Despite the fact that there is a small chance that there’s a load of dust in them, and people keep coming up with ever-worsening ideas to make you look like an alien, research has discovered there is a good chance that face fuzz keeps you healthy and handsome.
Great news for those who can’t grow facial hair. At least we’ve got something to blame for the fact that we’re ghoulish, sickly creatures.
Anyway, beards have been scientifically – and the word ‘scientifically’ is used fairly loosely here – proven to make men more attractive. They also apparently have hidden health benefits that you might not previously have been aware of.
So, according to the professors at the University of Queensland, beards can protect the face from up to 95 percent of harmful UV rays. That’s a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor, to you and me) of 21.
The lead author of this research, Professor Alfio Parisi, backed up these bold claims to the Independent. Parisi explained: “While beards will never be as sun-safe as sunscreen, they certainly are a factor in blocking UV rays.”
But wait, there’s more. This lower UV exposure has other benefits for the face of the hirsute fellow. Less UV means a slower ageing process. That means that despite beards making you look like a 19th Century fur trapper, your skin will actually be more youthful and wrinkle free. Goddammit.
Oh, and bearded folk are also less likely to contract skin cancer.
Dr Adam Friedmann, a Harley Street dermatologist, told the Independent: “Sun exposure is the primary cause of photo-ageing and skin damage so it makes sense that if your face is covered by a heavy beard, it may well protect your skin from the signs of ageing.
“This means fewer wrinkles and a reduction in age spots (liver spots) commonly found on the face.” It’s not all bad news for the less-hairy among us. This research also holds true for those with a load of hair on their heads. Dr Friedmann continued: “People with a thick head of hair do not tend to get skin cancer or photo ageing on the scalp until they lose their hair. So we can see that there is a UV protective effect.”
There you have it. If you’re a baldy so-and-so with no beard, you wanna be sun-screening up, mate. However, that’s something you should be doing anyway, even if you’ve got a thick head of hair and a beard. It’s better to be safe than sorry, after all. In case you’re wondering, the study included a very technical experiment during which mannequins – some bearded, some not – were left in the sun to see how much radiation they absorbed.
Sounds like a fairly cushy job, to be honest.