Are Moustaches Sexy? - Science Everywhere Inc.
Movember Foundation encourages thousands of men to grow moustaches. Are these "lady-ticklers" scientifically sexy, or just a funny way to raise money?
Moustache, Movember
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Are Moustaches Sexy?

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Every November since 2004, the Movember Foundation has encouraged men around the world to grow a moustache for a month. The foundation has raised over 600 million dollars to combat men’s health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and suicide. It plans to halve the number of men dying too young from these issues by 2030. All fueled by the power of the moustache. Or “mustache”, if you’re American.

tom_selleck
 Or “chick magnet”, if you’re Tom Selleck

Tom Selleck up there raises a good point. His famous lady-tickler aside, are moustaches sexy? That’s obviously a subjective question, with no right or wrong answer, because everyone is different and has their own preferences. That previous sentence is all garbage of course. There is a clear, empirical answer to that question, and today, we’re going to answer it with science.

einstein
Moustache science is the best science

To figure out if moustaches are sexy, we must first understand why they might be. Facial hair in general has long been associated with male virility, or men’s sexual capacity. Facial hair growth is driven by testosterone, which also drives masculine traits like deep voices, strong jaws, and large, manly muscles. Women who are into that also dig facial hair.

santa
The epitome of sexy masculinity

There’s a downside of having high testosterone, though, because it makes men more likely to exhibit tendencies towards aggressive alpha-male douchebaggery. Aside from that, the same testosterone that leads to a thick beard also leads to baldness. So the same hormone that yields a fine harvest of hair on the face causes a horrible drought on the head.  Can’t have it all, I guess.

bruce_willis
Bruce Willis, before and after the great southward hair migration

A couple of recent papers have demonstrated that most western women have a preference for at least some degree of facial hair. But those papers studied full beards, not just the moustache. While face fur in general might be hot, does the lip warmer warm the blood? Does the crumb catcher catch the kisses?

dali
Does the Dali duster delight the damsels?

Pointless alliteration notwithstanding, there is some research on that, too. This paper looked at British men’s facial hair styles from 1842-1971. They found that moustaches were more popular during eras when the number of “marriageable” men was highest. The idea here is that when there’s a lot of guys around, men unleash the ‘stache to show just how fertile they are.

bearded_ladies
Accordingly, periods with many marriageable women saw a drastic spike in bearded ladies

Conversely, when there weren’t many dudes to steal their best gals, men were more likely to be clean-shaven. The idea being that clean-shaven men look more trustworthy and less threatening and don’t need a bitchin’ face broom to outcompete other, lesser men. So I guess moustaches make a man look less trustworthy. Which explains why I’ve always felt uneasy about Pringles.

Pringles
Just look at this untrustworthy SOB

Of course, that paper covered the years from 1842-1971. Since then, moustaches have become less and less popular with every passing decade, with a minor increase in the 2010s because of hipsters, and those people don’t really count as popular.

hipster
This is not the signal of virility and masculinity we talked about earlier

So are moustaches still sexy? That’s more of a cultural question. Moustaches have been out of fashion in the West for decades, meaning we as culture have decided they aren’t socially advantageous. By definition, an attractive trait draws people to you, which moustaches do not. There isn’t much recent academic work on moustaches, but list after list on the internet ranks them at the bottom of attractive facial hair types. The ‘stache is blacklisted.

I blame Hitler

So to answer the question, are moustaches sexy? No, I guess they’re not. I suppose that’s why they’re grown for charity – if they were normal, attractive things to have, no one would pay you to grow one. Hmm. I bet you thought I was going to have a twist ending here. Nope. Moustaches aren’t sexy, the end.

gosling
Even sexy, sexy Ryan Gosling looks gross with a moustache

Which is why you should support people growing moustaches for Movember. I’ve done it before, and let me tell you, the novelty wears off after day 2, but the embarrassment lasts the rest of the month. But it’s for a good cause: 11.6%, of men will get prostate cancer, 0.5% will get testicular cancer, and men are three times more likely to commit suicide. So donate here. Or grow that mo’. Or get out there and Move. Which is frankly much harder than growing an upper lipholstry.

sleeping
You can literally grow a moustache in your sleep

Support Movember, and stop men dying too young. For the guys who do grow a moustache, who knows, maybe the number of marriageable men will up this month, and you’ll be one whisker above the rest.

Dan looks untrustworthy with or without a moustache. Have a question? Email Dan or post on our Facebook / Twitter to see your topic covered here.
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