Just when you think you’ve experienced all of the many benefits of your beard – from the masculine way you look, to the increased sense of confidence you’re feeling now that you’ve joined the fraternity of beardsmen – there’s more.
Research has increasingly shown that having a beard has a variety of health benefits. That’s right, besides the way it makes you look and how it influences the way people look at you, your beard can actually improve your health and provide an ounce of prevention. Need proof? Well, a study in the Journal of Hospital Infection said clean-shaven men were more likely to have infection-causing bacteria than men who had beards. That’s a definite departure from the old notion that bearded men harbored all sorts of bacteria in their beards.
In other words, if you’re thinking about shaving that incredible beard – for whatever reason – here are some health benefits you’ll be missing out on if you do.
1. Beards help prevent skin cancer
The sun’s UV rays can wreak havoc on exposed skin. That’s why we use sun lotion, wear hats, and heed (or, should heed) warnings about staying out in the hot sun for too long. They can even damage your eyes – hence, sunglasses – include causing sunburn of the eye, which is no fun at all. But, beyond the sunburn and glowing pink skin that’s itchy and peeling, there’s the much bigger threat of skin cancer. Moreover, chronic sun damage leads to spots and saggy and wrinkled skin. So, your beard serves as a natural sun hat for your face, and a 2012 study in Australia – where the sun can be brutal – showed that a heavy beard blocked out up to 95 percent of all sunlight.
It only makes sense, then, that if you live in a country or region where the sun is particularly harsh, you should grow a beard to keep all of those melanomas and other skin cancers away. But whatever you do, don’t shave it off if you’re sporting a nice tan on other parts of your body. The big, pale expanse where your beard used to be can be downright embarrassing.
2. Beards keep your face moisturized
While your face me get dry from time to time, it actually has its own built-in moisturizing talents thanks to sebaceous glands that secrete oils. But the sun and wind can dry up these oils, which is where your beard comes in. Indeed, your facial hair protects these oils, helping to keep your skin moist while preventing skin conditions that are related to dryness.
The trick is to not use harsh soaps on your beard that strip it of its natural oils, thus making the skin underneath apter to dry out. Instead, use milder shampoos, as well as beard conditioner and beard oil to keep your skin itch-free and moist.
3. No more shaving? No more shaving issues?
There’s no question that shaving can be a pain in the ass, not to mention your face. There’s always the potential for cuts, and those abrasions you leave on your skin are no picnic because they can cause a nasty skin condition called folliculitis, as well as in-grown hair and infections. But, hey, when you’re constantly running a razor blade over unprotected hair follicles, the end result can be anything but ideal.
The bottom line? Toss the razor away and protect your skin from all sorts of mayhem. Let it rest comfortably – and safely – under your beard, instead.
4. They prevent allergies
While this benefit is open to debate, there does seem to be a connection between having a beard and being less plagued by allergies. Your beard acts as a filter from pollen and other allergens by collecting them before they torment your eyes, nose, and throat. Also, it’s been said that the small amount of allergen material that collects in one’s beard helps develop a better immune response to hay fever and other allergies. The key thing to remember is to wash your beard and hands regularly to keep those allergens from ending up in your eyes or elsewhere. Otherwise, your beard simply becomes a storehouse for allergens, rather than a filter.
5. Beards provide asthma relief
Asthma sufferers, we empathize. Your struggle is not easy, but a beard can act as a barrier between your body and toxic exposures. Put simply; it’s an extra filter before toxins enter your lungs and thus helps lessen asthma’s symptoms.
6. They prevent illness
Beards provide facial warmth that’s a welcome relief if you live in colder climates and spend a lot of time outdoors. But there’s more. That extra warmth can help you ward off common winter illnesses, such as the cold and flu while providing an extra shield against influences that lower or weaken your immune system. Besides, there’s no sense being miserable and shivering on a winter’s night if you don’t have to. Need medicine? It’s easy – just grow a beard!
7. Let’s not forget the confidence factor
So far we’ve talked only about the physical health benefits your rocking beard, but by no means can we ignore the mental benefits. The German consumer-goods company Braun did a survey of 1,000 New York men, with 67 percent off those interviewed saying they sported facial hair. And well over half of those men said they felt more attractive with a beard, as well as reporting that they’ve received compliments about their beard. Nearly half noted that a beard made them feel more confident, which we’ve already discussed in other posts, but it’s worth revisiting here.
Because we believe in the mind-body connection – that a healthy mind and body go hand in hand – it only stands to reason that a beard’s positive mental effects can help you feel you feel better physically.
8. Let’s not forget your sex life
There’s just too much information out there to dispel the notion that a beard improves your sex life (and, yes, that’s a health benefit in many, many ways). It’s long been thought that a man’s sex life at least has the potential of improving and becoming more active once he grows a beard. And, a 2008 study by Britain’s Northumbria University said that women found men with facial hair to be the best romantic partners – whether it was for a long-term relationship or a fling. Those same women said they found bearded men to be mature, tough, masculine, and aggressive, among other traits.
But a key takeaway from all this is that there have been many studies that show how sex can truly benefit your overall health – from improving your heart health, from reducing your risk for prostate cancer, to better sleep (the word “spent” comes to mind), and an overall better mood that keeps you positive and better able to deal with the stresses of everyday life.
9. Beards reduce the chance of bacterial infection
Bacteria naturally exists on the skin; there’s not a lot we can do to stop it. Shaving, meanwhile, can create cuts and other openings in the skin that can bring in bacteria. In turn, this increases your chances of getting infections, as well as in-grown hairs. Shaving can also present problems if you suffer from acne by not only worsening it but increasing your chances of getting acne-related skin infections.
10. No more blemishes
Your face looks a helluva lot better with a beard than it does while plagued by in-grown hairs, razor cuts, and a myriad of other skin problems. We’ve already touched on this a bit while talking about the advantage of not having to shave, but it’s worth emphasizing. Grow a beard and keep the great skin underneath.
Clearly, there’s more to sporting a beard than just the obvious advantages of looking good and feeling more confident. Beards can improve your physical health and even serve as a survival mechanism, which may be a reason our cavemen forefathers wore them. Instead of shopping over-the-counter, grow your own medicine on your face instead.
If you have any thoughts about beards and their effects on your overall health, we’d love to hear from. Send us your comment, and we promise we’ll respond.