The Psychology of Styling

The Psychology of Styling

What does your facial hair really say about you? We ask the experts to reveal the secret messages that beards send out.

You like the way it looks. For most men, that’s all you need to know. But everything about your appearance is sending out secret messages, and beards of every description are part of that coded message.

Part one: Light stubble

Grooming your facial hair into a controlled, stubbly look says a lot about who you are. In fact, it’s been found that light stubble is the most desirable look to women.

Psychologist Dr Nick Neave asked a large group of young women to rate different types of facial hair for masculinity, aggression, dominance, attractiveness, age and social maturity. The results showed stubble to be the ideal look for finding a partner.

While full beards were connected with dominance, maturity and aggression, clean-shaven men were associated with sexual immaturity. The stubbly look came right in the middle – not too dominant, but still mature enough to be masculine.

"In desirability for a short-term relationship, a female preference for male faces with stubble or light beard was found, with clean-shaven and fully bearded faces being the least preferred,” says Neave.

“It seems women are not selecting faces displaying relatively high or low masculinity, but prefer males who are clearly mature - but not too masculinised.

“The same pattern was found for preferences for a long-term relationship."

For men who feel their faces are too young looking, or want to accent their jawline to underline manliness, then stubble is the way to go.

A light beard would work just as well, especially if it’s well groomed to emphasize a lightness of personality.

So, leave the grizzly look to the bears – unless you’re hoping to stay single for a while.

Psychology of Styling 02: The Full Beard

What does your facial hair really say about you? We ask the experts to reveal the secret messages that beards send out

Your beard is a secret code that’s being unconsciously read by everyone who sees you. Unlock its mystery and master it for your benefit.

For men, growing and styling a full beard is a big deal. Aside from the envious wisecracks from compadres, and the arched brows of parents as your rebellious fuzz blooms into being, you get the feeling that you’re really saying something.
But what, exactly, is that?

Well, it’s not just that you like to keep your cheeks warm. In fact, others see men with full beards as being dominant, courageous, and non-conformist. In other words, you’re as cool as can be.

These were the exact findings from a landmark psychological study by Robert J Pellegrini back in 1972, and they still hold true today. The experiment, dubbed ‘To Beard or Not to Beard’, took eight young guys with full beards, and photographed each of them as they were progressively shorn.

Each guy ended up with a selection of shots of themselves wearing full beards, a goatee, a mustache, and finally, clean shaven. When men and women volunteers were asked to rate the personality of each photo, they all rated the beardiest guys as being the strongest in certain traits.

Rebellious. Uncompromising. The guy in charge. That’s what your full beard tells people, without the need for words. You’re a tough guy, after all. Who needs to talk?