The history of the beard is fascinating. We’ve been going through a particular phase of beard loving in recent years so no doubt sometime in the future, people will look back and analyse our own social landscape as reflected by the hirsute amongst us right now.
When you look into the history of the beard, you can often identify a period by the style of beards popular at the time. For example, Henry VIII’s bushy, fully grown beard was shaped as a “spade” and squared off at the chin. The style was much copied in the 16th century with most noblemen growing their facial hair as it was widely considered a sign of a man’s virility! The King even introduced a Beard Tax in 1535, knowing that men would pay it, as they wanted to keep their facial hair as a reflection of their masculinity. Sneaky, eh?
By the time of the Stuarts reign in the 17th century, beards were shaped into a more of a pointy style quite often with the moustache separated from the beard hair under the lip and on the chin. This was known as a “Van Dyke”. In more recent years, this style has been sported by Johnny Depp, Heath Ledger and Jonathan Ross at various times.
When you look into the history of the beard, one thing is fairly constant. Beards being a reflection of a man’s virility. But they were also thought to prevent germs by preventing noxious substances getting into the mouth. Although given the lack of personal hygiene over the centuries we think a beard could have actually been harbouring more germs than was good for anyone.
Luckily, that’s not the case today, even though the most favoured style of the moment is still a bushy, full on face of hair. With beard oils to keep beards in good condition, combs to shape and the general recommendation from barbers being to wash and condition the beard as you would your hair, then they really are something you wouldn’t mind getting close to.
If you’d like to know more about the history of the beard, there’s a great piece on The Conversation Blog. It’s written by Dr Alan Withey, who we had the pleasure of meeting when he came into Pall Mall Barbers and was filmed having a luxury wet shave as part of his research for a show on the BBC.
It’s a fascinating read and you’ll learn some little known facts about the history of the beard – like the development of fake beards made from goats hair in the middle of the 19th century for those who couldn’t quite manage to grow their own!
Don’t forget to call into one of our Central London barbers shops for all beard related products, beard trimming appointments and general beard care advice from one of our professional barbers.
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