Growing a beard isn’t just a rite of passage amongst men, but also increasingly a style choice. Wondering do women prefer men with beards? The beard has been waning back into style after decades of being out of style. The wide social acceptance of beards nowadays has allowed for a wide variety of beards to become common, and not just the hipster beard so widely found in big U.S. cities.
However, men grow beards usually because they think they look good. When enough effort and care is put into your beard, it’s likely to become a highly attractive feature. But the kind of odd side effect to that is that men are more likely to compliment a beard, rather than women.
So, do women prefer beards? This question is a surprisingly complicated one to answer and one that researchers have been trying to answer over the past few decades.
Realistically, some women prefer beards, while others don’t. Other factors help determine whether beards are attractive, like what the woman is looking for in a partner, as well as the other stylistic trends of the time period.
Beards Across History
Beards wane in and out of style over generations. While we’re in a growing popularity trend, throughout most of the 20th Century, American men were largely preferred when clean-shaven.
In the late 1800s, beard popularity peaked in popularity before shifting into a trend of smooth faces. By World War I, that was the widely accepted norm and men were expected to follow. This was caused by some strange factors. The growing influx of Eastern European immigrants into the United States wore full beards and was largely looked down on. They were stereotyped as having more radical political opinions as well, so being cleanly shaven become the trend for upstanding American citizens.
Believing that beards were a hazard for soldiers in WWI was the final nail in the coffin for beards of the time. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s where beards regained popularity due to the countercultural movements of the period.
However, the wide popularity of the beard would indicate that women found them attractive. The fact that we have beards at all speaks to that, as they’re considered secondary sexual characteristics. Humans evolved into having beards, rather than the other way around.
Do Women Prefer Men With Beards?
One of the studies trying to answer the question of whether beards are attractive came back with results that indicated that beards are attractive based on their rarity.
The study gathered a group of men and women (either straight or bisexual) and split them into 3 groups. One group saw only smooth-shaved men, one saw only bearded men, and the last was shown images of both. Next, they were asked to rate the men based on their appearances, like if they’re trustworthy or attractive.
The group indicated that beards were more attractive than their cleanly shaved counterparts. However, stubble was rated more attractive than beards. The strongest positive reaction to beards came from the group that only saw photos of clean-shaven men, whereas the other groups were more lukewarm towards them.
This study showed the shifting nature and trend towards guys with facial hair. Women have varied preferences, and women prefer beards when they’re more of a statement. That trend also correlates with how women’s bread preferences change depending on whether their fathers wore beards. Generally, women with bearded fathers do not prefer the significant other to have a beard.
Though some of the more nuanced findings in this study that speak to how truly complicated this question is.
Beard Attractiveness Changes With Women’s Desired Outcomes
Different beard styles communicate different things about men, which are perceived differently by women depending on what they’re looking for in the relationship.
Women’s perception of whether facial hair is attractive is different if they’re looking for long-term or short-term relationships. However, it changes based on other factors too. When women are at the most fertile part of their menstrual cycle, they rate beards as more appealingly masculine than they do otherwise.
Generally, the beard will affect how your age is perceived. Shorter beards indicate a wholesome, youthfulness. Whereas longer beards are perceived as more fatherly or paternal. Goatees or soul patches are more divisive in how they’re perceived.
Stubble is Considered Sexiest
The general trend currently is that stubble is considered the most attractive form of facial hair. That’s essentially beard growth that is 5 to 10 days old. More facial hair increases the sense of masculinity, but having the intermediate level that stubble encompasses doesn’t come with the perceived increase in aggression.
As a caveat to that, women found stubble an attractive facial hairstyle for men they want to have short flings with, rather than long-term relationships. Stubble is most attractive when it’s on a sex partner. As a man, you can adjust your style based on your own expectations from the relationship. If you’re looking for a short fling, then letting some stubble grow on your cheeks may work in your favor.
Being well-groomed otherwise is just as important, if not more so. Dressing nicely and maintaining good hygiene is incredibly important and will make huge differences in how attractive you’re perceived to be.
Full Beards are For Family Men
Men who are ready or looking to settle down may benefit from growing a full beard. Full beards make men seem more competent and better providers, and they increase the perception that the man will be a good father.
This involves a large number of factors, each with its own implications. Beards will make men seem healthier and more masculine. They also help build rapport with your significant other, in addition to making your personality some warmer and more positive. Beards make you seem more paternal. A full beard will make you seem like you have a good fathering ability, and that you’ll invest in the lives of your children.
Beards have evolved amongst humans because it signifies men are good mates. Men with beards are perceived as having more strength, as well as better immune function. These are positives when looking for a mate.
However, the prevalence of this idea indicates a preference for traditional gender roles. The research has linked this preference among women with more conservative views regarding masculinity in relationships. This could indicate that women who prefer husbands with beards prefer their traditional role as the breadwinner of the family.
That is not a hard and fast trend across the board. A lot of evidence presented indicates that women whose husbands have beards grew them simply because his wife already preferred beards.
A Man’s Specific Beard Fits in Different Categories of Attractiveness
There are a ton of different ways that men can wear beards. The specific styles they choose can be just as decisive as to whether or not they wear a beard. The mountain man or biker look says something different than a man with a shorter, corporate look.
The general consensus amongst women is that shorter, more conservative beards are more broadly accepted. Stubble and full beards are considered most attractive, but they also rely on extensive grooming to maintain that appeal. Despite the effort into maintaining your beard, there’s also a benefit to making it look effortless.
Overly manicured designer stubble or beards looks narcissistic and self-obsessed, which counter-intuitively isn’t appealing. The balance in maintaining your beard keeps you looking approachable, but with the manly attractiveness that comes with the full beard. A good analogy for this is the effort women go to have a “no makeup” look. The point is to accentuate their positive features, detract from their negative features, and make it seem like nothing was done.
Beards can work similarly with men. You can hide any features you’re less fond of, like a weak chin, while maintaining an approachable appeal. The manicured necessity that comes with goatees or other shorter beard styles can risk bringing about these negative connotations.
Beards can easily stray into gross territory if too little effort goes into them, which is an immediate turnoff. If your beard is not well-kept, it will be a huge turnoff.
Beards and Hygiene
Having good hygiene is absolutely essential when growing a beard. If your beard is unkempt, you’ll just look dirty, and that is not attractive. Even growing stubble runs that risk, as it could give off the impression that it’s been a few days since your last shower.
A short beard or a stubble beard is a good compromise here, as they’re not only easier to clean but look cleaner as well. A big beard raises questions as to cleanliness. Big beards are also far more difficult to clean and maintain. You need specific shampoo and conditioner to keep them clean. Even with that, it’s still pretty likely to find scraps of food or other crumbs stuck within your beard.
Shorter beards still contour your face and accentuate your features, communicating the same sense of masculinity and ruggedness. However, it does so with an obviously deliberate sense of style and less concern about when you last showered.
There’s No One Size Fits All Beard
Women are a big category, so it’s important to note that most studies in America regarding beard attractiveness have overwhelmingly focused on younger white women. This makes it impossible to account for women across all cultures and age groups, though the findings do indicate some interesting trends.
The fact of the matter is that research and trends can make all sorts of claims, but your reality will change and shift throughout your life as you age or move to new areas. Often beards aren’t key things that women pay attention to. After all, women are attracted to the man, and if that man has a beard, then so be it.
Your beard is a singular part of the various ways you present yourself to the world. It’s a stylistic choice, along with your clothing, jewelry, and hair. While dramatic beards, like certain goatees or a long Rasputin beard, will make big statements, often crowding out the other features, a well-maintained beard is a part of the whole.
The type of beard you grow should be a reflection of who you are. Just like they accentuate your facial features, you can grow your beard to accentuate certain facets of your personality.
Many Women are Indifferent to Or Don’t Like Beards
While beards are considered to be very attractive features, many women just don’t pay attention to them. Often women pay attention to the man specifically, and if he has a beard, so be it.
There’s a growing trend of the bearded man with tattoos look. While the internet seems to love this look, it doesn’t communicate anything deep about the man himself. Dating apps use that as a shortcut for attractiveness, but it’s far from a real personality trait.
What many women prefer is finding a man to whom they can emotionally connect. If your beard allows you to do that, then that’s a positive. Often women are attracted to the male traits that differ from theirs. A light beard, as well as chest and stomach hair, are key turn-ons.
More likely, these features will only highlight existing positive traits. If the woman finds you attractive, she’ll find your beard attractive. However, if you two are not a good fit, she likely won’t like it or be totally indifferent to it.
While men grow beards largely because they want to be more attractive to women, there’s a growing indication that having a beard is a self-fulfilling cycle in terms of attractiveness. Men with beards have noted it makes them more confident in themselves. Confidence and self-assuredness are attractive in and of themselves. Maybe it’s not the beard that makes the man, but the man that makes the beard.
If you like having a beard and feel better wearing one, then you should wear a beard. They are a reflection of who you are and your personality. As long as you keep your beard (and yourself) clean and well-groomed, you’ll be able to find women who find you and your beard attractive.