This is the perfect facial hair length to attract women, according to science
Picture: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Hipster beards. What began as a brief flirtation with excessive facial hair has spawned competitions, calenders and even a dating app.

This trend isn’t going anywhere.

And now, new research shows that women judge men with full beards as more likely to commit to a long term relationship.

Freud would have so much to say about this.

The research showed over 8,000 women the same male face, altered in three ways to various degrees: he was ‘feminized’ by giving him larger eyes, thinner eyebrows, a thinner nasal bridge, more pronounced cheekbones and thicker lips. The jawline was also smoothed over. The opposite happened when the same image was ‘masculinized’.

Finally, the same individual was shown with four levels of facial hair: clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble and fully bearded.

Findings indicated several trends: for short-term relationships, the female participants judged stubble to be most attractive.

Results also showed that the more the male face was feminised and masculinised, the less attractive women found it.

The caveat, of course, is that the sample size was very small, and the results don't represent a whole nation. Still, it provides a snapshot, and insight into the beard phenomenon.

The study authors wrote:

We found that light and heavy stubble faces were more attractive than either full beards and clean-shaven

Masculine faces were judged as least attractive, followed by feminised faces, with manipulated faces rated most attractive.

We found subtle interactions between facial masculinity and beardedness that differed depending upon whether stimuli were judged for short-term, long-term or general attractiveness.

Our findings suggest that sexual selection may have shaped different preference functions in women when judging different androgenic secondary sexual traits in men. 

There you have it boys: light beards it is.

HT Spring

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