Your beard makes a statement. But what, exactly, does a beard say about a man?
Facial hair has a distinct effect on people’s impression of a man. Growing out your facial hair can make you look like a rugged lumberjack, an erudite professor, or a super-sensitive poet/singer/songwriter, depending on which kind of whiskers you choose to sport.
While the impression a beard makes depends largely on its style and level of grooming, a few commonalities in people’s impressions of a man with a beard do exist.
What Does a Beard Say About You?
There’s no question about it – beards are trendy right now.
The beard has seen ups and downs in its popularity over the centuries. At times, it has been a sign of wealth and status. In other eras, only the lowest classes wore beards. At one point in American history, it was a staple of revolutionaries and hippies.
These days, everyone from the hipster at the local coffee shop to your dad seems to want to rock facial hair of some sort.
Growing a beard styled in a manner that flatters your features and lifestyle is a sure way to show off your awareness of the current ubiquitous fashionability of whiskers.
A beard symbolizes masculinity and this one is pretty obvious. Men can grow beards, and women, well, can’t.
Facial hair is a secondary sex characteristic, so it makes perfect sense that we would associate it with being a man. It follows that many people perceive men with beards as being more innately masculine than clean-shaven men.
This may be an unfair perception. Plenty of men with no visible facial hair are as packed with testosterone as their bearded brethren. But, fair or not, studies indicate that people tend to associate beards with traditionally masculine traits like assertiveness, aggression, and decisiveness.
This perception can also be a double-edged sword, as bearded men can be seen as intimidating and less likely to cooperate in group settings, which can be crippling in professional situations like job interviews.
Then again, rocking a beard can be advantageous in some professional situations – more on this later.
A more surprising effect a beard has on people’s perceptions of a man is that many view bearded men as having more expertise than unbearded men. This perception may be an extension of the maturity effect previously discussed.
There is a reason the stereotypical college professor sports some kind of facial hair, whether it’s a goatee, neatly trimmed full beard, or long Merlin-style mane. We subconsciously associate a bearded man with experience, knowledge, and wisdom.
Sure, there are plenty of bearded guys stumbling around with more happening on their chins than in their skulls. Still, the fact remains that people associate a well-groomed beard with competence.
Another obvious association with facial hair is maturity. Little boys don’t have it. Grown men do.
A thick, well-tended beard can make a man look older, especially if there is any gray in it. But even jet-black beards add a few years to people’s perception of a man’s age.
This perception can be an advantage for young professionals. One easy way to tack on a few years of experience (or at least its appearance) for a man just starting his career is to grow a beard. Colleagues may take you more seriously if they think you’re a little older than you actually are.
If you’re growing a beard with hopes of boosting your professional cred, make sure it’s a tidy one. The Castaway look won’t do you any favors in the boardroom.
Perhaps the most unexpected perception of bearded men is that they are trustworthy.
While associations with masculinity are a given, and perceptions of expertise might be written off as an extension of the maturity factor, the fact that people view a man with a beard as inherently trustworthy is genuinely puzzling.
But it’s definitely a thing. A recent study indicates that having a beard may be a significant asset in sales and service professions.
The findings were consistent across racial and age groups. So if you work in sales, you have plenty of motive to put the razor down.
Sorry, fellas – this one is a mixed bag. Studies and surveys present a very polarized view of men with facial hair. Some men and women find a beard irresistible.
Others see any facial hair at all to be a turnoff. Among those attracted to beards, the most popular options are heavy stubble and full but well-maintained beards.
The least popular looks are light stubble – which can be patchy and uneven and is likely to make you look like you’re just too lazy to shave – and long, bushy beards – which can seem unclean and sloppy.
The key to an attractive beard is for it to look intentional, well-groomed, and fitting for your face shape. But bear in mind that some potential partners are going to hate your facial hair no matter how well-maintained it is.
Your beard has plenty to say about you. If you’re looking to appear manly, mature, intelligent, stylish, honest guy, you might want to toss out the shaving gel and buy some beard oil.
Let the whiskers commence!