It’s not just a beard.
No, that incredible mass of facial hair you so proudly wear is history, science, psychology, emotion – and more – all wrapped into one.
Not convinced? Just check out these 51 beard facts:
1. YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Don’t worry fellow beardsman – there is a large brotherhood that stands with you. That’s because 55% of men around the world sport a beard or some facial hair. Enjoy the company, friends.
2. MOST BEARD COMPLIMENTS WILL COME FROM OTHER MEN
That’s right. Once you grow out your beard, particularly if you have good genetics, most compliments will come to you from other guys.
Now, now, you’ll still get a good degree of positive remarks from women, as long as you keep it well-groomed.
But women don’t notice beards as much as other men do.
Full beards are considered to be an alpha trait. Guys who can’t grow a thick beard will be envious.
Not to mention, growing one out takes courage, and they look charming as hell.
3. THE WORLD’S LONGEST BEARD EVER WAS … WAIT, HOW LONG?
Let’s all rise and give a hearty round of applause to Hans Langseth. The Norwegian-American’s beard stretched to 5.33 m (17-feet, 6-inches) in 1927, earning him the title of Man With The Longest Beard Ever.
Langseth’s beard eventually made its way to Washington, D.C. and was stored in the Smithsonian Institute in 1967.
Hans, we are not worthy.
4. …WHICH LEADS US TO THE NEXT QUESTION
So, how long would your beard grow if you stopped shaving forever? Scientists and facial hair experts estimate that it would top out at 27.5 feet.
5. YOU WEREN’T ANYONE UNLESS YOU SPORTED A GOLD BEARD IN ANCIENT EGYPT
If you wanted people to take you seriously in ancient Egyptian times, you dyed your beard gold. A gold beard was a symbol of someone who held a high-ranking position and had lofty status.
And you sure the hell weren’t without your gold beard if you were a queen, king or other royalty during special occasions. Even royal cows sported an artificial gold beard.
6. A BEARD WILL SAVE 4.5 MONTHS OF YOUR LIFE
The average man wastes 4.5 months – or 139 full days – shaving. Imagine what you could do with that time instead?
Instead of shaving, why not travel, exercise, learn a new skill, scuba dive, mountain climb, or even spend some quality time with your loved ones?
7. YOUR BEARD WILL SCARE SOME PEOPLE
There’s no question that beards exude confidence but they also strike fear into the hearts of some people. Yes, there’s even a phobia for beards.
People who have a fear of beards suffer from Pogonophobia, and it’s often triggered by a variety of factors, such as a negative or traumatic event in the past with a bearded person.
For some, a beard comes off as untrustworthy and may trigger a phobic effect because it’s associated with religious fanaticism, homelessness, or even uncleanliness.
8. BEARDS ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH
Beards have a positive effect on your health and well-being for a variety of reasons, including that they protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays – up to 95% in most cases.
9. THE TAXING REIGN OF PETER THE GREAT
Russian Tsar Peter the Great wasn’t all that great if you had a beard. After all, he preferred a clean-shaven population and imposed a tax of 100 rubles on anyone who had facial hair. You also got a medallion, which served as a beard “license.”
Even with a medallion, there wasn’t any doubt how Peter felt about your beard. His inscription on the medallion read, “The beard is a useless burden.”
10. THE C.I.A. TRIED TO OVERTHROW COMMUNISM IN CUBA BY MAKING FIDEL CASTRO’S BEARD FALL OUT
Yes, it’s true – an operation known as The Cuban Project included a plan to contaminate Castro’s clothing with thallium salts which would, in turn, make his beard fall out.
The project, devised during the first year of John F. Kennedy’s presidency, was full of nefarious plans, including spraying hallucinogens into the broadcast booth before Castro gave a speech, placing explosive sea shells at his favorite hangouts, and coating cigars with botulism toxins.
11. ABE LINCOLN & HIS BEARD
No U.S. President has worn a beard with such distinction as Abraham Lincoln. And the advice of an 11-year-old helped spur him to grow his famous mass of facial hair.
In 1860, while Lincoln was campaigning for the presidency, he received a letter from Grace Bedell, a schoolgirl who urged him to grow a beard. Not only would Lincoln attract the attention of ladies, Bedell reasoned, but she would also convince her four brothers to vote for him should he grow a beard.
After he was elected, Lincoln met with Bedell to say that her advice convinced him to join the bearded brethren.
12. BEARDS DO NOT COMMIT TREASON
…And, therefore, should not be punished.
On July 26, 1535, right before his execution, Sir Thomas More stated that his beard had not committed treason and therefore should not suffer the same fate. So, right before the executioner chopped off his head, More put his beard aside. A noble hero, indeed.
13. WANT TO WIN A STARING CONTEST? GROW A BEARD
Maybe the beard serves as a distraction. Or, maybe it’s intimidating. In any case, men with beards are 63% more likely to win a staring contest.
14. THE PROFESSIONAL STUDY OF BEARDS IS CALLED “POGONOLOGY”
Do you read and do a ton of research about beards? If so, that makes you a pogonologist. Don’t forget to put that on your resume. After all, every company needs a beard expert.
15. THE BEARDS & BALDNESS LINK
If your hair is thinning on top, your beard may be part of the reason. A study in 1988 suggested that some men lose their scalp hair for thermoregulatory reasons because of the additional heat retention provided by their beard.
While women and children lose more heat through their lips, cheeks, chin, and neck, and less through their forehead. In contrast, men who can grow a beard lose 40% less heat through their face and secrete more sweat from their scalp.
16. DON’T TOUCH MY BEARD, MAN
If you touched another man’s beard during the Middle Ages, it was grounds for a duel.
17. SLOW BUT STEADY
The average man’s beard grows 5.5 inches a year – which goes to show that you can’t rush great work.
18. BEARDS SYMBOLIZE WISDOM
Beards and wisdom seem to go hand-in-hand, and have for hundreds of years, if not more. Just check out the likes of Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, and Shakespeare – who all sported beards.
19. ALEXANDER THE GREAT ORDERED HIS MEN TO SHAVE THEIR BEARDS
Beards are sometimes considered dangerous in hand-to-hand combat because, for one, they give the enemy something to grab. With that in mind, Alexander the Great had his men shave their beards before the Battle of Arbela.
Not to worry, though, because Alexander’s men grew their beards back and many kept them to display their lack of fear during war.
20. BUT BEARDS AREN’T A TOTAL DISADVANTAGE DURING COMBAT
True, a beard is easy to grab in hand-to-hand combat, but there are some psychological benefits: by wearing one you suggest to your enemy that you don’t care if he can grab of a fistful of facial hair because you’re more of a bad-ass than him, anyway.
21. WHY THE DUDES IN ZZ TOP GREW BEARDS
The iconic American blues rock band ZZ Top is synonymous with long beards. But that hasn’t always been the case.
In the late 70s, the band was taking a break and guitarist Billy Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill – unbeknownst to each other – decided to grow beards. When the band reconvened, Gibbons and Hill were surprised to see each other with fine facial fur and decided to keep doing what they were doing.
And there’s no turning back.
Gillette once offered Gibbons and Hill $1 million to shave their hard-rocking beards, but the two men declined without hesitation.
“The prospect of seeing oneself in the mirror clean-shaven is too close to a Vincent Price film…a prospect not to be contemplated, no matter the compensation,” said Gibbons.
Ironically, the band’s drummer – Frank Beard – wears a mustache.
22. TIRED OF SKIN DISORDERS? GROW A BEARD
If you suffer from acne and other skin disorders and irritations, just put your razor down and grow a beard instead. Shaving can spread bacteria around your face, irritate the skin with the dreaded razor rash, and cause hair follicle infection.
23. THE REASONS WHY (OR WHY NOT) YOU CAN GROW A BEARD
Some men can grow a thick, luxurious beard with the greatest of ease. Some can’t.
While many theories abound, the success of your beard growth generally comes down to two things: genetics and testosterone.
Genetics say that if your father, and his father, had no trouble growing a beard, then you’ll have no trouble, either. The testosterone theory says that men who can grow a beard respond better to testosterone than those who struggle to do so. The key word is “respond,” because studies show that men with the same levels of testosterone have varying degrees of success for growing a beard.
24. BYU AND BEARDS
While beards aren’t allowed at Brigham Young University, you can get away with wearing one if you have a valid medical reason. Interestingly, Mormon leader Brigham Young did, indeed, wear a beard.
25. THE LONGEST BEARD IN THE WORLD TODAY
Canadian Sarwan Singh is said to have the longest beard currently in existence. Singh’s beard measured in at 8 ¼ feet long in 2011.
Singh may be no Hans Langseth, but still …
26. SPEAKING OF LANGSETH …
In his later years, Hans Langseth joined a traveling circus to show off his world record beard, but eventually quit because too many people wanted to pull on it and ask if it was fake.
“You won’t believe the day I had at the office,” Langseth (may have) said, after returning home each night.
27. THE (LONGEST) BEARDED LADY
Vivian Wheeler of the United States holds the distinction of having the longest female beard ever. Wheeler grew a full beard that measured 11 inches following the death of her mother in 1990.
28. THAT’S A LOT OF HAIR
There are an estimated 30,000 hairs on an average man’s face.
Our advice? Use some of that abundant hair to grow the beard you know you’ve always wanted.
29. WHERE DID THE TIME GO?
The answer: It probably went when you were in the bathroom. After all, a man spends over 3,000 hours of his life in the bathroom.
30. A BEARD KEEPS YOUR FACE MOISTURIZED
Everyone’s face gets dry from time to time, but it has built-in moisturizing capabilities because of sebaceous glands that secret oils.
Alas, sun and wind can dry up these oils, but facial hair – such as a beard – provides a layer of protection that helps keep your skin moist and prevents skin conditions related to excess dryness. In other words, your face will thank you if you grow a beard.
31. OH, AND BEARDS IMPROVE YOUR SEX LIFE
We apologize for waiting so long to list this fact, but better late than never says an old cliché.
While there’s no definitive proof that a man will have more sex after he grows a beard, there’s just too much information available to dismiss the thought entirely. A 2008 study in Great Britain, for example, showed that women found men with facial hair to be the best romantic partners.
Of course, many men with beards would say that they knew that all along.
32. BEARDS REDUCE THE CHANCE OF BACTERIAL INFECTION
There’s nothing we can do about bacteria on the skin – it’s there and will always be there. But shaving can create nicks and cuts that bring in bacteria, which increases your chances of getting an infection.
Shaving also places you at a greater risk of getting painful in-grown hairs and can worsen acne.
33. SHAVING CAN BE A DRAG
…And not just because shaving can cut, nick, and irritate your face. But considering that it takes from 100 to 600 strokes to shave your face, it also eats up a lot of your precious time.
34. IT WASN’T JUST FOR LOOKS
Perhaps prehistoric men – who were ruled by their primitive brains – figured that a beard looked good, would attract women, and thus fulfill the goal of continuing the species. But historians agree that they also grew facial hair for warmth, protection, and as a means of intimidating their enemies.
Maybe they were smarter than we think.
35. IF YOU SAW BEARD HAIR, YOU KNEW IT WAS IMPORTANT
If you saw three beard hairs attached to the wax seal, you knew that the king’s correspondence was important, indeed.
36. IF HE SWORE BY HIS BEARD, YOU KNEW IT WAS IMPORTANT
Roman Emperor Otto the Great didn’t always wear a beard, but when he did, it had an impact. It seems that the venerable Otto swore by his beard when saying anything serious.
37. A QUICK – BUT IMPORTANT – NOTE ABOUT MUSTACHES
Did you know that the average mustache absorbs a pint and a half of beer every year?
At least happy mustaches do, that is.
38. GROW A BEARD, BREATHE EASIER
Let’s face it, allergies are usually a pain in the ass (and, not to mention, make it difficult to breathe). But a beard may act as a filter to keep pollen and other allergens from reaching your nose.
39. THE SAD PLIGHT OF WILGEFORTIS, THE FEMALE BEARDED SAINT
Legend has it that the Christian daughter of Portugal’s king – way back in the day – was ordered by her father to marry the pagan king of Sicily. Rather than lose her virginity to a man she didn’t like or want, the daughter prayed to God to become disfigured and scare her would-be husband away.
Indeed, she grew a beard and drove her fiance away, but her enraged father had her crucified. She became known as Wilgefortis, the patron saint of unhappily married women.
Ah, the endless struggle between some parents and their kids.
40. HIS BEARD MEANT EVERYTHING
The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus said that all external events were out of our control but that individuals were responsible for their actions. And he was particularly responsible for the status of his beard – which he said was an integral part of his identity.
So integral, in fact, that Epictetus said he’d rather be executed than forced to remove it.
41. YOU BETTER SHAVE BEFORE YOU STEP INTO THE RING
The International Boxing Association prohibits amateur boxers from having beards. The same rules don’t apply to pro boxing, as evidenced by the bearded Conor McGregor taking on Floyd Mayweather in their recent mega-fight.
42. THE THINGS YOU DO IN THE NAME OF RELIGION
Anglo-Saxon men were all about beards until Christianity came along to their world made its way to their world in the 7th century. But then clergy stepped in to declare that a clean-shaven face was the law.
43. THE MOST FAMOUS MOVIE BEARD OF ALL-TIME
OK, it’s next to impossible to pick the most famous movie beard because there are so many contenders. Where to start? Gandalf the Great from Lord of the Rings? Jules in Pulp Fiction? Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean? Or, Hagrid from Harry Potter?
So many choices, so little time.
44. THE AMISH AND THEIR BEARDS
The Amish and long beards go hand-in-hand for a variety of reasons. For one, Amish men quit shaving when they get married because a beard is a symbol of becoming a man.
But there’s also a deeply-religious aspect regarding Amish men and their beards, including the fact that most men in the Bible wore beards.
However, you’ll never see an Amish man with a mustache. Why? The Amish see themselves as a pacifist group and mustaches were common of men who went to war during the early days of Amish settlements in Europe.
45. DON’T EXPECT OVERNIGHT RESULTS
Fact: Your beard grows faster in the daytime than in the evening. That said, don’t expect to be the next Hans Langseth upon awakening each morning.
46. GETTIN’ FANCY WITH IT
The Ancient Greeks were fond of curling their beards with tongs to produce lush, hanging curls.
47. AND THEN CAME MORE STYLES
Men started to get serious about styling their beard in the 16th century. Popular trends included the forked beard and the stiletto beard.
Today, of course, there are many, many beard styles.
48. THE VAN DYKE & THE PAINTER
The Van Dyke is a centuries-old beard style still favored by many men. It gets its name from 16th-century painter Anthony Van Dyke, who painted aristocrats with pointed beards. And it soon became all the rage.
49. GROW A BEARD WHEN THE LADIES ARE AVAILABLE
Studies show that men are more likely to have facial hair when the marriage market is on an upswing.
50. A BEARD DOESN’T NECESSARILY IMPLY WEALTH
Considering that nearly all of those listed on the Forbes 100 richest men are clean-shaven, a beard isn’t likely to make you a billionaire.
Nothing is impossible, however.
51. BEARDS AS A SEXUAL CHARACTERISTIC
According to biologists, beards are considered a secondary sexual characteristic since they’re (mostly) unique to one sex.