Know Your History - Mens Facial Hair


The beard or facial hair of the male is a strange thing. The existence of a little hair on an upper lip or a strip of fuzz along a cheek or the absence of said hair on a chin can have cultural, social or religious significance. A beard or moustache, or style of either can fade in and out of fashion depending on a complex set of factors.

In some Middle-Eastern and northern African countries it has been common for men to wear full beards for religious and cultural reasons, while in other cultures beards and moustaches are viewed as a sign of virility. In Western societies in the 1960s and the 1970s beards became popular again through beatnik and hippie culture. Facial hair faded from popularity in the 1980s until its resurgence this decade as a sign of masculinity, good health and attractiveness. Here is a rundown of facial hair through the ages:

1860s – Sideburns

This fashion was named after Civil War General Ambrose E. Burnside

The strips of hair at the side of the face were also known as ‘muttonchops’

Elvis Presley and James Dean adopted the look in the 1950s

Late 1800s – Chinstrap

An 11-year-old girl wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln urging him to “grow some whiskers”

The Republican candidate won the election and went on to abolish slavery

Daniel Day Lewis also sported a chinstrap for his Oscar-winning turn as Lincoln

Early 1900s – Handlebar moustache

William Taft wore a handlebar moustache, which is long and curved at the ends

Taft was the last American president to have facial hair

Spanish artist Salvador Dali wore a variation on the handlebar with curly edges

1930s – Toothbrush moustache

The neat ‘stache was in the shape of, you’ve guessed it, a toothbrush

Charlie Chaplin was one of the many who adopted the low-maintenance look

The facial fad became unpopular after WWII, for one very obvious reason

1950s – The Goatee

Jazz and soul musicians, like Dizzy Gillespie, were fond of this neat beard

It was also worn by beatniks in the 1960s, teamed with long hair

Actors Ben Affleck and Brad Pitt have been spotted sporting a goatee

2010s – Lumbersexuals

Beards have made a comeback this decade thanks to the hipster trend

Male facial hair associated with attractiveness, masculinity and good health

From Brad Pitt to Robert Pattinson to Johnny Depp, everyone is letting their beards grow wild