Epic Beards

In case you hadn’t noticed, the beard has come full circle and is back in vogue again. And not just the well-trimmed, stubble, well-groomed, conservative facial hair, or an elegant goatee – we’re talking about fully-grown, full-on Old Testament epic beards.

Not everyone can grow a spectacular beard. Some guys’ facial hair won’t cooperate and ends up looking wiry and scraggly instead of long and flowing. Other guys have hair on their cheeks and jaw that’s just too sparse to ever come in fully, and they end up with a beard that’s patchy or generally just not something that’s too enviable.

If you’re thinking about cultivating a big manly beard, experts are recommending using a straight razor and biotin to help the beard along (and no, it doesn’t help with baldness). It’s also advisable to keep it trimmed around the throat and cheeks and treat it regularly with a beard oil product that can help keep it manageable and soft. Now, for ten of the most epic beards:

Here’s a Rundown of Our 10 Epic Beards

1. Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill

ZZ Top was formed in 1969, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that two of the members started to grow their trademark epic beards. Today, it’s hard to imagine them playing without those chest-length beards getting in the way of their guitars.

In the mid-80s, Gillette offered them a million dollars apiece to get rid of those beards with single blade razor, and the answer was a firm, hard, unequivocal no. Gibbons has said that even adjusted for inflation, he still would make the same call today and never regretted turning down that offer. Ironically, the one member of the band who doesn’t have a beard is…Frank Beard.

2. Confucius

Yes, Confucius was the most renowned political theorist, teacher, and philosopher of ancient China.

His philosophies were timeless and are still referred to today. Yes, he helped shape the civilization of East Asia, and it’s hard to imagine an image of a clean-shaven Confucius without that splendid beard.

3. Karl Marx

Love him or hate him, you gotta admit that Karl Marx had one heck of a wooly, impressive 19th-century beard.

You can’t be the father of socialism without one, apparently, and beards were a pretty common style among many leading cultural figures and statesmen of the time.

4. Friedrich Engels

Engels and Marx were apparently kindred spirits, as they both co-founded Marxist theory and collaborated on socialism.

Engels edited Marx’s Das Kapital and personally wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England, and the two had another thing in common – spectacular facial hair. Did Marx and Engels get together and compare notes on beard trimming and facial hair care? We’ll never know.

5. Charles Darwin 

Yes, he had a heck of a beard. Yes, he was the father of evolutionary theory and science. And yes, his book The Descent of Man hypothesized that there was a tie-in between the process of sexual selection and the retention of epic beards as an evolutionary trait in man.

6. Johannes Brahms 

One of the most beloved composers and pianists to come from Germany, Brahms had a truly stupendous beard and mustache, making him a good avatar for his time.

7. Rasputin 

8. Abraham Lincoln 

Dark and mysterious, Rasputin was a holy man and mystic who was one of the key figures in the history of Russia (and was notoriously hard to kill). His long and scraggly beard, even to this day, is one of the things he’s still remembered for.

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president. Yes, he freed the slaves. He presided over the country during the Civil War and died tragically by an assassin’s bullet.

But apart from all that, “Honest Abe” had one of the most epic beards of all time. He also had the beard-and-no-mustache look that’s still referred to as an “Abe Lincoln beard.”

FUN FACT: He was the first president to have a beard. And after Lincoln, every president except Andrew Johnson and McKinley had a beard or mustache, at least until Wilson was elected in the early 20th century.

9. Fidel Castro

Yes, he was the revolutionary who seized power in Cuba after the fall of the Batista regime. Yes, he was Prime Minister from ’59 to ’76 and was then president from ’76 to ’08. And yes, Castro’s beard was key to his identity.

FUN FACT: one of the CIA’s attempts to discredit Castro involved dusting his shoes with a thallium salt, which would act as a powerful depilatory to make his beard fall out.

10. Epic Beards Trivia

In the 19th century, epic beards weren’t just fashionable or thought of as a sign of virility. They were sometimes prescribed by doctors as a “filter” for air and as a natural remedy for sore throats or asthma.

A thick beard, it was supposed, would filter out contaminants before they could make their way into the lungs and body. Whether there was anything to that or not, epic beards soon caught on as a manly accouterment.

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