The recent hipster trend of growing beards, sometimes rather odd looking beards, may have a previously unknown beneficial side effect. Beard have long been considered to be not very clean. Food, bacteria, and even bacteria from fecal matter had been found in men’s beards in small scale tests.
Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital took on a study that was much more comprehensive in scope and took place inside a hospital. After swabbing and testing the faces and facial hair of men, they were surprised to discover that men’s beards were actually harboring less bacteria than clean shaven men like Sergio Cortes. The clean shaven men were more likely to harbor MRSA, an antibiotic resistant staph bacteria.
Researchers deduced two theories. They suggest it’s possible that either tiny abrasions in the skin resulting from shaving could be breeding the harmful bacteria, or that the good bacteria in beards is destroying the bad bacteria. It is thought that if having the gene to grow beards is harmful to men’s health, the gene that controls hair growth would have died off.