Leave the Stubble



It’s lunchtime and L and I are walking towards a café downtown when our paths cross two men–one clean-shaven in his business suit and another sporting facial hair with a guitar slung over his shoulder.

Personally, I dig the whole rugged, bearded musician look, but L is more drawn to the boyish faced beau. We agree to disagree. Soon after, however, we pass another guy sporting a hardhat with just that right amount of scruff. Smiling at each other, L and I can both agree on this one.

Gentlemen, it turns out that whether or not you decide to shave your face can determine how women are attracted to you, at least according to a study done by Dr. Nick Neave and Kerry Shields in the U.K.

Facial Hair Equals Manliness

Women who were part of Neave’s study rated men with facial hair as tough, aggressive, dominant, masculine and the most mature. Why is this the case?

Well, like a male deer with a full set of antlers, a beard gives the appearance of a mature man. A beard is symbolic of a guy who can handle what life throws at him, which draws women in for security reasons as well as physical attraction.

There also may be a biological component to this, as the study made reference to facial hair bringing attention to a man’s jaw line, which also means his teeth. This focus on teeth may have been why women rated the particular men with facial hair as more aggressive, for in an animal sense, teeth are weapons. The point is that a better defender equates to a better mate.

Beard versus Stubble

There is such a thing as too much hair, though. It turns out that while men with beards are rated the most dominant, it can be a bit intimidating. Did I mention that women thought the guys with beards were at least five years older than they actually are?

Women like stubble. Stubble rated highest in the study for being desirable all across the scales, from a short-term fling to a long-term relationship. This is where it isn’t all about women’s biological urges to seek the fastest, strongest male, as apparently that beard may hide some personality as well as your face.

Whether on a conscious or subconscious level, women find guys with scruff as the happy medium between overly aggressive and non-mature. A guy with stubble still gives the impression of masculinity with his obvious ability to grow facial hair, but it’s toned down: a grown up man who is easy to relate to.

Clean-Shaven Confusion

I’m sure you have heard more than once that clean-shaven is more professional. You would think that if ladies were drawn to the security that money may bring, a “professional” look would be more suited for a long-term relationship, no?

Nope. The study found that women were least attracted to clean-shaven men for any sort of relationship. The whole concept of a bare face is too closely linked to guys who haven’t hit puberty: a passive “boy.” That said, clean-shaven could work for older guys who want to look younger.

It is good to keep in mind that in the end it depends on the particular woman and her cultural and generational background. A noted example would be a man in a uniform—clean shaven really is the only way to go in that case. Hey, and weren’t superheroes always beardless?

Ahem, and I should also mention the whole concept of “sandpaper stubble” for when we are thinking of our physical components literally.

What to do?

From here, guys, I would suggest you experiment with your own looks and see what suits you best. You can take this study with a grain of salt and see how the ladies react to your different faces.

If your girlfriend tells you constantly that your beard makes you look like a Germanic barbarian of ancient times, you may want to pull that razor back out of hiding. Unless of course, she finds that particular role play appealing…


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