Beards may help men get respect from other males but those wanting to attract the ladies need to shave it off.

That's the finding of a study, which showed women find clean-shaven men significantly more attractive than those sporting the more natural, hairier look.

Researchers from New Zealand and Canada found women thought beards made men seem older and more aggressive, the journal Behavioral Ecology reported.

The results found facial hair tended to signal masculinity and bearded men commanded respect, especially from other men, but it did little to attract women.


Hollywood stars Jack Black, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio have all had varying forms of facial hair during their careers from stubble to full beards.

Along with his rugby talent, former All Black Carl Hayman is also known for his considerable facial hair.

In the study, pictures of 19 men from New Zealand and Samoa making normal, and angry faces with and without beards were shown to more than 200 women, who were asked to rate them for attractiveness.

Women from both cultures found the cleanly-shaven men significantly more attractive.

The researchers from Canada and New Zealand also showed the pictures to other men, who said the beards gave the men the appearance of a higher social status.

Women may be out of luck however, with many people saying facial hair is more popular than ever.

Head booker for 62 Models Andrea Plowright said she had noticed an increasing demand in the past year for male models with beards, and she believed celebrities and a return to the 80s look sported by Tom Selleck in Magnum PI and George Michael were behind the fashion.

"We get a clients who ask for bearded men or at least stubble but there's definitely a trend for bearded men at the moment. I think it's bands like Kings of Leon that have made it popular," she said.

The company asked all of its models to be clean-shaven so potential clients could see a "blank canvas" before booking someone for a job, but many then requested they grow facial hair for a shoot, she said.

Manager and tutor at Auckland's Mr Barber, Leigh Topham, who has long sideburns and a goatee, agreed there was an emerging return to facial hair.

"There's lots of young guys going back to designer beards. It was clean-shaven in the 80s, goatees started to come back in the 90s and in the early 2000s it was the five o'clock shadow.

"It's following music trends, when you look at the likes of Preacher's Sons or Kings of Leon."

He believed women might dislike the trend because short facial hair could be rough and hurt their skin, and he agreed it tended to make men look older.

Past research suggests light stubble got the highest ratings from women, The Daily Mail reported.