Guys, growing a beard may not help you look like George Clooney. But it could help lower your risk of skin cancer! 

According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common cancer, and unprotected or excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays is the number one cause. 

So, researchers in Australia – which has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world – wanted to see much UV protection men get from facial hair. They put mannequin heads out in the sun, and attached sensors to them to measure the amount of UV radiation absorbed in one hour. Then they added a variety of facial hair, from a super-thick beard, to 3-day stubble, to clean-shaven. After one year, here’s what they found: 

A full, thick beard can cut UV radiation anywhere from 50 to 95 percent. Which is just slightly less than sunscreen with an SPF of 30. 

Of course, the experts say you still need to use sunscreen over your entire head and face if you go outside. Because any area on your head can burn. For example, the mannequin with just a beard and no moustache got more UV rays on its upper lip than anywhere else on the face!

And a full head of hair won’t protect you either. In fact, the most lethal melanomas are found on the scalp – and they account for 10 percent of all skin cancer deaths. That’s because the ones on the scalp are more likely to spread to the lymph nodes. 

So slather on that sunscreen – wear a hat – and maybe grow a Grizzly Adam’s-style beard.