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Editor's note: This guest post is brought to you by Aron James at Stubble Patrol, an exciting new site on male grooming. Aron loves to write about his personal experiences & give grooming tips to dudes around the world so go check him out.

Growing a beard is often considered to be a choice in fashion.  Undoubtedly, the change from a clean shaven face to a full, grizzly scruff will transform your image and allow you to project a whole new personality and character.  People will sense an assertiveness that your beard speaks to and a whole new world of fashion opportunities will grow from the options presented during your morning shaving routine.

Growing a beard, however, isn't only about fashion or image, but also comes with a whole host of health benefits.  Now most people incorrectly assume that beards are unhygienic.  We may hold on to that image of our great uncle whose grizzly, gnarled beard always held remnants of last week's meals and may have even housed a few small critters.

Today's modern bearded man, however, is a far cry from the rugged explorers and frontiersmen whose beards were probably a focal point of infection and disease. With proper grooming and hygiene, beards aren't only safe from a health perspective, they also offer a number of advantages to your long term health.

Beards to Help Fight Off Infection

In today's antibiotic crazy world, we continually hear about the dangers of drug resistant bacteria floating around.  The beaches of Rio de Janeiro which will be hosting some of the upcoming Olympic rowing competitions were recently found to be buzzing with antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Many doctors recommend that we begin looking for new ways to fight off infections without depending on antibiotics.  One of the best ways to do this is through harboring beneficial bacteria.  The health food shelf at your local grocery store is probably filled with pro-biotic yogurts and yeasts that help strengthen your stomach's natural bacteria to fight off potential pathogens.

New evidence has shown that beards are also a great place to cultivate beneficial bacteria.  There is no need to get grossed out about the idea of having bacteria crawling around your beard because those invisible critters are literally swimming all around you. The trick is to get the right kind of bacteria.

One recent study found that bearded men who maintained a hygienic grooming and washing routine had high amounts of staphylococcus epidermidis, which is a highly beneficial bacterium that can even kill off drug resistant form of E. coli.   So if you're worried about catching an infection while eating out at a restaurant, all you may need is a heavy coat of facial hair to keep you protected.

Beards Protect Your Skin

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but the skin benefits of wearing a beard are multiple.  First and foremost, having a beard can help protect your face from harmful UV rays.  The diagnosis of cases of skin cancer is skyrocketing, and there's no better way to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays than by covering it with a coat of heavy hair.  Just as bald guy shouldn't go out in the sun without a hat on, fair skinned men should seriously think about sporting a beard, especially during the months of summer when the sun's UV rays are most damaging.

Furthermore, a beard can also slow the process of aging.  Since the sun's rays are one of the leading causes of wrinkles, your beard will keep you looking young for the long run.  Also, a beard will help you avoid ingrown hairs.  There's nothing worse than seeing a face full of red bumps after your morning shaves.  Ingrown facial hairs can be painful, but they also constitute a potential infection site.  These open wounds on your face can easily lead to infections especially if you're exposed to harmful pathogens during the day.

Lastly, beards also can help to keep your face moisturized.  According to an article in BBC magazine, “beards are natural facilitators of moisture, retaining the natural oils the skin produces. The beard acts as a barrier from forces like the wind and the texture of a towel post-wash, keeping the oils around the chin and cheeks feeling super smooth.”

Beards Help Prevent Allergies

For those of us who deal with allergies and asthma, sporting a beard can actually help to reduce and prevent the symptoms related to allergies and asthma.  Just as the hair in our nostrils trap dust and dirt, beards, especially thicker ones, trap dust, pollen and other allergens before they make it to our nose or mouth. A full face of hair during spring time may help you avoid the constant sneezing and runny nose that are so common for many allergy prone people.

If you're thinking about growing a beard, don’t only consider the benefits to your image, but think also about how your beard can help you keep you healthy in the long run.

Other articles that might interest you:

1.  How to Deal with Bad Beard Days

2.  Beards & the Sun

3.  How to Straighten your Beard

4.  The Importance of Trimming your Beard

5.  Tips for Patchy Beards

6.  How to Deal with Beard Itch

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