A Quick History of The Beard

A Quick History of The Beard

mars 20, 2021

A Quick History of The Beard

Roughly 33% of men in America and 55% of men worldwide have a beard. That's a pretty impressive statistic! 

But when did the beard become fashionable? Throughout time beards have been part of our religions, identities, artistry and status.

Let's take a look at the history of the beard and how its style and meaning have changed throughout the ages.

Early Humans & Prehistoric Men (50,000 - 230 BCE)

Of course, the beard dates back to the beginning of humanity. Beards were grown for warmth and protection. Facial hair stopped grains and dirt from getting into the mouth. Also, shaving equipment was hard to come by… 

Ancient India (7000 BCE - 500CE)

In ancient India, the beard was a symbol of dignity and wisdom. Beards were grown long and cared for dearly. The punishment for adultery was to cut off the beard in public, showing shame and discrimination. Beards were so sacred that they were often accepted as payment for a debt.

Ancient Mesopotamia 

Mesopotamian civilizations would oil and dress their beards using curling irons. They shaped the facial hair into elaborate ringlets for decoration. 

Our Mesopotamia Collection is fresh with Patchouli and Honeycomb. It pays homage to our bearded ancestors' traditions as we celebrate the glory of the beard! With a light finish of candied fruit and lemon peel, this collection will treat your facial hair with the care and respect it so rightfully deserves. Check it out! 

Ancient Egypt (3000–300 BCE)

In ancient Egypt, beards were a symbol of wealth and respect. Beards were decorated with rich coloured dyes, in red or brown. Egyptian royalty (both Kings and Queens) would wear a false beard made from metal and painted elaborately. The metal beard was tied to their chin with a ribbon and seen as a high-status symbol of power. 

Ancient Greece (8th Century BCE– 0 CE)

In Ancient Greece beards were a badge of honour. Beards were styled into hanging curls, and cutting them was a punishment method. The mustache would be shaved as a sign of mourning, but the beard would be left intact. Young boys would not wear beards, but it was expected from all adult men. 

In around 345 BCE, Alexander the Great announced that his soldiers couldn't have beards, as he was worried that the opposing soldiers would grab their facial hair and use it against them while in battle.

The Romans (8th Century BCE – 476 CE)

Ancient Romans preferred their beads to be trimmed and well-groomed as it was thought to be more hygienic. Beards would be cut by the Roman’s slaves or at a barbershop (first set up in 454 BCE). Despite the growing trend for shaving, Roman philosophers kept their beards as a symbol of wisdom. 

The Middle Ages (476 CE to the beginning of the Renaissance)

In Medieval Europe, a beard represented a knight's honour. Touching somebody else's beard was such a severe offence that it had to be avenged in a duel. However, members of the Catholic clergy were clean-shaven to show their celibacy.

The Renaissance (Europe 14th-17th Century) 

In the 15th century, most European men were clean-shaven. 

During the 16th-century, beards were allowed to grow long and prosperously.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the size of beards began to decrease again in Western Europe.

The Enlightenment (1650 – 1780)

During the enlightenment, countries such as Russia began to follow the European trend of being clean-shaven. Tsar Peter the Great even ordered his men to shave off their beards, and those who did not oblige were taxed harshly. 

If you look at portraits from men involved in the American Revolution (1765–1783), it's clear to see Beards were also out of fashion in the US during this time, as most are clean-shaven, with only a few sporting a small mustache. 

The Age of Revolution / The Romantic Era (1750 - 1900)

This period was a time of rich history and essential change for America. It included the American Civil War (1861–1865), Reconstruction Era (1865–1877) and The Gilded Age (1870–1900).

During this time, in both America and Europe, most men were clean-shaven, as it was seen as a sign of nobility.  

This changed in the 1800’s when notable leaders began to adopt the beard again. In Russia, Alexander III of Russia, Napoleon III of France and Frederick III of Germany all had beards. President Abraham Lincoln made the beard popular once again in the US. 

The beard then became linked with a symbol of masculinity and courage.

1900 - Present Day 

Over the past 100 years, beards have dropped quickly in and out of fashion worldwide. 

During the 1920s, '30s and '40s, beards were not popular in America or Europe. Razor companies such as Gilette were thriving. Dignified men would opt for a clean-shaven beard and a thin mustache. 

In the 1950s, 60's and '70s during the "hippie" period and the introduction of famous bearded musicians like the Beatles and The Beach Boys, beards became increasingly popular once again. 

1980s - The classic biker style came into fashion! The horseshoe, made famous by Hulk Hogan and Metallica's James Hetfield burst into fashion. It was seen as a rebellious, rock and roll style of facial hair. 

Mustaches also grew in thickness and popularity. This style became known as the Chevron and is seen on actors like Tom Selleck. 

2000 - Stubble, shadow and a rougher, more unkempt look became fashionable. Celebrities such as George Clooney made this look popular. 

2020 - Nowadays, the most popular styles are soft stubble and fuller beards that are styled and trimmed to perfection. 

Take a look at our blog Top 10 Beard Trends of 2020 to find out about today's most popular styles!