PORTLAND, Maine (WGME) - From day-old stubble to full-on beards, facial hair is everywhere and science suggests it can play a significant role in a man's love life.
Business is busy as usual at the Blind Pig Barber Company in Portland, Maine.
Manager Justin Mondor knows all about beards.
"We do book regular beard trims and hot lather beard trims with a straight razor and hot towels," he said. "It's more of a spa treatment for your face and beard."
He's seen the recent beard trend over the last few years.
"It just goes back to, like, the biker dudes in the '70s and then even today and the lumberjacks, and it's just kind of like a show of masculinity a little bit and that's softened a little bit and it's become a lot more mainstream, especially in the Northeast,” Mondor said.
In fact, he started growing one himself three years ago against his wife's wishes. But now ...
"Yeah, she's on board for sure. I joke now about shaving it off and she won't have any of that,” Mondor said.
In 2016, researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia had more than 8,000 women answer questions about beards.
The answers varied but overall, women said the sexiest men were those with heavy stubble, followed by short stubble.
Big beards and clean-shaven men were rated lowest in the study.
"Yeah, people seem to find facial hair attractive but the question being, why? I think that's a little less clear,” said Andrew Christy, visiting professor of psychology at Bowdoin College.
According to Christy, there are two different approaches to learning why men with beards are more desirable: the evolutionary psychology angle and the sociocultural angle. He also notes there are clearly going to be individual differences.
"On average, people seem to kind of like facial hair but then that kind of average masks availability. If you ask my grandma, she's not too thrilled about the beard,” Christy said.
Someone who has noticed the spike in beards is Portland matchmaker Noreen Rochester.
"The beards are a big thing now. It's a huge thing,” Rochester said.
She says one request she often gets is for a man with facial hair.
"One of the questions I ask is, ‘Do you have a physical type that you're attracted to?’ And the trend has been, ‘Yeah. I like a guy with a beard but he has to be clean-cut and his beard has to be taken care of,’” Rochester said.
Circa sister station WGME-TV got mixed reviews in Portland’s Old Port.
"It's just kind of fun to play with, and touch it. He probably doesn't like it but I do,” Rose Johnson said.
“No, it makes him look old. And I prefer him clean-shaven,” Deborah Mayland said.
Rochester says she's seen a number of changes in her more than 25 years of matchmaking.
She says she wouldn't be surprised if in a few years, beards became a thing of the past.
"Someone will come in and I’ll say, ‘Wow, when did that happen?’” Rochester said.
Whether it's a trend that's here to stay or not, love is a sight that's in the eye of the beholder.