Why Are Men With Beards So Much More Attractive? We Have Answers. (2024)

Why Are Men With Beards So Much More Attractive? We Have Answers. (1)

Instagram//Mike Rundle/X

Who had “people thirsting after Mark Zuckerberg” on their 2024 bingo card?

Over the weekend, the internet experienced some collective cognitive dissonance after seeing a photo of the Meta CEO decked out with a beard, a glowly tan and a silver chain necklace. (Zuck...is...hot?)

“Mark Zuckerberg went from Mr. Steal Your Data to Mr. Steal Your Girl,” more than one person joked.

“It’s crazy how much a beard can change a man’s life,” another person tweeted.

Even Gwyneth Paltrow was a bit taken aback by bearded Zuck. “He looks like my ex hubs [Chris Martin] in this pic,” the actress commented under a post from The Shade Room. (Others saw a resemblance to Jack Harlow or influencer Logan Paul.)

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Unfortunately for the thirsty among us, the viral pic was edited: The photo still is actually from an April 18 video Zuckerberg posted on Instagram announcing a new version of Meta AI.

A few hours after the tech billionaire posted, an X user named Mike Rundle posted a doctored pic from the announcement, showing Zuck with an added beard and a glowy Californian tan. (The silver chain was real, come to find out.)

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“Me: Bearded Zuck you have to stop. Your smoked meat’s too tough. Your swag too different. Your open source LLM is too bad. they’ll kill you,” Rundle joked in his post, which has over 2.2 million views.

Me: Bearded Zuck you have to stop. Your smoked meat's too tough. Your swag too different. Your open source LLM is too bad. they'll kill you

Bearded Zuck: pic.twitter.com/pdKwMUmpKS

— Mike Rundle (@flyosity) April 18, 2024

Nnenna B., a fashion influencer from New York City, told HuffPost she stared a little too long at Zuckerberg’s fake glow-up. Now, she’s a bit disappointed it’s a fake.

“Like he needs to go to Turkey and get the beard transplant now,” she said. “In that pic, he went from a dud to a stud. From a punk to a hunk. From ‘hiii, my name is Mark,’ to ’Sup, my name is Mark.”

It’s crazy how a little rugged scruff can change a man’s entire persona, added actress Christal Luster.

“Zuckerberg gave big zaddy energy with the beard,” Luster said.

While dating around, Luster said she’s vetoed a few guys before and then reconsidered them after they’d grown out some stubble.

“They looked like teenagers before but when they grew the beard out, I circled the block faster than the ice cream man on a hot summer’s day,” she joked. “Seriously, though, it is a nice addition to a beautiful face. Just matures them for me, I guess.”

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Luster is onto something. Studies have shown that men are rated by both sexes as more mature and more dominant when they have facial hair.

“That’s not surprising given the testosterone pathways are so involved in both dominance and facial hair growth,” said Rob Brooks, a professor of evolution at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, who conducted one such study.

In the study, published in the May 2016 issue of the journal Evolution & Human Behavior, Brooks and his co-author found that women prefer men with beards and heavy stubble when looking for long-term partners and judging men’s fathering abilities.

If anyone is wondering whether or not they should grow a beard, I just spent more than half a second considering a man on a dating app bc his beard was so good before noticing he has FAMILY tattooed in 8” tall script letters across his chest

— kels (@kil_see) June 10, 2021

The researchers asked 8,520 women, aged 18 to 100, to rate photos of men (some with facial hair and some without) on physical attractiveness and on a spectrum of “relationship longevity.” Out of those women, 8,520 of them (yes, all of them) preferred men with some amount of facial hair.

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Compared to their clean-shaven brethren, the bearded men were rated higher on more traditionally alpha qualities: By and large, they were seen as more “masculine, more socially dominant and aggressive looking.”

Beardedness, the researchers wrote, “may be attractive when judging long-term relationships as a signal of intrasexual formidability and the potential to provide direct benefits to females.”

Why’s that? “It may be because it gives the face more definition in the jawline and enhances perceptions of age and masculinity,” Barnaby Dixson, the lead author of the study and a human behavioral ecologist at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, told HuffPost. (Naturally, Dixson has a beard.)

We’re not talking full-on Grizzly Adams, unbridled growth beard here, though: What straight women in the study ranked as most attractive was stubble of approximately 10 day’s growth.

This, for instance, is a good amount of growth:

Why Are Men With Beards So Much More Attractive? We Have Answers. (2)

Stephane Cardinale / Jon Kopaloff

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While this is too much beard:

Why Are Men With Beards So Much More Attractive? We Have Answers. (3)

Charley Gallay via Getty Images

“One thing we know is that the full mountain man business isn’t especially attractive,” Brooks said. “Probably that’s a hygiene and grooming effort thing that women cue in to.” (Smart of us! A 2019 Swiss study found that men’s beards contain more harmful bacteria than dogs’ fur ― ugh.)

Heavy stubble is a perfect happy medium. “It’s a tradeoff because it maximizes the attractiveness to both the beard-loving women and the anti-bearders,” said Brooks, who’s also the author of the book, “Virtual Friends, Digital Lovers, and Algorithmic Matchmakers.”

What about gay men’s preferences? A study Dixson conducted with men and women from Brazil and the Czech Republic suggested that, compared to heterosexual women, gay men had stronger preferences for men with more facial hair.

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that beards pay off in the dating and sexual marketplace.

“They say tall men have no personality because they don’t need game, but I’d say the same for guys with the facial one inch buss downs,” joked musician Samathan Kim. “A full beard will have people hooting and hollering over an otherwise average Joe.”

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Beards, he said, “are like the male BBL.” (For the unfamiliar, that’s a Brazilian butt lift. Others have suggested that a beard is to men what makeup is to women.)

Kim grew out a goatee and mustache as soon as he could. Now, he can’t imagine walking through life shaved like a “bare skinned adult baby.” That said, without some scruff, he thinks he’d survive fine in the dating world.

“I don’t believe I’d have a harder time dating if I were to shave,” he told HuffPost. “Confidence and energy definitely factors in more than physical looks in my opinion, especially after the first few minutes of conversation.”

As for Zuckerberg’s “beard,” Kim could take it or leave it. With the beard, the No. 1 tech bro just kind of looks like a finance bro from Murray Hill, he said.

“His hairless face is already deeply ingrained in our collective subconscious, it looks like he’s cosplaying,” he said. “But he doesn’t really need a beard to pull because money is a hell of a beard.”

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“[Zuckerberg] doesn’t really need a beard to pull because money is a hell of a beard.”

- Samathan Kim, musician

Bryan Deane, a personal trainer, almost always sports facial hair. “I can only speak for myself as a heterosexual male and personally, I think my beard does add a little more sauce,” Deane told HuffPost.

Of course, there’s a deluge of dudes with beards on dating apps, so you have to keep yours looking nice and trim to stand out, Deane said.

“I’ve been told I have a really nice beard: no patches, full and thick,” he said.

Jaks Lark, a Canadian social media creator and marketing adviser, likens the widespread love of beards to another trend in men’s aesthetic: The cultural embrace of the dad bod. Both the beard and the dad bod are reassuring badges of masculinity.

“When I grow my beard out, I tend to get more responses on dating apps from people who are interested in long-term dating,” he said. “As someone who has dated both genders, I can say that men seem to be a lot more opinionated about wanting someone with a beard or wanting a clean shave guy.”

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Why Are Men With Beards So Much More Attractive? We Have Answers. (4)

Jaks Lark, Bryan Deane, Samathan Kim

Zuckerberg has hinted that he may adopt a more hirsute look: in a now-expired Instagram story post, the billionaire shared a photo of a razor alongside a thinking face emoji.

Lark thinks that’s a great idea, for more reasons than one: “I think Mark has always had a public relations struggle, in many of his interviews he comes off as a little robotic, and the beard really humanizes him, and adds a whole new element to his character.”

So why, given all the social benefits a beard bestows, would a man shave in the first place? That’s the question that intrigues Brooks most as a biologist.

“Why would a mature mammalian male remove his most obvious sign of dominance?” he said. “We think it may be to reduce competition and intimidation in the kinds of close-cooperation, within and between sexes, that’s required to make our complex, highly cooperative societies function.”

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In other words, Zuckerberg already has tons of your data and your time-spent-on-site; he doesn’t need your girl, too.

Why Are Men With Beards So Much More Attractive? We Have Answers. (2024)
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