When it comes to your facial hair, you probably ride on either extreme: You cater your scruff to what a girl wants; or, you don’t care what women think and grow whatever the hell you want. Well, if you’re single, the state of your facial hair can attract flings or long-term relationships, depending on how you style it, according to new research from Wiley.
In the study, published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, researchers had 8,520 women rate the physical attractiveness of men with varying degrees of facial hair, all of which were manipulated using computer graphics. The researchers also played with traditionally male-typical features, like a more pronounced brow and jawline (which, the team says, can signify underlying health—thanks to evolution; beards on the other hand can signal a man’s age, even social status, and dominance.
Bottom line: Beardedness (or lack there of) had a major influence on a guy’s sex appeal and perceived masculinity.
When women viewed clean-shaven men, those that were masculinized and, even more so, feminized were viewed as less attractive than men whose faces were unmanipulated. In other words, it was unanimous across the board, whether women were looking for one-night stands or potential husbands.
Stubble was deemed most attractive overall and received higher ratings for flings and short-term relationships than full beards.
Full beards were attractive to women searching for long-term relationships. The researchers believe beards make men seem more “formidable”—in a red-blooded, strong, and strapping kind of way—that gives women the sense they can provide direct benefits, like enhanced fertility and survival. Who knew your beard was so meaningful?
“Sexual selection via female choice has shaped the evolution of male ornamentation in many species,” the authors said in a press release. So, consider your beard the equivalent to a peacock’s plume or a deer’s antlers. And check out our brand new story on the five best beard styles to try.