less likely to be harboring some really nasty stuff (like MRSA). Why is that? While we’d like to think that the guys were just really meticulous about cleaning their beards, it’s due to the cuts and nicks that the clean-shaven guys had on their faces and necks. Those provided little breeding grounds for the nasty bacteria. So, score one for the beard!
HAVING A BEARD CAN SAVE YOU MONEY
How’s that, you ask? Well, think about it this way - if you’ve got a beard, you’ve got a lot less surface area that you need to shave (and none of those cuts for the bacteria to grow). You may also find that you can shave less frequently for the parts you keep clean (say, your neck) as when stubble grows, it’s just less noticeable against the stuff on your chin.
Though, we will warn you - what you save in buying fewer razors, blades, and shave cream may well be offset by your new obsession - trying out products to care for your beard. Of course, Blaze has you covered there, and we recommend that you try products out to see what works best for your hair and skin, and what scents are the most agreeable to you.
A BEARD CAN PROTECT YOU FROM MOTHER NATURE
Many guys will grow a beard in order to feel a bit warmer in the winter time. And depending on what you’re doing, that certainly can be the case - it’s a natural wind buffer. If you’re out in the snow, though, don’t be surprised if you develop some beardsicles.
That’s the cold weather, though. What about warmer weather? You might think that a beard is too hot for summer, but that’s actually not the case. Think of it like a built in sun-shade for your chin - just as the hair on your head can reflect the UV rays, the same holds true for your beard. There was a study done by the University of Southern Queensland (Australia) published in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry. That article abstract has a lot of jargon in it, but suffice to say - how long and thick your beard actually is can protect your face from UVA and UVB damage (it’s better at protecting you from UVB), giving you a relative UPF rating of between 2 and 21. Sure, you’ll probably want sunscreen for your bare skin, but keeping a majority of your face from the damaging rays of the sun just sounds like a great benefit to us.
YOU CAN EXPERIMENT WITH ALTERING YOUR LOOK WITH A BEARD
This next fact diverges more into the “fun trivia” arena, but it has a real benefit to it. On average, a beard will grow 1/2 inch per month and contain between 7,000 and 15,000 hairs (source) - so that means you’ve got a lot of hair - linearly speaking - to shape and style.
As your beard grows, you’re going to have some different stages to work through and figure out how to accommodate. Once you get to a length you like, then you can experiment with shaping and thinning things out. Or, if you want to make a change, well, just shorten it up! If you don’t like it (and so long as it wasn’t too drastic) you can get things back to their prior state in just a few months. Just roll with the punches, and figure out the style that works best for your face and daily routine. And if you’re in the mood to set a record, the Guinness goal to beat is 17 feet, 6 inches.
BEARDS CAN HELP YOUR SEASONAL ALLERGIES
I know, I know - this one sounds almost too good to be true, right? For those who suffer from allergies - and want to cut back on their reliance on medication - then a beard may be just what the doctor ordered. The great news on this came out in November 2018. So, how does it work? As it turns out, it’s a one-two combo punch against those allergens.
First and foremost, your beard can act as a pre-filter for your nose and mouth, capturing those spores and the like, preventing them from getting into your airways. And hey, it sort of makes sense - take a look at your furnace filter the next time you change it, or closely at a dust mask on your workbench - it’s a bunch of narrow strands woven together to capture small particles. You know, just like your beard.
Once your beard has caught the little buggers, that’s where the “two” of the combo punch comes into play. Your facial hair can keep the allergens close, and release them slowly over time - either back into the environment, or - more beneficially - into your airways. This allows your body to slowly get more acclimatized to the allergen, and reduce the reaction your body has to it.
The key to this working, per the doctors? Keeping your beard properly cleaned and groomed. That’s the subject for a different article entirely, but suffice to say - taking proper care of your facial hair carries a multitude of benefits, not just knocking down your allergies.
A BEARD WILL IMPACT FOLKS’ IMPRESSION OF YOU
Now, those of us with beards will hold forth that beards make us look better - and I suppose that is something that is really just in the eye of the beholder. When it comes to scientific studies, that support really isn’t there. There is proof, however, that the whiskers do definitely impact how people see you.
This study, out of the May-June 2012 Behavioral Ecology, shows that there are some surprising - and not-so-surprising - social impacts to having a beard. First and foremost, bearded men were perceived as being older. That makes sense, as you’ve got to be of a certain age to grow your beard, and many will have a variety of colors (including grey and white) separate from what the hair on their head is doing.
What we found surprising is that the participants in this study rated those men with beards as being in a higher social status. In your own experience, this could certainly be impacted by the social groups you’re a part of, but it’s an interesting finding nonetheless.
Last, but certainly not least, the study found that beards acted as a sort of magnifier to aggressiveness. Not so much in that a person would act more aggressive, but that the menacing facial expressions were all the more so when there was a beard involved. Perhaps that’s why so many Vikings and bikers in popular culture are graced with long beards - they just intuitively knew what the study proved to be true. (Brains and brawn, right?) Then again, if small children run and dogs growl when they see you when they see, that beard might be the culprit.
What we’ve given you here, today, is a rundown of six different interesting facts about beards, and how they can impact your life. Some of these are just fun conversation starters, while others have some very real benefits to you and your life. Then again, as we outlined at the start, you may be growing your beard for no other reason than you like the way it looks. Which is great. But there’s no reason not to have some extra arguments in your back pocket when someone harasses you about those whiskers, though, right?
At the end of the day, we don’t really mind what your reasons are for having a beard - it’s your beard, and your reasons are your own. We just want you to have the best possible beard. That’s why we have a number of Barber Grade products that can help you attain your beard goals. Blaze On bearded brothers - and don’t be afraid to drop some knowledge on the naysayers!
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