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This Is the One Body Part You're Not Washing Enough, Study Says

Don't forget to scrub this the next time you're in the shower.

After this many decades taking care of yourself, you probably don't think much about what you're washing in the shower. You have your routine down pat and you're confident you're reaching all the necessary spots. But according to research, there's one area you're likely forgetting: your beard. A study has found that your whiskers are home to scores of bacteria, which means you're likely not washing your beard enough, USA Today reports. Read on to see how you should be taking care of your facial hair, and for more on what you should be avoiding while you're washing up, check out If You're Doing This in the Shower, Doctors Say to Stop Immediately.

Your beard is likely germier than the dirtiest part of a dog.

Young man looking at mirror and shaving beard with trimmer
Prostock-Studio / iStock

In a Swiss study conducted in 2018, scientists compared the bacterial loads of 18 bearded men between the ages of 18 and 76 and 30 dogs of various breeds. Swabs were taken from beard hair below the men's mouths, while dogs were swabbed in the "particularly unhygienic" area on their necks between their collarbones where skin infections are most common for pups.

Results showed that while only 23 dogs showed high microbial counts, all 18 of the bearded men were found to be laden with bacteria. The researchers also discovered that disease-causing bacteria showed up more frequently on the beards, writing that "the beards of men harbor significantly more microbes than the neck fur of dogs and these microbes were significantly more pathogenic to humans." They concluded: "On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered as 'clean' compared with bearded men." And for more on what not to wash so often, see why you should Stop Washing This Every Time You Shower, Doctors Say

You should be washing your beard as often as you wash your hair.

Attractive man buying shampoo in shopping mall - Image

The obvious answer to a germy beard is to make sure you're cleaning it. But even if it doesn't feel or look particularly dirty, exactly how often should you be shampooing your facial hair?

"You should wash your beard hair like you wash the hair on your head," Joth Davies, the founder of Savills Barbers in Sheffield, U.K., told The Guardian, adding that using the same shampoo as you do for your hair is "not going to hurt it." According to experts, this should be about every two to three days on average, depending on how oily or dry your hair may feel. And for more showering tips, check out The Only 3 Body Parts You Need to Wash Every Day, Doctor Says.

Doing a skin scrub can help you avoid other beard-related issues.

man toweling his beard dry

It doesn't just stop with shampooing, either. Your beard hygiene might also see a boost from adding a beard scrub to your routine.

Stevie Warwicker, the store manager of a London branch of the barbershop chain Ruffians, told The Guardian that the exfoliation can help you avoid problems such as beard dandruff and "will help to get all the loose skin and rejuvenate," especially if you have a longer beard. He says that two to three times a week will do the trick. And for more health and hygiene news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Moisturizing and brushing your beard won't make it cleaner, but it will make it look fresh.

a well-groomed man stroking his beard in the bathroom

When asked whether or not brushing your beard can help keep it clean, Warwicker jokingly replied: "It depends what they've eaten." But using products like beard oil or styling products and running some bristles through it can be the most effective way to shape it and keep it looking great.

"It wouldn't necessarily help for hygiene purposes, but for styling purposes it would definitely help," Warwicker told The Guardian. And for more on how bacteria could affect you, check out If You Drink This, You Could Become Resistant to Antibiotics, Study Says.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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