Why your beard may actually be good for you, according to science

Adam ScottGetty/Mark DavisIs Adam Scott’s beard protecting him from harmful bacteria?

Don’t listen to anyone telling you your beard is dirty, guys. Science says the opposite could be true.

A 2014 study, recently resurfaced by the BBC, may provide some additional ammo for beard advocates. In the study, both bearded and shaven healthcare workers — 400 in total — were tested for a specific virus on their faces: MRSA, which has become resistant to many antibiotics.

The study found that the clean shaven men had a higher rate of the harmful bacteria on their faces than the bearded healthcare workers.

How could this be, when we’ve been told that beards can be “as dirty as toilets?” The researchers offered a theory: the micro-abrasions caused by shaving allowed many different crevices in the face for bacteria to hide.

The BBC offered another theory: that the beard hairs themselves are actually acting as a sort of antibiotic. And in some instances, researchers found that to be true after discovering microbes that could kill certain kinds of bacteria.

Of course, just this small amount of research can’t conclusively label beards as either healthy or unhealthy.

“It’s a little more complex than any article makes it,” Philip Tierno, a clinical microbiology and pathology professor at NYU, told
Mic. Tierno went on to say that bacteria and microbes can be added to your face in any number of ways, and there’s no way to tell how they really got there.

“There’s no downside to a beard, per se,” he told Mic.

Just makes sure you wash your face. Regularly.

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