Several news outlets have been giddily reporting on a recent “study” that supposedly proves that men’s beards contain fecal bacteria. Calling this story news is pretty generous, but it’s gone pretty viral. So you may have seen these articles and been left wondering if your beard is, in fact, coated in human slop. If you’re showering in terror, scrubbing your face with your favorite beard shampoo in the desperate hope that you can cleanse the horror from your mane, let us put your fears to bed.
So let’s get the answer out of the way: This story is far more full of shit than your beard is.
The Guardian’s Nick Evershed looked into it, and shed a little light on the subject. Basically, a reporter in New Mexico went around and swabbed a few random dudes’ beards and sent the results off to a microbiologist to test for bacteria. The result was that he found bacteria “enterics” which are the sort found in your intestines, and thus in shit as well. While I can’t speak to the scientific credentials of this New Mexico reporter, I can say that the segment presented to the public hardly depicted a scientific study. We know so little about the conditions of this “experiment” in fact that for all we know, the random guys she tested are sewer workers.
The fact is, your skin is disgusting. It’s covered in all sorts of bacteria. And despite that, you’re probably perfectly willing to put your tongue into some of the filthier places of another person’s body (relax – that includes the mouth). In fact, an actual study showed that 1 in 6 smart phones is contaminated with fecal bacteria. That means there’s about a 17% chance that you’re talking into and Angry Bird-sing on a little pocket-sized poop box.
Your mouth is disgusting. Your hair is disgusting. Your skin is disgusting. And so is your beard.
IF YOU DON’T WASH IT
The study linked above regarding oral bacteria shows that the bacterial population goes from about 20 billion to 120 billion over the course of 24 hours. That’s why we invented a product that you can painfully swish around in your mouth for a few minutes to create your own daily bacteria massacre. We have soaps that kill the little bastards too (though mostly just washing them off is the better way to go, since anti-bacterial soaps are starting to come under fire for their tendency to ultimately make germs stronger).
Hair can trap bacteria more than bare skin, which is why some studies (again, real studies) have shown that beards do like to cling to them. But just like the hair on your head, if you put some shampoo in there, you’ll clean out the troublemakers. Using a moisturizing beard wash will help you to keep the haters at bay, as well. And washing is always a healthy move, whether the bacteria in your beard are harmful or not.
So don’t worry, my bearded brothers. Your face isn’t covered in crap. A slow news day just resulted in a bunch of news outlets giggling at the opportunity to say “poop” in an click-bait article title. And no matter how much they might have enjoyed that, it’s not enough to make it true. Beard fierce, friends!