Beards are awesome. They make men look manlier, more powerful, more distinguished and overall just more attractive. They’ve been worn since the beginning of time by poets like William Shakespeare, presidents like Abraham Lincoln, celebrities like Brad Pitt, mythical figures like Santa Claus and regular people alike. Sure, they sometimes get lots of criticism and may not always be the best choice of facial hair in certain situations – they have been known to accidentally be lit on fire or zipped up in a jacket. But all things considered, their collective good is far better than their harm. If you wear a beard you should be proud of this list. It’s all the cool facts about beards from throughout history. If you don’t wear a beard, that’s okay. Being clean shaven has many perks (and some awesome associated facts) as well.
So, to celebrate beards and all the many things we love about them and the men who wear them, here are 12 awesome facts about the facial hair that never goes out of style. Are there any noteworthy beard-related facts we missed?
12. They Can Be Transplanted
Although the majority of men worldwide have beards (55%), not all men are lucky enough to be able to grow them naturally. Fortunately for these bald-faced gentlemen, beard transplants are available and becoming more popular. In fact, the rugged, bearded look is so desired that between 2008 and 2013, “Beard Transplant” operations increased by a whopping 600%. If you’re wondering how the procedure works; a doctor harvests individual hair follicles from the hairiest part of the head and transplants them onto the face. The operation will set you back about $4,000 or more, depending on how thick and awesome you want your beard to be.
11. They Have a Fancy Name
Apparently beards are so cool that the act of growing them has its own official word: pogonotrophy. The word is Greek in origin and literally means “beard feeding.” Its root, pogon, (meaning beard) can be found in other beard-related words like pogonotomy, beard cutting, pogonologist, someone who studies beards, and pogoniasis, excessive beard growth. Technically, pogonotrophy can also apply to growing mustaches, sideburns and other facial hair, though it’s most commonly used in association with beards.
Want to sound like a real wordsmith? Grow a super sick beard and tell all your friends that you’re “an expert in pogonotrophy.” It’ll be true!
10. They’re a Status Symbol
One survey found that people believe bearded men seem older, more respected, more powerful and of a higher status than clean-shaven men. There’s no real scientific justification for this but the results should come as no surprise. Beards have been a symbol of manliness and status for centuries in many countries and cultures, which has totally validated the idea. Abraham Lincoln, Confucius, Charles Dickens and Karl Marx were all serious beard wearers and men of high status. Scientists even believe that beards may have been a status symbol in prehistoric times – they were most likely grown to intimidate enemies, protect the face from elements and provide cushion in case of injury. So bearded men rejoice! You’re in pretty good company.
9. They Can Grow (Really) Long
The longest beard ever measured was 17.4 feet and belonged to Hans Langseth, a Norwegian man who broke the record in the 1920s. Today, the longest beard on a living person belongs to Shamsher Singh of India. In 1997 he earned the Guinness World Record for his 6 foot long facial hair. Most people will never allow their beards to grow as long as 6 feet, let alone 17, though studies have shown that if men never shaved at all their beards could grow to 27.5 feet. But a more depressing study found that most beards can only grow about 4 or 5 feet before breaking off anyway.
8. They Can Prevent Allergies
Beards don’t just look good; they’re good for your health, too. With all the pollutants flying around, a beard can help filter out dust and pollen and keep them from invading your nostrils and irritating your lungs. How? The hair traps the dust and pollen and holds it there until you wash your face. The whole thing may sound gross but it’s better for allergens to stay on your beard than go into your body. Thick beards that grow under the chin and on the neck can even help prevent colds by raising the temperature in those areas. Kind of like a scarf but more fuzzy and awesome.
7. They Were All the Rage in Ancient Egypt
In ancient Egypt, beards were only worn by the highest ranking people in society. Many of them grew their beards, dyed them with henna and added gold thread for extra decoration. The false metal beards (called postiches) commonly seen on Egyptian coffins were reserved specifically for kings. These postiches weren’t just fashionable, they were also a sign of godliness and status. Some female pharaohs even got in on the beard action – Hatshepsut is famously known to have worn one. The postiche would be held in place by a ribbon tied around the head and attached to the metal beard. Although it sounds somewhat uncomfortable, the style remained popular for over 1400 years.
6. They’re Associated with Philosophy
In ancient Rome, philosophers were known for wearing beards and literally kept them as a sign of their profession. The point wasn’t to make a fashion statement – most Roman citizens were clean shaven – but in their cases, a beard meant that they had dedicated themselves to studying, not obeying social customs. Different types of philosophers wore different types of beards: Cynics wore long, dirty ones, Stoics washed and cut their beards sometimes, and Peripatetics were careful to keep their beards very clean. When Roman emperor Domitian took the throne he made it his mission to banish philosophers (and their beards) from Rome. He lasted 15 years before being assassinated in typical ancient Roman fashion.
5. They Keep Skin Nice
Do you hate sun spots and ingrown hairs? If so, consider growing a beard! Thanks to beards, 95% of the sun’s harmful rays are kept off the face, which can prevent cancer and visible signs of aging. Researchers have found that the part of the face covered by a beard gets one third the sun exposure of a clean-shaven face and that thicker, curlier beards can offer even more sun protection. To make things sweeter, because beards don’t require much shaving you’re automatically less likely to develop razor bumps, ingrown hair, acne and skin irritation. This pretty much ensures you’ll have smoother, nicer skin for a longer time.
4. They Look Best in 10 Days
A study conducted by the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre found that women are most attracted to men who have 10-day old beards. It was also revealed that stubble is least attractive, clean-shaven and five days of beard growth is somewhat attractive, and a full beard is less aggressive looking. If you’d like some tips on how to maintain a 10-day beard; one professional barber suggests trimming it at or around 10 days old and brushing it to keep everything in place. So if you’ve been growing your beard for 9 days, tomorrow will be your lucky day! If you’re already past the precious 10 day mark, just trim and clean it up to mimic that look.
3. Individually, There Are Lots of Them
Cats have around 24 whiskers on their faces. Dogs have around 40 on theirs. The average man, in comparison, has about 30,000. The term “whiskers” usually refers to the beard hair on a man’s chin and cheeks, although it can also refer to all beard hair regardless of location. To keep these whiskers in check, about 75% of men shave every single day, with one shaving session involving between 100-600 strokes. Over a lifetime, that equates to between 900 and 3,000 hours of shaving – it may seem like a lot, but maintaining a sweet beard throughout life is definitely worth it.
2. They’re Helpful for Staring Contests
Beards make you 63% more likely to win staring contests. Although we’re not entirely sure how this fact was calculated, we at least know our odds against a bearded person aren’t great. Most people blink about 15 times every minute so staring contests are already pretty hard. The most successful staring contest winner was Fergal Fleming, who went 40 minutes and 59 seconds without blinking. Did he have a beard? Yes, actually. Did his opponent? We’re not sure. Regardless, we definitely wouldn’t want to take him on in a contest. If you ever do face a bearded person in a staring contest, here are few tips for success: moisten your eyes, squint when necessary, stay focused, and if all else fails, make your opponent laugh.
1. They Do a Lot of Good
No Shave November, or Movember, is a global charity movement committed to men living longer, happier lives. Every November, men (and women) are encouraged to put down their razors, electric shavers and wax to raise awareness for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and physical inactivity in the hopes that more men will get annual check-ups to prevent diseases. The movement also encourages people to donate the money they would’ve spent on shaving supplies to health initiatives. Since 2003, the Movember Foundation has proudly raised $650 million, funded 1,000 health projects and gained support from over 5 million people worldwide.