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Science: Beards Make Men Handsome, Healthier

Be heartened those holding strong for Lag B’Omer

Adam Chandler
April 25, 2013
Leonard Cohen.(Lorca Cohen)
Leonard Cohen.(Lorca Cohen)

As you may know, many Orthodox Jewish men refrain from shaving their faces during the first 32 days of the counting of the Omer. While I’m a fan of perma-stubble, Tablet writer Yair Rosenberg came into the office on Tuesday rocking quite an impressive build-up of facial hair.

Actually, a cursory gander around the Tablet office reveals that six out of eight of the Tablet men sport some kind of facial hair (we’d have perfect marks were it not for the prudes in the Arts and Culture section), a discovery that is both not at all interesting to outsiders and slightly creepy for me to mention on the internet.

Nevertheless, with Lag B’Omer fast approaching and the inevitable shaving sprees nearly underway, a study by the venerable University of Southern Queensland may make you second guess your decision to clean up.

According to the study, beards are (apparently) mankind’s wheatgrass, blocking 90 to 95 percent of UV rays “thereby slowing the aging process and reducing the risk of skin cancer.” Other perks:

Got asthma? Pollens and dust simply get stuck in that lustrous facial hair. Additionally, all that hair retains moisture and protects against the wind, keeping you looking young and fresh-faced. What’s more, shaving is usually the cause of ingrown hairs and bacterial infections that lead to acne.

How on earth were these conclusions reached? By totally normal means, I assure you.

To conduct the study, researchers left bearded mannequins, along with less attractive, follically-challenged ones, in the blistering sun of the Australian outback and then compared the amount of radiation absorbed by each.

So, there you have it.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.