New scientific findings might be the catalyst for the end of the facial hair renaissance. Not since the time of Ned Kelly have we seen such a plethora of beards, moustaches, side burns and combinations of the above. But now, a study out of the University of Birmingham has found that the face hugger, the chin warmer, the great woolly mouth scarf, the beard, is in fact a breeding ground for germs and bacteria.
Carol Walker is a consultant trichologist (hair and scalp specialist) at Birmingham’s Trichology Centre. She told the Daily Mail that ‘The cuticles on the hair – which are like layers of tiles on a roof – trap the germs and grease. Hair around nostrils and mouth is well-placed to harbour bacteria.’ Furthermore, she explained that dairy products can get rancid in there, leading to an excessive production of Stepholococci, a nasty type of bacteria.
She also stated that people with beards have an increased risk of getting skin infections, and worse, passing their illness onto their partners, thanks to the fluffy bayonets of beard hair carrying the bugs around from person to person.
Professor Anthony Hilton from Aston University also found that ‘men with beards harbour a significant number of bacteria, more than non-bearded men or women’. His research found that after spraying facial hair with non-infectious bacteria, no amount of washing would completely clean them. The hair follicles trapped bacteria in there like big bums in tight jeans.
But what does all this mean for you, if you are one of the thousands of bearded men in Australia?
Well there is another side to this story. Outside of looking spectacular, the average face carpet can in fact have some positive health benefits too. If you’re sensitive to dust and pollen, the very same hair follicles that keep bacteria a little too close for comfort, can trap small amounts of allergens, forcing the body to de-sensitise to them. Essentially, having a beard can vaccinate you for hay fever, which is pretty rad. But I guess the question you have to ask yourself is, is the hay fever benefits worth the costs of bacterial infection? Or is your beard just so damn awesome that to part with it would be like putting down your family pet?
If you do have a majestic face carpet and are worried about the health impacts, but loathe the idea of parting with what you have worked so hard to create, there is another option. The snood. The snood is a hairnet for your beard, and if the current trends continue, expect to see these bad boys everywhere from fashion week to Kings Cross.
Already popular in food preparation jobs in the UK, the snood is taking off, and given the risk of bacterial infection and the potential to spread disease, I wouldn’t be surprised if the big fashion houses start releasing snoods in a verity of styles and colours. In the last three years, beard snood sales in the UK have increased by 32 percent.
Beard snoods my friends. They are the next big thing. Watch out. We said it here first.
Words by Patrick Cullen. Photo by Schick1.