Society has long debated whether it’s healthy to have a beard. Detractors point to that rather disturbing discovery that “facial hair could be dirtier than a toilet bowl,” as the New York Post put it. After swabbing a series of beards and analyzing their bacteria content, microbiologist John Golobic concluded that some of the bacteria were “the kind of things that you find in feces.”
Let’s face it — beards aren’t always the most hygienic thing on your body.
The BBC also pointed to a 2014 study in the Journal of Hospital Infection, wherein researchers swabbed the faces of 408 health-care workers — some bearded, some not. Those without beards were more likely to be carrying methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, an infection-causing staph bacteria that’s become resistant to many antibiotics.
The researchers suggested a possible explanation for their findings: that shaving might create small abrasions on the skin, “which may support bacterial colonization and proliferation,” according to the BBC.
Beards may also protect your face from the sun. A 2011 study from the University of Southern Queensland in Australia found that beards offer UV protection, with longer hair shielding the skin a bit more effectively. That’s helpful for places like your upper lip, where it’s easy to forget to apply an SPF product.
Beards may not be as bad as some people think. In fact, a doctor found that it may pave the way for the development of new antibiotics in the future.
In a new experiment, microbiologist Dr. Adam Roberts from the University College London discovered that beards carry bacteria that have antibiotic properties.
Roberts put beard swabs of different men to the test. He was able to detect over 100 different bacterial growths from the specimens. The thing is not all the bacteria were harmful.
Curiously, Roberts observed a microbe that looked as if it was killing other bacteria. He then isolated that microbe and tested it against a type of Escherichia coli that causes urinary tract infections.
This resulted in the microbes killing the bacterium with much efficiency.
Australian researchers discovered, beards actually make you less rugged — in the best way possible. Beards provide as much UV protection as sunscreen.
The researchers placed some mannequins in the hot Australian sun, and outfitted some with beards. After measuring how much radiation each face had absorbed, they found that beards are capable of providing a sun protection factor (SPF) of up to 21 — better than your average sunscreen, which comes in at SPF 15.
Beards are good for more than just the sun. Facial hair collects allergens that would otherwise make their way to your nose and mouth, helping keep you sneeze free. They also protect against wind damage, which dries your skin out and ages prematurely. To think, underneath their beards, those rugged mountain man types have faces as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
A beard can actually function as a fountain of youth because of all of the protection it offers. Since facial hair keeps you’re skin clear of cancerous blemishes and having a beard means you reduce the amount of acne and discoloration on your skin, your skin will stay healthy for longer. The ability of a beard and moustache to keep allergens out of your system will also improve your overall health. In this way, beards work to keep you not only looking younger but feeling younger as well.
When your beard and mustache help to keep airborne bacteria out of your mouth, they are also working together to reduce your chances of getting gum disease. It should be noted that you still need to brush your teeth to do the lion’s share of protection against gum disease, but beards offer that little bit of extra protection that other people simply do not have.