Is growing a beard good for your skin? 6 awesome reasons beards help your skin…

Growing a beard probably starts as a fashion statement – at least it did for me! But other than all of the great personal branding a beard affords its owner, there may be a few other benefits. You may have heard a number of rumours about the awesome effects of having a beard on your skin like protecting it from the sun, keeping it moisturized…In this post we will look at the popular question: Is growing a beard good for your skin?

Growing a beard is great for your skin. It provides protection against skin cancer, keeping you looking young, protecting against the cold, reducing bacterial infections, and acting as a natural moisturizer beard growing has never seemed like such a good idea!

There is a load of different reasons why men grow a beard. It can be for looks and style. It could even be a personal challenge for them. I don’t know if anyone has grown a beard for health or skin benefits exclusively. However, I know that there are a load of beards men who love the benefits of what a beard brings to their skin! Let’s take a look at the reason your fuzzy face friend has your back!

Are there any benefits to growing a beard?

Growing a beard is said to be great for a variety of reasons – social and health but here we will look at the reasons that a beard is good for your skin and the reasons why you should expect better skin from growing a beard!

1. Protects against skin cancer

This is probably the top reason beards are good for your skin! With hardly any hyperbole I can say that it may actually save your life…

UV rays cause all sorts of problems for your skin. From sunburn to making you age faster. A study performed at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, published in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry, looked at how well a beard absorbed UV rays through a process called dosimetry. Dosimetry is the measurement of the absorbed amount of UV radiation.

The studies showed that beards can help prevent skin cancer with an estimated 90 to 95 percent protection against harmful UV rays.

Beards are better at protecting against UVB rays rather than UVA rays. UVB rays are responsible for the red skin that we associate with sunburn and can increase the risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer.

However, it’s important that bearded men do not think their beard provides superhuman cancer protection – you should still wear sunscreen!

2. Reduces skin infections

Okay, bear with me on this one! There are two things to consider with how beards can reduce skin infections

Beards and bacteria

Beards have been shown to have lower bacterial levels than those found on a clean face! A team of researchers swabbed the beards of 408 male hospital workers from two different teaching hospitals and compared the results to clean-shaven men.

Clean-shaven men were three times more likely to carry harmful bacteria, including Methicillin-resistant Staphlyococcus aureus (MRSA), than their bearded collegues.

Researchers think that it has to do with the “microtrauma” men put their faces through when they shave. You know – the nicks, cuts, and scratches you give yourself when rushing through your morning routine! These cuts and nicks help bacterial colonies grow and spread on the skin.

But there could be another side to this fuzzy story…

previous experiment demonstrated that beards could have more bacterium than those with clean-shaven faces. Shock horror!

A beard swap test revealed a disgusting insight – that men’s facial hair contained the same bacteria typically found in intestines and poop!

Beards can trap dirt and germs more easily, but the truth is that as long as proper hygiene is maintained, most men’s beards contained normal levels of bacteria. Keeping clean and not clean-shaven could be the trick to the healthiest faces.

For more information about beards and bacteria check out my other blog post that delves deep – click here!

Beards and acne

Shaving regularly increases the risk of you cutting your face. These cuts can act as a place where bacteria can enter your skin.

Shaving related risks include the likes of skin irritation, razor burn and folliculitis, which is the infection of hair follicles leading to acne spots on the face and neck.

It’s clear that because your skin is no longer put through as much trauma it reduces the risk of getting any sort of bacterial infection.

3. It is a natural moisturizer

Beards can trap all sorts of things! However, it’s not just gross things that a beard can keep close to your face. A beard is a great way to keep natural oils from leaving your face which helps you maintain a moisturized face!

Dry beards can occur for a number of reasons such as cold weather, stress, a bad diet or over washing of a beard! This can result in beardruff (or beard dandruff) and it can become a real issue for a load of men.

While you should wash your beard every couple of days with a specially formulated beard wash. You need to make sure that you are not stripping the beneficial oils away from your skin.

Not over washing and allowing your ace to reach its own natural balance can help with dryness. Let’s look at another reason why beard growing is great for your skin!

4. Fewer wrinkles

As we saw above, beards are a great way to protect your face from the sun.

As such your face will be less exposed to harmful UV rays and the aging effects will be lowered. A beard is an equivalent of wearing factor 2 to 21, depending on the length of the beard. The longer you have a beard the more likely these beneficial factors will come into play.

It can be hard to quantify at which stage during your beard growing journey your beard is performing best at protecting you from UV rays. The studies have shown that the shortest length is 0.4 inches. So it needs to be a little longer than stubble for you to get the 2 SPF factor.

The longer you wear your beard the longer it can protect your face from the sun. there are fewer chances of you getting wrinkles on your face.

So, all of you wanting to protect your face from wrinkles start growing your beard. You will look much younger and cool – maybe a biased opinion!

5. Protection from the cold

Let’s look at the other side of the weather coin now!

If you live in a cold climate, a beard is a fantastic way to protect your skin from the harsh cold blowing at your face. A beard will act as thermal protection by trapping a layer of warm air next to your skin.

With cold weather comes dryness! This dry air sucks the moisture from your skin and causes flakey, ashy or irritated skin. This condition is known as xerosis and, although very common, it is very treatable.

Some people like to grow their beards out in winter to combat these dry air symptoms. This common technique becomes apparent when you look at the google trend line for beards:

is growing beard good for your skin

There are seasonal bumps where the United States of America are in their winter months.

6. Stops irritant folliculitis, bacterial folliculitis and pseudofolliculitis barbae

Did you know that the act of growing a beard can really help with inflammatory conditions associated with shaving! A really good clean shave can leave your skin really awesome at first. But for some men this feeling is short-lived. For some men, the smooth feeling of a fresh shave leads to tiny red bumps all over the face.

These are called “razor bumps” but can also be called barbers itch, pseudofolliculitis barbae and folliculitis barbae traumatica. The symptoms are very common for many men and these include:

  • Pain
  • Redness and darkening of the skin
  • small solid bumps on the surface of the skin
  • Puss-filled blister like lesions on the surface of the skin

None of these some great, right?

These symptoms can occur anywhere on the body that has been shaved but are most likely to occur on the face in the chin, neck and lower cheek areas. The cause of these small bumps is when the curly beard hairs get stuck inside the hair follicles.

Although this issue can be seen across the whole spectrum of beard growers it is most common in people of African descent. A 2013 study showed that there are several skin conditions that are more common in skin of colour and “Altering shaving techniques helps prevent lesions from recurring“.

Obviously, if you are growing a beard you remove the need for shaving altogether putting a stop to this inflamation. However, many men choose to shave the neck area of their beard so treatment can include steroids, antibiotics, and retinoids to prevent progression.

Other health benefits of growing a beard

Beside growing a beard to help your skin there are plenty of other health reasons why growing a beard is a great idea.

Beards provide asthma relief

For people with asthma, triggers often include dust, smoke and pet dander. This causes an asthmatic response which causes the airways to tighten.

There are some suggestions that growing a beard may stop these irritants from entering the airways by acting like a filter for the lungs. Clearly, if that is the case some beard styles are more effective than others at doing this. A bigger bushier moustache that covers the mouth will be more likely to keep the allergens out of the airways.

However, if you do not look after your beard you may actually be able to make your allergies worse! You have to keep the beard free of allergens by regularly cleaning out your beard.

Clearly, this will not replace other interventions but could be the thing you need to live a life that is a little bit more comfortable.

A beard can stop throat disease (maybe)

The hair that grows in your nostrils has evolved to guard the lungs against invasion from bacteria and other particles that you may breathe in. Having an additional layer of hair to get through (your beard or moustache) may add to your natural protection.

The beard could act as a filter like in the case of asthma but may also be the thing that traps the bacteria and cause trouble. To take advantage of the filtering nature of your beard and moustache remember to observe a good daily washing and cleaning routine to wash away any of the bad stuff your beard may pick up during the day!

Beards can help your mental health!

Beards have been proven to make men feel more attractive and confident! a recent survey for 2,000 US residents showed that the majority of men feel better about themselves if they have some form of facial hair.

In the survey performed by Honest Amish (a beard brand) 75% of the respondents to the survey stated that they would give up sex for a full year if they were able to grow the perfect beard. The survey also asked people to rate their “facial hair happiness” using a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the most happy. Overall, the average respondent ranked their personal beard satisfaction at a six…which shows there is still a little room for improvement!

Beards can improve your sex life

Is there any better and fun way of improving your health than having more sex? Well, growing a beard may help you have more sex – it’s all based in science too! Sex helps keep your immune system running, lowers your blood pressure, lessens pain, reduces your chances of getting prostate cancer eases stress, improves sleep and lowers the risk of having a heart attack! All these benefits from growing a beard?

You better believe it…

A 2008 study performed by psychologists at Northumbria University showed that “women … rated men with stubble as tough, mature, aggressive, dominant and masculine — and as the best romantic partners, either for a fling or a long-term relationships,”.

The researchers used computers to alter pictures of 15 men’s faces so that they had different levels of facial hair. Five different levels of facial hair was used:

The explanation for the preference is not clear, but experts in human evolution say that that facial hair may be a signal of aggression because it boosts the apparent size of the lower jaw, emphasising the teeth as weapons.

Caring for your beard and skin

As you have seen these are the reasons that growing beard good for your skin. However, you can increase the beneficial power of growing a beard by looking after it!

You should use a mild liquid soap and pat dry it with a small towel. The towel that you use should be clean and made of soft fabric. Then a bit of a light hair drying and styling you will get your beard looking its best!

My daily routine looks like this:

I wash my beard with beard shampoo and conditioner every other day but always get it wet during my daily morning shower. I then blowdry the beard to how I want it to sit and use beard oil and wax sparingly until I get the shape to stay in. By using the boar’s hair brush lightly on the surface of my beard I have found that it helps control hairs that otherwise fly away from my face.

I use scissors to remove any single hairs that are causing me an issue. I do not use trimmers on a daily basis. In the past, I have had a tendency to over prune if I use trimmer daily. I shave the neckline with the safety razor and check to see if the cheek line needs the same treatment.

My daily routine lasts no more than five minutes and gets quicker as you become comfortable with what needs to happen to keep your beard looking its best.

It is also important to get your beard trimmed (or do it yourself like in this blog) at least once a week so that you look well-groomed and as sexy as possible – you don’t want to let your fellow bearded men down do you?

The final word

We can say that growing a beard is really great for your skin a whole range of reasons.

So, keep your skin healthy by completely stopping the use of razors. Throw away those razors and start to grow your beard!

The Author

Andy Stapleton

Andy is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He is an avid beard grower and after many years of growing and trialling different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!