Is stubble better than a beard? [Polls and insider insights]

While you are growing a beard it can be tempting to look at all of the options available to you – especially the options that don’t take as long to grow. One of the first places for a beard grower to halt their beard is at the stubble stage. At this stage, the beard is easier to manage because it is very short and still provides a little bit of masculinity to the face. However, everyone at this stage always thinks to themselves – would a beard be better than this stubble?

Stubble is better than a beard because it is easier to maintain, it requires less beard tools, it uses minimal product, and it is much quicker to grow than a beard. However, a beard gives you more style options, protection from the cold and UV rays, and has a variety of styles to choose from.

The search term for stubble worldwide peaked in February 2013 according to Google trends:

Is stubble better than a beard? Google trends data

At this time, stubble was starting to become a popular beard style spurred on by celebrities and popular sports players such as David Beckham. In 2013 we saw a change from the cleanly shaven look to a designer stubble look which became incredibly popular for men around the world to emulate.

Since 2013, stubble has decreased in popularity to about ¼ of its 2013 peak. That doesn’t mean that a stubble beard has completely gone out of fashion nor has the desire for men to sport stubble as a facial style diminished – it has just left the popular culture bubble for now.

There are many reasons why stubble is better than a beard and why many men still consider stubble as a viable alternative to growing a full and massive beard.

Let’s take a look at why stubble is better than a beard.

Results from my poll:

I asked 3,000 people on my YouTube channel – “Is stubble better than a full beard?”

Is stubble better than a full beard - results from my YouTube Poll

This is what people had to say:

Honestly, it depends on the person I think. I’m “pro beard” but sometimes I’ll see a guy with a very patchy and very unkempt beard that they’ve grown out and it really doesn’t look good at all. For those guys I would say if you’re not going to take care of it or it looks way too patchy even at a longer length then go with stubble. And on the other side, I’ll see guys with thick, full, epic stubble and be thinking “why on Earth don’t you grow a beard?!”

Jack Michael

Full beard is better, there’s much more you can do with it! (as long as you can grow it full nicely)… Stubble is easier to maintain, but so are short beards, so 🤷‍♂️

Professor Wolverine: Beards, Hair and Lifestyle

Why stubble is better than a beard

Stubble is better than a beard for a variety of reasons and ultimately the choice to halt your beard growth at the stubble stage depends on personal preference and choice. Also, people may consider stubble a more acceptable type of beard in the workplace. Even though you can grow a very well maintained and professional looking full beard you do have to go through a scraggly stage to get to the beard of your dreams.

Quicker to grow

There is no doubt that stubble is quicker to grow. Beard grows at a rate of up to 0.015 inches (0.38 mm) per day which means that you can grow a 1 mm beard in as little as 2 to 3 days.

If you want to sport a stubble beard for a special occasion such as a wedding, a work function, or just to try something new you will see the fruits of your labour in as little as a weekend.

There is no doubt that growing a beard takes a very long time and you are looking at a minimum of two months before you have up to 1 inch worth of beard growth. If you want to know more about a two-month-old beard check out my other article – is two months enough to grow a beard? Styles, tips, and more… – Click here to be taken to article.

The great thing about a stubble beard and the fact that you can grow over a weekend is that if you don’t like it you have not lost too much time in your stubble growing adventure.

Once you are at the stubble stage you are also able to shave areas such as your cheeks to hone in on a goatee or other partial beard style. Perfect for the inpatient beard grower.

Easier to maintain

There is also no doubt that a beard is much easier to maintain when it is shorter. Stubble is one of the easiest forms of facial hair that you can grow.

A typical daily maintenance regime for a beard can take anywhere up to 15 minutes. This includes showering, drying, blow drying, applying beard oil, styling, applying beard works, applying beard softener, and much more.

Maintaining a simple stubble beard, however, simply relies on keeping your skin well-nourished and applying a little bit of jojoba based beard oil so that your skin is kept nice and hydrated so that you can avoid the dreaded beard dandruff.

Maintaining a stubble beard can also take place completely in the shower so that you don’t have to have extra mirror time when you leave the warm water.

There are also way less tools that you need to maintain stubble.

Less beard tools

Maintaining a stubble beard can be done in two ways:

  • firstly, you can simply shave off your beard completely every 2 to 3 days and allow it to be in a continuous state of growing up to about a millimetre in length before shaving off.
  • Secondly, you can purchase a set of beard trimmers which allow you to trim up your stubble to a length of anywhere between 2 to 5 mm in length.

Other than a good quality razor or a beard trimmer you really don’t need much else.

You don’t even need to start investing in different beard products such as beard oil, beard balm, dedicated beard shampoos or conditioners because your hair is short enough that it is primarily the skin underneath the beard that will dictate the healthiness of the hairs.

The hairs are short and to still be nourished by the natural oils and see them in your face which is something that beard oil tries to support once your beard gets to a certain length – more than a couple of inches in length results in dry ends.

Minimal product use

To look after a stubble beard you do not need to buy a specific products. You actually need to focus on the skin underneath the beard to make sure that your beard stubble is maintained to the best of your ability.

The best products for a stubble beard include:

  • skin moisturiser – this make sure that the skin underneath the beard is not irritated by the short hairs which may be curly and curling around to irritate the skin and also stops you from developing beard dandruff.
  • Beard oil – focus on a jojoba based beard oil as the jojoba oil is better absorbed by the skin and other oils like sweet Armond oil and Argan oil are more absorbed by the hair.
  • Exfoliating scrub – even having the smallest amount of beard stubble can cause the follicles to trap dirt at the base of the hairs. Having a good exfoliating scrub which you can use in the shower or make sure that your beard remains fresh and free of any dirt and grime – or built-up sebum – that may accumulate at the base of the hairs.

The good thing about a beard which is stopped at the stubble stage is that you do not need products for conditioning or moisturising the beard hairs – this is because the shorter beard hairs are still able to be nourished by the natural oils – sebum – which is excreted by the pores on your face.

Less attention

During my beard growing journey I have noticed that my gay significant amount of looks and attention now that I have a beard which is greater than 6 inches in length.

If you are a shy or introverted person having a shorter beard or a beard that consists of stubble will mean that you get less attention when you are out in public.

Even though people are used to seeing men with relatively long beards they still attract their fair number of gazes. If you are uncomfortable with people coming up and asking you about your beard or it being the main topic of conversation you may want to halt your beard at the stubble stage which attracts little to no attention from the general public or even your closest friends and family.

It would be wrong of us to not look at all of the awesome benefits of why a beard is better than stubble so that we can give you a balanced view on why someone would want to grow a beard and the insider tips and tricks that beards provide.

Why a beard is better than stubble

There are many reasons why people may want to grow a beard beyond the stubble stage. Growing a beard beyond stubble takes persistence, patience, and a fair amount of self-control.

In my recent YouTube video I talked about the five things that no one told me about growing a beard and if you’re thinking about growing one beyond your stubble you should take 10 minutes to watch what you’re getting yourself into:

I may be a bit biased but here are all of the reasons why I think a beard is far better than stubble.

More style options

The first and probably biggest reason why a beard is better than stubble is because of the amount of style options that growing a beard affords you. If you want to know more about all of the different beard styles from short, medium all the way through to long beards check out my other article – beard styles [a comprehensive list of foundational beard styles] where I go through all of the different types of beard styles that you should know and you can use it for inspiration for growing your beard.

beard styles header

Even the shortest of beards – about 1 inch in length – have a variety of different style options. The great thing about having a longer beard is that you are able to shape the beard to suit your face shape.

If you are only growing a short stubble like beard you are limited to the types of styles which dramatically change the shape of your face. You can decide to fade into areas of your beard and you can choose to create defined lines using a single blade safety razor but you don’t have the luxury of completely changing the shape of your face.

If you have a longer beard you are able to radically alter the shape of your face by simply using scissors and a trimmer to redefine the bottom line of your beard.

Stops razor bumps

Did you know that the act of growing out 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 synptoms 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 decent. 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.

For more information about whether or not growing a beard is good feel skin check out my other article – is growing a beard good feel skin? Everything you need to know.

is growing beard good for your skin - main image

Protects from the cold

Having a beard also protects you from the cold. Having a full beard in a cold climate traps a small amount of warm air right next to your face. If your beard gets particularly long can also tuck the beard into your collar so that it kind of becomes a scarf.

It is no surprise then that people tend to grow their beards in winter to try to combat the dry cold air. You see, the cold weather also comes with dryness. The dry air sucks the moisture out from your skin and causes flaky ashy, and irritated skin. This condition is known as xerosis and is very treatable, given the right medication and avoiding dry conditions.

UV protection

On the other end of the spectrum, from the cold, a beard acts as a physical barrier to UV rays.

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 through 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!

Less regular trimming

Now, this one may be one of the hardest things to accept but a beard requires less regular maintenance than trimming.

If you are maintaining a short stubble beard you will need to trim it up every three days to keep it looking neat and tidy. Any more than this and it starts ending up becoming a little bit fuzzy and fluffy around the edges which means that you need to trim it up.

It doesn’t take long to pass a good quality beard trimmer over the entire surface of your beard to even up the fuzziness.

A beard, on the other hand, doesn’t require you to trim it more often than every week or so. It may take a little bit longer in these weekly or fortnightly trimming sessions but the daily routine is purely to hydrate, moisturise, and stole the beard it is not about trimming up any loose ends. In fact, if you do it too often you’ll end up with a much shorter beard than you want.

So, if you have a beard there is less daily trimming but a much more involved fortnightly shaping – if you don’t go to a hairdresser.

What facial hair is most attractive?

If you want to know more about attractiveness of beards check out my other article – are bald guys with beards attractive? The poles and science – click here to be taken to article.

The thing is, a load of people will always have an opinion on whether beards are attractive or not. There have been a number of polls and surveys over the years but they often contradict one another.

Here are a few polls where beards have been at the center of the discussion:

Poll byLinkResult(s)
YouGovFull report– Judgment on character = 20% prefer clean-shaven, 6 % prefer beard
– Masculinity = 24% clean shaven more masculine, 19% beard more masculine
PrimandPrepWebsite– Short Stubble beard was most attractive
– Full beard 5th place
– 3 x more women think beards are unattractive
Focus Pointe GroupWebsite– 4% of men would prefer a beard (38% prefer clean-shaven)
– Most men need to be clean-shaven for work
– 9% of their partners prefer a beard (37% prefer clean-shaven)

It seems to me that most people when polled say that they prefer clean-shaven men. However, when you look at the research it seems to be the opposite. I sit that we should believe a random poll or science? As a bearded man and scientist, I say I trust science!

In research published by the Journal of Evolutionary Biology titled “the masculinity paradox: facial masculinity and beardedness interact to determine women’s ratings of men’s facial attractiveness”, researchers asked 8,500 women to evaluate the attractiveness of men of three categories – bearded, fully bearded or sporting a goatee.

They used photos of men as they grew their beards. The results showed that men who were sporting full beards were seen as more mature, masculine, socially dominant and aggressive.

Beards were also a trait that women would consider when choosing a short or long term partner.

Summary

In this article we have looked at whether or not stubble is better and a beard.

We have been through the pros and cons of each and, ultimately, it is down to the person to decide whether or not stubble is better than a beard for them. There are a variety of personal and societal pressures which meant upon themselves to decide whether or not stubble is better than a beard – all you have to do is choose the one that is right for you there is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing your beard style.

Happy beard all stubble growing! Enjoy the process.

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 trialing different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!