Are beards trending because men are under pressure?

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Are beards trending because men are under pressure?

Related tags Facial hair

According to the University of Western Australia, the more competition men have to deal with, the more flamboyant they become to assert their dominance. In fact, scientists say beards could be a sign of this. 

Rather than it being just about a grooming trend, an international group of researchers led by the University believe male competition could be a stronger reason for the evolution of 'badges', like beards.

According to a group led by Dr Cyril Grueter, men with beards can be seen as more aggressive and dominant than those without, and might also be more attractive to women.

In a paper published online in Evolution and Human Behavior, ​the authors argue that the popularity of moustaches and beards among British men from 1842 -1971 rose when there were more males in the marriage pool and beards were judged to be more attractive.

Golden snub-nosed monkey200pix

The hypothesis is that in big, multilevel societies, male primates have developed more ostentatious ‘ornaments' or ‘badges' like the elongated noses of proboscis monkeys, upper-lip warts in golden snub-nosed monkeys - and beards in humans.


In their investigation of 154 species of primates representing 45 genera, the authors found more conspicuous badges in males of species in multilevel social organisations where social and physical conflict were common and individual recognition was limited.

The authors suggest the flamboyant badges were of benefit to males in large and complex social organisations to signal their identity, rank, dominance and attractiveness.

"In large groups where individuals are surrounded by strangers, we need a quick reliable tool to evaluate someone's strength and quality, and that's where these elaborate ornaments come in.  In the case of humans, this may also include phenotypic extensions such as body decoration, jewellery and prestige items," ​says Grueter.

Species that live in smaller groups on the other hand, had less need of badges as individual recognition and more frequent interactions allowed animals to better assess the social status, strength and quality of their contemporaries.

"When you live in a small group where everyone knows everyone because of repeated interactions, there is no need to signal quality and competitiveness via ornaments,​" he adds.  

Men are even looking to hair transplants for beards

From sophisticated rituals to complex and innovative skin care - male grooming in Asia is BIG. Take for example India, where the latest trend is with facial hair loss treatments rather then the scalp.

Indian men struggling to grow their own facial hair are going to great lengths to replicate the enviable beards and sideburns of some of the most trendiest men around the globe.

Fully bodied beards can be achieved by taking hair from a healthy location like the scalp and transplant them into the face.

In the last two years, cosmetic surgeons in India say this 'procedure' is becoming increasingly common among younger men.

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