On World Beard Day, a historical journey through the masculine look that was born as a symbol of power and virility. In addition, advice from specialists to take care of it and keep it healthy
The first Saturday of September arrived and, like every year, World Beard Day is celebrated. This day emerged in 2010 in the environment of Australian rock. Los Barbones, a musical group from that country, proposed to honor on that date the Viking kingdom of Denmark, which was a Mecca of long and neat beards in the 8th century.
The hair that grows in the lower part of the face between the sideburns, the cheeks, the chin and a part of the neck has an ancient history among human beings. Why? Well, records indicate that in the Ancient Egyptian Empire, between 3000 and 2190 BC, men already wore beards.
Both the style and the social perception of facial hair have been changing over time. At times it was a symbol of masculinity, virility, authority and even sin. In certain instances, wearing a beard became an imposition of the power of the day and also, on the contrary, it came to be on the list of what was prohibited.
The historical use of the beard
Delving into history you can find more than one indication related to the beard. For example, in ancient Mesopotamia (3000 BC), in part of the current territory of Iran, Syria and Turkey, the beard was synonymous with honor and abundance. Some 1,500 years later, the Persian Empire valued facial hair as a sign of manhood. This concept was so ingrained that some citizens put on false beards to show off and to differentiate themselves.
In Egypt the inhabitants completely shaved their faces, since the possibility of having a beard was reserved for some pharaohs. Carrying it meant, therefore, defying authority.
The battle of Arbelas -in the year 313 B.C.- faced the Persian army commanded by King Darius III and the Macedonians who were led by Alexander the Great. The latter ordered that his troops should remove their beards so that the enemies have nowhere to grab them.
The Romans, for their part, were no exception: they believed that the beard was counterproductive in military battles, so only philosophers and thinkers could wear it to the world. At that time, the Tonsor emerged, the category that we know today as hairdressing.
Under the magnifying glass of science
Beyond its place in the journeys of history, the beard was also observed by the universe of science. In the year 1970, the American psychologist and professor Edwin Ray Guthrie wrote the book “Evolution of Human Threat Visualization Organs”. There, he proposed that facial hair could be behaved as a form of intimidation before male peers since it increases perceptions of the size of the jaw and oversizes aggressive or threatening behaviors.
Guthrie found, in turn, that humans more quickly recognize expressions of anger on a bearded face. On the other hand, happiness or sadness are more difficult to perceive.
Román Céliz, from Barbería Santa Ana, who analyzed this perception of the beard as a synonym of strength and virility. “That was believed before, I think. Currently the vast majority of men have a beard as a look or as a fashion, rather than as a way to symbolize the masculine. Many do it or leave it to them because if the person next door has it, they have to copy it,” says Céliz.
In the same order of things, Patricio González, from El Maldito Barber, was consulted by this means and coincided with Céliz. “I have a lot of young clients and they grow their beards because they like it, that is, because of their appearance and for no other reason. Some even dye it,” he says.
Facial hair travels the world
Having reviewed history and science, we come to the present and find a singularity that speaks for itself. “Maybe you want to turn a full beard into an octopus. Or maybe you have a wonderful partial beard to share with the world. Whatever it is, you can compete in the World Beard and Mustache Championships.” Yes, as you read: there is an international competition that brings together bearded men from around the globe and invites them to participate to find the best.
This tournament is organized by The World Beard and Mustache Championships (TWBMC), an entity that has arrogated the power to score and judge beards from all over the world. According to the parameters established by TWBMC there are three kinds of facial hair: partial beard, full beard and mustache.
Second, depending on the style and cut, there may be specific classifications such as the “musketeer”. In this case, the beard is narrow and pointed and is complemented by a thin, long and stretched mustache that cannot have hairs longer than 1.5 centimeters. Another possibility is the freestyle goatee, located in an area 4 centimeters wide around the mouth and with the temple fully exposed.
The last edition of this championship was held in 2019 in the town of Antwerp, Belgium. On this occasion, TWBMC introduced an unprecedented category up to that time: the woman’s beard. Alice Jelley, from England, took the top spot for creative beard, while backstage men’s full beard was won by Hans-Peter Weis, who hails from Germany. The venue for the next World Cup will be Burghausen, in Germany. The event will take place between May and June 2023.
Regarding the styles and types of beards, Diego Izzo, who works at Buenos Aires Barber Shop, added his vision to Infobae about the wide range of existing possibilities. “There are people whose beard grows a lot and for convenience they wear it short. Others wear it long. It is a style and each one adopts it and carries it. We have clients with all kinds of beards,” says Izzo. Likewise, he reviews: “After the pandemic, people who had bushy beards returned to short beards, but what was not stopped using is neatness.”
How to take care of the beard
A bearded man lives not only on skills or styles: everyday life is key and makes the difference. The weather, air pollution and the passage of time can affect the beard. Therefore, it is important to maintain certain basic and regular care to achieve a model that lasts without major damage.
“It is ideal to use a special soap to clean it since bacteria, food and everything that flies through the air can collect in the hair of the beard. You can also use a balm or an oil to improve the quality of the hair and make it softer and more fragrant”, recommends Céliz.
“Another good step is to neaten it with a wooden comb and not a plastic one, since the latter generates frizz and tangles the hair,” he adds.
Just as certain criteria must be taken into account when it comes to care, it is also important to avoid mistakes that over the months can affect the health of the beard.
In that sense, Izzo reviewed the most frequent mistakes: “The biggest mistake that everyone makes is washing their beard with hair shampoo, which is very aggressive for the face due to the pH it contains and can cause dryness. Specific products for beards provide scented or unscented oils that give them a little shine and hydration.”