Beard care throughout history

Beard care throughout history

Have you ever noticed how long beards are all the rage right now when not so long ago short, neatly trimmed beards were ace? And before that, clean-shaven was the way to go? That’s all in the name of the game. Much like the clothes we see on the runway, facial hair fades in and out of fashion.

In addition to the ever-changing trending status of beards, the way we care for our beards has also changed. Back in the day, if you were to hand a man a beard oil dispenser, he would’ve been surprised to say the least. But that isn’t to say that male grooming didn’t take place because it certainly did—just not the type of male grooming we are used to.

Today we will be exploring the beard and the fascinating world of beard care throughout history. So if you are interested in learning about how the way we care for our beards has evolved alongside mankind, keep reading.

Ancient times

We know that people have been growing beards for the longest of times. In prehistoric times, beards were grown for warmth, protection from the elements, and intimidation. Nobody really knows if our cave-dwelling ancestors had their own secret stash of beard styling products that they kept next to their fire-making tools and animal hides.

Ancient sumerian stone carving of a bearded man

What we do know is that beard oil has been used since Babylonian times. It’s thought that this oil was comprised mainly of sesame seed oil. It wasn’t uncommon for ancient Mesopotamians and Native Americans to use beard oil either. Native Americans were thought to moisturize their beards using a concoction of castor oil, almond oil, and grape seed oil.

Although it’s not just beard oil that was popular in ancient times. Assyrians dyed their beards black, Persians dyed theirs auburn, and the most powerful of ancient Egyptians dyed them anything from copper red to deep brown.

In many Germanic tribes, a man could not shave until he had slain his first enemy. In Israel and ancient Greece, men were only allowed to trim their beards when they were in mourning. In ancient India, the cutting of a beard was a form of punishment.

Beards and the way in which they were cared for in ancient times varies according to geographical location and significance. To many, beards were a sign of virility, wisdom, virtue, and class—as you can imagine, those who were “worthy” of having a beard took exceptional care of it.

Middle ages

Fast forward to the middle ages where beards were of such importance that if a man were to touch another man’s beard it was grounds for a duel! Knights wore beards to display their virility and honor while members of the Catholic clergy and those living monastic lives were clean-shaven to symbolize their celibacy.

Bearded medieval knight in armor with sword and shield

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Vikings and their beards were wild and unkempt but in reality, the Vikings took great care of and pride in their beards. Some archaeological reports suggest that combs crafted from deer antlers were even carried on their belts along with swords—some even took their combs with them to the grave. Now that’s dedication.

Bearded Viking warrior wielding two axes

Considering the above and what an important role beards played to all sorts of different people during these times, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that Middle Age peeps mixed up their own beard balm or beard wax.

Modern history

Somewhere around the 15th century, clean-shaven was the order of the day among European men. In fact, in the early 17th century, Russia’s Peter the Great ordered all men to shave off their beards completely before instituting a beard tax—which members of the public were allowed to publicly enforce!

Portrait of Peter the Great

A stark change from ancient times, beards were forgone by members of the upper class and the nobility and in their place was clean-shaven faces. It’s speculated that only really the poor had beards and those with facial hair were widely regarded as scruffy and dirty. Slowly but surely the popularity of beards rose again only to decline once more in the early twentieth century.

By the end of the 20th century, beards were back again! And this time they were things of wonder with all sorts of beard styles popping up like the now-famous Van Dyke. Surprisingly, caring for beards was commonly outsourced to barbers and there were very few products available for purchase.

These days products such as beard oil, balm, gel, wax, shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer are commonly found in men’s bathrooms around the world. And based on the fact that back in 2018 the beard grooming market was valued at $24.1 billion and is expected to surpass the $43.1 billion mark by 2026, we can say that the men of today are definitely giving their beards the due respect needed.

Present day

It’s clear as day: for as long as men have had beards, they’ve been caring from them. Some may even argue that our predecessors took better care of their beards than what the gents of today do. The reality is that as much as our beards have changed throughout history so has our environment. Thankfully, everything you need is easily accessible unlike back in the day, so you don’t need to be rich and powerful to get your hands on quality products.

Modern man with a full beard wearing a flannel shirt

The beard-grower of today is living in a modern-day world with modern-day problems. Think air pollution and rising stress levels. Our facial hair may look similar to that of our ancestors but the conditions its exposed to are wildly different. That’s why our beard care products are specifically formulated to deal with and combat the effects of present-day life.