Many bearded men have an unsettling number of unfounded beliefs about the benefits their beards bring them.
Not that the beliefs are all wrong, just that nobody ever seems to look into the things they say before they say them. Things get thrown around anecdotally with no evidence, and eventually if enough people hear it without hearing the other side of the story, these things seem to become “facts”.
That’s a problem. It’s also one of the problems of our day. You’ve heard of “fake news” by now, right?
So, what about the common question, “would growing a beard actually make me warmer in the winter?”
Turns out there’s some actual data behind this one, and we’re happy to share it all with you below.
The facts that back this up fall into three categories:
Popular Science cites a study in China that found that men are more likely to lose body heat from a shaved upper lip.
It’s PopSci, it’s a study, it’s the most scientific thing you’ve got to back up this up.
An expert also chimes in to provide some legitimate information on the question. Talking to the Huffington Post, Dermatologist Bobby Buka, founder of Greenwich Village Dermatology and section chief at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says, “Having facial hair of any kind acts as a barrier of protection — especially in winter months. When we’re talking about wind and cold weather chapping of the skin, it acts as thermal protection as well as physical protection against the elements.”
So not the most slam dunk, double blind, repeatable and verifiable studies in the world, but two pretty solid bits of evidence that prove that yes, beards keep you warmer.
Pete Hickey of the University of Ottawa wanted to know the answer to this question, too, and figured the best way to find out would be to test.
With himself as the guinea pig.
He shaved half of his rather impressive beard and performed a variety of activities during the winter to see whether he noticed an increase in warmth on the bearded half.
Other than sharing his odd findings that the bearded half of his head felt heavier and developed more wind resistance, causing him to have to adjust his neck posture, he did find that the bearded side of his face felt warmer.
It is not a very scientific test, but it is a test nonetheless. Hickey himself even says that no analytical tests were performed and that much work remains.
But considering he took one for the team here by shaving half of his beard and leaving it that way, he deserves a spot here in the “not quite, but nice try” science section.
According to most men on this Reddit thread, obviously your beard keeps you warmer.
About half the men on this forum thread suggested the same.
There are also videos and many articles online that say beards obviously keep you warm.
If you’re not quite sure, we recommend growing one out for yourself and seeing how it feels.
Just make sure if you do grow it out that you’re keeping it well groomed so that it doesn’t make you look like poor Pete up there. That means applying a beard balm daily and brushing it with a boar bristle brush daily.