The Health Benefits of Moustaches

Protection from cancer, lavish sexual prosperity, and engendering trust in one's fellow man -- "Let the young man, therefore, never become a slave to the false and pernicious fashion which compels him to shave off the beard."

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If you listen, facial hair says a lot: Where someone's going, where they've been, what they ate. Do they maybe have something to hide, or are they perhaps lazy? Why don't you want me to see your face? Why won't you open yourself to me? Am I not good enough for you? Take me!

Sure, you can get scabies nesting in your moustache. There's no reason to dance around the scabies nesting issue. But we also have substantial evidence in favor of moustaches and beards.

If you or someone you know has been struggling to justify their facial hair choices, enduring coercive objections from friends, family, clergy; consider the following benefits to bolster the pro-stache position.

1. Decrease risk of cancer 

Covering one's face with a beard or moustache decreases effective ultraviolet radiation to the underlying skin, which lowers the risk of skin cancer. Depending on the angle of the sun (or whatever other radiation source you may be dealing with -- do you sleep with radon under your pillow? Face-down?) and depending on the length of the hair, the average moustache reduces exposure ratios to one-third.

Also, Movember implements moustaches in November as a means of emblematically raising awareness for prostate and testicular cancer.

2. Foster trust 

According to the Journal of Marketing Communications, men with beards in commercials elicited more trust in the product they were endorsing than did men without. Being genuinely trusted -- and allowing yourself to trust -- are the backbone of healthy relationships.

Of note, the beards in that study were all medium-length and nicely maintained. They were not the sort that warrant incessant scratching, which can quickly undermine one's trustworthiness. Nor were they braided, waxed, smelly, French-forked, ducktailed, chin-curtained, Worfed, or Super Mario-ed.

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3. Increase attractiveness 

Facial symmetry has been repeatedly demonstrated as one of the primary criteria in human aesthetic attractiveness. It's ingrained in our instincts to be drawn to symmetric faces because, evolutionarily, facial symmetry was indicative of health. Beards and moustaches are a widely used method of disguising subtle facial asymmetry, thus increasing attractiveness. 

Prominent jawlines and chins are also proven to increase a man's attractivenss. Short of jaw and chin implants, facial hair can be used to create the overall appearance of a more prominent, squared jaw. Attractive people are, on the whole, more confident and earn more money, which buys them access to health care.

There's even Have Sex With a Guy With a Moustache Day, a correlate of Movember. The benefits of a healthy sex life (which, in most cases, is enhanced by increasing one's attractiveness), are numerous.

4. Decrease risk of cutting face, untimely death 

The less you shave, the less you cut your face. Without proper antibiotics, a shaving knick that becomes infected can easily kill a person. You can get septic and pass away in short order. Henry David Thoreau's brother John died that way, as did Lord Carnarvon, shortly after discovering the burial chamber of Tutankhamen in 1922.

5. Earn tax refunds 

A movement is afoot that - if adopted by Congress - would provide up to $250.00 in tax refunds for moustached Americans. They could then apply that money towards a gym membership or vital medication. You can sign the STACHE Act here.

6. Protect vocal apparatus / Appease vengeful God 

According to a poorly-contextualized but nonetheless provocative argument from someone calling him/herself Dr. Ruddock:

The beard and the moustache should be permitted to grow as they afford an excellent protection to the delicate organs of the voice of those in whom it is subjected to undue or irregular exercise. After a public address, the tissues in the vicinity of the throat become relaxed and on leaving the place of assembly and entering the open air, inflammatory action commences, and if repeated, chronic affections of the throat and bronchial tubes are often induced; but the unshorn natural respirator, which our Maker intended to be one of the distinguishing features of the male seed, effectively protects these important parts.

The hair planted on the human face by the wisdom and goodness of our Creator, has its uses, and we may add, its beauties. Let the young man, therefore, never become a slave to the false and pernicious fashion which compels him to shave off the beard, as it is found contributory to the health, if not the personal improvement, of those who wear it.

7. Eliminate boring conversations 

Presented by

James Hamblin, MD, is a senior editor at The Atlantic. He writes the health column for the monthly magazine and hosts the video series If Our Bodies Could Talk.

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