Perhaps the first question a dude asks himself when contemplating changing his facial hair is "what will women think?" Men with beards throughout history have been considered potent, powerful and steadfast. Beards have been associated with aged wisdom which is why Egyptian pharaohs prominently wore fake beards and the most powerful Greek deities were blessed with voluminous facial hair. So, what do women think about beards?
Co-authored by Dr Barnaby Dixson, a 2016 study by the University of Queensland surveyed 8,000 women and found stubble to be the most attractive overall and rated highly for short-term flings. Full beard styles were deemed more appealing for long-term relationships and beards were found to signal age, status, and dominance. An earlier study also conducted by Dr Dixson found the same pattern - heavy stubble was most attractive, but full beards were tied to parenting skills and health. Also, the more facial hair, the higher the masculinity rating.
Another study backed up these claims with a heavy, 10-day beard ranking as most attractive while men with light stubble (5 days or less) received the lowest scores across the board in every category. In a survey conducted by a dating website, over 60% of the 1,500 female respondents found men’s facial hair attractive. Further, women strongly preferred men with beards over men with mustaches only. The combination of a beard and mustache was the ideal grooming choice in this survey according to the majority.
Throughout the various studies, a pattern emerges with stubble being linked to shorter-term relationships and men with full beards being associated with long-term relationships, good parenting skills, and better protectors. There are several possible reasons behind these results:
- Facial hair is proof of masculinity. The more facial hair, the more masculine he can be perceived.
- Beards lend respect and social awareness.
- Beards are rebellious and who doesn’t love a bad boy!
- Many women enjoy the feeling of a beard when they are closer to it.
- Beards project trustworthiness and maturity.
Beard or not, women find well-groomed, masculine characteristics attractive and their women's preferences change with their own mating goals.