Lincoln, Shakespeare, and Marx. Clooney and Jackman. Gandalf and Santa Claus. What do these guys have in common? From history to Hollywood to pop culture, the beard is usually sported by men of influence and power. In ancient civilizations, beards were a badge of honor and were only cut as punishment.
Facial hair in men has cycled in and out fashion and for centuries separated boys from men. What is it with bearded men anyway? Huffington cited that 55% of men worldwide have facial hair. Is it just a matter of style? Science says it is more than that. Sure, it looks manly and sexy to a certain portion of society. But the amazing history of men’s beard says men who grow a beard knew that there is more to facial hair than masculinity.
Public speaker and author Tim Mousseau, a bearded man himself, tells men to grow a beard, at least once. Beards, he wrote, are a “traditional symbol, a tradition of what it means to be a man.” This tradition changes a man in so many ways that would surprise even him.
We listed down the 12 surprising effects of having a beard.
A symbol of confidence
Around 345 BC, Alexander the Great decreed that soldiers could not have beards. He feared that enemies might pull them in battle. During those times, the beard was seen as a “handicap,” a costly signal of male competitive ability. It could be from this historical perspective that the beard today is seen as a symbol of confidence. It’s like saying: “I am handicapped but I can take you down.” Of course, that has evolved (and bearded men themselves may not even be aware of the handicap principle) but men who sport a beard traditionally look confident.
From a boy to a grown man
We often hear women say they want “older” men. “Old” in this sense means maturity, social status, and a sense of authority. This is an example of how beard changes everything. Beards can add a few years to a “boy’s” look. A study published in the journal Behavioral Ecology found that women assumed bearded men as significantly older in an experiment involving 23-year-old men. This means that growing a stubble physically turns a man into a mature individual and (hopefully) inspires him to act like one.
If you feel like you need a little boost to your self-confidence, sporting a beard might just be the answer. It is believed that facial hair affects the behavior of the wearer. A man whose brain tells him that he looks more manly and dominant will assert the same exact characteristics in the way he acts and behaves.
Sign of aggressiveness and intimidation
The psychology of growing a beard stems from prehistoric times. Men’s reasons for growing beards include intimidation of enemies and protection of themselves. In modern times, while there is no actual battle of species, the beard is a symbol of aggressiveness and remains a factor in intimidation.
A beard is a sign of active testosterone in the body, which people generally recognize as potential for more aggression. In a case, bearded and clean-shaven men were asked to make certain facial expressions and the bearded men were seen as significantly more intimidating and aggressive.
Man of higher rank and status
Facial hair in men can command respect in the community. A research in the Oxford Journal surveyed men and women to scale men’s perceived social status based on neutral expressions. The result: bearded men were perceived to be ranking higher in professional status than clean-shaven ones. This is more or less a combination of all perceptions about bearded men: exuding in confidence and more aggressive, bearded men give the impression that they are in charge.
Feeling of attractiveness is enhanced
How does growing a beard affect a man in terms of his sexual appeal? While women generally differ with their taste in men, a survey of 1,000 men by German consumer-goods company Braun found that bearded men generally feel more attractive and appealing. The survey showed that over half of the 67% of men who sport facial hair said a stubble makes them feel more confident, while 55% also reported receiving compliments about their facial hair.
Learning and patience in times of discomfort
Growing a beard could be very challenging and uncomfortable for the first time. Most of the time, the beard is not too full with gaps in facial hair and looks awkward. This in itself is a test of character according to Mousseau. Learning, he said, comes from discomfort. Patience throughout the frustrating stages will also be tested. It will also test how far you are willing to go to get something that you truly want. This includes consulting an expert who can help speed up hair growth and assist you in growing a full beard. Some even undergo hair restoration to be able to grow a full beard.
No time for shaving
There are more important things than shaving. It was once estimated that the average man will spend an estimated 3,350 hours, or nearly five months says Google, of his life shaving. Once you decide to just grow a beard and keep it groomed, you will be surprised at the amount of time you will save. Plus, you won’t have abrasions and cuts from shaving.
Beards show responsibility
If it takes patience to grow a beard, it takes responsibility to keep it groomed and maintained. A bearded man looks like a responsible man. It shows that you can handle business.
Protection from the sun
One of the reasons to grow a beard is if you want a natural shield from the harmful effects of the sun. A study by researchers in Australia showed that beards can reduce 50 to 95 percent of UV rays reaching the skin. The research found that facial hair has an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of anywhere from 2 to 21. If you are hitting the beach this summer, you might want to try growing a beard and watch how it acts as a natural sunscreen.
Growing a fountain of youth
One of the reasons to grow a beard is to make you feel youthful. Sure, it can make you look a bit more mature but it will keep your skin looking and feeling younger. Based on several medical studies, facial hair helps keep your skin free of cancerous blemishes, reduce the amount of acne, prevents discoloration on your skin, and keeps skin moisturized.
Other men respect you
For all we know, men do not sport beards for the opposite sex. Some grow a beard to intimidate other men and make them take him seriously. In ancient Egypt, it was not allowed for a man to touch the beard of another man as it shows disrespect.
Growing a beard takes a lot of patience and commitment. While there are surely disadvantages, the positive effects and benefits of having facial hair cannot be ignored. From health benefits, confidence, and higher regard from society, a beard can truly be a badge of modern-day honor.