Men's Beards Are Dirtier Than a Dog's Fur, New Study Finds (So That's Reassuring)

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Close-up on man brushing his beard.
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Men's facial hair has sure been making a comeback in recent years, and I for one have been a big fan. I mean, I can do without a handlebar mustache (yikes), and goatees are still a total no-go in my book, but a sexy, scruffy beard? Yes, please! Or at least, that's how I felt until a new study from Switzerland gave me pause. Because according to researchers, a man's beard is a pretty dirty place -- even dirtier than a dog's fur. (Excuse me while I go gag several times into a paper bag.)

  • This all started when scientists wanted to know if humans could pick up a dog-borne disease from an MRI scanner that was also used for veterinary exams.

    To do so, researchers at the Hirslanden Clinic in Switzerland swabbed the beards of 18 men and the necks of 30 dogs of various breeds. Needless to say, they were shocked to learn that many of the dogs tested proved to have lower levels of microbes on their fur. 

    Meanwhile, the men's beards were "crawling with bacteria," reports The Daily Mail, and almost half had bacteria in them that were hazardous to human health.

    ( ... Anyone suddenly feeling itchy?)

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  • News of the study has been making its way across the interwebs, where people have been a mix of amused and grossed out.

    "Hate beards for this reason," one woman said. "Especially the guys who think it's great to not keep [beards] and mustaches trimmed."

    Another likened the beard bacteria to gross "dingle berries" hanging from men's faces (which I personally regret reading while eating).

    Still, plenty of other beard-lovers weren't fazed at all.

    "Don’t care if it’s dirty or not," wrote one user. "Beards are sexy. Now bring that hairy bacterial laden face my way."

    (Oof. That really presents quite a visual, now doesn't it?)

    And others refuted the study, claiming the research was bogus.

    "You know what goes with me when I shower?" wrote one man. "My beard."

    "I don't need this kind of negativity in my life," quipped another.

  • They aren't the only ones raising an eyebrow or two at this study, though.

    According to The Daily Mail, Keith Flett, founder of the Beard Liberation Front (because yes, there is such a thing), begs to differ on this whole dirty beard thing.

    "I think it's possible to find all sorts of unpleasant things if you took swabs from people's hair and hands and then tested them," he told the outlet. "I don't believe that beards in themselves are unhygienic."

    Furthermore, he was kind of annoyed that this latest study just adds to a long list of negative beard tales he says the public seems keeps being fed.

    "There seems to be a constant stream of negative stories about beards that suggest it's more about pogonophobia than anything else," said Flett.

    I'll save you the time Googling: Pogonophobia is apparently a legit phobia, and refers to the extreme fear of beards. (Who knew?)

  • To be fair, the study was rather small and conducted in Switzerland -- so who knows what we'd find if we swabbed a large number of American beards.

    (Honestly, something tells me the research findings would be even more alarming, but that's purely speculative.)

    In the meantime, I guess we should all just take this study with a grain of salt -- kinda like that one that told us our smartphones are riddled with poop particles. (I mean, like that was really going to stop us from mindlessly scrolling through Twitter on the toilet?)

    And men, if nothing else: Just make sure you wash those beards thoroughly. It's clearly in all our best interests.