When it comes to beards, you either love them or you hide your pogonophobia (an irrational fear of beards) behind studies – such as the recent one from Switzerland’s Hirslanden Clinic – that claim facial hair carries more bacteria and germs than the fur of dogs.
The study, which initially set out to see if humans could pick up dog-borne illnesses from using an MRI scanner also used by vets, was not meant to highlight beards as unhygienic. However, when the researchers swabbed 18 bearded males and 30 dogs, they found that nearly half the sampled beards carried bugs which were hazardous to human health.
Professor Andreas Gutzeit, of Switzerland’s Hirslanden Clinic, which carried out the research said: “Researchers found a significantly higher bacterial load in specimens taken from the men’s beards compared with the dogs’ fur.”
Gutzeit told Britain’s Daily Mail that the study found that all of the bearded men, aged 18 to 76, showed high microbial counts, but only 23 out of 30 dogs had high counts. The remainder had moderate levels.
Although the latest findings are bound to leave a few whiskered males bristling with anger, this is not the first study to bash beards. In 2015, a group of microbiologists from Quest Diagnostics, in New Mexico, said that some of the bacteria they found in respondents’ beards “are the kind of things that you find in faeces”.
And yet the hipster beard brigade seems to be growing in numbers, not just in Cape Town, which is basically South Africa’s hipster assembly line, but throughout the country and the rest of the world.
The Citizen’s very own Daniel Friedman is extremely proud of his facial hair and, when he’s not furiously bashing away at his keyboard to meet deadlines, he ensures his whiskers are coifed and that every hair is in place.
“As for the thing about bacteria in beards, I wonder about these studies, because I’ve never heard of the partners of bearded men getting really sick from it. But I try to keep my beard well-groomed and not one of those nasty long, hipster ones which probably have last week’s dinner in it,” said Daniel.
Beards are ridiculously costly to maintain and are not just a case of wash and go. They are also the reason that male grooming salons have taken off the way they have and offer a complete head-to-toe cosmetic/rejuvenation experience.
Daniel, who doesn’t consider himself a metrosexual, said: “I first grew a beard before it was the standard hipster thing to do and kept it mainly because I look ridiculously young without it.”
Although he normally goes to Star Hair and Beauty Salon for all his preening needs, Daniel recently tried Rockets Man, one of the more upmarket venues, and was pleasantly surprised by the great level of attention that goes into facial hair maintenance.
“Rockets Man was great because there’s a level of attention you get which men aren’t always used to. You feel like a million bucks walking out of there. I won’t lie though; I’m going back to Rajiv at Star Salon. But if you’re single and can afford it, Rocket Man is the place.”