Research led by Dr Barnaby Dixson of Queensland University in Australia Beard styles chin line.
'Intermediate' fuzz more likely to interest women seeking short-term flings
Fuller beard signifies a reliable partner to settle down with
Published: 00:50 GMT, 3 October 2016 | Updated: 23:06 GMT, 4 October 2016
The rise of the shaggy 'hipster' beard has long since entered the realms of cliché.
But it could be here to stay after scientists revealed that sculpted facial hair makes men more attractive to the opposite sex.
Beard styles chin line
In a finding that will horrify razor blade manufacturers, they claim having a beard emphasises the size of a man's jaw, signalling higher levels of masculinity than his clean-shaven counterparts.
It may help explain the enduring appeal of male celebrities who have taken to wearing a beard, including Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and David Beckham.
However the researchers say not all beards are equal – an 'intermediate' level of fuzz is more likely to interest women seeking a short-term relationship, while a fuller beard signifies a reliable partner to settle down and raise children with.
And they warn of the growing risk of 'peak beard' – when so many young men are sporting facial hair that only the most distinctive styles still stand out.
The findings appear in a research paper by a team of psychologists led by Dr Barnaby Dixson of Queensland University in Australia – himself a beard-wearer, according to his online staff profile.
'Beards may enhance perceived masculinity and dominance by amplifying aspects of underlying craniofacial masculinity, particularly the size of the lower face and jaw,' they conclude.
But while the effect of enhancing the jaw can appeal to women, the research concludes that this is cancelled out if a man already has a jutting chin, according to the Sunday Times.
'Attractiveness ratings were highest for bearded faces with smaller jaws followed by bearded and clean-shaven faces with larger jaws,' they found. 'They were lowest for clean-shaven faces with small jaws.'
Equally, different styles of beard make men attractive to potential mates in different ways, the researchers found, saying that 'an intermediate level of beardedness is most attractive while full-bearded men may be perceived as better fathers who could protect and invest in offspring'.
Finally, they warned of the threat of 'peak beard' when so many men don't shave that 'preferences shift to more novel or rarer facial hair types', saying the attractiveness factor is therefore 'frequency-dependent'.
Beard styles chin line
Cultural commentators have for years been predicting the beard falling out of fashion – but analysts say internet searches relating to growing a beard have continued to grow in number in 2016.