Facial hair has been subject to both fashion and social status throughout history. Beard culture has been changing from time to time; some periodes it was HOT and other periods it was NOT. Let's (s)have a look at the history!
Have you ever thought about your body hair as leftovers from evolution? Well, that's basically what it is. Our ancestors were covered in hair, and now some dots of hair here and there is all that's left.
In the first known civilisations, all free men had beards. Hair removal was used as a punishment for prisoners of war and slaves - simply to remove their manhood.
Later in history, removal of hair got more popular. Scientists are not sure why, but there are theories about keeping lice away and separating themselves visually from the apes. The hair removal first started as tweezing, but around 30.000 years ago, the first knives made from flint were used as razors. Needless to say, it must have been a painful experience, as the knives were not really sharp at all. To ease the pain, river clay was used as facial masks. This was actually a pretty clever idea, as some types of clay are rich on vitamin A and E, which helps the skin to repair. These vitamins are still used in
today´s shaving cremes.
Around 5.000 years ago, the first metal razors were invented in Egypt and India. Especially the Egyptians were enthusiastic, as a lack of body hair was a sign of status; the less hair you had, the greater your position in the hierarchy. The only exception was the Faraos, which actually often used fake beards. Even Queen Hatshepsut used one when she ruled Egypt.
In ancient Greece, a beard was a sign of wisdom, and on the battlefields, beard was a sign of strength and manhood. However, when Alexander the Great (*starts humming Iron Maiden*) led his army into battle, he ordered that every solider shave, in order to prevent the enemy having something to grab on to. Even though he lost his battle, this shaving trend spread to the civilians and has been a trend on and off ever since.
Fun fact: Did you know a Norwegian holds the World Record for the longest beard in
history? Yep! True story. Hans N. Langseth was born in Norway in 1846, but emigrated to the US in 1867. He traveled with a freak show to show off his long beard. When he died in 1927 at the age of 81, his beard was measured to an impressive 5.33 meters!
Shaving is a part of the daily routine, for many men (and some women) . I contrast, those who have decided to throw away the razor and let the facial hair grow freely, there is actually more to it than just shampooing every now and then. Whether you've gone for the Mutton Chop- or the Lumberjack-style, grooming products for your beard is recommended to keep it and the skin as healthy and well maintained as possible. We've had a chat with Runar, who is the founder of Graabein Beard - a company that produce and sell high end beard products for all you hairy bastards out there.
Tell us a litle bit about Graabein! How did it all start?
"I first discovered beard oil back in 2013. I have had a beard for as long as I can remember, but I kept it short for many years because of problems with dandruff and itchy dry skin. There is a jungle of beard products out there, and I started testing different kinds to find a good fit for my skin and beard. Some was very pricey, others didn’t smell that good, and some didn’t help with my skin at all. It seemed that I never found one that checked all the boxes, and at some point I decided to make my own. Exactly when I started selling it to others, I don’t know, but I guess I did, ‘cause here I am."
Have you always been a fan of facial hair, or did the fascination come sneaking upon you along with the hipster wave?
"Like I said, I always kept it relatively short. Around 4 cm I think the clippers said. The beard oil has allowed me to grow my beard long, so the two are very much connected. The hipster wave is very visible, but I find that my customers are mainly people with beards that far outdate the beard-hype. These guys, myself included, will keep wearing our beards with pride long after the wave has passed."
Do you reckon metal people are hairier than others in general, and are they just as into grooming as your "ordinary" customers?
"Absolutely. The metal crowd is a very hairy one, and are very earnest when it comes to personal care. I find the metal scene to be very including of all people, and this includes openness towards «new» things like beard products. I don’t think metal people are more into grooming than anyone else, but with certain makeup, clothing and jewelry, etc. already being a part of the culture, I think there is less of a stigma towards men using products of any kind."
Tell us about your personal beard routine! How long have you been saving? Is the goal to grow the beard as long as possible?
"My beard routine is pretty straight forward. I keep a steel comb in the shower, and I got a mirror and beard soap in there too. Using the comb in the shower saves me a ton of work afterwards. I towel dry my face just like you would your hair, and then use a blow dryer and a comb to straighten my very curly beard a little bit. I always finish with beard oil. It takes me a total of 5 minutes. I have been saving since I first discovered beard oil back in 2013. I just kept growing it for a long time, trimming it every once in a while, but never more than necessary. It got pretty long, and I felt that with Graabein and all, I had to have one of the biggest beards out there. After a while though, I felt like the beard was wearing me, and not the other way around, so I cut about half of it off. I’m very happy with the length I have now. Life is not a contest, keep your beard the way you like it!"
If you had to chose only one beard product, what would it be?
"That is a no-brainer. Beard oil. Balm is good for styling, the same goes for mustache wax. Graabein Beard Soap is fantastic, but the beard oil is a life saver. If I go a week without beard oil, I want to rip my face off. People use beard oil for different reasons. I use beard oil because without it there is no way I could have a beard. It sounds exaggerated, but that is a fact."
Not everyone is blessed with generouse facial hair. Some wannabe-beards look more like pubic hair than a real beard. What do you recommend in these cases; grow or shave? Are there any products to enhance the growth?
"Let’s start with the last part of the question. No, there aren't any products that enhance growth. You can nourish the skin and remove dead skin cells. You can take your vitamins and have lots of sex (to up the testosterone level). I’m sure it would help, but if you are cursed with bad genes, there is not much you can do. My advice to anyone growing their beard is; Make the most of what you have! Some of the most famous people in the world sport patchy beards, and they make it work. Finding the right style, and wearing it with confidence is everything. Look at Orlando Bloom, or Johnny Depp. Both have thin, patchy beards, and these guys are top shelf handsome dudes. If you like your beard, others will notice and like it too. Confidence is sexy, and that starts with you liking yourself. I don’t want to tell anyone to go shave. Everyone should do whatever makes them feel awesome. If that means growing pubic hair on their chin, good for them!"
Graabein Beard can be found in the merch area at Karmøygeddon Metal Festival 2018 - feel free to check them out!
Index Photo: Medhaug Photo