What are the side-effects of growing a beard? 12 positive and negative effects!

When you decide to grow a beard some outcomes are obvious. Obviously, you can end up changing the way you look. You know that you are going to have more hair on your face. And, you’re probably aware that it’s going to take a little bit more maintenance than you are used to. Here, we’re going to go over some of the little-known side-effects of growing a beard. We will cover the upsides and downsides of having a beard – I guarantee that some of these will be things you haven’t thought about.

The side effects of growing a beard are that you could be seen as more attractive, it will keep your skin hydrated, and it changes the way people see you. The downsides are that you will have to go through an awkward phase, and it can be pretty itchy at times.

All of these are covered in the following article. Now, let’s take a look at the positive side effects of having a beard.

The positive side effects of having a beard

There are plenty of awesome reasons why you should consider growing a beard. It could be that you want to grow beard because you want to change your style. Maybe you are looking for a feature that will set you out from the rest of your friends. A beard is a fantastic way to do that. But, did you know that there are plenty more upsides and side-effects to having a beard. Most of them are supported by science.

You could be seen as more attractive.

Over the year’s beards have come in and out of what people consider fashion. But it’s interesting that no matter how you the fashion comes and goes there are still a subset of man that rock awesome facial hair.

Attractiveness means “pleasing to the senses or mind, as by being beautiful”. And as the common saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So what it really matters is about whether or not your potential partner, or real partner, is interested in people with beards. No matter where you go people will always have an opinion on whether or not beards are attractive. There have been a load of polls and surveys over the years but they often contradict one another.

Here are a few polls were beards of been at the centre 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.

If you want to find out more about beard and attractiveness, check out my other article on beard growing pro.com called Are bald guys with beards attractive – click here to be taken to article.

You’ll be less likely to get skin cancer.

Beards are awesome for your skin in a range of different ways. If you want to know more about if growing a beard is good for your skin check out my other article which goes through the topic in a load of detail – click here.

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 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!

Keep your skin hydrated.

If you have a beard you will know that it can trap loads of things. The good news is that it’s not just horrible things that a beard can keep close to your face. You know, the stuff like bacteria dirt and grime that people are so quick to point out. A beard also is a great way to keep natural oils close to the skin on your face and help you maintain a moisturised face.

Beards can dry out for a number of reasons this includes cold weather, stress, a bad diet or over washing a beard with harsh shampoo and conditioner. This can result in beard dandruff and become a real issue for a the avid beard grower.

Having a beard will make sure that when your face produces the natural oils it uses to condition the skin and hair (such as sebum) that it has the best opportunity to do wonders for your skin.

It reduces skin infections.

Beards have been shown to lower the bacterial levels over those found on a cleanly shaven face. A team of scientists gently swapped the beards of 408 male hospital workers from two different teaching hospitals and compared the results to clean-shaven men.

The interesting finding was that clean-shaven men were over three times more likely to carry harmful bacteria such as MRSA then hospital workers that had a beard. The reason for it is a little bit intriguing.

Researchers from the study thought that it has to do with the micro trauma the men put their faces through every day when they shave. You know this is the nicks and cuts that you give yourself one rushing through your morning grooming routine. These cuts and nicks help bacterial colonies grow and spread onto the surface of your skin.

Keeping you warm in winter.

If you live in a cold climate, a beard is one of the best ways that you are able to protect your skin from the harsh cold air drying out your skin. A beard acts very much like a wet suit, by trapping the warm air close to your skin.

The dry air found in cold climates sucks the moisture from your skin and can cause flaky and irritated skin. It’s no surprise therefore that there are seasonal variations to when people grow a beard. In the US is more likely that men will grow beards in the winter months. Just check out this Google trends graph for evidence of that.

Beards can improve your sex life.

Surprisingly, one of the side effects of growing a beard is that it may help you have more sex – and I’m pleased to say that this is based on science. Sex is a brilliant way to boost your immune system, it helps lower your blood pressure, lessons pain, and reduces your chances of getting prostate cancer.

A 2008 study performed by psychologists at Northumbria University showed that women rated men with stubble as tough mature aggressive and dominant. 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.

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 happiest. Overall, the average respondent ranked their personal beard satisfaction at a six…which shows there is still a little room for improvement!

You can change your look easily.

One of the awesome positive side effects of having a beard is that you can change your look simply with a tremor and a single safety blade razor. If your facial hair growing pattern allows, you can have pretty much any beard style that is in or out of fashion.

It’s easy to change the shape of a beard with the cheapest of tremors. You can have it being more pointy, rounded, or just a bit more abstract if that is your style. If you want some inspiration check out my comprehensive list of foundational beard styles in my super long article – click here.

Of course, having a beard isn’t all upsides. Like most things in life with the good comes the bad. Now let’s go over the negative side effects of growing a beard and what that means in a practical sense for you.

The negative side effects of having a beard

Even though most beard growers won’t talk about this – there are some genuine negative side effects to having a beard. One of the most dreaded and least talked about is the awkward phase of growing a beard.

You will have to do go through an awkward phase.

There is no doubt that when you are growing at a beard there is a stage at which it looks really awkward. And that means the awkwardness falls into two major categories – the way it feels and the way it looks. As you are growing a beard there is no doubt that you become incredibly aware of a thing growing on your face. That could be that is incredibly itchy, uncomfortable, you may even notice people looking at the beard. But there is not much that you can do about it.

If you want to have a genuine perspective on the awkward beard phase, check out my YouTube video where I also talk about the hacks that you can use to overcome the awkward beard stage.

There isn’t too much you can do other than push through and let your beard grow out. During the awkward beard phase make sure you use a good beard conditioner so that your hairs are soft and well nourished. You can also decide to trim up your neckline if you must. The neckline is one of the first places that becomes itchy as it is where the neck folds to nod or look down. The important thing is that you have to focus on what you can control. Embrace the use of products as your beard gets longer and don’t give up.

It can be pretty itchy.

Talk to people with or without beards and the same topic of conversation comes up – doesn’t it get itchy? The truth of the matter is yes there are loads of times when a beard can become itchy. A beard can be itchy for a variety of reasons:

  • Poor hygiene – take a bath or shower every day to see if the beard itch goes away. Wash your beard with warm water if you do not have a full bath or shower.
  • Dry skin – find a good moisturizer for your skin and beard
  • Ingrown hairs – consider using an exfoliation scrub on problem areas of your itchy beard. This is normally pretty obvious due to the lumps and bumps that would appear on the face.
  • Excessive grooming – let your beard sit for a couple of days without heat or brushing.
  • Newly trimmed face – a lot of men have itchiness after grooming or trimming their beard. It is most likely that the irritation is caused by blades and guards scraping over the skin and cut hair trapped next to the skin underneath the dense hair.

If you feel like you have particularly itchy beard growth you can check out my other article called itchy beard home remedies my eight popular options – click here to be taken to article.

There is no reason why you have to live with and itchy beard – there are plenty of opportunities and options for someone who is suffering from a particularly itchy or dry beard. In the worst-case scenario it may be due to a fungus or bacterial infection, in which case you would need to speak to a trusted health professional or dermatologist.

You have to keep it maintained.

There is no doubt that one of the downsides to having a beard is that you need to craft and create a beard maintenance schedule and system that keeps your beard looking awesome. That is, if you wanted to look good at all times. My morning beard routine includes:

  • showering and shampooing my hair – I do this every 2 to 3 days or when I have done a particularly dirty or stinky activity.
  • Trimming up the cheek lines and neckline – while I’m in the shower I will also use a single blade safety razor to trim up the cheek line and the neckline of my beard. This will allow me to keep the line sharp which I believe is one of the best ways to keep your beard impressive and looking dapper.
  • Towel drying my beard – as soon as I jump out of the shower I gently dab my beard dry. It does not get rid of all the moisture and I have to be very careful as wet beard hair is the most easy to damage. But I remove most of the moisture with a towel.
  • Blow drying my beard – I use quite a systematic hair drying routine on my beard. Firstly, I will use a medium to high heat with downward coming to it rid of the majority of the moisture. Then I will use a cold setting on my hairdryer with downwards combing or brushing to style the beard.
  • Application of beard oil – I will use a beard oil most days to add a little bit of nourishment and shine back into my beard after shampooing. Do not overdo it as the beard does not absorb a lot of the oil – less is more.
  • Application of beard balm, butter, or wax – if there is a special occasion or I need my beard to look particularly good for any reason I will follow-up the application of beard oil with another product. The other product will probably contain a small amount of beeswax so that it holds the style in place.

As you can see, having a beard involves a fair bit of maintenance. I can often get through my beard routine between 5 to 10 minutes without an issue or feeling rushed. If you are also growing a beard feel free to play about with the morning routine so that you get your beard looking the best it can look.

You need to purchase more products and tools.

There is no doubt that when you have a beard you have to invest in a few more tools and products to keep it looking good. I resisted the use of products and other tools for a long time but now that my beard is much longer I appreciate all of the effects they bring. If you want to know more about my recommended beard tools go to my recommended tools page – click here.

Getting a good initial beginner beard kit involves the following tools:

  • a good beard soap – a good beard soap will lay the foundations for your beard looking awesome.
  • A dedicated beard conditioner – using a good leave in conditioner or showering conditioner will replace some of the oils that you remove through your beard soap.
  • Hair clippers – a good set of strong, mains powered, trimmers will mean that you have the power to be able to trim your beard in any way. Underpowered hair clippers will flatten your hair and mean that you don’t get the shape of beard that you are aiming for. More power is always better.
  • Hair scissors – getting a good set of professional hair scissors will mean that you can tidy up those stray and wayward hairs with ease.
  • A good quality beard brush or comb – I have a plastic comb a wooden comb and a natural hair brush that I use daily. Brushing your beard throughout the day is a fantastic way to keep it looking sharp and well styled.
  • Beard oil – beard oil is a fantastic way to keep your beard nourished daily.
  • Beard balm – beard balm is a fantastic way to keep your beard styled as it contains a small amount of beeswax for holding in the shape. It also contains really awesome ingredients that will act like a leaving conditioner for your beard.
  • Beard straightener – a beard straightener is one of the things that you can get that will keep your beard straight and manageable very easily. It’s one of the gadgets that nearly every beard grow at considers buying at some point.
  • And much more…

As you can see the list of above contains a load of products and tools that beard growers love. It can slowly add up in terms of cost. So that’s why you should only add extra products and tools to your beard grooming stash as you need them. Or if you want to treat yourself!

People are very opinionated about your beard.

Finally, one of the worst negative side effects of having a beard is that you really know what people think of beards.

Nothing is more obvious than a great old bushy amount of hair hanging off the front of your face. If you haven’t seen someone for a little while they can often be quite shocked by how quickly you have grown a beard. In my experience, these people are very quick to tell you exactly what they think of your beard.

I have had everything from “that looks disgusting” to “your beard looks really awesome” and everything in between.

Ultimately, it is my choice to grow a beard and I am not put off by people’s opinions. I love my beard for what it is and what it brings to my life. And I will not be shaving off for anyone other than myself.


So, you can see that there are plenty of side effects of growing a beard. I probably haven’t even covered a fraction of the different side-effects of beard growth. But the ones above are the most obvious to me and my two year beard growing journey.

Remember, that this is your beard growing journey and no one else’s. There are some awesome side-effects of grown a beard but that is also balanced out by some other negative side effects. My recommendation to you is that you embrace everything that your beard has to throw at you during the growing and maintenance phases. I know that I have loved having a beard and I believe that with the right amount of knowledge and skills it can look awesome all year round.

Love your beard, don’t listen to other people, and embrace the positive side effects with open arms. Happy beard growing and love 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!