Science Explains Why The Man Bun/Beard Combo Is So Popular

After growing up hearing such stifling gender dictates as "real girls have long hair" and "real men have buzzcuts," the man bun/beard combo probably doesn't make much sense to most of us.

The metrosexual is dead. The lumbersexual has risen.

Pinterest and Instagram have become virtual shrines to this most recent of fashion fads, and Tumblr isn’t far off in its degree of worship. Buzzfeed has made an offering of a listicle or five in veneration, and the fashion mags, too, have fallen. The Internet is converted, and it doesn’t know why.

Man Buns That Will Ruin You For Short-Haired Guys

Because the thought of the bun/beard combo—and even the look of it, sometimes—is strange. It’s not the most intuitive styling choice, not by a long shot. After all, isn’t long hair “for girls,” as per the gender norm? 

And don’t women like a well-groomed, spruce appearance, something which a big bushy beard seems rather contrary to?

bun and beard

So what’s the deal with the beard/bun?


The beard part is easy to explain, in terms of science and (cough) gender roles.  A study from the journal Evolution and Human Behavior Society explains that beards signify dominance, power, even ruggedness—all traits that are still expected of men today (unfortunately).  A Biological Letters study found that women ranked pictures of men with full beards and light stubble higher than those of clean-shaven men.  

But you knew that already. What you’re really interested in is why long hair/buns are being considered attractive on men, when they’re usually deemed "feminine," i.e. totally contrary to the beard logic we just offered you.

A study sponsored by West Coast Shaving reported that out of a thousand women interviewed over the last ten years, most found man buns to be “trendy,” but “feminine” and “weird.” Sixty percent of women said they wouldn’t date someone with a man bun.


But the combination of man bun and beard is surprisingly different, and probably a sign of how our views of masculinity and masculine beauty are widening, becoming more progressive. If the beard is a sign of “peak masculine,” then the man bun’s “femininity” qualifies that some, producing a more androgynous aesthetic that is appealing to the modern woman.

“Straddling both masculine peacocking and historically feminine hair length, the man-bun wearer knows that he is inviting the heteronormative female gaze — and he doesn't shy away from the glances of gay and bisexual men"


What’s more, it may be important to note another part of that Biological Letters study we mentioned earlier: it argues that beards become less attractive to women the more common they are.


So it’s very possible that the beard/bun combo is in vogue because it’s the perfect balance of “in” and “uncommon.” Unique, bold, and on the edge of what’s acceptable and what’s not.

i.e. The more men get on board the bun/beard train, the less appealing it may become.


I just can't. ??????

A photo posted by ????Fernanda Heckman???? (@lipstickandlunges143) on


So here’s our take away: do what makes you feel the best, because societal beauty standards are convoluted and nigh impossible, and you’ll never be “in” for long (if ever).  

Banner, Thumbnail credit: Pixabay

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