A Brief History of Beards | Benjamin Bernard

A Brief History of Beards

Today when you want to keep your beard in the style to which you have become accustomed, you just reach for your razor, trimmer or even scissors and prune until satisfied. You might even reach for your beard balm or beard oil just to pamper your facial follicles. It hasn’t always been so simple though with man fighting a battle to control the beard since the dawn of time. With this in mind, we take you through, a brief history of beards.

Prehistoric times

It’s been widely agreed by anthropologists that prehistoric man would have had a lush mane on his face. This was primarily for practical reasons as finding a good barber, never mind an appropriate cutting tool was pretty tough in those days. A strong beard also helped early man to appear more intimidating as well as providing some much needed warmth and protection from the elements as most caves only had a limited central heating system.

Early Civilisations

The Ancient Egyptians were fanatical about hygiene and this extended to shaving. They believed that body hair was something to be ashamed of and usually the upper echelons kept a barber on their staff. Every man, woman and child would have a shaved head, which also was considered hygienic with wigs used to protect heads from the powerful sun. However, the beard was still seen as a symbol of power and masculinity and Kings would often wear an artificial beard.

Similarly, there were no beards in Alexander the Great’s Army. This wasn’t just an aesthetic decision but a tactical one as the military mastermind feared that they may be used against his men, giving opponents something to grab onto.

In ancient Rome, a first shave at 21 was the sign of becoming a man. The Romans also would forego the potential mess of shaving by having facial hair plucked out individually by tweezers. This barbaric practice came to an end when Hadrian made beards fashionable in 100AD, although really he only grew one because of his bad complexion.

Later history

In Celtic tribes of the first millennium, the beard was seen as an intrinsic part of a man’s identity, with legend suggesting that King Otto the Great of Saxony introduced the tradition of swearing an oath on one’s beard. A beard was so important that it was a great insult to touch another man’s.

The beard remained in vogue on the British Isles until the seventh century with the spread of Christianity when early priests compelled shaving. This didn’t last long and with the Crusades, men were manly again probably due to lack of opportunity. There was no clear fashion in the centuries that followed but Henry VIII made the beard king again with his glorious ginger face thatch.

Modern Times

Today it’s socially acceptable to be clean shaven or sport facial hair, but beards have become on the cutting edge of fashion. Today, there are a huge range of beard styles available with precision shaving tools allowing every man to make a unique statement. The beard has a complex history but there’s also never been a better time to have one with a great range of beard balms and beard oils available to keep you feeling soft and smelling fantastic. It truly is a golden age