There May Be a Good Reason For Men to Shave Their Beards Amid Coronavirus Concerns

On a good day, facial hair can spark a lot of debates. (Just look at how the internet blew up when Cole Sprouse shared his social-distancing mustache with the world.) To shave or not to shave is often a conversation, but no matter where you stand on the beard, mustache, or clean shaven debate, it's worth revisiting during the pandemic. According to two experts, a barbershop owner and a dermatologist, there might be a good reason for some men to shave their beards during the coronavirus. (Clean-shaven supporters, don't rejoice just yet.)

The reason: your face covering, which is currently recommended to be worn in public by the CDC, could be rendered less effective if you have facial hair — but it depends on the type of mask you're wearing. "Specifically for N-95 masks, which require achieving an adequate seal between the mask and the face, hair growth between the skin and the face piece will impede the sealing surface, compromising its efficacy," board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, told POPSUGAR.

So, does this mean you should go shaving your social-distancing beard immediately? Not unless you're wearing an N-95 mask to protect yourself. "If you're a healthcare worker or a frontline worker who is wearing an N-95 mask, I would recommend shaving your beard to ensure that the mask is as effective as possible," Dr. Engelman said. "But most hospitals and healthcare offices have policies in place regarding facial hair already."

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For the rest of the population wearing non-N-95 face coverings, you should have no problem keeping your beard. "For surgical and fabric masks, as long as you are appropriately covering your mouth and nose, a beard and other facial hair won't impact the level of protection," Dr. Engelman. "While we know COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets (mainly from the cough or sneeze of an infected person), beards could hypothetically house and transfer the virus, but there is no scientific evidence to data to suggest this is the case."

The best way to keep your beard and keep yourself healthy: maintain social-distance around others and practice good hygiene — specifically for your facial hair during this time (but also always).

"With everything going on in the world and as many of us unable to see our barbers, now is a perfect time to develop better beard hygiene habits," said expert groomer and barbershop owner Robert Jan-Rietveld. To do so, he recommended cleansing your facial hair daily with a shampoo that you know won't irritate your skin and following up with a conditioner to keep the hair well-moisturized.

While he's all for keeping your social-distancing beard, he stated that there may come a time when you need an at-home trim. "If your beard is causing your mask to be uncomfortable while you wear it or if you're unable to position your mask so it's covering both your mouth and nose, it's time to break out the clippers," said Jan-Rietveld. "Of course, your barber knows best. When it's safe and allowed, make sure to get back in your barber's chair for professional maintenance."

POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.