Beard research

The challenge:

I ski (XC) in the winter. I run in the winter. I cycle in the winter. I have a beard. People have been saying, "A beard keeps you warmer."

Sure it sounds good, but has anybody ever really tested this theory? In the interest of science, I thought of cutting off my beard for a winter to determine if it would be colder without it. Thinking about it for a while, I realized that this was no good. Maybe it would be a warmer (colder) winter this year. Maybe I would forget how cold (warm) it was last year.

I needed a control! Another person was no good; their perception of cold may not agree with mine. I had only one choice. Shave half of my beard.

The experiment

I shaved the right half of my beard. The result can be seen in the picture above. I then proceeded to perform my various outdoor activities.

Weight

I encountered several parameters I hadn't previously expected. One side of my face was heavier than the other. In my case, this posed no problem since I'm told that I'm too right brained, the excess weight on the other side balanced things out.

Wind resistance

At higher speeds, I found increased wind resistance on the side of my face with a beard. This caused me to have to force the muscles in my neck on one side to counteract the force of the wind.

Temperature

Is spite of the above inconveniences, I was able to conduct the experiment. I ran, cycled, and skied. Yes, it does feel warmer with a beard. Also more comfortable. The side without the beard felt colder.

Further Research

Needless to say, I've only scratched the surface. Much work remains to be done in this area. Although I've determined that it felt warmer with a beard, no analytical tests were performed. I did not determine skin temperatures. It is quite possible that I had only thought I felt warmer. I suggest that a better test would be to shave half a person's beard off, but not tell them which half. This would give a fairer test of warmth.

It may also be that one side of my face is less sensitive than the other. I must repeat the experiment with the beard on the other side. It will take a bit of time for it to grow again.

Click here to see me 6 weeks later.

Listen to my spam song.

Pete Hickey / pete@mudhead.uottawa.ca