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Science Says Your Beard Is Nature's Sunscreen

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The beard, in summer, defends the face from the burning rays of the sun.

— Pierio Valeriano Bolzani (1477–1558), Pro sacerdotum barbis

The title of that work translates as, In Favor of the Beards of the Priests. It was written at a time when the idea was controversial, and not because Big Razor had an investment to protect. Bolzani argued that nature gave men beards, and it was unnatural to take them away. And he provided a litany of other arguments in their favor. This wasn't one of them, but here's a great example of a Renaissance beard in Bolzani's time:

Now, you might be inclined to think that Bolzani was grasping when he made the claim that beards protect your face from the sun, but it's supported by modern science.

The facial hair reduced the exposure ratios (ERs) to approximately one-third of those to the sites with no hair. The variation in the ERs over the different sites was reduced compared with the cases with no beard. The ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) provided by the facial hair ranged from 2 to 21.

That's right: depending on how long you grow it, your beard can reduce your chance of a sunburn from 50 to 95 percent. You should still wear sunblock on your exposed skin, but in addition to the money you save already by not buying into the culture of shaving, you'll save on sunscreen, too:

"Provided the beard is of reasonable thickness, I do not think there is a need to slather sunscreen over the beard due to the protection it provides," says Parisi. "However, it is necessary to use sunscreen over the parts of the face not covered by a beard."

And since your beard it helping you, it only seems right to return the favor and treat it right with the best beard products on the market.

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