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Western culture may have reached the saturation point for beards. The University of New South Wales conducted research that found as more men adopt beards, beards become less attractive, and vice versa. As more men go clean-shaven, baby-soft skin becomes less attractive.
According to The Guardian, 1,453 bisexual or heterosexual women and 213 heterosexual men were shown 36 images of men's faces. The first 24 pictures were intended to "condition the subjects by showing them exclusively bearded or non-bearded men, or a mixture of the two." The final 12 were either clean-shaven or bearded men exclusively. Attractiveness was rated on scale of minus four to four.
In short, the participants strongly preferred the last 12 men, regardless of the beard or no beard thing. Researchers called it "negative frequency-dependent sexual selection," or "how trends work." Or even "how original style gets you laid." The moral of the story here is, as always, don't be a basic bitch.
Robert Brooks, one of the researchers, put the real-world application perfectly to The Gaurdian:
There is a lot of faddishness with beards, they are on the way back and it's interesting to look at that interaction with culture. It appears that beards gain an advantage when rare, but when they are in fashion and common, they are declared trendy and that attractiveness is over.
The bigger the trend gets, the weaker the preference for beards and the tide will go out again. We may well be at peak beard. Obviously, you will see more beards in Surry Hills than in Bondi, but I think we are near saturation point. This thing can't get much bigger.
Men, here's a wonderfully weird Harry's lookbook for inspiration.
· Fashion-Conscious Men Warned We May Have Reached 'Peak Beard' [The Guardian]