Scientists think they may have solved one of the great mysteries of the age. Why are so many of today’s men growing beards?
The answer, according to The University of Western Australia researchers, is because men are feeling under pressure from other men and are attempting to look aggressive by being more flamboyant with their whiskers.
Published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, Dr Cyril Grueter and colleagues were investigating the idea that in big societies, male primates have developed increasingly ostentatious “badges” which may enhance male sexual attractiveness to females and give them the edge over other males.
These include cheek flanges in orang-utans, elongated noses on proboscis monkeys, upper-lip warts in golden snub-nosed monkeys – and beards on humans.
The team investigated 154 species of primates, and found more conspicuous badges in males of species where social and physical conflict were common and individual recognition was limited.i.e. The busier and more crowded with males a society becomes, the more competition there is and the more flamboyant the badges are.
The modern male not only has to vie with hundreds of fellow males in the real world but has to stand out from potentially thousands of rivals online, so clean-shaven may well be turning off women who are drawn to seemingly powerful men.
“When you live in a small group where everyone knows everyone because of repeated interactions, there is no need to signal quality and competitiveness via ornaments,” he said.
“In large groups where individuals are surrounded by strangers, we need a quick reliable tool to evaluate someone’s strength and quality, and that’s where these elaborate ornaments come in.
“In the case of humans, this may also include phenotypic extensions such as body decoration, jewellery and prestige items.”
But the phenomenon is not necessarily a modern one. In their paper, the authors also argue that the popularity of moustaches and beards among British men from 1842 -1971 rose when there were fewer females in the marriage pool and beards were judged to be more attractive.
During the 19th century, the attitude to facial hair changed as a result of the wars in India and Asia. Many Middle Eastern and Indian cultures associated wisdom and power with facial hair so as a result, beards, moustaches and side whiskers in particular, became more common on British soldiers stationed in the east.
Earlier this year, a survey by electrical manufacturers Braun found that men feel 53 per cent more attractive to women when they have a beard.
Which may explain why the hair transplant is heading south. Over the past few years, high profile figures such as Wayne Rooney and Gordon Ramsay have apparently had their barnets artificially boosted – but now, new statistics suggest that the transplantation trend has shifted from crown to chin
Dr Jeffrey Epstein, an American facial plastic surgeon, recently told The New York Times that a decade ago he performed, on average, four to five beard transplants each year. This has steadily risen over the past decade and now the doctor helps three baby-faced men beard up every week.
The procedure, which costs up to £14,500, works in much the same way as a hair transplant. ‘Donor hairs’ are plucked from the back or sides of the scalp and transplanted onto the beard-line in a process called Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).
After grafting, the hairs begin to grow very quickly, and an individual can typically expect to begin shaving within two weeks of the procedure.
Jose Armos, a Miami-based paramedic, paid $7,000 earlier this year for a beard transplant from Dr Epstein’s clinic. “It was hard for people to trust me because I had that baby face,” says the 28-year old. “So I wanted that stronger, manlier look.”
Pittsburgh University worker Ray also wanted to look more masculine – and believed a beard was the perfect way to achieve this. The 53-year old has had three beard transplants in the last four years; despite sporting a full and luscious beard, his wallet is now $22,000 (£14,500) lighter.
“I don’t really even care that much if people know that I’ve had the transplants,” Ray said. “I just don’t want them to know how much I’ve spent on it, because then they’ll think I’m crazy. A lot of guys go through a midlife crisis and they buy the sports car, but I just got a beard.”
3 Tips On How To Stop Beard Itch
One of the most popular reasons why guys give up on growing that luxurious beard, they simply can not stand the constant itching.
The first weeks that you are trying to grow that beard also comes with itchiness that can literally become so severe that you swear you will never grow that beard again.
Even though the itching is temporary, most men can not power through that stage and get to the other side where a full beard awaits them.
If you have tried and failed to grow a beard, here are some simple techniques to help stop beard itch.
1. Cleaning Your Beard
During the first few weeks of trying to grow a beard, you are going to experience the most discomfort as far as itching because those new sharp hairs simply irritate the skin surface.
Each day, thousands of dead skin cells are being shed from the face, but your new beard catches those cells and then simply holds them close to the surface of your face.
By not letting the skin fall away, it causes irritation and itching to occur.
Don’t use regular hair shampoo on your beard, instead you should try a beard shampoo that will help with the flaking of the skin.
2. Repairing Your Beard
Chances are that if you already have an established beard and it still itches, it can be damage to the hair from heat styling or harsh soaps causing the discomfort.
When you beard hair is damaged, it will then spread from the tip to the root.
This damage will slow down the growth of your hair and cause the hair to irritate the follicle when it emerges.
3. Conditioning Your Beard
Similar to the hair on your head, your beard needs to be conditioned if you want that downy and soft feel. The hair conditioners for your scalp contain harsh chemicals that can easily irritate the sensitive skin on your face.