Bad news for bearded men: We may have reached 'peak beard'
Published Wednesday, April 16, 2014 9:40PM EDT
Men who've been trying to grow in their beard may want to reconsider.
A new study out of the University of New South Wales suggests that the growing popularity of beards has actually made them less attractive.
Researchers asked 1,453 women and 213 men to rate the attractiveness of different images of 36 men’s faces.
Each man had been photographed when he was clean-shaven, with five days of facial hair growth (light stubble), 10 days of growth (heavy stubble), and at least four weeks of untrimmed growth (full beard).
Some of the participants were shown mostly “full” beards, while others were shown images of mostly clean-shaven men. A third group was shown a mixture of several types of facial hair.
The researchers found that the rarer a trait is, the more attractive it is to others – which is known in scientific terms as "negative frequency dependence."
"Women and men judged heavy stubble and full beards more attractive when presented in treatments where beards were rare than when they were common," the study reads. "Likewise, clean-shaven faces were least attractive when clean-shaven faces were most common and more attractive when rare."
Beards have become so popular that surgeons are even reporting a spike in interest in facial hair transplants. The study, published in the journal Biology Letters, suggests that a trend reversal may be on the horizon as the clean-shaven look becomes more attractive to others.