Beards are not only fashionable among Seattle’s hip young men, they also promote skin health. A recent study says that a beard can block a significant percentage of the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Australia has a very high skin cancer rate. Researchers there at the University of Queensland wanted to know how much sun protection a man’s facial hair could provide. They placed mannequin heads in the sun, which were equipped with devices that measured the UV radiation.

One mannequin had an impressive wizard-like beard, another had a relatively short beard and the other was cleanly shaven. Hourly measurements were taken for an entire year as the mannequins rotated outside in the sun.

The data collected showed that facial hair did in fact offer protection, which varied depending on the beard’s thickness and length.

Maybe you’re ready to do away with shaving at this point, but don’t skip the sunblock each morning. “Protection from UVR is provided by facial hair” according to the authors, “however, it is not very high, particularly at the higher SZA (solar zenith angle).”

Are you a bearded man? If so, do you think your beard offers sun protection? Leave a comment or email us so we can add to this story.

Photo: A bearded man enjoys the waves in Sydney Australia, by istolethetv.