Facial hair through time

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,469
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#1
Fashion changes through time and so does the acceptance of facial hair, which I find very interesting.

See for example how facial hair was a sort of a nono in 18th and early 19th century Britain, then big beards became completely acceptable since Crimea, obligatory mustaches for soldiers in the late 19th century until 1916, when the use of war gas made an abundance of facial hair more than impractical. Afterwards its popularity seems to steadily be declining (how accurate is the picture of a British gentleman officer with a small trimmed mustache?) until the hippies and in recent years, hipster culture.

How is it where you're from? We can talk about both civilian and military aspects. Is facial hair accepted where you live? Do you personally sport a beard or mustache? Does your nation's army allow facial hair or not? How was it in the past?
 
Likes: Futurist

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,643
Dispargum
#2
As far as the military goes in every country as far as I know, I'm pretty sure the gas mask requirement is still driving the facial hair debate - no beards and only a tiny mustache. In the US military the army, air force, and marines have banned beards, probably since WW1. The US Navy allowed beards into the 1980s but then began to take the poison gas threat more seriously. By the 1991 Gulf War the US Navy was donning gas masks whenever they did coming-under-attack drills.

Except when I was in basic training I've always had a mustache from when it first sprouted when I was about 14. After I retired I expanded it to a larger portion of my face. There is more tolerance for beards now than there was in the 1970s. One is more likely today to see a man who has skipped a day or two of shaving. In the past it was more common for every man to strictly shave everyday.
 
Likes: Futurist
May 2017
137
Monterrey
#3
It's mostly a fashion thing like everything else. I stopped growing/taking care of my beard once it became a hipster thing, and I suspect that is the general trend, meaning that beards will be out of fashion soon enough again.

There was also some documentary/short feature I watched about an American cop visiting Norway or Sweden; one of the things he mentioned was how in USA the cops can't have tattoos/facial hair etc. I wonder if that's because of the militarization of the police force over there...
 
Likes: Futurist

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,469
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#5
Thanks everyone for your input so far!

I guess it was strickter back in the day. Thankfully I don't have to shave every day, otherwise I'd go nuts. My skin would kill me.

Hipsters have indeed ruined beards and handlebar mustaches. But here in Slovenia beards weren't fadhionable since the Belle Epoque, I'd say. Especially after ww2, when beards were associated with the četnik movement. So a presentable man had to be clean shaved and there weren't many hippies in Yugoslavia either. Poets and writers were pretty much the only people with beards back then. There were more mustaches though. It's weird, it seems only 50+ year old men wear mustaches here. And even then they're less common than in neighbouring Austria, or at least I notice them more over there and in Bavaria. Very few people in my family had a mustache (since my great grandfathers only one or two great uncles had/have a mustache). I grow a van dyke from time to time, then shave it when I grow tired of it.

It's interesting how during ww1 the British revoked the obligation of a mustache among soldiers (1916) while Austria-Hungary made in compulsive (1915, perhaps even earlier?) for almost all regiments (the 5th dragoon regiment was a rare exception, no idea why).
 
Likes: Futurist
Sep 2014
1,167
Queens, NYC
#6
I see a lot of beards-many quite nice looking (this is New York City). I'd like to grow one, but in my youth my beard looked terrible. Too much space between whiskers; varying directions of growth of individual whiskers; whiskers stopped growing after about 3 weeks).
They became acceptable in the mid to late-1960s; but they never really became acceptable in the law offices I worked in. Mustaches ok, if not too big.
 
Apr 2019
57
Ireland
#7
Didn't Peter the Great of Russia enforce clean-shaveness on the nobility to bring fashion in line with Western Europe?
 

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,469
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#8
Didn't Peter the Great of Russia enforce clean-shaveness on the nobility to bring fashion in line with Western Europe?
He did. You had to pay a special tax to keep yor beard, but nobles didn't really have a choice. It was quite a bit of a problem since the Russians saw beards as something godgiven.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,077
#9
Swedish Great Nordic War fashion was fairly hairy.

One of the fashionable items was however "the gunpowder moustasche".

You make an incision above your upper lip, fill the wound with gunpowder, and then light it.

The result is a scarification tattoo of sorts, in mustasch form. Sort of done to show people around you what a hell of a guy you are.

Field Marshall Rehnskiöld among others sported one, bit crooked, but made the statement just fine:
1556538677981.png
 

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,469
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#10
Swedish Great Nordic War fashion was fairly hairy.

One of the fashionable items was however "the gunpowder moustasche".

You make an incision above your upper lip, fill the wound with gunpowder, and then light it.

The result is a scarification tattoo of sorts, in mustasch form. Sort of done to show people around you what a hell of a guy you are.

Field Marshall Rehnskiöld among others sported one, bit crooked, but made the statement just fine:
View attachment 18737
Wow, now that's extreme! First time I hear about it, very interesting. Thanks for mentioning it!
 

Similar History Discussions