It’s a very common question asked by many men, do women like beards? Let’s examine this topic:
Have you ever skipped a day or two of shaving because you were too busy, too rushed or too tired to shave, only to have your wife or girlfriend say to you, disdain in her voice, “You’re not growing a beard, are you?” Does she cringe as the calendar marches ever closer to “Movember?”
Anecdotal evidence suggests that many women say they prefer a clean-shaven man. Yet, there are millions of women happily enjoying life with a bearded man. So what’s the deal? Do women like beards?
Part of people’s attitudes toward beards is rooted in the history behind facial hair. So we’ll start with a little bit of Beard History 101 so you have an idea of why beards seem to wax and wane with the passage of time.
The Natural History of Facial Hair
Although no one is 100 percent sure, it’s likely that early man didn’t concern himself much with grooming. Facial hair was normal, and probably necessary for warmth. Razors were still centuries away. Besides, early man was too preoccupied with hunting for food and warding off saber-tooth tigers to care much about their appearance and never worried about the question, do women like beards?
As man became more civilized, the wearing (or not wearing) of a beard became less about practicality and more about fashion. As with modern North American culture today, cultures like ancient Rome looked to its celebrities to set facial hair trends (though its celebrities were less movie star-ish and more political ruler-ish). For many decades the Romans embraced the baby-face, until, it is said, a particular Roman emperor grew a full beard to cover up some battle scars. Suddenly, beards were “in,” and everyone who was anyone sported one. Beards were also in fashion during the Middle Ages and a meticulously-groomed beard often signified that its wearer was of the upper class, nobility or a knight. Knights were especially fond of their facial hair, flaunting it as a symbol of manliness and fighting prowess.
However, clean-shaven faces were preferred during other time periods, like the Renaissance. Beards have even been used a means for government exploitation. King Henry VIII of England decided he could make money by taxing beards. Most men decided to simply avoid paying by shaving, ushering in a new clean-shaven fashion era.
Here in the USA, beard fashion has also changed with the times. The US was first settled by bearded men, (founded on a tradition of facial hair, you might say) but the trend eventually gave way to Puritanical non-bearded fashion. Beard-wearing reached new heights of popularity when Abraham Lincoln became the first bearded President. Its fashionability declined again afterward, enjoying a new revival in the 1960s and 70s, and again in the new millennium.
Do women like beards? Current Fashion Changes
Current fashion has elevated the beard to an iconic status. It has even spawned a brand new industry of manufacturers, retailers and service providers catering specifically to bearded men: beard grooming products, man-themed salons and grooming businesses, beard clubs and competitions and even clothing and product lines designed to appeal to beard culture. And the beard’s popularity just continues to rise.
Do women like beards?
The truth about what women really think about beards on guys is hard to nail down. Studies and surveys of women’s perceptions of beards on men, as well as a dearth of anecdotal evidence, suggests that the numbers of ladies who say they prefer bearded men and those who claim they want a clean-shaven guy are pretty much split down the middle.
Take for example a 2008 study conducted by Northumbria University of the UK. The results indicated that more than half of women they surveyed prefered men with light stubble over full-bearded and clean-shaven men. The same study also concluded that men with full beards appeared to the women surveyed as more masculine, aggressive and socially mature.
However, those results were much different from a 2013 study (Dixson & Brooks) which found that a majority of women found light stubble the least attractive when compared to clean-shaven and full-bearded men. Interestingly, the study was in agreement with the 2008 study in showing that women perceive full-bearded men as more masculine.
Numerous other studies have asked women to view photos of men and rate the potential for a long-term relationship with each man pictured. Many of these studies used digitally-retouched photos showing the same man in with varied facial hair length. The women in a majority of these studies pointed to men with full beards as having the greatest potential for a long-term relationship. Men with light stubble or no facial hair at all were deemed to be the least likely candidates for anything more than a short-term relationship.
So, it would appear that women may be a little ambiguous and even ambivalent when it comes to what they really think about men and beards. A significant number of surveys as well as anecdotal evidence implies that women’s opinions about beards is about equally divided. However, when pressed further under scientifically-sound conditions, more women gravitate toward the bearded man as being more desirable, attractive and masculine, and as having more potential as a mate.
What does this say to guys? If it’s an image of masculinity that you’re looking for, the full beard is definitely for you. Not only does it seem to attract more women, you’ll weed out the ones who aren’t really looking for a serious relationship.
However, if it’s just a night of fun that you’re after, try the stubbled look instead.
There is one thing that both the haters and the lovers overwhelmingly agree on: if you’re going to wear facial hair of any sort, keep it neat. Few things will turn off a woman faster than a beard that looks dirty or greasy. A kiss will be out of the question if she thinks your beard isn’t clean.
Women also prefer beard styles of any length or style to be nicely trimmed. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to keep it short. Even long beards can be attractive when they are regularly trimmed into a definable shape and style. Flyaways and frizz are definitely not acceptable to the opposite sex.