Back in the day, beards were very important to the men who wore them and to society as a whole. Otto the Great actually swore on his beard when he wanted to convince people he was serious, and in the Middle Ages, touching a man’s beard could be so offensive that it was reason enough for a duel.
Today, beards are more of an accessory which many men are proud to wear. Some like wearing a beard because it makes them look manlier, others because they feel a beard makes them look wiser. For some guys, it’s reason enough to stop shaving, while others simply want to look like an 1800-s kind of guy. In case you have not seen the “The Dream of the 1890s is Alive in Portland” scene from IFC’s Portlandia, you should definitely check it out.
We have put together a list of facts you might not have known about beards; some are about the biology of the beard while others focus on the cultural aspect of the beard throughout history.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at what the big fuss is all about:
The beard’s nature
You might not know this, but sporting a beard will actually protect your face from the sun’s radiation and from other elements: frost, wind, etc. If you think about it, in cultures that were originally based in very warm or very cold environments, as well in the cultures for which the sea played an important role, men used to wear beards. According to scientists, your beard’s thickness is like a SPF: the denser the beard, the bigger the SPF.
A beard has other health benefits too, as it filters the air entering your nose of pollution, toxins and other small particles that can damage your nostrils, airwaves and lungs. A beard can actually prevent an asthma attack, if you are a guy whose attacks are triggered by dust or pollen.
Another thing you might not know is that a beard can keep your face younger. Your beard’s whiskers prevent the water from leaving your face, therefore keeping your face moisturized and young.
The number of whiskers on an average men’s face is 30 000.
On average, a beard grows 5.5 in / 13.97 cm each year.
The biological downside to heaving a beard is that beards can spread infections, so it is very important to make sure that you always wash your beard and take good care of it. Also, if you are having your beard styled at a barber’s shop, make sure they have their tools properly cleaned, otherwise you risk getting an infection.
Did you know that the longest beard recorded belonged to an Indian man by the name of Shamsher Singh, who in 1997 had a beard of 6 ft / 1.83 m from the end of his chin to the tip?
The longest female beard ever recorder belonged to a women from Wood River, Illinois, USA by the name of Vivian Wheeler. After her mother passed in 1990, she grew a beard that, from the follicle to the tip measured 11 in / 27.9 cm in the year 2000.
If you want to win a staring contest, a beard might come in handy. Wearing a beard makes you more likely to win a staring contest by 63%. The money that went out on that study was money well spent…
In ancient Egypt, high ranking men used to dye their beards and plait them with gold. The also wore false metal beards called postiches, which were meant to signify their sovereignty.
In ancient Greece, philosophers used to wear long beards as a sign of their profession. In fact, during those times it was very common for men to wear beards, as they were a sign of masculinity and strength.
Peter the Great, a Russian emperor who reigned between 1721 and 1725 placed a tax of 100 rubles on beards to encourage cleanshaveness. Men who wanted to wear a beard had to pay the tax and received a medallion that said “The beard is a useless burden.”
Today, 55% of men worldwide have some sort of beard. We guess every guy who hasn’t shaved for two days counts too.
According to a study, women find a 10-day beard the most attractive on a man.
However, not everyone likes a beard. The fear of beards is called pogonophobia. People who suffer from this condition experience rapid breathing, sweating, irregular heartbeat, nausea, shortness of breath when coming in contact with a beard.
In the end, we have a big bomb to drop. 98% of Forbes’ list of the wealthiest men alive are clean shaven, while only 2% wear some kind of facial hair. Wealth does ask for sacrifice.
To conclude, we need to say that with all this talk about manliness, beards and the fun many guys today take in wearing their beard as an accessory, we need to remind you that, just like in the case of clothes or your belongings, your beard must not be what defines you or what makes you a man. A real man if you will, is a guy who is not defined by his facial hair, his car or his watch, these things are only an extension of your inner self and of your personality.
Fraquoh and Franchomme
Further reading: Caring for your beard: A three-step guide
P.S. Which beard fact did you enjoy the most? What do you make about guys with beards? Share your thoughts in the comments below! For more articles on style, fashion tips and cultural insights, you can subscribe to Attire Club via e-mail or follow us on Facebook or Twitter!