Do Beards Really Keep You Warm?

—Urban Beardsman

Your beard is capable of a lot. It can change up your style, it can help you land a date, it can even keep your face clean and help scientists create antibiotics.  But did you know your beard is actually keeping you warm as we speak?

Popular Science recently reported that our beards are natural insulators. In fact a 2012 study from China compared the mustached lips of bearded men with their hairless upper cheeks and found that the mustached upper lip was actually a full degree warmer than the hairless portion of their face.

So our fuzzy faces are keeping us nice and toasty in the coldest months of the year. That’s the good news. The bad news is that some scientists believe our beards might actually be doing too good of a job, and there is a very real (albeit very slim) chance that our face insulation could actually lead to our brains overheating. Does that sound like the plot to a terrible B-horror movie to anyone else?

Regardless, physiologist Michel Cabanac posits that the danger of a beard overheating the brain is real. But to compensate, Cabanac theorizes that evolution came up with a way to adapt: hereditary baldness. That’s right, Cabanac says that in order to help ventilate the body and release some of the stored up heat, the compromise is less hair on top.

But fear not, because the positive takeaway is that you can take your beard out into the elements and stay cozy, right? Well kind of. But not really.

In Popular Science’s article, polar adventurer Eric Larsen – who spends his days trudging through minus-50-degree weather – is quoted as saying, “I try to shave as much as possible… The benefits of having a beard are outweighed by the energy it takes to melt the ice that forms on it.”

So there you have it. Our beards keep us warm, but might destroy our brains and collect inordinate amounts of ice in the cold. Moral of the story: be careful out there, gents. Your beard is capable of more than you know.

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