It's crazy times we are living in, and everyone has to stay safe, but do you have to shave your beard? Read on and find out what we think! Also, we would like to give a shout out to Feedspot.com for naming The Beardian as one of the Top 20 Beard Blogs on the internet. You can find ours and the other top beard blogs at https://blog.feedspot.com/beard_blog/ We appreciate your continued support and welcome you to comment on all of our blog posts.
To Shave or Not To Shave
There is so much information (and misinformation) out in the world about beards and hygiene. Given the fact that we are collectively facing a Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic right now, the question is often asked "should I shave my beard right now or not?" The idea being that beards are believed to be able to hold tons of bacteria and microbes, thereby being much less safe during these crazy times. But, is the concept of a dirty beard a sound one? Let's explore that idea.
First of all, a recent study (Eur Radiol. 2019 Feb;29(2):527-534. doi: 10.1007/s00330-018-5648-z. Epub 2018 Jul 30) men's beards were found to harbor a higher bacterial load. The study also found that human pathogenic microorganisms were higher in men's beards than in dog fur. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30062526)
So what does this mean for the bearded brethren? Should you be headed to grab the clippers and start an Edward Scissorhands makeover of your beard? Not so fast. Just because a study showed that beards can harbor lots of bad actors, there are other areas in the human microbiata including the forearm and even behind your ear that hold them as well. And guess what, even your good 'ol belly button can be a bacterial wonderland. Nasty huh? (https://globalnews.ca/news/3205025/this-is-the-one-part-of-your-body-with-the-most-bacteria-buildup-according-to-experts/)
The reality is that there are many varieties of microbes all over (and within) our bodies. Data seems to suggest that beards do in fact help a face hang on to more bacteria than a non-bearded version of the same face, however, having bacteria in your beard may not be any more harmful than having bacteria on your forearm (or in your belly button.) Why? Well the bacteria or virus has to actually "enter" your body to do it's harm in most cases. In the case of the Coronavirus, it seems that the majority of infection occurs when respiratory droplets become aerosolized and gain access to the mucosal membranes of another person.
These days we all see people wearing different forms of face coverings and masks to protect themselves and others from becoming infected, but do you ever wonder if you are at higher risk for infection because you have a beard? Let's face it, the common occupational mask, the medical mask and most homemade masks simply don't cover a beard. Even if they did, many virilli are so microscopic that they could pass through most of the materials used for face coverings these days.
Men's beards were found to harbor a higher bacterial load. The study also found that human pathogenic microorganisms were higher in men's beards than in dog fur.
So what's the use? Beards hold lots of microbes, common face coverings don't cover most beards and the virus is so small that it can pass through the material anyways. Right. But, here's the deal: the virus has to make it FROM its source (usually an infected person) TO your mucosal membranes. A very common means of transferring a virus or bacteria into your system is by touching your nose or eyes.
So here's the guidelines for staying safe through the Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis with a beard:
- Practice social distancing
- Keep your hands clean
- Keep your beard covered in public -both to reduce the number of airborne microbes from landing on it AND to keep you from putting them there with your own hands after touching a microbe laden surface
- Avoid touching your beard
- Wash your beard daily with a great beard wash
But what about the fact that most masks don't cover beards? In many instances large face coverings can be purchased or made that actually will cover a beard. These vary in design and materials and include t-shirt material cut to fit, bandannas and gaiters.
We prefer our Tactical Beard Gaiters for several reasons; first, they can cover most beards and serve as a reminder to keep your hands off your glorious beard. Second, they are some of the only designs out there that actually feature various versions of beards on them making it possible to maintain that "bearded" look even when wearing a face cover.
Of course, maintaining a safe distance from other people when in public is essential as well as keeping your hands clean by hand washing and using hand sanitizer as appropriate.
As far as keeping your beard clean, we highly recommend our Aloe & Hemp Tactical Beard Wash. Using it daily will help clean your beard and create a better environment for a healthy beard at the same time.
Should you shave your beard during the Coronavirus crisis? We don't think so, but we do think you should be very responsible just as you should with every other aspect of your life during this critical time. Be smart, be safe and beard on!
Former police officer, writer and owner of Tactical Beards. Lyons offers insights, tips, tricks and wisdom regarding one of man's most coveted items: the beard.