What your facial hair says about you

Study: What you can tell about a person by their facial hair

Peter Harris|

What does your facial hair say about you? Well for one thing if you’re sporting a goatee, it could be a strong indicator that you’re Canadian. Apparently guys in this country are so fond of the chin beard that Canada has the most goatee-sporting men per capita in the world.

Or, unfortunately, your goatee could also indicate that you’re evil. Or at least make you look evil. Science has recently proven that wearing a goatee makes a person appear to be evil. (I love science.)

The experts at Remington (who I guess know beards about as well as anyone) have conducted a survey demonstrating what you can learn about a person’s personality and career based on their facial hair.

The survey doesn’t mention anything about beards that are worn for cultural or religious reasons, so let’s assume we’re talking about facial hair that’s grown merely as a fashion choice.

Who goes clean-shaven?

Remington found that wordsmiths, such as authors, editors, and journalists are surprisingly well-groomed, with 80% opting to be clean shaven.

The more senior position you hold the less facial hair you should sport. The vast majority of CEOs, millionaires and billionaires are clean-shaven. There seems to be a correlation between moving higher up in corporate seniority and having less facial hair. (How many CEOs do you know with handle bar moustaches?)

Einstein with his famous moustache was a bit of a facial hair anomaly. It turns out that 63% of men with the highest IQs choose to go clean-shaven. Most academics are similarly groomed. Said Remington, “Big brains do not equal big beards.”

Who wears a beard?

According to Remington, top entrepreneurs are three times as likely to grow stubble as their more cooperate counter parts, and they are twice as likely to grow a beard.

Similarly, men who work in the Internet and technology fields are more likely to forego shaving regularly and sport a stubbly look. (Looking around the office, I can attest to this.)

Famous actors also like to experiment with facial hair. 80% of the top grossing actors of the past year either have been regularly photographed with a beard or stubble. Athletes follow suit, rarely shaving and most often appearing with some amount of facial hair.

And as for the rest of us, those folks that Remington refers to as ‘the everyman?’ Skilled labourers and office workers can go either way. The study found that just over half of us choose to shave every day.

Should you sport stubble on the job hunt?

I’ve heard hiring managers complain about young men turning up for interviews with several days’ worth of stubble on their faces. For some people this is simply fashion, it’s rugged and manly. Other people, however, see it as sloppy and a lack of proper grooming. For a job interview, to be safe, I’d advise going one way or the other – grow out a (well-groomed) beard or be clean shaven. You can revert to the stubble look once you’re on the job and have sussed out the culture of the workplace.

People like beards

Interestingly, a more formal academic study than the one conducted by Remington found that most people actually have a bias towards men with facial hair. For this exercise, participants were shown sketches of six male job candidates. The drawings portrayed men who were clean shaven, moustached, and bearded. The participants were asked to evaluate the men in the sketches based on their first impressions. The results consistently showed more positive estimations of “social/physical attractiveness, personality, competency, and composure” for the men who wore facial hair.

Why I shave every day

I used to have a soul patch, but I shaved it off for work. No one at Workopolis said, “Peter, lose the facial hair.” This is a very liberal company employing folks of all styles and degrees of grooming. It’s just that I saw myself on the TV news one time offering insights into the ongoing dilemma of youth unemployment in this country, and it didn’t seem to fit with having hipster facial hair. It seemed important to me to remove stylistic affectations and present my most clean cut, serious self while trying to inform and advise on serious issues. Anything else seemed inappropriate. But that’s just me.

How about you? Have you changed your facial hair for work or judged someone by their beard? Please share your stories with us.

(And while we’re judging based on superficial appearances, see also: It’s true: You really can accurately judge a person by their shoes)

- Peter Harris

- Peter Harris on Twitter


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  • Bryan Fraser

    The masculine-limited subject of this article highlights the absurdity of journalists applying gender-neutral grammar in every situation. Couldn’t we expect to read just this once…
    “Study: What you can tell about a man by his facial hair”

  • Mike Avelar

    The beard stays.

  • Leon Lezac

    facial hair is not sexy; but when talking about job environment, mustache or beard make look older and/or mature to anyone. It’s a sign of seniority. With the new trends, clean shave is accepted, since the idea of using mustache, beard, goatee or a badass beard makes people think you are dirty and don’t care how you show off to the society