Before you grow out your beard—or shave it off—you might want to consider how others will see you. When 200 women in a recent study were asked to rate pictures of the same men with and without a beard, they found a smooth face—think Brad Pitt before the scraggly goatee—more attractive. This is a good thing to know if you’re heading out on a date. But if you prefer respect to physical attraction, consider letting your beard grow out. Both women and men thought bearded men—over six weeks of growth, with no trimming—looked older and more likely to command respect from other men. The wild and hairy look also came across as more aggressive than being clean-shaven. Scientists have long wondered why men have beards. Hair on the face may enhance facial communication or enable men to display aggressiveness. Beards may even serve as a form of intrasexual selection between men—a way to gain the attention of women. Basically a battle of the blades, although in this case it’s the shaving blade. The study only looked at full beard growth, no light stubble. Previous studies, however, found that women prefer men with light stubble to the baby-faced look. So choose wisely before you decide. Fortunately, if you change your mind, you can always change your beard.
Facial hair can affect how people perceive you, in good ways and bad.