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Concept: Beard


Body hair shafts from the beard, trunk, and extremities can be used to treat baldness when patients have inadequate amounts of scalp donor hair, but reports in the literature concerning use of body hair to treat baldness are confined to case reports.

Concepts: Human body, Hair, Hair transplantation, Scalp, Facial hair, Follicular unit transplantation, Follicular Unit Extraction, Beard


In many species, male secondary sexual traits have evolved via female choice as they confer indirect (i.e. genetic) benefits or direct benefits such as enhanced fertility or survival. In humans, the role of men’s characteristically masculine androgen-dependent facial traits in determining men’s attractiveness has presented an enduring paradox in studies of human mate preferences. Male-typical facial features such as a pronounced brow ridge, a more robust jawline may signal underlying health while beards may signal men’s age and masculine social dominance. However, masculine faces are judged as more attractive for short-term relationships over less masculine faces, while beards are judged as more attractive than clean-shaven faces for long-term relationships. Why such divergent effects occur between preferences for two sexually dimorphic traits remains unresolved. In the present study, we used computer graphic manipulation to morph male faces varying in facial hair from clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble and full beards to appear more (+25% and +50%) or less (-25% and -50%) masculine. Women (N=8520) were assigned to treatments wherein they rated these stimuli for physical attractiveness in general, for a short-term liaison or a long-term relationship. Results showed a significant interaction between beardedness and masculinity on attractiveness ratings. Masculinized and, to an even greater extent, feminized faces were less attractive than unmanipulated faces when all were clean-shaven, and stubble and beards dampened the polarising effects of extreme masculinity and femininity. Relationship context also had effects on ratings, with facial hair enhancing long-term, and not short-term, attractiveness. Effects of facial masculinisation appears to have been due to small differences in the relative attractiveness of each masculinity level under the three treatment conditions and not to any change in the order of their attractiveness. Our findings suggest that beardedness may be attractive when judging long-term relationships as a signal of intra-sexual formidability and the potential to provide direct benefits to females. More generally, our results hint at a divergence of signalling function, which may result in a subtle trade-off in women’s preferences, for two highly sexually dimorphic androgen-dependent facial traits. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Male, Sexual selection, Gender, Interpersonal relationship, Man, Physical attractiveness, Facial hair, Beard


Negative frequency-dependent sexual selection maintains striking polymorphisms in secondary sexual traits in several animal species. Here, we test whether frequency of beardedness modulates perceived attractiveness of men’s facial hair, a secondary sexual trait subject to considerable cultural variation. We first showed participants a suite of faces, within which we manipulated the frequency of beard thicknesses and then measured preferences for four standard levels of beardedness. Women and men judged heavy stubble and full beards more attractive when presented in treatments where beards were rare than when they were common, with intermediate preferences when intermediate frequencies of beardedness were presented. Likewise, clean-shaven faces were least attractive when clean-shaven faces were most common and more attractive when rare. This pattern in preferences is consistent with negative frequency-dependent selection.

Concepts: Selection, Facial hair, Secondary sex characteristic, Shaving, Beard


Women’s preferences for men’s androgen dependent secondary sexual traits are proposed to be phenotypically plastic in response to exposure to pathogens and pathogen disgust. While previous studies report that masculinity in facial shape is more attractive to women who have recently been exposed to pathogenic cues and who are high in self-reported pathogen disgust, facial hair may reduce male attractiveness under conditions of high pathogens as beards are a possible breeding ground for disease carrying ectoparasites. In the present study, we test whether women’s preferences for beardedness and facial masculinity vary due to exposure to different pathogenic cues. Participants (N = 688, mean age + 1SD = 31.94 years, SD = 6.69, range = 18-67) rated the attractiveness of facial composite stimuli of men when they were clean-shaven or fully bearded. These stimuli were also manipulated in order to vary sexual dimorphism by ±50%. Ratings were conducted before and after exposure to one of four experimental treatments in which participants were primed to either high pathogens (e.g. infected cuts), ectoparasites (e.g. body lice), a mixture of pathogens and ectoparasites, or a control condition (e.g. innocuous liquids). Participants then completed the three-domain disgust scale measuring attitudes to moral, sexual and pathogen disgust. We predicted that women would prefer facial masculinity following exposure to pathogenic cues, but would show reduced preferences for facial hair following exposure to ectoparasites. Women preferred full beards over clean-shaven faces and masculinised over feminised faces. However, none of the experimental treatments influenced the direction of preferences for facial masculinity or beardedness. We also found no association between women’s self-reported pathogen disgust and their preferences for facial masculinity. However, there was a weak positive association between moral disgust scores and preferences for facial masculinity, which might reflect conservatism and preferences for gender typicality in faces. Women’s preferences for beards were positively associated with their pathogen disgust, which runs contrary to our predictions and may reflect preferences for high quality individuals who can withstand any costs of beardedness, although further replications are necessary before firm conclusions can be made. We conclude that there is little support for pathogenic exposure being a mechanism that underpins women’s directional preferences for masculine traits.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Microbiology, Gender, Man, Secondary sex characteristic, Shaving, Beard


Facial and body hair are some of the most visually conspicuous and sexually dimorphic of all men’s secondary sexual traits. Both are androgen dependent, requiring the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone via the enzyme 5α reductase 2 for their expression. While previous studies on the attractiveness of facial and body hair are equivocal, none have accounted as to how natural variation in their distribution may influence male sexual attractiveness. In the present study, we quantified men’s facial and body hair distribution as either very light, light, medium, or heavy using natural photographs. We also tested whether women’s fertility influenced their preferences for beards and body hair by comparing preferences among heterosexual women grouped according their fertility (high fertility, low fertility, and contraceptive use). Results showed that men with more evenly and continuously distributed facial hair from the lower jaw connecting to the mustache and covering the cheeks were judged as more sexually attractive than individuals with more patchy facial hair. Men with body hair were less attractive than when clean shaven, with the exception of images depicting some hair around the areolae, pectoral region, and the sternum that were significantly more attractive than clean-shaven bodies. However, there was no effect of fertility on women’s preferences for men’s beard or body hair distribution. These results suggest that the distribution of facial and body hair influences male attractiveness to women, possibly as an indication of masculine development and the synthesis of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone via 5α reductase.

Concepts: Gender, Testosterone, Physical attractiveness, Facial hair, Secondary sex characteristic, Shaving, Moustache, Beard


Beards in the operating room are controversial because of their potential to retain and transmit pathogenic organisms. Many bearded orthopedic surgeons choose to wear nonsterile hoods in addition to surgical masks to decrease contamination of the operative field. The goal of this study was to determine whether nonsterile surgical hoods reduce the risk of bacterial shedding posed by beards. Bearded (n=10) and clean-shaven (n=10) subjects completed 3 sets of standardized facial motions, each lasting 90 seconds and performed over blood agar plates, while unmasked, masked, and masked and hooded. The plates were cultured for 48 hours under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Colony-forming units (CFUs) were quantified, expanded, and identified. Overall, the addition of surgical hoods did not decrease the total number of anaerobic and aerobic CFUs isolated per subject, with a mean of 1.1 CFUs while hooded compared with 1.4 CFUs with the mask alone (P=.5). Unmasked subjects shed a mean of 6.5 CFUs, which was significantly higher than the number of CFUs shed while masked (P=.02) or hooded (P=.01). The bearded group did not shed more than the clean-shaven group while unmasked (9.5 vs 3.3 CFUs, P=.1), masked (1.6 vs 1.2 CFUs, P=.9), or hooded (0.9 vs 1.3 CFUs, P=.6). Bearded surgeons did not appear to have an increased likelihood of bacterial shedding compared with their nonbearded counterparts while wearing surgical masks, and the addition of nonsterile surgical hoods did not decrease the amount of bacterial shedding observed. [Orthopedics.].

Concepts: Agar plate, Shaving, Beard


Skin and skin disorders have had spiritual aspects since ancient times. Skin, hair, and nails are visible to self and others, and touchable by self and others. The skin is a major sensory organ. Skin also expresses emotions detectable by others through pallor, coldness, “goose bumps”, redness, warmth, or sweating. Spiritual and religious significances of skin are revealed through how much of the skin has been and continues to be covered with what types of coverings, scalp and beard hair cutting, shaving and styling, skin, nail, and hair coloring and decorating, tattooing, and intentional scarring of skin. Persons with visible skin disorders have often been stigmatized or even treated as outcasts. Shamans and other spiritual and religious healers have brought about healing of skin disorders through spiritual means. Spiritual and religious interactions with various skin disorders such as psoriasis, leprosy, and vitiligo are discussed. Religious aspects of skin and skin diseases are evaluated for several major religions, with a special focus on Judaism, both conventional and kabbalistic.

Concepts: Skin, Religion, Islam, Hair follicle, Christianity, Spirituality, Hairstyle, Beard


Alopecia areata on the beard area (BAA) is a common clinical manifestation, but there are no studies about its characteristics.

Concepts: Baldness, Alopecia areata, Beard


Pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB) is an inflammatory condition of the beard area, with a high prevalence in men of subequatorial African ancestry and, to a much lesser extent, Indo-Europeans. But it can affect both men and women of all ethnicities. Invariably reported as being associated with shaving, recent evidence suggests a strong genetic component in patients with persistent PFB. There is a lack of robust clinical evidence to support recommendations to avoid or curtail shaving or to shave with a single-blade razor. There is recent clinical evidence that PFB is not exacerbated by daily shaving with a multiblade razor as part of a regimen. Further, there is preliminary evidence that a daily shaving regimen, which includes pre-shave hydration and post-shave moisturization, may be beneficial. To develop evidence-based initial management strategies for PFB, there is a requirement for more randomized blinded clinical trials comparing the use of multi- and single-edge razors, different shaving techniques, shaving frequencies and pre- and post-shaving cosmetic products.

Concepts: The Canon of Medicine, Evidence-based medicine, Avicenna, Shaving, Pseudofolliculitis barbae, Razor, Barber, Beard


The challenge of shaving is to cut the beard hair as closely as possible to the skin without unwanted effects on the skin. To achieve this requires the understanding of beard hair and male facial skin biology as both, the beard hair and the male facial skin, contribute to the difficulties in obtaining an effective shave without shaving-induced skin irritation. Little information is available on the biology of beard hairs and beard hair follicles. We know that, in beard hairs, the density, thickness, stiffness, as well as the rates of elliptical shape and low emerging angle, are high and highly heterogeneous. All of this makes it challenging to cut it, and shaving techniques commonly employed to overcome these challenges include shaving with increased pressure and multiple stroke shaving, which increase the probability and extent of shaving-induced skin irritation. Several features of male facial skin pose problems to a perfect shave. The male facial skin is heterogeneous in morphology and roughness, and male skin has a tendency to heal slower and to develop hyperinflammatory pigmentation. In addition, many males exhibit sensitive skin, with the face most often affected. Finally, the hair follicle is a sensory organ, and the perifollicular skin is highly responsive to external signals including mechanical and thermal stimulation. Perifollicular skin is rich in vasculature, innervation and cells of the innate and adaptive immune system. This makes perifollicular skin a highly responsive and inflammatory system, especially in individuals with sensitive skin. Activation of this system, by shaving, can result in shaving-induced skin irritation. Techniques commonly employed to avoid shaving-induced skin irritation include shaving with less pressure, pre- and post-shave skin treatment and to stop shaving altogether. Recent advances in shaving technology have addressed some but not all of these issues. A better understanding of beard hairs, beard hair follicles and male facial skin is needed to develop novel and better approaches to overcome the challenge of shaving. This article covers what is known about the physical properties of beard hairs and skin and why those present a challenge for blade and electric shaving, respectively.

Concepts: Skin, Hair, Hair follicle, Challenge, Facial hair, Sebaceous gland, Shaving, Beard