Hipsters, take note: A new, small study out of Switzerland has found that men’s beards carry more germs than dog fur.
And not the friendly microbes that keep your skin healthy.
Scientists sampled the hair of 18 men and 30 dogs of various breeds and discovered that they all had a “significantly higher bacterial load” compared to pooches. Seven of the men carried pathogenic strains that are considered dangerous to human health.
The study was meant to determine whether vets and doctors could use the same MRI machines on pets and people, without risk of contamination. But it turns out, pets were the cleaner ones.
Does this mean all dudes should be clean-shaven? Not necessarily. Another study from 2014 analyzed the skin of 408 male hospital workers to determine whether they harbored contagious, disease-causing bacteria. Their findings? Clean-shaven men were three times more likely to carry MRSA – antibiotic-resistant bacteria — and 10 percent more likely to host staphylococcus aureus, which can cause food poisoning, along with skin and respiratory infections, on their faces.
Your beard may also carry good bacteria that keeps your skin healthy. On the BBC show “Trust Me I’m a Doctor,” a microbiologist was able to grow over 100 different bacteria from swabs taken from beards, including microbes typically found in the gut.
What to do: Keep your skin biome healthy
Facial hair or not, what’s the best way to keep infectious pathogens at bay? Maintain a healthy skin biome. Just like your gut, your skin is home to thousands of bacteria – some good and some not-so-good.
Here’s how to clean your beard and keep your skin biome healthy, allowing the good guys to thrive and the bad guys to take a backseat.
– Use a natural cleanser: Mother Dirt shampoo, wash, or spray contains a type of bacteria called AOB that keeps your skin’s ecosystem in balance. Or use a gentle natural cleanser like Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash that won’t go nuclear on the good guys.
– Rub your beard with MCT oil: Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is a type of saturated fatty acid loaded with all kinds of benefits, including being antimicrobial and antifungal. Try Brain Octane oil, which is derived from 100% coconut oil and free of any unnecessary chemicals. Put a couple of drops of Brain Octane oil into your palm, rub your hands together, and smooth onto your beard.
– Fix your gut: The state of your gut affects just about everything, including your skin. Focus on a variety of nourishing, anti-inflammatory foods for a thriving gut microbiome, and quit sugar. Discover more ways to heal your gut here.
Read next: Top Anti-Aging Biohacks for Better Skin