Step away from the razor, guys - new research has found that bearded men are perceived as more masculine, more attractive and better parents than their clean-shaven counterparts.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales' aptly-titled Sex Lab presented photographs of 10 smiling men, in various stages of beard growth to 177 heterosexual men and 351 women, 80 per cent of whom were of European descent.

Related: How to make facial hair look good

Study authors Barnaby Dixson and Robert Brooks discovered that the vast majority of women found the same man more attractive with a 10-day heavy beard than when he was freshly trimmed. Oddly enough, men sporting five day's worth of stubble were rated least attractive of all, while the full beard scored highest for potential parenting ability across both genders.

But don't throw out your razors and beard trimmers and go all James Harden just yet.

The study authors concluded that although there was a direct correlation between perceived masculinity levels and amount of face-fuzz, women still prefer an intermediate level of beardedness.

“Facial hair correlates not only with maturity and masculinity, but also with dominance and aggression,” Dixson and Brooks wrote.

“Men, judging other men, might be sensitive to the overall level of masculine threat and aggression signaled through full beards. Women, by contrast, may balance…a competitive masculine partner against the costs of mating with a too-masculine partner.”

The full study was published in the journal Evolution & Human Behaviour

Your move: experiment with different lengths of facial hair and choose a level that works best with your features.

Related: How to care for your facial hair

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