Sporting a beard is arguably the most polarizing grooming choice a man can make. Whether you wear foot-long facial hair with pride or shave as soon as signs of a 5 o'clock shadow emerge, chances are you've received feedback on the state of your chin.
But facial hair takes on a whole new meaning this month as men let themselves grow in honor of No-Shave November, the non-profit campaign to promote awareness of men's cancers.
The goal is to "grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free," according to the organization's website. You can donate the money you typically spend on shaving tools to the group to help fight cancer.
There are countless opportunities to get creative with your newfound canvas:
But arty options aside, there are several factors that make facial hair not only a popular styling choice, but also a healthy, happy one. Yes, you might grow your beard to honor the health of others, but you'll be doing yourself a wellness favor as well. Check out these 7 ways your beard is making your life better:
1. Beards can slow the aging process.
Your scruff can block 90 to 95 percent of UV rays, preventing wrinkles and decreasing the risk for skin cancer, according to a study published in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry.
2. Wearing a beard means no ingrown hairs.
Those pesky, often painful ingrown hairs are no match for your beard. Redness and skin irritation are also common culprits of a shave. The rashy bumps usually form on the face when a man shaves against the grain of the hair, his skin is too dry or his face is dirty.
3. Bearded bros are perceived as more masculine.
If you're interested in appearing masculine, maintaining a beard could help you get ahead. According to a study published in Evolution and Human Behavior, both men and women perceive facial haired-men as more masculine than those who are smooth. What's an ideal length? The study found that 10 days' growth was the sweet spot for maximum attractiveness.
4. Beards allow for more free time.
The average beardless man will spend 3,350 hours shaving, Dr. Herbert Mescon, then chairman of the Department of Dermatology at Boston University, told the Spartanburg Herald in 1972. Men who maintain a bearded appearance have about that many hours to do whatever they please, whether it's reading a book, going for a run or giving back to the needy.
5. Beards can reduce asthma and allergy symptoms.
Facial hair traps some dust and pollen before the particles make it into your respiratory system, Dr. Clifford W. Bassett, medical director of the Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, told Details. And that can prevent pollutants from getting inside your body, potentially causing illness or infection.
6. Beards keep you warm.
Just like the hair on your head, the beard protects the face from outdoor elements. A Canadian man named Pete Hickey once tested the theory, shaving just half of his face for the winter. He found that the bearded side of his face was, indeed, more insulated.
7. Beards keep your skin moisturized.
Men who keep their faces bare need to moisturize after a shave to keep the skin from getting dry. But beards are natural facilitators of moisture, retaining the natural oils the skin produces. The beard acts as a barrier from forces like the wind and the texture of a towel post-wash, keeping the oils around the chin and cheeks feeling super smooth and super fly.
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