My Granddad, who died in 1998, aged 98, always wore a suit and tie and religiously shaved every day. He thought that anyone with a beard looked scruffy, so what would he make of today’s trends where there are bearded men everywhere?
Like every fashion, facial hair comes and goes. Early humans may have developed beards for camouflage or protection against the elements but, throughout history, beards have been symbolic of virility, power, wisdom and royalty.
Did you know there are over 28 different beard/moustache styles, each with specific characteristics and some with amusing names like Old Dutch, Monkey Tail or Friendly Mutton Chops?
During the early 19th century, most men were clean-shaven until the 1850s when influential men like Charles Dickens, Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln grew beards. Beards became synonymous with masculinity and courage, and until 1916 British soldiers had to have a moustache, with the burliest soldiers being placed at the front of marching columns to intimidate their enemies. Eventually Army Officer Sir Nevil Macready, who hated his moustache, repealed the order!
In the 1920s and 30s, goatees and moustaches as seen on Albert Einstein, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin were popular, whilst in the 1940s thin moustaches like Clark Gables’ were in.
The 1950s brought the clean-shaven wholesome look, until the 1960s when the hippies reigned with their beards symbolising rebelliousness and creativity. Full beards became popular amongst writers, filmmakers and revolutionaries right through the 1970s and 1980s. They were promoted by celebrities such as the Beetles and the Bee Gees, and who could forget Tom Selleck’s iconic moustache?
From the 1990s, goatees or closely clipped beards were back, followed in the early 2000s by the stubble shadow beards endorsed by actors and footballers.
In 2013, big beards emerged and, five years on, we still see young lads with huge long bushy beards, although more are now favouring neat beards with soul patches, a small strip of hair under the chin. Major companies still actively use masculine-looking bearded men for advertising their goods and services. My Grandad would be horrified!
Beards need maintenance and the Egyptians were the first civilization known to offer barbering services, although razors from around 3000BC have been found. In ancient Rome, barbers worked on the streets, as part of the hygienic reform, to cater for men who did not have slaves to shave them and, starting in the Middle Ages, barbers also served as surgeons and dentists until these professions developed separately.
In recent years, barber shops have been opening everywhere all over the world, including here in Portugal. African American barber shops are well known for being a man’s haven and for influencing cultural and economic development of the community. And with six in 10 Portuguese men having a beard, many are finding that rather than grooming at home, a trip to the barbers offers so much more.
Beards are plucked, blow-dried, straightened and even dyed. A new market for beard care products has emerged and, according to Euromonitor’s research, it is expected that the global male grooming products market will reach $60 billion by 2020. Forbes Magazine reported in July 2017 that “barbering is the fastest-growing profession in the US”, which is not surprising as the trend for beards has not abated.
Despite this, there are still certain professions and workplaces where beards are not allowed. Pedro Abel, who kindly let me photograph his hair and beard trim, had to be clean shaven in his previous job within the hotel industry and now happily sports a full beard.
I visited the amazing Barbearia de Portimão to find out more, and found myself taking a trip back in time …
History lover João Monteiro wanted to preserve a bit of Portimão’s history when he took over the premises from his octogenarian friend ‘Tio Armando’ who had been a barber there since 1956.
João invested over €10,000 in its vintage décor with antique furnishings and decorations and, with his son in law, Helder Correia, they opened in July 2017 one of the most photographed barbers in the region.
I loved the display cabinets full of original 1920s and 1930s barbers’ products. Shaving knives, creams, oils, brushes, etc, along with the antique cash register and old radio add authenticity to the shop.
Helder, who previously worked in security, happily works from 10am to 10pm, sometimes staying open later as the shop becomes a social meeting point. He enjoys his job, often suggesting to clients new styles they had not considered themselves.
“I strive for perfection and love the styling challenges and witnessing people’s pleasure at seeing their new look.”
Also displaying his barber’s skills is recently qualified Ricardo Caldeira who, from an early age, loved cutting friends’ and family hair. He likes being a barber because he loves to “change people’s appearance, giving them more confidence and making them feel more secure and attractive”.
Here men are able to relax with a pampering session which includes face cleansing, steaming, toning and moisturising. They have their beards, ears, nose and neck hairs trimmed, shaped and styled. I was fascinated to see that the work is still performed with razor knives albeit nowadays these are disposable ones. Going to this barber is a whole new experience which still retains the traditional methods.
Opposite the barbers is the Taberna de Portimão also owned by João Monteiro and equally styled with antiques and rustic décor, so that at night customers of both establishments mingle between the two, treating themselves to a new look and relaxing over traditional Portuguese tapas.
The month of November is dedicated to men’s health issues and you might see usually clean-shaven friends growing a moustache. This is because through the ‘Grow a Mo, Save a Bro’ Movember movement, started 10 years ago by 30 Australians, men are encouraged to grow a moustache during November to raise funds and awareness for men’s health issues, namely cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.
The Movember foundation is the only charity tackling men’s health on a global scale all year round, with the one goal of stopping men dying too young. They hope to reduce deaths by 25% by the year 2030 and, last year alone, they raised over 147 million dollars. The 19th is also International Men’s Day.
In Portugal, there is not yet an official organisation for the ‘Grow a Mo’, but individual companies and friends are organising their own challenges.
Beards and moustaches are a personal choice, but for all men out there it might be worth noting that modern biologists have concluded that beards still have a role to play in sexual magnetism, with studies indicating that the majority of females find men with beards more attractive!
Pogonophilia is the love of beards or bearded people and pogonophobia is the fear of beards … which one do you have?
So now you know!
By Isobel Costa
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Isobel Costa works full time and lives on a farm with a variety of pet animals! In her spare time, she enjoys photography, researching and writing.