Men may now think twice about reaching for a razor. A new study shows that facial hair says a lot about a man and that attractiveness peaks at the “heavy stubble” phase.
Researchers photographed 10 men at four stages of beard growth: cleanshaven, five-day “light” stubble, 10-day “heavy” stubble and fully bearded. Then, 351 women and 177 heterosexual men viewed the photos and rated each face for attractiveness, masculinity, health and parenting ability. Women ranked heavily stubbled faces as the most attractive.
Participants said that the clean-shaven men looked about as healthy and attractive as those with a full beard, but they rated the bearded men higher for perceived parenting skills.
Light stubble got the short end of the stick, garnering low scores across the board from both men and women. The five-day growth may be too patchy, the researchers write in the May issue of Evolution & Human Behavior, which suggests that “a threshold of density and distribution may be necessary for beards to function as an attractive signal.” Stubble conveys maturity and manliness, they write, with less of the macho aggressiveness implied by a full beard.