Microbiologist’s tests show beards are full of fecal bacteria

WASHINGTON — Bearded men are truly having a moment in the sun.

Facial hair has become the latest and greatest fashion accessory. And we’re not just talking about stubble. The full-on lumberjack look is being embraced for young and old. No chin? No worries, a beard will take care of that. Sensitive skin? Let it grow. Some studies have even indicated that when surrounded primarily by clean-shaven men, women will gravitate toward those with facial hair.

In fact, there are sections of Pinterest and a tumblr account devoted to bearded men with babies.

But the latest beard news might have us all reaching for a razor.

It turns out the faces of our burly men are full of bacteria from fecal. We’re talking toilet levels of bacteria here.

The KOAT ABC news team in Albuquerque, New Mexico swabbed the facial hair of bearded men and had them analyzed by Quest Diagnostics microbiologist John Golobic to see what they contained.

“I’m usually not surprised and I was surprised by this,” Golobic told KOAT.

While the beards contained some normal bacteria, they also contained bacteria that typically lives on toilets. Not all of it will make people sick — but it still indicates a problem. Golobic tells KOAT that if the samples were found in a city water system, it would have to be shut down.

“There would be a degree of uncleanliness that would be somewhat disturbing,” Golobic said.

The recommendation from Golobic is scrubbing, handwashing and to keep hands away from faces.

But, if it makes you feel better, almost everything is covered with fecal bacteria. Studies in the past have shown that soda fountains, lemon wedges, holy water, tooth brushes. Indeed, The Guardian’s Nick Evershed writes that “actual proper studies” show that “bearded men shed more bacteria than clean-shaven men,” though the samples are small.

Actually. Never mind. Just wash your hands.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

© 2015 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up