We get it. You want to know if women like facial hair or would they prefer clean-shaven men instead?
I can’t blame you. Millions of other men want to know that too. In fact, it’s one of the most asked questions we get on this website.
Out of the surveys and available research, it becomes obvious that on average women do like beards a little bit more than they like clean-shaven faces. Out of all the beard styles and length, it appears to be stubble and short beards that women like the most, not the big long bushy beards.
But to truly answer the question of whether women prefer men who shave or those who grow out their beards, is extremely difficult.
This is because there are so many factors to consider. It appears that women’s attraction towards facial hair varies greatly per population, time of the month, age, and many other factors.
Which makes it damn near impossible to conclusively say if women like beards or don’t because some certainly do, while others absolutely hate them.
Luckily, we do have access to plenty of studies on facial hair attractiveness, so we can at least craft out a general idea about which truly reigns supreme; the full beard, clean-shaven face, long beard, different stubble lengths, or perhaps a goatee?
Facial Hair is More Attractive on Average
Looking at the biggest studies conducted on the attractiveness of facial hair vs. clean-shaven, it appears that different types of facial hair have smooth-cheeked men beat on average.
In a study by Neave et al. the researchers used a software called “FACES” to edit men’s faces to have different levels of beardedness, which included clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble, light beard, and a full beard
The researchers showed these edited pictures to 60 females with various attributes. In other words, a group of widely different women with different expectations and views.
The results showed that judgements of masculinity, aggressiveness, social maturity and age went up as the amount of facial hair was increased. However, overall attractiveness did not follow this same pattern.
Instead, the women rated a light stubble to be the most attractive, followed by heavy stubble, then light beard, clean-shaven, and the full beard.
So at least based on this study, neither clean-shaven nor fully bearded are the most attractive to women, but instead something in between. On top of this, the data shows that increased masculinity does not always directly translate to increased attractiveness.
Another face manipulation study – this time with added facial feminization and masculinization effects – found somewhat similar results.
This study was conducted by Dixson et al. and it had a much larger sample size of a whopping 9991 subjects (8699 females and 1292 males) primarily from Europe.
In their experiment, the researchers modified men’s faces to have four levels of beardedness: clean-shaven, light stubble (5 days of beard growth), heavy stubble (10 days of beard growth), and a full beard (30 days of beard growth).
On top of this, they also changed the facial symmetry of these images into a more feminine and more masculine way, while also using the raw unedited facial symmetry as a baseline.
So, how did nearly ten thousand people rate these different facial hair types in terms of attractiveness?
- Heavy stubble
- Light stubble
- Full beard
NOTE: The “light stubble” in this case is actually a medium stubble, as a 5 day beard is already 1-3mm in length.
Across the board, no matter which way the researchers modified the face symmetry and shape, the clean-shaven face was seen as the least attractive choice.
In terms of relationship context questionnaire, the subjects rated the shaved face as the worst for both short-term and long-term relationships as well.
Do the above results from these two studies mean that women like beards more than shaved faces?
They give us some hints that the stubble beard styles and shorter beards appear to be the most attractively rated facial hair styles, whereas the full beard was rated poorly in the study of 60 subjects and highly on the study of 9000+ subjects.
The completely clean-shaven face did receive relatively poor results in both studies, which would suggest that based on this evidence, women would prefer some type of facial hair above smooth cheeks on average.
Men Believe Women Like Beards More
In a trial conducted by Braun, the vast majority of the men reported that they would grow a beard if they could, and the bearded men told the researchers that they did feel more attractive and confident when they rocked facial hair.
Surprisingly enough, a study by the aptly named Dr. Nick Barber showed that in between the years of 1842 to 1971 whenever there was a shortage of available single women, the popularity of beards and mustache increased.
He theorizes that this is due to men thinking that women see facial hair as more attractive than clean-shaven faces, and in hopes of increasing their chances of landing their dream girl for marriage, the men started growing facial hair.
Whatever the case, if growing a beard makes you feel more masculine and confident, then this, in turn, would increase your success with women, as confidence is constantly rated as the most important attractive quality in men.
Sometimes Women Prefer Clean-Shaven Men
As all men know, women are complex creatures that can perhaps never be fully understood.
When it comes to whether women love or hate facial hair, you have to take their goal into account.
For short term relationships and one-night stands, there appears to be a preference towards masculine and dominant features.
Meaning that a heavy-stubble or beard would likely be seen as the most attractive choice for women shopping for some quick exciting affairs.
The polar opposite appears to be true for women who are looking to settle down for a long-term relationship.
In this case, masculine features and a higher amount of facial hair could be seen as a dangerous and less attractive quality, and women shopping for a long-term partner may prefer less bearded and clean-shaven me.
The time of the month is also a factor, as women who are at the most fertile part of their cycle, appear to favor more masculine and bearded men.
The hypothesis is that men with facial hair would secure indirect genetic benefits to their offspring and be more stable and mature fathers.
It’s almost impossible to say whether a woman will love or hate your beard. There are too many variables to take into account, such as the time of the month, what type of relationship is she looking, and more.
The conclusions that can be drawn from the available research, suggest that it’s not the clean-shaven face nor the fully bearded face that attracts most women, but instead something in between.
On all of the above studies, the heavy stubble growth of 10 days was rated as the most attractive facial hair type, followed by the light stubble growth of 5 days.
Next was the light beard, the full beard, and on average, the clean-shaven face scored the least points.
What many women also state is that they hate dirty beards and unkempt beards. So please make sure that you clean your beard properly if you do grow one.
And if your beard looks like pubes, you can be sure that it’s probably not going to be seen as very attractive, compared growing a thick and dense beard instead.
As I said, tons of variables exist, so the studies can only give us broad hints and that is all they can do.