Stylish man wearing a beard at Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy, before COVID-19.

Men’s beard in Covid-19 times: fuzz and masks? To beard or not to beard.

13. August 2020

Facial hair aficionados are facing a terrible dilemma due to Coronavirus; to shave or not to shave, this is the question. We’ve been hearing a lot about men’s beard in Covid-19 times. But so much information and different opinions can be quite overwhelming. Are your beard or moustache putting you at risk? Can you wear face masks having facial hair? Are some facial hairstyles better than others in the pandemic? Don’t fret and keep reading, we have all the answers for you.

Facial hair and surgical face masks

We all know by now that respiratory droplets transmit coronavirus. So to avoid the disease to keep spreading, we should all wear masks when social distancing is not possible. 

Medical masks, called N-95s, must be worn by health care providers. And also by people taking care or living with someone infected with Coronavirus. But facial hair can make face masks useless. According to the CDC, some beard styles prevent surgical masks to form the necessary impenetrable seal that protects against the virus. The ideal would then be that you shave. But, as you’ll see below, some types of men’s beard are Ok during Covid-19 because they stay under the mask. Just make sure your facial hair doesn’t cross the face masks seal. 

Graphic with different styles of facial hair and face masks.
Image courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Beard and face mask: the new bikini without waxing?

Depending on the length and fullness of men’s beard, wearing cloth masks during the COVID-19 pandemic should be fine. Do make sure the face mask covers properly nose and mouth. But of course, if there’s too much facial hair coming out of the mask, you will start getting side looks from people on the bus. If the person you sat next to moves to another seat, this may be the time to trim your quarantine beard.  

Men’s beards and bacteria

A study revealed that men’s beard carries more bacteria than dog’s fur; not exactly good news in these Covid-19 times. And when you are sick, the beard you’ve been grooming lovingly for so long carries your germs and becomes a risk to others. 

Men's beard seen on two stylish fashion show goers during Pitti Uomo in Italy.
Stylish beards at Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy.

Can your beard put you at risk?

Respiratory droplets from someone who has Covid-19 can land on men’s beard or moustache. If that happens, it is very likely that they will end up in their noses or mouths, infecting them. Additionally, men usually touch their facial hair very often. So if your beard is carrying a sick person’s droplets, even after you wash your hands vigorously and use the best hand-disinfectant arriving home, for example, once you or you loved ones touch your beard, the virus will spread everywhere.

Must you shave?

Most health workers are shaving. There’s even a movement among caregivers to encourage other bearded colleagues to do the same. They post before and after pictures on social media using the hashtag #ShaveAgainstCOVID.

But there is good news for those who do not have to wear N-95s face masks. „Having a beard per se doesn’t make you more or less vulnerable to the coronavirus,“ said an infectious disease doctor at Johns Hopkins University. In other words, men’s beard does not need to disappear during Covid-19. As long as you are really meticulous about the hygiene of your facial hair. Wash your beard every day, trim it regularly and keep it well-groomed. Not only it is more hygienic, but also, you don’t want to look sloppy. Or worse, like a member of ZZ Top, do you?

Photo via Shutterstock

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