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A Short History of Beards

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

From the scruffy chin strap to the full-on beard Hedwig, facial hair has been in style for centuries. But where did this hairy trend begin? Let's take a short trip through history to explore the origins of beards.

The Earliest Beards

The first recorded instance of facial hair comes from 300,000 BCE when Neanderthals were living in Europe. Cave paintings from this time period depict men with long, flowing beards and mustaches. It is believed that Neanderthals wore their facial hair in this way to protect themselves from the cold weather.

Fast forward to ancient Egypt where we see the first evidence of bearded pharaohs. In fact, most of the Egyptian gods were depicted as having beards including Osiris, Ra, and Horus. For the Egyptians, beards were a symbol of wisdom and power. Pharaohs would often have their beards dyed or even plated with precious metals such as gold.

Beards in the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, beards fell out of favor for a time as they were associated with barbarians and other unsavory characters. It wasn't until the 12th century that we see the return of the beard thanks to King Richard I of England, who popularized the style among European nobility. From there, beards became increasingly popular throughout the continent. By the 15th century, it was considered a sign of virility not to shave one's face.

The Elizabethan Era and Beyond

Facial hair continued to gain popularity during the Elizabethan era when toy boys sporting goatees became all the rage among upper-class women. At this time, Queen Elizabeth I herself declared that only "hags and witches" would go without a beard. But times changed and by 1650, beards were once again out of style in Europe due largely to their association with Puritanism.

This trend would continue well into the 20th century when clean-shaven faces became de rigueur among men in Western cultures. It wasn't until the 1960s that we see facial hair making a comeback thanks to celebrities like Sean Connery, who sported a sleek beard in his role as James Bond. Since then, beards have had something of a rollercoaster ride in terms of popularity but one thing is for sure – they're here to stay!

Whether you're rocking a handlebar mustache or a full-on beard à la ZZ Top, there's no denying that facial hair is back in style – and it's here to stay! So if you're thinking about growing out your facial hair, know that you're joining a long and storied tradition that dates back centuries. Who knows? Someday your beard might just end up in caves!


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