Could Beards Actually Be Good For Your Health?

Photo: Getty Images.
Ever since the resurgence of beards on hipsters and non-hipsters alike, the internet has been divided. Some can't get enough of 'em (rainbow colors and all), while others are praying for their downfall. Well, this news is for those of you who are on Team Beard (that would be us, too!). Despite what the haters may be spewing about the cleanliness of your dream dude's facial hair, it turns out the lurking bacteria is likely good for you.
The BBC conducted an experiment as a part of its series Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, in which it collected samples from 20 London-based lads' beards. The swabs went to the University College London to be examined by microbiologist Adam Roberts. What did he find? A lot of bacteria (over 100 species), all of which live on the naked skin — so, basically, nothing out of the ordinary. But, on top of that, he also discovered something that may surprise you. "When you've got a competitive environment, like a beard, where there are many different bacteria, they fight for food, resources, and space," Roberts noted in this video. "So, they produce things like antibiotics." In layman's terms: Beards could be carrying the good kind of little buggers that help to fight off infection. Hooray for Team Beards!

The Journal of Hospital Infection performed a similar study back in 2014, which gave beard-lovers even more reason to rejoice. A group of 408 healthcare workers — both with and without facial hair — were swabbed to test for pathogens. Scientists discovered that those without scruff actually housed more germs than their bearded counterparts. In fact, the clean-shaven workers were more likely to carry methicillin-resistant staph aureus — also known as MRSA.

The researchers chalked these results up to the act of shaving itself. "This finding may be explained by micro-trauma to the skin during shaving resulting in abrasions, which may support bacterial colonization and proliferation," the study reads. "This may be akin to the enhanced risk of surgical site infections in patients shaved with razors prior to surgery."

While these discoveries may not completely shut down the beard-haters, it definitely gives us lovers a little leg up.
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