Gentlemen, put down the razors. Put them down and back away. For once, there is good news about facial hair.
A study in the May edition of the journal Evolution & Human Behavior finds that, among a test group of 351 women and 177 heterosexual men shown a series of photos of guys at four stages of bearding -- clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble and fully-beaded -- images showing heavy stubble were perceived to be the most attractive.
That's not the only good news for facial hair aficionados in this study, either.
Researchers at the University of New South Wales also looked at factors that could impact perception, like fertility and the use of hormonal birth control, and found found that women perceive facial hair to be most attractive during the most fertile days of their menstrual cycle.
It's not all bad news for the clean-shaven, however. Dudes with no facial hair at all generally rated on par with fully bearded men, researchers noted.
However, the more masculine-looking mane still has an advantage, they found. Fully-bearded men "may be perceived as better fathers who could protect and invest in offspring," researchers wrote.
Although the public stigma of whiskers remains -- famously headlined by The New York Times as, "Got a Beard? Don't Bother to Run" -- at least the bristly have this much to console them: No matter how you look at this study's results, for once it's advantage, beard.
The folks at the recently-announced Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsible Democracy PAC (BEARD PAC) are sure to be thrilled.