To mark the auspicious occasion of World Beard Day (first Saturday in September), here are some weird and wonderful facts about beards…
1. A beard could increase your social status
Traditionally, beards have been associated with manliness, and there’s research to back that up. A study from the journal Behavioural Ecology asked people from two different cultures to assess bearded and clean-shaven faces with the results showing that bearded men were judged by both men and women to have higher social status. They were also thought to be older and more aggressive, but no more attractive.
2. The world’s longest beard was over 5 metres
The man credited with the longest beard in history is Norwegian-born Hans Langseth, who died in North Dakota in 1927. When he died, Langseth had a beard that measured a staggering 5.33 metres (that’s 17 feet six inches) but he didn’t take his record-breaking rope of hair – the product of 60 years of growth – to the grave with him. His dying wish was that the beard be preserved for posterity and it’s now stored by the Smithsonian.
3. Beards and baldness could be correlated
Ever wondered why some men are able to grow thick beards but they’re lacking in hair up top? According to one study, which looked at the number of sweat glands on bearded men’s heads, male baldness may be “a thermoregulatory compensation for the growth of a beard in adults.”
4. Some people have a phobia of beards
Derived from the Greek word ‘pogon’ (meaning beard), pogonophobia means a fear or dislike of beards, and is thought to arise when someone has a negative or traumatic experience related to a person with facial hair. In 2013, Jeremy Paxman accused the BBC of pogonophobia after he was criticised for presenting Newsnight with a beard.
5. The Rock wore a beard made of testicle hair
For his role in the movie Hercules, Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock wore a fake beard made from yak hair, or more specifically yak testicle hair. Comprised of half-inch strips, the coarse dark brown beard had to be meticulously applied piece by piece, meaning that along with his wig fitting and make-up, Johnson spent three and half hours each day being transformed into the hirsute hero.
6. Disney used to ban beards
While Walt Disney famously sported a moustache and six of the seven dwarves had long white beards, male staff at Disney theme parks were forbidden from displaying facial hair for 60 years, until the ban was lifted in 2012. Now ‘cast members’ (as public-facing employees are called) are allowed beards as long as they are short and neat.
7. Beards grow fastest in summer
While winter might be the logical time to grow out a ‘face sweater’ to guard against icy weather, during the colder months beard growth is slowest. Why? Studies have suggested testosterone levels are elevated in summer, meaning hair grows faster.