EVERYTHING IS COVERED IN GERMS -- Let's Stop The Hysteria About Boys, Beards, and Bacteria

Did you guys see all of those articles a week or two ago reporting that men’s beards probably have as much bacteria in them as a toilet bowl?
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Tynan Sinks
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Did you guys see all of those articles a week or two ago reporting that men’s beards probably have as much bacteria in them as a toilet bowl?

Did you guys see all of those articles a week or two ago reporting that men’s beards probably have as much bacteria in them as a toilet bowl? And probably contain…fecal matter? SPARE ME. Please, I like dudes far too much to think of that shit (literally?) when I’m careening toward one of their faces. Don’t ruin this for me, Internet. Just let me have this one thing.

Is it really that much of a shock, though? Of course beards are filled with germs, they’re a bunch of thick, coarse hairs on a guy’s face and around his mouth. Gross. 

Being the germaphobe that I am, even before this news became a trending topic, I’d look at a beard and be like “I bet that is just matted with germs and bacteria but boy is it cute.” You have to take the good with the bad.

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So after all of these sensational headlines came out about how men apparently have feces in their beards (I hate this article) we started to see the counterpoint: EVERYTHING is covered in germs. Your cell phone, which I’m sure you never wipe down, is covered in germs, and you’re putting that thing against your face. Well, unless you’re me. I refuse to make or answer calls, I only text, as a rule. I know this makes me seem like an asshole, but it also happens to be a great way to avoid contact with germs!

Know what else is covered in germs, a lot of them directly from your toilet bowl? Your toothbrush! I could get into why, but I'm not going to, because it's pretty self-explanatory and because this topic is making me a little lightheaded. Google it.

Good news is that’s an easy fix. Just soak your toothbrush in a mouthwash that contains cetylpyridinium chloride, like Scope, or run it through the dishwasher and it should be good as new. Or you could do what I do and forget how long it’s been since you’ve sanitized it, panic, and throw it away.

But here’s my point: Toothbrushes are easy to clean and SO ARE BEARDS. Listen, I hate men as much as the next person, but I’m not going to pretend that we’re all gross, unshowered cavemen. A man’s beard is probably going to be just as clean as the rest of him, for better or worse.

I talked to a bunch of guys in the past week or two about their beards and, by extension, their hygiene, and their responses were across the board. I had dudes tell me “Yeah, I wash my beard everyday with a scrub and then apply a beard butter” (#BeardButter) and then look at me like I was crazy for even asking them if they took care of their precious beards. Then I got the guys who were like “Um, I shower?” GREAT.

So, if you’re dating a guy with a beard, or are a guy with a beard (yes dudes I know you read these, I see you,) here are a few easy rules for keeping your beard clean.

1. First and foremost, no one knows your beard better than you. Or, maybe you know your boyfriend’s beard better than he does, that’s entirely possible, seeing as you’re always up against it (or it’s up against you WINK.) So if it’s dirty, fucking wash it. I know this is coming from someone who literally never washes his hair but that’s an entirely different article altogether.

2. Which brings me to my second point. We already know we’re not supposed to wash our hair everyday because shampoo strips your hair of the natural oils that keep it healthy and looking shiny. Same goes with your beard. As long as it’s not super grimy, you don’t need to shampoo it daily. Most say about twice a week, but keep in mind that your beard gets dirty quickly, and you don’t want to be trapping any more bacteria in it than you need to.

3. When you do wash, don’t use a regular shampoo. The hair on your head is obviously different than beard hair, just as the skin on your scalp is different than the skin on your face. The skin on your scalp is thicker than the skin on your face, and also contains more glands that produce a lot more oil, so most shampoos are formulated to really get in, deep clean, and strip all of that dirt, oil, and grime away. These products can be too harsh on your face’s sensitive skin, and end up damaging his precious beard hair.

Look for products, a beard shampoo, if you must, made without any detergents, chemicals, or sulfates, to be as gentle and nourishing to that beard as possible. Let’s all agree to just never put products with sulfates in our hair, deal?

4. After you hop out of the shower, as well as before you hop into bed, put a couple of drops of beard oil into your palms, rub together to heat it up, and rub it through your beard. This will keep your beard soft and conditioned, because no one wants to be pressed up against a dry, scratchy beard full of split ends.

Listen, I know that I’m being vague and that none of this is rocket science, but that’s my point. I could go into more detail here, but I’m not talking about actual products, for once. Beards aren’t that gross, you guys, as long as the man in question is keeping it clean. I’d do a beard product roundup if anyone cared, maybe for Father’s Day or something, but right now, let’s stop freaking out about what’s in our dude’s beard and just make sure he’s keeping it clean, K?

Ladies, how do you feel about beards? Do you prefer men with or without them? Do you think beards make guys sexier? I think hot guys are hot whether or not they have a beard. Also I think all guys are hot.

And fellas, go home and wash your beard tonight. Do it for your girlfriend. Do it for me. Keep that thing clean AND TRIMMED. There’s nothing worse than a guy who grows his beard out as big as possible while letting it get unruly, just for the sake of having a beard. Remember: A big beard with never compensate for a small penis. That’s what cars are for.

Tynan is tweeting about beards and dudes on Twitter @TynanBuck.