Once we're out of high school and boys are out of that awkward chin-fluff phase, we all come to appreciate a good beard. Having a bountiful crop of hair on your chin has that kind of sexy lumberjack appeal, and especially if taken care of with beard oil and a regular trim, it's just hard to resist really.
I mean, just think of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Payne. They wouldn't be half as attractive without theirs. Actually, I feel like most celebs just look better with beards (with the exception of Leonardo DiCaprio's chin bush à la The Revenant). But Jake Gyllenhaal, George Clooney, Joaquin Phoenix? All better with beards.
So why is that? Well, thanks to a new study led by Barnaby Dixson at the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland, science can now tell us why we have a certain disposition towards the bearded blokes among us.
The study, published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, looked at the association between men's facial hair and how it related to women judging the man based on whether he was long-term relationship material. And – what d'you know – turns out the ladies do much prefer a bearded beau than those who are fuzz-free.
The researchers presented a variety of male faces which were manipulated by computer graphics to have different kinds of facial hair ranging from clean-shaven to stubble to full-on bushman beards. They asked 8,520 women to rate the different beard types according to how attractive they found them in general, and then how they would judge the man based on whether he was more long-term or short-term relationship material.
"Results showed a significant interaction between beardedness and masculinity on attractiveness ratings," it said. And "significant" indeed – all 8,520 women showed a preference for facial hair. What's more, guys with bigger beards were considered marriage material, while those with nothing but a tiny bit of stubble were generally shrugged off as better for casual relationships.
"Our findings suggest that beardedness may be attractive when judging long-term relationships as a signal of intrasexual formidability and the potential to provide direct benefits to females," it was stated.
In other words, having a beard is a sign to girls that this man has a good mix of masculine and feminine features to make for the perfect partner. Women are averted to any guys that seem too feminine – think high pitched voice, zero facial hair and chins that are just too dainty – but we also don't like guys to be too masculine either.
It was found that "masculine faces are judged as more attractive for short-term relationships over less masculine faces, whereas beards are judged as more attractive than clean-shaven faces for long-term relationships."
You see, a beard alters the face shape of a dude, hiding the extra sharp jawlines that might be interpreted in females as "too masculine", and therefore not good boyfriend material. While many of us are suckers for a chiseled jawline, the study found that those blessed with strong jowls are better for short-term flings and steamy one-night-stands and that women consider those with ultra-masculine features as unreliable suitors.
Enter the beard – which softens such masculine features while still saying "I am a strong and protective man" because of his ability to grow chin grass. Plus, facial hair = testosterone, testosterone = maturity, and – according to the study – this means you've got the perfect ingredients for a good, healthy, long-term relationship.
Ladies, it's time to add "Looking for a man with a beard" to your Tinder profiles.