LONDON (CBS Seattle) – The more beards there are, the more attractive a shaved face becomes. That’s the finding of a new study from Australia.

And the opposite appears to be true.

Scientists at the University of New South Wales  asked men and women to rate different faces with “four standard levels of beardedness:” bushy beard, trimmed beard, stubble and clean shaven.

What they found suggests that there may be an element of natural selection when it comes to men’s facial hair-styles.

When the observer was presented with a higher ration of bearded men to unbearded, they found the lack of whiskers more appealing. If there were more shaved men, the ones with beards were rated more attractive.

Study author Rob Brooks with the University of New South Wales says this could explain why men’s facial hair seems to change about every 30 years or so.

“The idea is that perhaps people start copying the George Clooneys and the Joaquin Phoenixs and start wearing those beards, but then when more and more people get onto the bandwagon the value of being on the bandwagon diminishes, so that might be why we’ve hit ‘peak beard’,” he said.

The researchers theorize that when “peak beard” is reached, the pendulum swings back to smoother chins.

And why is that? The answer could be traced back to Charles Darwin and evolutionary science.

A rare trait is perceived as a genetic advantage, and therefore makes that individual a more attractive mating partner.

“In the 1970s it was handlebar moustaches. In the 80s it was Magnum PI moustaches. In the 90s we saw a lot of clean shaven men, and now big bushy beards are back.”

Given this new theory, we could start seeing the beard trend, er, tapering off.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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