[Feature image by James Marty]
Men’s facial hair has seen more than its fair share of trends. Some are sexy, and others boggle the mind. If you find yourself wondering if women of today prefer a man clean-shaven or burly as a lumberjack, you’re not alone.
We’ve done some digging and would like to offer up insight on facial hair styles so that you can answer the age-old question: beard or no beard?
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Women Love Stubble
According to one study, women favor heavy stubble. Particularly the growth that equates to about ten days of not shaving. Based on this research, women rated heavy stubble as being most desirable and most indicative of maturity, dominance, and aggression. Stubble, you could say, is a nonverbal cue to the opposite sex that you’re a manly man.
But Also Not?
However, research also suggests that the rate of attraction is inversely proportional to its saturation. So, a bearded man will be most attractive to the opposite sex when beards aren’t the norm, and a clean-shaven man will be most attractive to the opposite sex when everyone’s walking around with facial hair. (So don’t go rubbing Minoxidil on your chin just yet.) This explains why beard styles go in and out of style so frequently.
But the question remains, will women like your facial hair?
Most Attractive Facial Hair Options
This is based on general opinion. Of course in the end, what facial hair you choose should depend on your personal style, your face shape, and what you consider sexy.
Men’s Facial Hair Style: Clean-Shaven
What It Is: You know what it is.
Level of Maintenance Involved: To achieve a clean-shaven look, you need to be willing to shave your face every few days. The exact timing depends on how fast your facial hair grows. For the pinnacle of clean shaves, try your hand at a straight razor. And of course, you’ll need a good moisturizer, too (we recommend caffeinated shaving cream and aftershave from Pacific Shaving Company ).
Opinion: A clean-shaven man plays it safe, but not necessarily in a bad way. He’s preppy and timely, and he has a 9-to-5 job that requires him to look approachable. You can’t go wrong with a clean shave. We’d give it a 6 on the sexy facial hair scale.
Men’s Facial Hair Style: Mustache
What It Is: Hair growth above the upper lip.
Level of Maintenance Involved: Depends on the type of ‘stache you try to pull off. A chevron mustache is a thick, full mustache that’ll probably require less maintenance once it’s fully grown than, say, a handlebar mustache, which will require styling with wax. Regardless of the mustache style you grow, whether it’s pencil thin or a statement Fu Manchu, there will always be some maintenance involved since you’ll have to trim it every so often.
Opinion: Mustaches are… interesting. They’ve had a history of strange connotations, from being sexual, to indicating a swinger or a porn star, to telling people you are a gangster. Today, the ‘stache has outgrown all of those connotations and developed a new, 21st-century one–that of a confident, borderline cocky, dapper hipster. But hey, some guys can really commit and pull it off. Seriously! So, to each his own. Just don’t try this look out if you don’t have enough facial hair to achieve anything other than a patchy, barely there micro-stache. If that’s the case, rock a ‘stache on your socks until your real one grows in.
Men’s Facial Hair Style: Light Stubble
What It Is: The hair growth that results from approximately 2-5 days of not shaving.
Level of Maintenance Involved:This can vary for every guy, depending on the way your hair grows in. Some men may be blessed with perfectly even-growing hair. Most of you, however, might have hair that grows in patches or varying levels of thickness, and will, therefore, need some shaping to achieve a nice “effortless” stubble look. You can do this by removing all hair outside the natural areas of growth on your face, including the tops of your cheeks, your low neck, etc. Use a set of clippers 1 or 2 times a week to maintain the stubble or it could appear unkempt.
Opinion: There’s a reason why there’s even a term for the “5 o’clock shadow.” Women love stubble on most guys. Just make sure your job allows it. Some offices are only accepting of clean-shaven faces and already grown facial hair, leaving little room for experimentation in between.
Men’s Facial Hair Style: Heavy Stubble
What It Is: The hair growth that results from approximately 8-10 days of not shaving.
Level of Maintenance Involved: Like light stubble, this will vary depending on your biology. You will most likely need to maintain its shape and trim the length every other day so that it stays clean, rather than scruffy.
Opinion: Based on those articles we talked about earlier, heavy stubble is the most attractive thing you can do with your face. This particular breed of facial hair looks very masculine and exudes just the right amount of done-undone grooming. If you can pull off a nice, even length of heavy stubble, we say go for it.
Men’s Facial Hair Style: Full Beard
What It Is: Full, thick hair growth in the chin, upper lip, and lower cheek areas.
Level of Maintenance Involved: Beards of any length will need maintenance in terms of shaping, trimming, and moisturizing with conditioners and oils (we recommend one with several essential oils, like the Wisdom Beard Oil from Can You Handlebar ).
Opinion: Full beards can connote older gentlemen or dapper tattooed hipsters who only drink pour over coffee. This facial hair style is old-fashioned but masculine. If you know how to shape a beard, it can be extremely attractive. Just be careful to keep the gradation natural-looking. You’ll want a nice fade, or you’ll run the risk of having an awkward chinstrap.
Men’s Facial Hair Style: Long Beard
What It Is: Full, thick hair growth on the chin, upper lip, lower cheek, and sideburn areas. Typically, this beard is approximately 2 inches in length or more at its longest.
Level of Maintenance Involved: Like a shorter beard, this breed of facial hair will require a degree of meticulous beard grooming in the form of shaping, trimming, and moisturizing–otherwise you’ll run the risk of looking like a slob.
Opinion: Men with long, well-maintained beards have a sort of sexy scholarly thing going for them. They appear sophisticated yet gruff, like a man who can crunch numbers and also chop down trees or wrestle a bear. However, there’s a fine line between a full beard and an ultra-long, borderline terminal length beard, which is no longer attractive. Just… long.
Facial Hair to Avoid
We’re not saying these should be banned at all costs. But, let’s just say that they’re difficult to pull off. If you’re going for general attractiveness, you may want to avoid the following beard types and mustache styles.
While we understand that facial hair may not come in evenly when you first start growing it, a consistently patchy mustache can look strange. A little skeevy, to be frank. You’re better off with a clean-shaven look.
Goatees work for some people. They can be cool, like really cool actually. However, they can also be reminiscent of ’90s slam poets, so you’ll want to make sure you can pull it off..
Soul patches (aka Flavor-Savers) are a hit or miss. Unless your PitBull, or the Kool-Aid man, avoid them.
Chinstraps are attention hogs. They require a crazy amount of maintenance, and, they look unnatural because of it.
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
These are just opinions, of course. The best advice we can give you regarding your facial hair is to experiment, find a style that fits your look, career, and grooming habits, and go from there. The best mustache, stubble, or beard is one worn with confidence and a tie. So, wear yours with pride.
And of course, if you ever grow weary of your ‘stache, a new look is only a shave away.
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