man with a dirty beard with flowers on it

If you have been paying any attention to the mainstream media for the last few days, you must have noticed many news sources coming up with bold headlines about beard bacteria and hygiene.

Here are a few recent examples:

  • “Men with beards carry more germs than DOGS with deadly bacteria in their facial hair, study reveals” by the Daily Mail.
  • Or the “Men’s beards carry more harmful germs than dog fur: study” by the always so Pogonophobia-ridden New York Post.

Seasoned beardsmen know that this is not the first, nor the last time that our beards are under attack, as this exact beard hygiene topic was on full blast four years ago when the media tried to scare us with the beard poop articles.

Wait, there’s really poop in my facial hair?

Yes, that’s how the sensationalist media tries to portray it. In 2015 it was all the rage to claim that there’s fecal matter, aka. poo in most men’s beards.

With ridiculously over-the-top titles like that, it’s no wonder why many see facial hair as unhygienic and dirty. However, the reality is often completely different from what the headlines try to portray.

Now, let us uncover the real truth behind how clean our beards are and dismantle these news pieces. ⇓

Is there Really Fecal Matter in my Facial Hair?

beard vs toilet seat

No. The “beards are as dirty as toilet seats” news was taken completely out of context.

To dismantle the beard poo claims, all we have to do is to look at the original source of the news which many like to label as a “shocking study”.

Turns out it was never a scientific study at all. Instead, a bunch of Australian reporters went around in the streets and swabbed random guys beards with a cotton swab. They then swabbed some toilet seats for comparison and sent the swabs to a lab.

In other words, this wasn’t a study done by researchers in a controlled environment. This was a TV-news station trying to come up with a story.

Lo-and-behold, the lab results showed that men’s beards contained similar bacteria as toilet seats do. When taken out of context, you can spin this to look like there’s poop in all of our beards.

In reality, these are some of the most common enterobacteria that can be found practically EVERYWHERE. 

And while they are similar bacteria that can be found in poo, it doesn’t mean that there would be fecal matter in your beard. If we draw similar conclusions, we could say that everything is as dirty as a toilet seat, since these same bacteria can be found in our phones, hair, eyebrows, clothes, furniture, and so on…

Bottom line: The “shocking study” was really a viral news story scrambled together by a TV-news crew without any real data or control, they didn’t even specify the number of subjects, the report just says “handful”. They never found poop in any beard samples, just the same bacteria that can be found practically anywhere.

Do Beards Have More Bacteria than Dog Fur?

bearded man and a dog

Now onto the more recent news saying that beards are dirtier than dogs.

Instead of being a haphazard news crew piece, this one was actually a scientific study conducted by professionals.

They used an MRI scanner on 18 bearded faces, and then the similar device to the fur of 30 different dog breeds comparing the bacteria.

They found out that there was indeed more bacteria on the beards than on dog furs. And you can’t argue with that.

Scary right? Should we all shave our faces now?

Well, not so fast. Another study actually found that clean-shaven health workers had similar amounts of bacteria on their faces than their bearded peers. So shaving it all off wouldn’t change a thing.

Bottom line: There are bacteria everywhere. In beards, in toilet seats, in dogs, and in clean-shaven faces. Finding similar types of bacteria in the facial hair and dog hair doesn’t prove that the beard would be dirtier, it only proves that bacteria is EVERYWHERE.

How to Keep Your Beard Clean

cleaning beard

Even though there is no fecal matter in your facial hair and your beard isn’t as dirty as a dogs fur, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean it occasionally.

After all, a clean well-moisturized beard not only feels good, it looks great and smells great as well.

Here are some practical tips to a clean beard:

Conclusion on How Clean are Men’s Beards

“But doesn’t the above at least prove that beards are dirty?”

Sure a beard can be dirty, but it can also be clean. In fact, one study showed that the faces of bearded health workers had similar amounts of bacteria than the faces of their clean-shaven co-workers.

Yes, that’s right. Clean-shaven men had just as much bacteria on their faces as did bearded men but for some reason, the papers don’t like to report such news at all.

What is it with the obvious beard-hate coming from these news outlets? One can only guess, but my bet would be on either pogonophobia (fear of beards) or beard envy.

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Ali Kuoppala is the founder of Beard Resource. He has authored and co-authored multiple men's health books and focuses on uncovering the methods of optimizing hormonal health & beard growth. To date, his articles on various websites have been read more than 15-million times.

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