A beard is the hair that grows on a person's chin, cheeks, neck, and the area above the upper lip (the opposite is a clean-shaven face). Typically, only post-pubescent males are able to grow beards. When differentiating between upper and lower facial hair, a beard specifically refers to the facial hair on the lower part of a man's chin (excluding the moustache, which refers to hair above the upper lip and around it). The study of beards is called pogonology.

In the course of history, men with facial hair have been ascribed various attributes such as wisdom and knowledge, sexual virility, or high social status; and, conversely, filthiness, crudeness, or an eccentric disposition, such as in the case of a tramp, hobo or vagrant. In many cultures beards are associated with nature and outdoorsmen.


Ancient and classical world

Pre-classical civilizations

The highest ranking Ancient Egyptians grew hair on their chins which was often dyed or hennaed (reddish brown) and sometimes plaited with interwoven gold thread. A metal false beard, or postiche, which was a sign of sovereignty, was worn by queens as well as kings. This was held in place by a ribbon tied over the head and attached to a gold chin strap, a fashion existing from about 3000 to 1580 BC.

Mesopotamian civilizations (Assyrian, Babylonian, Chaldean, Median and ancient Persian) devoted great care to oiling and dressing their beards, using tongs and curling irons to create elaborate ringlets and tiered patterns.

In ancient India, the beard was allowed to grow long, a symbol of dignity and of wisdom (cf. sadhu). The nations in the east generally treated their beards with great care and veneration, and the punishment for licentiousness and adultery was to have the beard of the offending parties publicly cut off. They had such a sacred regard for the preservation of their beards that a man might pledge it for the payment of a debt.

The Persians were fond of long beards. In Olearius' Travels, a King of Persia commands his steward's head to be cut off, and on its being brought to him, remarks, "what a pity it was, that a man possessing such fine mustachios, should have been executed," but he adds, "Ah! it was your own fault."

Ancient Greece

The ancient Greeks regarded the beard as a badge or sign of virility which it was a disgrace to be without; and in the Homeric time it had even a sanctity as among the Jews, so that a common form of entreaty was to touch the beard of the person addressed. It was only shaven as a sign of mourning, though in this case it was instead often left untrimmed. A smooth face was regarded as a sign of effeminacy. The Spartans punished cowards by shaving off a portion of their beards. From the earliest times, however, the shaving of the upper lip was not uncommon. Greek beards were also frequently curled with tongs.

In the time of Alexander the Great the custom of smooth shaving was introduced. Reportedly, Alexander ordered his soldiers to be clean shaven, fearing that their beards would serve as handles for their enemies to grab and to hold the soldier as he was killed. The practice of shaving spread from the Macedonians, whose kings are represented on coins, etc. with smooth faces, throughout the whole Greek world. Laws were passed against it, without effect, at Rhodes and Byzantium; and even Aristotle, we are told, conformed to the new custom, unlike the other philosophers, who retained the beard as a badge of their profession. A man with a beard after the Macedonian period implied a philosopher, and we have many allusions to this custom of the later philosophers in such proverbs as: "The beard does not make the sage.

Ancient Rome

Shaving seems to have not been known to the Romans during their early history (under the Kings of Rome and the early Republic). Pliny tells us that P. Ticinius was the first who brought a barber to Rome, which was in the 454th year from the founding of the city (that is, around 299 BC). Scipio Africanus was apparently the first among the Romans who shaved his beard. However, after that shaving seems to have caught on very quickly, and soon almost all Roman men were clean-shaven - being clean-shaven became a sign of being Roman and not Greek. Only in the later times of the Republic did many youths shave the beard only partially, and trimmed it so as to give it an ornamental form; other young men oiled their chins to force a premature growth of beard.

Still, beards remained rare among the Romans throughout the Late Republic and the early Principate. In a general way, in Rome at this time, a long beard was considered a mark of slovenliness and squalor. The censors L. Veturius and P. Licinius compelled M. Livius, who had been banished, on his restoration to the city to be shaved, and to lay aside his dirty appearance, and then, but not till then, to come into the Senate. The first time of shaving was regarded as the beginning of manhood, and the day on which this took place was celebrated as a festival. Usually, this was done when the young Roman assumed the toga virilis. Augustus did it in his twenty-fourth year, Caligula in his twentieth. The hair cut off on such occasions was consecrated to some god. Thus Nero put his into a golden box set with pearls, and dedicated it to Jupiter Capitolinus. The Romans, unlike the Greeks, let their beards grow in time of mourning; so did Augustus for the death of Julius Caesar. Other occasions of mourning on which the beard was allowed to grow were, appearance as a reus, condemnation, or some public calamity.

In the second century A.D. the Emperor Hadrian, according to Dion, was the first of all the Caesars to grow a beard; Plutarch says that he did it to hide scars on his face. This was a period in Rome of widespread imitation of Greek culture, and many other men grew beards in imitation of Hadrian and the Greek fashion. Until the time of Constantine the Great the emperors appear in busts and coins with beards; but Constantine and his successors to the end of the sixth century, with the exception of Julian, are represented as beardless.

Barbarian customs

Tacitus states that among the Catti, a Germanic tribe (perhaps the Chatten), a young man was not allowed to shave or cut his hair until he had slain an enemy. The Lombards derived their fame from the great length of their beards (Longobards - Long Beards - Langbarten). When Otho the Great said anything serious, he swore by his beard, which covered his breast.

From the Renaissance to the present day

In the 15th century, most European men were clean-shaven. Clergymen in 16th century England were usually clean shaven to indicate their celibacy. When a priest became convinced of the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation he would often signal this by allowing his beard to grow, showing that he rejected the tradition of the church and perhaps also its stance on clerical celibacy. The longer the beard, the more striking the statement. Sixteenth century beards were therefore suffered to grow to an amazing length (see the portraits of John Knox, Bishop Gardiner and Thomas Cranmer). Some beards of this time were the Spanish spade beard, the English square cut beard, the forked beard, and the stiletto beard.

Strangely, this trend was especially marked during Queen Mary's reign, a time of reaction against Protestant reform (Cardinal Pole's beard is a good example). Queen Elizabeth I, succeeding Mary, is said to have disliked beards and therefore established a tax on them.

In urban circles of Western Europe and the Americas, beards were out of fashion after the early 17th century; to such an extent that, in 1698, Peter the Great of Russia ordered men to shave off their beards, and in 1705 levied a tax on beards in order to bring Russian society more in line with contemporary Western Europe.

Throughout the 18th century beards were unknown among most parts of Western society, especially the nobility and upper classes.

Beards returned strongly to fashion during the Napoleonic Era. Veterans of the French Emperor's Army were known as "Vieux Moustaches" (Old Moustaches), while greener conscripts were forbidden to grow them, thus making them especially coveted and prestigious. Throughout the nineteenth century facial hair (beards, along with long sideburns and moustaches) was more common than not. Many male European monarchs were bearded (e.g. Alexander III of Russia, Napoleon III of France, Frederick III of Germany), as were many of the leading statesmen and cultural figures (e.g. Benjamin Disraeli, Charles Dickens, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Karl Marx, Friederich Nietzsche and Giuseppe Verdi). The stereotypical Victorian male figure in the popular mind remains a stern figure clothed in black whose gravitas is added to by a heavy beard (or long sideburns). However, in the early twentienth century beards started a slow decline in popularity, while some prominent figures retained them (like Sigmund Freud, albeit severely shortened from the fashion of prior decades) most men which in the 20s and 30s still retained facial hair limited it to the moustache or a goatee (Marcel Proust, Albert Einstein, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotski, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin) Beards, together with long hair, were reintroduced to mainstream society in Western Europe and the Americas by the hippie movement of the mid 1960s. By the end of the 20th century, the closely clipped Verdi beard, often with a matching integrated moustache, had become relatively common.

Beards in North America

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, beards were rare in the United States. However, they had become prevalent by the mid-nineteenth century. Up to and following the American Civil War, many famous heroes and General officers had significant beards. A sign of the shift was to be observed in occupants of the Presidency: before Abraham Lincoln, no President had a beard; after Lincoln until William Howard Taft, every President (except Andrew Johnson and William McKinley) had either a beard or a moustache. The beard's loss of popularity since its nineteenth century heyday is shown by the fact that after this brief "golden age", no President has worn a full beard since Benjamin Harrison, and no President has worn any facial hair at all since William H. Taft.

Following World War I, beards fell out of vogue. There are several theories as to why the military began shaving beards. When World War I broke out in the 1910s, the use of chemical weapons necessitated that soldiers shave their beards so that gas masks could seal over their faces. The enlistment of military recruits for World War I in 1914 precipitated a major migration of men from rural to urban locales. This was the largest such migration that had ever occurred in the United States up to that time. The rural lives of some of these bearded men included the "Saturday Night bath" as a reality rather than a humorism. The sudden concentration of recruits in crowded army induction centers brought with it disease, including head lice. Remedial action was taken by immediately shaving the faces and cutting the hair of all inductees upon their arrival.

When the war concluded in 1918 the "Doughboys" returned to a hero's welcome. During this time period the Film Industry was coming into its own and "going to the movies" became a popular pastime. Due to the recent Armistice many of the films had themes related to World War I. These popular films featured actors who portrayed soldiers with their clean shaven faces and "crew cuts". Concurrently, "Madison Avenue's" psychological mass marketing was becoming prevalent. The Gillette Safety Razor Company was one of these marketers' early clients. These events conspired to popularize short hair and clean shaven faces as the only acceptable style for decades to come.

From the 1920s to the early 1960s, beards were virtually nonexistent in mainstream America. The few men who wore the beard or portions of the beard during this period were either old, Central Europeans, members of a religious sect that required it, in academia, or part of the counterculture, such as the "beatniks".

Following the Vietnam War, beards exploded in popularity. In the mid-late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, beards were worn by hippies and businessmen alike. Popular rock, soul and folk musicians like The Beatles, Barry White and the male members of Peter, Paul, and Mary wore full beards. The trend of seemingly ubiquitous beards in American culture subsided in the mid 1980s.

From the 1990s onward, the fashion in beards has generally trended toward either a goatee, Van Dyck, or a closely cropped full beard undercut on the throat.

One stratum of American society where facial hair is virtually nonexistent is in government and politics. The last President of the United States to wear any type of facial hair was William Howard Taft, who was in office nearly a century ago.

Beards in religion

Beards also play an important role in some religions.

In Greek mythology and art Zeus and Poseidon are always portrayed with beards, but Apollo never is. A bearded Hermes was replaced with the more familiar beardless youth in the 5th century B.C.


The Sikhs consider the beard to be an integral part of the male human body as created by God and believe that it should be preserved, maintained, and respected as such. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, ordained and established the keeping of the hair as part of the identity and one of the insignia of Sikhs. Sikhs consider the beard to be part of the nobility and dignity of their manhood. Kesh is also one of the Five Ks for a baptised Sikh.


The Hindus keep beards depending on caste and Dharma. Many Hindu priests are unshaven as a sign of purity. Keeping beards in Hinduism depends on the Dharma that is being followed. The ancient text followed regarding beards depends on the Deva and other teachings, varying according to whom the devotee worships or follows. In the Dharma it is said if one keeps a moustache it is regarded as a sign of evil or of a soldier . Most original idols lack moustaches, except for the Rakshasa and Asuras, who are considered to be bad or power-seeking. Many Sadhus, Yogis, or Yoga practitioners keep beards, and represent all situations of life. Shaivite ascetics generally have beards, as they are not permitted to own anything, which would include a razor.

Vaishnava men, especially Gaudiya Vaishnava men, are encouraged to be clean-shaven as a sign of cleanliness. Sannyasis, or renunciates, are generally clean-shaven and keep a shaven head (except a small tail called a shikha).


The Bible states in Leviticus 19:27 that "Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard." Talmudic rabbis understood this to mean that a man may not shave his beard with a razor with a single blade, since the cutting action of the blade against the skin "mars" the beard. Because scissors have two blades, halakha (Jewish law) permits their use to trim the beard, as the cutting action comes from contact of the two blades and not the blade against the skin. For this reason, most poskim (Jewish legal decisors) rule that Orthodox Jews may use electric razors to remain cleanshaven, as such shavers cut by trapping the hair between the blades and the metal grating, halakhically a scissor-like action. Some prominent contemporary poskim maintain that electric shavers constitute a razor-like action and consequently prohibit their use.

Many Orthodox Jews grow beards for social and cultural reasons. Since the electric razor is a relatively modern innovation, virtually all Orthodox Jews grew beards before its advent. Beards are thus symbolic of keeping the traditions of one's ancestors. The Zohar, one of the primary sources of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), attributes holiness to the beard, specifying that hairs of the beard symbolize channels of subconscious holy energy that flows from above to the human soul. Therefore, most Hasidic Jews, for whom Kabbalah plays an important role in their religious practice, traditionally do not remove or even trim their beards.

Also, some Jews refrain from shaving during the 30-day mourning period after the death of a close relative, known in Hebrew as the "Sheloshim" (thirty).


Jesus is almost always portrayed with a beard in art originating from the Gothic period and later. In paintings and statues most of the Old Testament Biblical characters such as Moses and Abraham and Jesus' New Testament disciples such as St Peter are with beard, as was John the Baptist. John the Evangelist is generally depicted as clean-shaven in Western European art, however. Eight of the figures portrayed in the painting entitled The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci are bearded. Mainstream Christianity holds Isaiah Chapter 50: Verse 6 as a prophesy of Christ's crucifixion, and as so, as a description of Christ having his beard plucked by his tormentors. In recent past the beard trend is in decline among Christian communities.

In Eastern Christianity, beards are often worn by members of the priesthood, and at times have been required for all believers - see Old Believers. Amish and Hutterite men shave until they are married, then grow a beard and are never thereafter without one, although it is a particular form of a beard (see Visual markers of marital status). Many Syrian Christians from Kerala in India use to wear long beards.

Nowadays, members of many Catholic religious communities, mainly those of Franciscan origin, use a beard as a sign of their vocation. At various times in its history the Catholic Church permitted and prohibited facial hair. Some Messianic Jews also wear beards to show their observance of the Old Testament.


Many Muslims believe that growing a beard is required under Islamic law due to the saying of the Islamic prophet Muhammad that Muslim men should grow their beards and trim their mustaches.

In contemporary Muslim practice a longer beard is associated with Sunnis, a more closely trimmed beard with Shia Muslims. Accordingly, in Iraq where ethnic cleansing has taken place to make districts all-Sunni or all-Shi'a, members of the local minority adjust their beard style to avoid recognition.

According to the majority opinions in the four major Sunni schools of jurisprudence, a beard is mandatory for all men, unless they have a medical reason not to grow one. Minority opinions exist in all four schools that the beard is optional, but commendable.

Muhammad also was quoted as saying that growing the beard is part of the Abrahamic tradition that Muslims have inherited. Muslims believe that Allah commanded Abraham to keep his beard, shorten his mustache, clip his nails, shave the hair around his genitals, and pluck his armpit hair.

Rastafari Movement

A male Rastafarian's beard is a sign of his pact with God (Jah or Jehovah), and his Bible is his source of knowledge. Leviticus 21:5 ("They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in the flesh.") Likewise, it is not uncommon for a Rastafarian beard to grow uncombed; like dreadlocks.

Beards in music

The 20th century American jazz drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich famously fired members of his band for wearing beards. Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of the famous rock band ZZ Top are also renowned for having very distinctive facial hair. Ironically, ZZ Top's drummer Frank Beard (called "Rube Beard" on earlier albums) is the one member of the group who, despite his surname, and sporting a mustache since the early days of the band, does not wear a beard. Alternative Folk musician Sam Beam, better known as Iron & Wine, is known for always sporting a full beard.

The Beatles, notably John Lennon (see Abbey Road cover), George Harrison, Paul McCartney (during the sessions for Let It Be), and Ringo Starr who also had a beard during Abbey Road and through till the present, sported full beards in the last days of the band. Jim Morrison also sported a beard in the last few years of his life, but a few times shaved it off, as in his last days.

Several Heavy metal musicians like Lemmy Kilmister, Kerry King, James Hetfield, Zakk Wylde, Scott Ian, Dimebag Darrell Abbott, Mark Morton, Mick Thomson, Chris Adler sport beards.

Leland Sklar, a prolific session bass guitar player, is noted for his long hair and a long flowing beard. In the past few years ex-Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl has famously sported a beard.

Clutch lead singer Neil Fallon sports a beard most of the time.

Alexisonfire/City And Colour guitarist Dallas Green has had a beard in recent years, although, in the bands early years he was clean shaven.

Modern prohibition of beards


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)

LDS Church Presidents from Brigham Young to George Albert Smith all wore beards of some manner. But from the time of David O. McKay through Thomas S. Monson, general Church leaders have been uniformly clean-shaven. Mormon men in general have followed suit, though this is not mandated by scripture or Church policy. Having a beard does not disqualify a man from temple attendance, nor from serving in many positions of local leadership.

Full-time missionaries are clean-shaven as a matter of policy. Bishops and stake presidents are strongly encouraged not to grow facial hair. Students at Brigham Young University adhere to an Honor Code containing Dress and Grooming Standards. This includes the following language: "If worn, moustaches should be neatly trimmed and may not extend beyond or below the corners of the mouth. Men are expected to be clean shaven; beards are not acceptable." Exceptions are made for BYU students who must keep their beard for medical reasons. While such exceptions once applied to religious reasons as well, such is not the current administrative stance of BYU.


Today, for practical reasons (with some exceptions), it is illegal for amateur boxers to have beards. As a safety precaution, high school wrestlers must be clean-shaven before each match, though neatly trimmed moustaches are often allowed.

The Cincinnati Reds, Major League Baseball's oldest existing team, had a longstanding enforced policy where all players had to be completely clean shaven (no beards, long sideburns or moustaches). However, this policy was abolished following the sale of the team by Marge Schott.

In Irish soccer a ban on beards has been in place since 2005, when Beechlawn Rovers defender David Murray pulled Chanel striker Ricky Bobby down by his beard when he was clear through on goal. It was feared by the Irish Premier League that this practice would continue; therefore a ban was placed on growing facial hair longer than two inches.

Under owner George Steinbrenner, the New York Yankees baseball team has had a strict dress code that forbids long hair and facial hair below the lip. More recently, Willie Randolph and Joe Girardi, both former Yankee assistant coaches, adopted a similar clean-shaven policy for their ballclubs; the New York Mets and Florida Marlins, respectively. Fredi Gonzalez, who replaced Girardi as the Marlins' manager, dropped that policy when he took over after the 2006 season.

Playoff beard is a tradition common on some teams in the NHL and now in other leagues wherein players allow their beards to grow from the beginning of the playoff season until the playoffs are over for their team.

Civilian Prohibitions

Professional airline pilots are required to be clean shaven to facilitate a tight seal with auxiliary oxygen masks.

Armed forces


The Canadian Forces permits moustaches, provided they are neatly trimmed and do not pass beyond the corners of the mouth; an exception to this is the handlebar moustache, which is permitted. Generally speaking, beards are not permitted to CF personnel with the following exceptions:

  • members wearing the naval uniform (tradition)
  • members of an infantry pioneer platoon (tradition)
  • members who must maintain a beard due to religious requirements - (Muslims, Sikhs or orthodox Jews, for example)
  • members with a medical condition which precludes shaving

These exceptions notwithstanding, in no case is a beard permitted without a moustache, and only full beards may be worn (not goatees, van dykes, etc.).

Personnel with beards may still be required to modify or shave off the beard, as environmental or tactical circumstances dictate (e.g., to facilitate the wearing of a gas mask).

Beards are also allowed to be worn by personnel conducting OPFOR duties.


The "decree N° 75-675 regarding regulations for general discipline in the Armies of the 28th July 1975, modified regulates facial hair in the French armed forces. Military personnel are allowed to grow a beard or moustache only during periods when they are out of uniform. The beard must be "correctly trimmed", and provisions are stated for a possible ban of beards by the military authorities to ensure compatibility with certain equipment.

However, within the Foreign Legion, sappers (combat engineers) are traditionally encouraged to grow a large beard.

The gendarmes, also by tradition, may grow a moustache.


The present-day regulations of the German Federal Defence Forces allow soldiers to grow a beard, on condition that it be trimmed, unobtrusive and well-kept. Beards must not impact the proper use of any military equipment. Moreover, stubble may not be shown; thus a clean-shaven soldier who wants to start growing a beard must do so during his furlough.

According to German military tradition, soldiers should not have beards, only moustaches. Therefore this form of facial hair is still the only one allowed to members of the so-called Wachbataillon (Guard Battalion), which is deployed for solely protocol-related duties. Likewise, superior officers are rarely seen with large beards.


According to the regulations of the Israel Defense Forces, growing a moustache or a beard is prohibited. Allowances are made in the following cases:

  • The soldier is a practicing Orthodox Jew and requests permission to grow a beard for religious reasons.
  • The soldier has a medical condition (such as skin problems) that would be aggravated by shaving (medical documentation is necessary)
  • The soldier had a beard before joining the army and requests permission to keep it.
  • The soldier has completed his compulsory service and is serving in the career army.

If a soldier has obtained permission to grow a beard, the beard must either be:

  • A full beard - extending from the sideburns to the chin on both sides of the face.
  • A goatee - starting from the middle of the face on both sides and extending to the chin, including a moustache.

The Netherlands

In the Royal Netherlands Army, officers and soldiers may only grow beards after permission has been obtained. As in many other armies, medical conditions can mean automatic permission to grow one and not shave. Moustaches may be grown without asking permission. Beards are worn at times by the Royal Netherlands Marines and by Royal Netherlands Navy personnel. All facial hair in the Netherlands armed forces is subject to instant removal when operational circumstances demand it. Recent operations in Afghanistan under the ISAF have seen a trend of growing "tour beards", both for bonding and as a way of advancing contacts with the Afghan population, who regard a full beard as a sign of manhood. A beard without a moustache is uncommon in The Netherlands.


The Spanish Legion allows beards to be grown.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the Royal Navy allows "full sets" (beards and moustaches together) but not beards or moustaches alone. The other British armed services allow moustaches only. Exceptions are beards grown for religious reasons (usually by Sikhs), though in the event of conflict in which the use of chemical or biological weapons is likely, they may be required to shave a strip around the seal of a respirator. Beards are also permitted for medical reasons, such as temporary skin irritations, or by infantry pioneer warrant officers, colour sergeants and sergeants, who traditionally wear beards. Any style of facial hair is allowed in British police forces as long as it is neatly trimmed. Beards are also permitted by special forces when not on base, ie covert intelligence operations or behind enemy lines.

United States

The U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps justify banning beards on the basis of both hygiene and of the necessity for a good seal with gas masks. The U.S. Navy did allow beards for a time in the 1970s and 1980s, following a directive from Chief of Naval Operations Elmo Russell Zumwalt, Jr., but subsequently banned them again. The U.S. Coast Guard allowed beards until 1986, when they were banned by the Commandant, Admiral Paul Yost. The vast majority of police forces across the United States still ban beards. However, moustaches are generally allowed in both the military and police forces (except for those undergoing basic training). U.S. Army Special Forces and other U.S. Special Operation Forces have been allowed to wear beards in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other middle-eastern countries in order to better fit in with the indigenous population.

Also, those with pseudofolliculitis barbae or severe acne are allowed to maintain neatly trimmed beards with a doctor's or medic's permission.


Laws on the matter are quite liberal; both length of hair and beard depends on the soldier's position. The Royal Guard is required to be clean-shaven. Most operative personnel are not allowed to wear them (so as not to interfere with gas masks) unless:

  • The soldier attains express permission to grow his beard from a high-ranking officer.
  • The soldier already has a beard upon his enlistment and requests to continue growing it or maintain it at its present length.

Quotes regarding beards

  • "There are two kinds of people in this world that go around beardless — boys and women — and I am neither one." -Greek saying
  • "A kiss without a moustache, is like soup without salt." - Breton saying
  • "A man without a moustache is like a cat without a tail." - Arab Saying
  • "A woman with a beard looks like a man. A man without a beard looks like a woman." - Afghan Saying
  • "The beard is the handsomeness of the face, and a wife is the joy in a man's heart." - R' Akiva, Eicha Rabbah
  • Leonato: You may light on a husband that hath no beard.
    Beatrice: What should I do with him? Dress him in my apparel and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man: and he that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him… -William Shakespeare - Excerpt from 'Much Ado About Nothing' – Act 2, Scene I
  • "And yet your beards forbid me..." - Banquo, to the witches, in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Early Christian attitudes

  • St Clement of Alexandria
    • "The hair of the chin showed him to be a man." St Clement of Alexandria (c.195, E), 2.271
    • "How womanly it is for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, and to arrange his hair at the mirror, shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them!…For God wished women to be smooth and to rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane. But He adorned man like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him as an attribute of manhood, with a hairy chest--a sign of strength and rule." St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.275
    • "This, then, is the mark of the man, the beard. By this, he is seen to be a man. It is older than Eve. It is the token of the superior nature….It is therefore unholy to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness.” St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.276
    • "It is not lawful to pluck out the beard, man’s natural and noble adornment." St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.277
  • St Cyprian
    • "In their manners, there was no discipline. In men, their beards were defaced." St Cyprian (c. 250, W), 5.438
    • "The beard must not be plucked. 'You will not deface the figure of your beard'." (Leviticus 19:27) St. Cyprian, 5.553
  • Lactantius
    • "The nature of the beard contributes in an incredible degree to distinguish the maturity of bodies, or to distinguish the sex, or to contribute to the beauty of manliness and strength." Lactantius (c. 304-314, W), 7.288
  • Apostolic Constitutions
    • "Men may not destroy the hair of their beards and unnaturally change the form of a man. For the Law says, “You will not deface your beards.” For God the Creator has made this decent for women, but has determined that it is unsuitable for men." Apostolic Constitutions (compiled c.390, E) 7.392. (1)
  • Augustine of Hippo
    • "There are some details of the body which are there for simply aesthetic reasons, and for no practical purpose - for instance, the nipples on a man's chest, and the beard on his face, the latter being clearly for a masculine ornament, not for protection. This is shown by the fact that women's faces are hairless, and since women are the weaker sex, it would surely be more appropriate for them to be given such a protection." City of God (c. 410) book 22, chapter 24

Famous personalities with beards

Religious figures in scripture and/or history

Scientists and philosophers

Political leaders

Fictional figures

Beard styles

Beard hair is most commonly removed by shaving. If only the area above the upper lip is left unshaven, the resulting facial hairstyle is known as a moustache; if hair is left only on the chin, the style is a chin beard. The combination of a moustache and a chin beard is a goatee or Van Dyck, unless the mustache and chin beard are connected, in which case it is known as a circle beard.

  • Full - downward flowing beard with either styled or integrated moustache
  • Sideburns - hair grown from the temples down the cheeks toward the jawline. Sometimes with a moustache.
  • Chinstrap - a beard with long sideburns that comes forward and ends under the chin, resembling a chinstrap, hence the name.
  • Donegal - similar to the chinstrap beard but, covers the entire chin.
  • Garibaldi - wide, full beard with rounded bottom and integrated moustache
  • Casey - A full beard normally found on young adolescents, usually thinner until the owner gets older, when it will grow thicker than most.
  • Goatee - A tuft of hair grown on the chin, sometimes resembling a billy goat's.
  • Hollywoodian- A beard with integrated mustache that is worn on the lower part of the chin and jaw area, without connecting sideburns.
  • Reed - A beard with integrated mustache that is worn on the lower part of the chin and jaw area that tapers towards the ears without connecting side burns.
  • Royale - is a narrow pointed beard extending from the chin. The style was popular in France during the period of the Second Empire, from which it gets its alternative name, the imperial or impériale.
  • Stubble - a very short beard of only one to a few days growth. This became fashionable during the heyday of Miami Vice. During this time, a modified electric razor called the Miami Device became popular, which would trim stubble to a preset length.
  • Van Dyck - A goatee accompanied by a moustache.
  • Verdi - short beard with rounded bottom and slightly shaven cheeks with prominent moustache
  • Neck Beard - Similar to the Chinstrap, but with the chin and jawline shaven, leaving hair to grow only on the neck. While never as popular as other beard styles, a few noted historical figures have worn this type of beard, such as Henry Thoreau and Horace Greeley.
  • Soul patch - a small beard just below the lower lip and above the chin
  • Friendly Mutton Chops - long muttonchop type sideburns connected to a mustache, but with a shaved chin

See also

Further reading

  • Reginald Reynolds: Beards: Their Social Standing, Religious Involvements, Decorative Possibilities, and Value in Offence and Defence Through the Ages (Doubleday, 1949) (ISBN 0-15-610845-3)
  • Helen Bunkin, Randall Williams: Beards, Beards, Beards (Hunter & Cyr, 2000) (ISBN 1-58838-001-7)
  • Allan Peterkin: One Thousand Beards. A Cultural History of Facial Hair (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2001) (ISBN 1-55152-107-5)
  • A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, David W. Bercot, Editor, pg 66-67.



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