What is the SPF of your beard?

Have I told you guys lately that you should be reading the Scicurious blog, especially for Weird Science Fridays? Because, seriously, you guys. You guys, seriously.

Today, Scicurious tackles "DOSIMETRIC INVESTIGATION OF THE SOLAR ERYTHEMAL UV RADIATION PROTECTION PROVIDED BY BEARDS AND MOUSTACHES", a paper published in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry. Basically, it's about whether beards protect their owners' skin from sun damage. You need to go to Scicurious' site just to see the photo of the apparatus the researchers built to study this question. Suffice to say, it involves a lot of disembodied heads, in various stages of beardedness, hanging out on what looks like an old-fashioned merry-go-round.

Bearded gentlemen will be pleased to note that the beard is, actually, an effective means of sun protection. At least for the skin it covers.

Read more at Scicurious

Image: beard: the end, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from soundfromwayout's photostream


  1. Randomly, today… after a brief moment of physical activity I grabbed a cold canned beverage from the fridge and put it to my brow, then the back of my neck, then my bearded cheek… I was amazed, nothing, not even the vague feeling of something cold next to my skin… I rubbed this can all over the bearded area of my face and felt nothing. I then understood what it meant to be an otter or a seal. BEARDS ARE FUCKING AWESOME.

  2. I’ve known this for years. I sunburn easily and even a day’s stubble will protect (some of) me from the sun. I guess it’s the shadow of the stubble as I move my face around with respect to the sun’s direction.

  3. As a bald, bearded man, I’m acutely aware that beards provide protection against UV.  Just like the hair on the top of your head, when you have some.

    The only mildly annoying flaw in Tom Hank’s Cast Away, was at the end of the movie: He shaved his beard off, and his chin and cheeks were tanned.

    He should have a short, trimmed beard – it would have signaled that he was a changed man.

  4. I think that it would depend a lot on the beard’s color. Gingers would get no more protection from the sun than they do from this cruel, cruel world.

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