A Brief History of Beard Care + 14 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know!
Men have been styling and caring for their beards for thousands of years; they’ve imitated enemies, provided warmth, and symbolized wealth and royalty. Facial hair has come in and out of fashion over the last century, and today there are hundreds of men's beard styles to choose from to express your individuality.
Of course, beard products aren’t a new invention either, and so they too have progressed hugely over the years. Many of us understand that men's beard styles have evolved and changed over the years, but what about beard care products?
How long have men cared about styling their facial hair?
Historians have found evidence that men have been styling and caring for their beards for millennia; ancient Egyptians wore their beards as a symbol of power, and from 3000 B.C., the Egyptian Kings even wore metal “beards” (called “postiche”) we see depicted in their imagery today. Egyptian men dyed their beards to color them.
In Europe and Russia, beards came in and out of fashion frequently. One Russian king even implemented a beard tax because he believed everyone should be clean-shaven – the public was even allowed to enforce this tax!
Who first invented beard care products?
The earliest records of beard oil being used date back to Ancient Mesopotamia, where beards were revered and treated with an oil made from sesame seeds. Ancient Greeks also used oils and balms made from castor oil to care for their beards.
It was the British, however, who first started mass-producing beard care products. Macassar Oil was created as a hair-care product for both genders, though it was extremely thick and prone to covering anything it came into contact with! (Imagine grabbing a door handle only to find it covered in someone else’s beard oil…)
It wasn’t until the 20th century that better alternatives started to become available around the world, as petrolatum-based balms and waxes became more popular. Today, of course, we have more choice than ever before (you can even create your own beard oil with us!), and you can try new scents and consistencies until you find the products you love.
14 Interesting Beard Care Facts You Didn’t Know!
- During the Middle Ages, a knight’s beard represented virility and honor. The Catholic clergy sported the opposite look and were always clean-shaven to indicate celibacy and the fact that they were opposed to the fighting and bloodshed these knights engaged in.
- Ancient Mesopotamians used oil to keep their beard shiny, soft, and smelling good. That latter piece is pretty important when you don’t have the luxury of a modern-day shower.
- Ancient Mesopotamians also used hot irons to style their beards. While the hot iron is now generally used by women, Mesopotamian men used irons to create ringlets, zig-zags, and other styles in their long beards.
- Ancient Egyptians, Persians and Assyrians dyed their beards. Dying our hair isn’t an entirely new activity; these ancient people died their beards jet black or shades of auburn.
- Native Americans have also used beard care products for centuries. This is particularly interesting since we don’t commonly see native Americans depicted with beards, but those who chose to maintain a beard did so meticulously, using caster, almond, or grapeseed oil to keep their beards and skin in good health.
- Moustache wax has been used by men all over the world for over 150 years. While that “set” moustache look Hercule Poirot and Charlie Chaplin sport isn’t currently in style, moustache wax made of beeswax, pine resin, scented oils, and other elements like coconut oil can set even the most unruly moustache!
- The longest beard in the world belongs to Sarwan Singh from Canada. his magnificent beard measures 1.83 m (8 ft. 2.5 inches) from chin to tip, which is longer than the average Canadian man is tall! (He’d have to use a lot of beard oil to keep that under control…)
- The longest beard ever recorded now resides at the Smithsonian. The title for the world’s longest beard ever belongs to Hans Nilson Langseth, a Norwegian-American farmer who died in 1927. His beard measured a phenomenal 5.33 m (17 ft 6 in) in the year he died. This legendary facial hair made its way to Washington, DC, where it was stored at the Smithsonian Institute forty years later.
- A man who shaves his beard regularly spends about 3,350 hours of his life in the bathroom. We can only imagine how much higher that is for those of us that use our beard care products religiously!
- Barbershop Quartets were born out of long wait times at barbershops. For centuries, men would visit a barber to have their facial hair tidied or shaved. Busy queues and long waiting times meant that the barbershop was somewhat of a social hub. In Tudor and Stuart times, some barbershops kept musical instruments, and people would entertain each other as they waited to have their hair tended to. This tradition is where we got the idea of the barbershop quartet!
- Some people have a beard phobia – no matter how well-groomed the beard! The fear of beards is called pogonophobia and is most commonly experienced by women.
- The neckbeard isn’t just slang for a socially awkward person or unkempt beard. One of the most fascinating facial hair trends was the “Newgate Beard.” It was named after the prison in which London’s gallows were located from 1783 to 1868. In this case, the wearer would shave their face but continue to grow on the neck, where a noose would be fitted.
- The red, blue and white pole on the outside of barbershops has a morbid origin. Back when villages and towns had few educated people, the barbers were also the surgeons. Until the mid-18th century, the person who shaved your face would also perform surgery or provide injections, often using the same instruments. The red represented blood (they often performed bloodletting), white represented bandages, and the blue (while debated) was added as a nod of patriotism in the US and isn’t often included outside of the US.
- Moustaches were so desired in Victorian England that the army handed out false moustaches. These moustaches were made of goat hair and given to the young recruits who couldn’t grow one themselves – let’s hope they were well washed!
At Wicked Beard Company, we pride ourselves on creating beard products with only the best ingredients sourced from all over the world. Created through extensive research and trial and error using various combinations of carrier and essential oils, Wicked Beard Company has created a blend that helps treat your beard while caring for the skin beneath it. So, whether you want to channel Salvador Dali, Frank Zappa, Karl Marx or Charlie Chaplin, Wicked Beard Company has got you covered.
To view our full range of oils, balms, butters, washes and more, or to create your own beard oil, click here.