Male Call: Shave It Or Save It?


By James Roberts –

A couple months ago we discussed the personal hygiene issue of men’s hair removal (Oct. 2016 Male Call). This month, just in time for V Day (and we’ll let you decide if that stands for Valentine’s, Victory or Vanquished), we consider the opposite side – hair non-removal, that is, beards v. stubble. What’ll it be, guys, for your February ventures?

While browsing, as we are wont to do, through a recent issue of the Journal of Evolutionary Biology (see what we do for you folks?) we learned that university researchers in Australia found that women will form a personal opinion about men based on how much hair he has on his face. What? The Male Call Advisory Board™ is shocked, shocked we say!

Now, Dixson, et al. didn’t just mosey into a bar and ask a few gals what they like. No, they surveyed 8,520 women, asking them to rate the attractiveness of men based on computerized images showing various stages of facial hair – clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble and full beards. Pretty dang scientific as you’ll see from this following quote:

“In many species, male secondary sexual traits have evolved via female choice as they confer indirect (i.e., genetic) benefits or direct benefits such as enhanced fertility or survival. In humans, the role of men’s characteristically masculine androgen-dependent facial traits…” [insert snoring sound.]

OK, wake up and we’ll cut to the chase.

The researchers concluded that “masculine faces” are judged more attractive for short-term relationships over less masculine faces, whereas beards are judged as more attractive than clean-shaven faces for long-term relationships.

Yep, stubble was judged as most attractive overall and received the highest marks for a…um…short-term relationship. A full beard was more attractive in terms of a committed partner.

So as not to be accused of being a liberal-media-data-cherry-picker, we should point out that the team considered other factors such as brow ridge, cheekbones and jawline in their definition of “masculine” along with some academic gobbledygook about “dimorphic androgen-dependent facial traits.” You can read the article for yourself if you want the juicy details.

It so happens that your humble column host has recently adopted a trim goatee look. We’re not sure if that means short-term action or long-term commitment. It’s not exactly stubble and not really a beard, per se. Sort of in the middle. We’ll just say that the jury of women we’ve polled all voted in favor of it.

Of course it was only a sample of a half-dozen. We’ve got 8,508 to go.

Need a guy’s perspective? Jot a note to Male Call at or check out the Male Call archives at

Photo credit: wang-lu via / CC BY-NC-SA
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