Why mustaches are good for your health

August 3, 2012

Mustaches are the new sunscreen? This gentleman most likely agrees (machismtango/Flickr)

Hipster men of the world, rejoice: Those ridiculous mustaches you have been growing are more than a fashion statement. Researchers at "Radiation Protection Dosimetry," a journal that focuses exclusively on measuring how much radiation we absorb,  finds that facial hair comes with a health benefit, providing protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.

"Facial hair reduced the exposure ratios to approximately one-third of those to the sites with no hair," a team of Australian researchers find in the journal's latest issue. "The variation in the exposure rates over the different sites was reduced compared with the cases with no beard."

Longer mustaches provided more protection than shorter mustaches; long beards outperformed short beards, too. That increased protection diminished, however, when sunlight was aimed directly at the area of skin under study — or, in dosimetric terminology, the "solar zenith angle" got higher.

Ladies, don't feel left out just yet: Separate research has found that hair on your head — particularly long hair — has protective effects against sunlight, too.

(h/t: Improbable Research)

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Dylan Matthews · August 3, 2012