I've had a beard since I was released from the service in 1971. I did shave it off for one brief period, but during that period I passed my mother in the grocery store and she didn't recognize me until I spoke.
After that I grew it back and never shaved it off again. Now they tell me that women don't like beards. So says a recent study that contradicts other recent studies about facial hair.
Check out this handy graphic from Online PhD about the science behind beards.