Even though the beloved beard isn’t ancient history, beards do have ancient ties. Facial fuzz has been present on the faces of many male historical figures. The story and origins of beards gets lost in the sands of time, but they have been present in several notable historic moments. And beards have been through many phases and through the ages. Here is a quick recap of the history of beards throughout the centuries and different civilizations.
Beards started as a natural growth of facial hair in our prehistoric ancestors, used mainly for protection from sand, dirt and direct sunlight, warmth, and sometimes to intimidate those who were not welcome. It’s helpful to remember the razors weren’t exactly available at the local convenience store, so shaving proved difficult. The first known beard care accessories can be traced back to 5000 BC. Archaeological excavations have uncovered razors and instruments made of flint and oyster shells, which were sharpened to produce the desired effect.
It was only around 3000 BC that beards started to be taken care of and looked at as a symbol of social status. In Ancient Egypt, those in higher ranks dyed their beard gold to express their position. Those who weren’t graced with a natural facial mane could (and would) use fake beards, known aspostiches. For significant and special occasions, queens and even royal cows were documented as wearing those gold beards.
The Mesopotamian civilization was also one of the first to use beard products: they were the first to use beard oil (believed to be made from sesame seed oil) and took a considerable amount of care in grooming their facial hair. The Mesopotamians were also one of the first known people to curl and ornate their beards, into something most likely similar to what we see in the surviving art.
In Ancient Greece, many areas of study were developed, and the fine art of beard grooming was no exception. The Greeks made good use of castor oil to take care of their facial hair and help it grow faster. They also used tongs and curlers to shape it into hanging curls. Many Greek scholars and thinkers alike were very proud of their facial hair and even stood up for it. Epictetus, a former slave turned Greek stoic philosopher, defended that his beard was part of his identity and reportedly went so far as to say that he would rather be beheaded than forced to shave.
However, during ancient times, the status of the beard was somewhat disputed. On the one hand, some rulers and leaders were against them. For example, Peter the Great, who imposed a beard tax in Rome, demanded up to 100 rubles a year, depending on their social position. After paying the tax, the bearded men were given a medallion, which worked as a license. It was reportedly written, “the beard is a useless burden.” Another famous general who also wasn’t very fond of beards was Alexander the Great. He ordered all of his men to shave before The Battle of Arbela. This move did make sense from a tactical standpoint. When everything else fails in close combat, pulling one’s beard could be used as a way to regain the advantage and make your opponent lose focus for a few moments.
The Romans had additional beard-related history. They were one of the first cultures to promote the widespread use of razors, around 600-500 BC. And Romans were very fond of beard oil. They used olive oil to grow and care for their high-status manes. A young man’s first shave, around the age of 21, which was a reason for celebration because it was seen as his transition into manhood. During times of sorrow or disaster, beards were grown as a sign of mourning. That tradition has been turned around throughout the ages, of course. Nowadays it’s common for men to shave before funerals, job interviews, and other delicate or important occasions.beard oil is not only an all-natural solution to beard and skin health for men, it’s also part of a long and ancient tradition of luxury and pride for fantastic fuzz and majestic, manly manes. Give it a try and experience the difference for yourself.