The changing face of facial hair

| September 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

Throughout history, facial hair has been a powerful signifier of men’s style, and is deemed so important by some that 2nd September has been coined ‘World Beard Day’. Whilst trends come and go and our concept of masculinity shifts, facial hair remains linked to men’s sense of self. According to a new report from Braun Styling, almost a third of British men say they trim their facial hair to look more masculine.1

As society’s ideas around masculinity change, men adapt too. Today, it seems men are more willing than ever to let their style out through their facial hair, with 92% saying that they would consider changing their facial hair style1. Ahead of this weekend, we took a look back at the evolution of facial hair:

The changing face of facial hair

The changing face of facial hair

In ancient Egypt and Greece, the clean-shaven look was king. In Greece, men aspired to look like the depictions of smooth-faced, eternally-youthful gods, while in Egypt, hair was removed from the whole body by personal barbers as a sign of wealth. Like celebrities today, the personal style of rulers had a huge impact; while Alexander the Great was a clean-shaven icon of his time, he was soon replaced by bearded Roman emperors such as Hadrian.

Shaving habits were no less fickle in the 20th century. With the beard-obsessed Victorians giving way to the clean-shaven faces of the 1910s. Spurred on by the invention of the disposable razor2.

The emergence of a strong youth movement shortly before WWI meant that being – or at least looking. Young, suddenly became fashionable, giving rise to smooth faces. In portraits of men from before the war the majority have beards, while after the war they mostly have moustaches or are clean shaven. This was also driven in part by hygiene concerns as men opted for smooth skin to help avoid lice.

Only 10% of men depicted The London Illustrated News were clean-shaven in 1890, compared to more than 70% in 1950.3 

This generational shift is still felt strongly today, with 82% of 18-35-year-olds sporting some form of facial hair1. Not only are young men today more likely to embrace facial hair, they are also regularly altering their look – with 28% of 18-35-year-olds have completely changed their facial-hair style in the last two months.1 As men have become more comfortable with letting their personal style shine through, there has been an increase in stubble and beards.

Mark Tungate, author of Branded Male: Marketing To Men, says: I find the emergence of the hipster beard interesting, because it seems to be a search of an old-fashioned form of masculinity. While also liberating yourself from the workplace dressing set by older generations.

The changing face of facial hair

Whatever the motivation, it’s clear that men today want the flexibility of re-styling for different occasions. As facial hair serves as a visual cue to the world about who you are and what you stand for. Braun launched its styling range earlier this year to meet the varied demands of men. With a range of Beard Trimmers and Multi Grooming Kits designed to precisely and easily cut through even longer hairs without tugging. For results that enable men to let their style out, this World Beard Day and beyond.

1. Source: Canvas8, Research Now Quant

2. A Nick in Time: How Shaving Evolved Over 100,000 Years of History, Gizmodo (March 2014)

3. Fashions in Shaving and Trimming of the Beard: The Men of the Illustrated London News, 1842-1972 , Dwight E. Robinson, in American Journal of Sociology (March 1976)



Category: beauty, skincare

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Editor - A Beauty Feature Career working in London, Hong Kong, S.E Asia, China, USA and Australia. Licensed Beauty Therapist /Trainer in New York, Chicago, California and Australia. A Beauty Feature Editor since 2010 New York Beauty Correspondent since 2011

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