I recently read an article -- well, it was on Buzzfeed, so it was more like a bunch of photos and captions -- about a man named Jeffrey Buoncristiano who “got stupidly hot after he spent a year growing a beard.” Jeffrey moved to Brooklyn and they wouldn’t let him in unless he promised to stop shaving (I’m guessing).
You could say the look is working for him.
Well, it’s definitely working for me. I love bearded guys. Well, not all of them, of course, but I think a beard ups an attractive guy’s appeal by umpteen percent.
I don’t think I’ve always preferred bearded guys. I clearly remember when Brad Pitt had a beard in the early 2000s and I joined the chorus of yucks and worried about the safety of Jennifer Aniston’s skin. But something in me changed, and I started finding myself more attracted, at first, to guys who had seemingly permanent stubble. Soon enough, I had graduated to favoring full-on beards.
You can even see it on my OKCupid “Favorites” list. A whopping 62% of guys I’ve “starred” are wearing a beard in their main profile picture, including Jeffrey Buoncristiano or someone pretending to be him. (I knew he looked familiar!)
Come to think of it, the overwhelming majority of the guys I’ve seen naked in the last three years have had beards. (Well, one had Wolverine facial hair, but I think that counts.)
It seems a lot of women prefer beards these days, at least according to research that isn't about more important and useful things. One study from earlier this year in the scientific journal Biology Letters found that straight and bisexual women find stubble and beards more attractive than a clean-shaven face.
Another study half-assedly conducted and dubiously reported by online retailer Betabrand (their press release asks you to "Read on to learn what ZZ Top and the Taliban have known for years!") found that both men and women are 39% more likely to click on a male model with facial hair. Is it driven by attraction? Or maybe it's something else...
The last guy I dated, Jay, had (and still has) a glorious beard. I was petting it one winter evening, as one does, and I found myself blurting out, “I wish I could grow a beard.”
Probably not the sexiest thing to say to the guy you’ve hung out with only four times, but his response surprised me.
“A few women have said that to me.”
Apparently, beard envy is a thing. And I totally have it.
Beards are nature’s man makeup. A beard can camouflage a double chin or a not-so-strong jawline in a way contouring tricks never could. Concealer just drawing more attention to your breakout? No one has to know about the colony of zits living under your facial hair!
Growing a beard is like painting your walls a new color -- it changes the whole look relatively quickly and with minimal effort. And I can’t do it. Sure, I can cut my hair short for a big change, but if I want to go back to my previous look, it’ll take a lot more patience than growing or shaving a beard would.
But it’s a beard’s ability to totally alter a guy’s appearance that also makes me a little suspicious of what lies beneath. I could be panty-tossing attracted to someone with a beard, but I’m very curious about what he'd look like without it and if I’d still be attracted to him clean-shaven.
This brings us back to Jeffrey. He’s very open on social media about his pre-bearded face, and while I prefer how he looks with a beard, I still find him very cute without it.
Not that it matters -- he hasn’t even glanced at my OkCupid profile. But many of the bearded guys who have offer up only bearded photos, leaving me to have to imagine what they’d look like when what’s arguably a trend is over and my easily swayed standards of attractiveness start leaning bare-faced again.