Shaving. Did you know men have been doing it since 30,000 BC?
And did you know that the hair on your face is on average x4 thicker than the hair on your head?
Or that your beard can grow over x4 your height?
Nor did I! So in today's article, I'm giving you 10 strange but true facts you never knew about shaving and facial hair.
Shaving Fact #1. Beard Tax Was A Thing
In 1698, Emperor Peter the Great of Russia imposed a tax on beards. Police enforced this law and collected the tax at the entrance to every town. And what if you didn't comply? Well, men who refused to pay had their beards publicly shaved off!
Men who paid the tax had to carry a ‘beard token' (a copper or silver coin with a picture of a beard) with them as proof of payment.
It is said that King Henry VIII also imposed a tax on beards – even though he had one and presumably didn't tax himself – and his daughter Elizabeth I of England continued this legacy by taxing every beard of over 2 weeks' growth. This was not a good time to grow a beard!
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Shaving Fact #2. Alcohol Can Make Your Facial Hair Grow
Testosterone in the body creates a hormone called DHT which plays a major role in the development of body hair.
Drinking alcohol increases the conversion of DHT into ‘3-alpha diol' – the main hormone responsible for hair growth speed and this can lead to your facial hair growing more quickly than normal.
And beer contains silicon which is believed to increase circulation and stimulate facial hair growth. This is great news for any beer drinkers out there – you're not going to a bar, you're going to work on improving your beard! (Remember that one!)
Shaving Fact #3. Mini Facts
- Eyebrows help keep our eyes clean and clear – they keep sweat and rain water away from our eyes so we can keep focused on what's in front of us.
- Ever wondered why some people have curly hair and some have straight? It's all in the hair shaft. Hairs with round shafts are straight and hairs with oval/oblate shafts curl up.
- The average man shaves about 10,000 times in his lifetime! This is why it's important to use the best shaving products you can find.
Shaving Fact #4. Fidel Castro's Beard Wasn't All It Seemed
Cuban Revolutionary Fidel Castro is famous for many things: some see him as a hero, others a tyrant. He was also synonymous with his long, unkempt beard. Castro's official line was that his beard was a symbol of the Cuban Revolution; that he and other guerilla fighters let their beards grow while engaged in jungle warfare.
To quote the man himself
“If you save 15 minutes a day by not shaving your beard, you gain about 10 days a year that you can devote to work, to reading, to sport, to whatever you like. And you save on razors, soap and hot water, too”.
…but, later on in life he reportedly told Journalist Barbara Walters that the real reason he grew his beard was that his supplies of Gillette Razors blades were cut off by the US Embargo on Cuba at the time!
Here's a bonus fact for you – In an operation known as ‘The Cuban Project', the Kennedy presidency included a plan to contaminate Castro’s clothing with thallium salts which would make his beard fall out.
Shaving Fact #5. Men & Women Have The Same No. Of Hair Follicles On Their Face
Hair follicles on a man's jaw are stimulated by the hormone dihydrotestosterone. And this is the reason men grow beards (and women don't). There are about 30,000 beard hairs on the face of the average man with the greatest concentration being on the chin and upper lip and the average man’s face contains anywhere from 5,000 to 25,000 hairs.
The average man's beard grows at around 1/2 inch per month and it is believed that historically women came to find men with thicker beards more attractive because it implied the bearded individual was more dominant than his lowly friend with poor growth.
Shaving Fact #6. Some Animals Also Have Beards
It's not just us men who have types of facial hair.
The Lion-Tailed Macaque, the Bearded Emperor Tamarin (looks like a monkey and is native to Brazil and Peru) and Scottish Highland Cattle also sport impressive beards.
And did you know that only lions grow manes? A lion's mane color is indicative of the lion's strength and health. The darker his mane – the more important he is in his pride. And get this – lions with manes treat lions without manes differently.
The poor animals with little or no manes are attacked more often and have less success with the ladies – this suggests that beards have survival and reproductive benefits. (Remember that one when you're impressing a woman with your facial hair.)
#7. Beard Growing Contests Exist
Yes, that's right! The World Beard and Moustache Championships is a real event and it is taken very seriously by those in the business of growing facial hair.
The World Beard and Moustache Championships came to Texas in 2017 and had 738 competitors from 33 countries and 27 categories. It's for men AND women.
Categories include best partial beard, full beard, full mustache, and a freestyle category. The competition was dominated by the USA. who took first place in 27 different categories and in case you want to go – next year it's being held in Antwerp, Belgium.
Shaving Fact #7. Hair Removal Isn't A Modern Trend
Egyptians shaved their beards and heads. And the Greeks and Romans adopted this custom around 330BC, during the reign of Alexander the Great.
It is believed this was to distinguish themselves from brutish barbarian peoples who were hairier. Some Roman men had a servant to shave them (it's alright for some!); otherwise they'd start their day with a trip to the barber.
Roman soldiers were encouraged to shave as a defensive measure to stop enemies from grabbing their hair in hand-to-hand combat.
The oldest known remaining barbershop in the world is Truefitt & Hill in Mayfair, London, which was established by William Francis Truefitt in 1805.
And this one is my favorite – Anthony Mancinelli is the oldest practicing barber in the world – aged 107! He was born in Italy in 1911 and at the age of 8 moved to Newburgh, New York with his family.
Shaving Fact #8. In the USA, Beards Are Banned by Militaries & Police Departments
The US Coast Guard allowed beards until 1986, when Commandant Admiral Paul Yost banned them. The U.S. military also prohibited beards because they prevent a tight seal for gas masks.
The majority of police forces in the United States still ban their officers from wearing beards but Dallas PD is one of the few police departments that have recently allowed police officers to grow facial hair.
Shaving Fact #9. Shaving Your Facial Hair Does NOT Make It Grow Back Thicker
This is a common misconception.
Shaving facial hair gives the hair a blunt tip; this means it feels stubbly or coarse and may look darker but it is no thicker.
Shaving Fact #10. Beards Can't Commit Treason
Sir Thomas More was an English lawyer, philosopher, and philanthropist. In 1533 he refused to attend the coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn. This did not impress King Henry, who ordered More arrested for treason.
The court found More guilty and sentenced him to death by beheading. As More laid his head on the execution block, he told the executioner his beard had not committed a crime and should be spared his punishment, before positioning it out of the way of the executioner's ax. His beard lived on! (Although the head it was attached to was dead, so it actually died too.)
So, there we have it.
10 strange but true facts about shaving, beard and beard styles. How many did you know? Did any take you by surprise? I want to hear from you – so let me know down in the video comments. And gentlemen, if you want to know how to get a perfect shave every time with an electric razor: Learn which electric razor is best for you.
You've got the knowledge, now what about the tools?
Click below to watch the video – 10 Strange (But True) Facts About Facial Hair & Shaving