In stylish parts of the U.S., in places like Somerville, men who want to look hip and handsome sport roguish facial hair.  Goatees, outrageous mutton chops, or at least five o’clock shadows.

Personally, I’m a big fan of these looks.  My clean-shaven husband loves to mock me because beards of almost any type invariably catch my eye.  Other women notice their friends’ shoes or handbags. I notice soul patches and handle bar mustaches.

When I left behind a string of homes in hipster cities (New York, Denver, L.A., Boston) and relocated to the country, I was in for something of a shock.

You see, there are a lot more men sporting beards here.  Full on beards.  The kind you can use to conceal a weapon or a flask of bourbon. 

But the people wearing them are, let’s say, differently hip.  Many are older tattooed gentlemen roaring through town on Harley trikes.  Even more are pretending it’s the 1860s and wearing Confederate soldier costumes.  Often, a particularly awesome beard will catch my eye and, on closer inspection, I’ll find myself admiring a Robert E. Lee impersonator.  Awkward.  And in the fall, when men all across South Central PA toss their razors to prepare for the beer-fest they call “deer hunting season,” my beard-dar nearly melts down.

Still, I haven’t managed to convince my husband to abandon shaving, even though he’d fit in perfectly well here with some scruff. 

Now, finally, science is on my side.  This is especially helpful since my husband is a scientist.  Check it out:

Then again, he’ll probably rip this study apart.  Even I can see some flaws in the article’s claims. You could grow a beard to avoid sun exposure but, then again, you could just skip the days in the “blistering sun of the Australian Outback.”  Or wear sunblock.

Sunblock is for nerds like me, though.  Hipsters, Harley riders, Robert E. Lee impersonators, and those intent on sunbathing in the Australian outback should stay cancer free (at least as far as their chins are concerned) with beards.