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Why Some Men Can’t Grow Beards Even If Their Lives Depended On It

Since the days of yore, growing a beard has been a sign of masculinity, virility and wisdom.

By accentuating the jawline, beards help present a more formidable image, signifying ruggedness and strength.

Indeed, from cavemen to Abraham Lincoln and beyond, beards have been an intimidating feature.

Prehistoric men grew beards to protect their faces and keep them warm, among other purposes. In ancient times, beards were so culturally significant, cutting them off was a punishment and immense disgrace.

When Alexander the Great came around (circa 345 BC), however, he ordered his soldiers to shave off their beards, worrying enemies would grab them during battle.

Largely since that time, Huffington Post notes, the acceptance of beards in society has fluctuated and they’ve gone in and out of style.

In recent years, beards have returned with a vengeance, donned by everyone from professional athletes (particularly during playoffs) to artsy hipsters sipping on matcha. But not everyone has been able to join in on the fun.

Some men just can’t grow beards, no matter how hard they try. They have what one might call “perpetual baby-face syndrome.” This isn’t a real medical condition, but many men suffer from it nonetheless.

Beards are produced by a chemical known as dihydrotestosterone, which is synthesized from testosterone — the hormone that stimulates male development and sexual characteristics.

The ability to grow a beard is dictated by the way in which a man’s body reacts to testosterone.

In general, most males have around the same level of testosterone. But as the New York Times highlights, men who grow thick beards are more sensitive, or responsive, to testosterone than their baby-faced peers.

In other words, the capacity to grow a beard has nothing to do with manliness, virility or testosterone levels, and everything to do with genetics. So blame Mom and Dad if you can’t.

Not being able to grow a beard isn’t a medical issue, and there’s nothing you can or should do about it. Doctors warn against seeking medical treatment due to nasty side effects, such as scar-inducing acne, liver problems and balding.

Interestingly enough, men who are more sensitive to testosterone are also more likely to go bald.

So if you’re currently surrounded by thick-bearded hipsters and feeling a little left out, be comforted in knowing you’ll at least keep the hair on your head.

Side note: If you can’t grow a beard and recently read beards are covered in poop and found solace in this news, I hate to break it to you, but that’s not entirely accurate. In truth, as Science of Us notes, essentially everything is covered in fecal bacteria, not just beards (ignorance is bliss).

Even if beards aren’t exclusively covered in sh*t, at least you have a great head of hair you are likely to keep. And if you do happen to go bald, at least you can probably still grow a badass beard.

Regardless, it’s what’s on the inside that really counts, right?

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John Haltiwanger

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