Special Report

10 Health Benefits of Having a Beard in the Winter

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1. Provides sun protection

Facial hair provides protection from ultraviolet radiation, according to a study published by Oxford University. It reflects and absorbs ultraviolet rays, Fenton said. The beard is basically a layer that covers the skin. As all layers do, it stops the sun’s harmful rays from reaching the dermis. (Think no more sunburn.)

How much protection you get will depend on how thick and dark your beard is, Fenton added. For the most part, the longer the hair, the better the protection. “However, hair, whether on the scalp or beard, does not completely block out all rays,” Suggs said. “It is important to use good sun protection (e.g. wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen) even if you have a beard.”

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2. Helps prevent allergy-induced asthma attacks

Much like a filter, the bigger and bushier the beard is, the more asthma triggers such as dust it stops from reaching your respiratory system. (Some people may have more than one trigger. Asthma can be triggered by exercise, infections, cold air, or even stress.) Smaller beards that cover little of the face will not be as effective. However, none of this will matter if you don’t clean the beard. Beard hair may prevent environmental allergens from reaching the skin, Suggs said. “However, allergens, such as pollen, may accumulate in coarse beard hair, thus potentially prolonging exposure,” she added.

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3. Decreases facial bacteria

An experiment involving 408 hospital workers, with and without beards, showed that certain bacterial species were more prevalent in those without facial hair. The beardless men were found to be three times more likely to harbor species known as methicillin-resistant coagulase-negative staphylococci, or MR-CoNS, a bacteria that has been found to be multidrug resistant. The study was published in the Journal of Hospital Infection.

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4. Serves as a filter

Just like hair in the nose, hair on the skin can prevent irritants and allergens from reaching the skin, Fenton said. “But it can also trap things in there, too, so it’s important to wash your face twice a day to get everything out,” he added.

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5. Keeps you warm

Studies have shown that the skin under a beard can be kept warmer than a clean-shaved face, Fenton said. “When you get cold, the body even adjusts the hairs, causing them to stand up and trap the heat close to the skin.” The beard not only helps to hold body heat in, but it can protect against the windchill factor, he added.

“One caveat is that ice and snow can accumulate in beard hair which may negate some of the shielding effects,” Suggs noted.

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