Male grooming

Let’s get creative!


With 2012 now in full swing, many of you may have resolved to start experimenting with your grooming routine, but have you ever stopped to consider how this relates to the rest of you, and how making a bit more effort into your grooming routine says a lot about you?

In our previous blog ‘Faceless Politics’, we pointed out that your grooming choices can say a lot about you and can influence the way people think of you.

Particularly in the past, facial hair was a deciding factor as to your class, religion or occupation. It is a modern notion that we have come to accept as normal that we have a choice as to how we present our facial hair. Our resident grooming expert Dr Allan Peterkin is here to help you appreciate the freedom you have to express yourself by looking at the history of male grooming.


A history of beards

Beards arrive uninvited at puberty marking a celebrated progression into manhood, but whether they are permitted or even obliged to grow has, until the 20th century, been determined by class, religious beliefs, community, precedent, and occupational status. The ancient Egyptians, for instance, viewed hairlessness as an indication of divinity. Only the poor manifested any signs of scruffiness, but that didn’t prevent the upper crust from putting on fake beards when the occasion called for it. Periodically in European history, beards were taxed and forcibly removed if one were not upper class or spiritual enough to support one.

Over the span of 5,000 years, chin growths have been purchased, elaborately adorned, dyed, and even deracinated as a form of torture.The variety of combinations of mustaches, sideburns, soul patches and beards are virtually endless, as worn by modern men of all classes and ages and social afflictions. Not since the Victorian times have male faces been so adorned.*


Appreciating our grooming options

As Dr. Peterkin illustrates, the flexibility we are used to today when it comes to how we choose to groom our body hair is a modern phenomenon and one we should not pass over lightly, instead we should embrace the options available to us and express our personality through our grooming choices.

Do you put enough time and effort into how you present yourself through your grooming routine?

*Reprinted with permission from the book One Thousand Beards: A Cultural History of Facial Hair by Allan Peterkin (Arsenal Pulp Press)