Over the years men’s facial hair has changed quite a bit. It was once customary for men to have bold, elaborate sideburns and mustaches that met with the fashion of the day. It’s interesting to think that in eras when electric clippers and disposable razors weren’t even around that men were experimenting so much with different shapes and styles. This is in part thanks to the barber culture that existed at the time. Men could go to the barber for a shave often as it was considered normal and even desirable. It gave men a chance to talk and was a little treat that came with colognes and aftershaves as well . Here are some of the facial hair fashions that have been popular over the past 200 years.


A clean shave with some longish sideburns was a common look in the 1820s. Long mutton chops were not yet in style.

Reverend Samuel Gilman 1820s
Via: Alvan Fisher/Wiki Commons


Mutton chops with sharp edges were considered in fashion during the 1830s. This look created lots of angles around the face when worn in combination with the starched collars, scarves, and cravats that were popular at the time.

1835 miniature of a gentleman
Via: Alfred Thomas Agate/Wiki Commons


One of the facial hair styles that was popular in the 1840s was to have a beard that was full grown under the bottom lip, but worn with no mustache.

1840s print of soldier saying goodbye
Via: J. Baillie/Library of Congress


Full beards remained somewhat popular throughout the 19th century, often with shorter mustaches and longer chin hairs.

1850s man with full beard
Via: Frederick De Bourg/Library of Congress


One of the trends for men in the 1850s was to have a beard but no mustache à la President Abraham Lincoln. Many paid homage to him after his death in portraits, cards, and even by mimicking his facial hair. This style was known as the chinstrap, though today’s versions are often quite a bit thinner in width.

Abraham Lincoln 1863
Via: Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress


One very interesting facial hair trend was for the joining of mutton chops with one’s mustache. This fellow has this style, sans chin hair, for wavy effect. The penchant for mutton chops -with or without other facial hair- went on until the 1890s.

1860s man with facial hair
Via: Online Archives of California


In the 1880s and beyond men were letting their mutton chops grow to luxurious lengths. It was not an uncommon sight to see flowing sideburn hair sprouting from each side of the face.

1880s man with facial hair
Via: Massachusetts Collections Online


In the 1890s many men wore just a mustache and this trend continued into the 1910s. Because it was the only facial hair on some it was grown out to longer lengths than most would go for today. Short, pointed beards were also in fashion during this decade.

1890s man with mustache and big hat
Via: Alvan S. Harper/State Archives of Florida


In the first decade of the 20th century the mustache was still going strong and longer lengths were favored in homage to President William Howard Taft.

men with mustaches circa 1900
Via: Boston Public Library/Unsplash


The use of mustard gas during World War I necessitated that soldiers wears gas masks. In order to get a good fit on the masks, all facial hair was banished from the armed forces. Many men got used to shaving everyday and many women got used to the feel of a clean shaven face.

clean cut wwi soldier
Via: M. Sériers/Library of Congress


Many male film stars of the day had no facial hair and thus the rise of the leading man was largely smooth. Rudolph Valentino set women’s hearts aflutter and was almost never seen with facial hair. When he did grow some his fans railed against this wildly unpopular look.

Rudolph Valentino holding a pipe
Via: Library of Congress


During the 1930s the toothbrush mustache was worn by many men, among them the most notorious in the world: Adolf Hitler. The style had been worn for decades beforehand by comedy film stars, Oliver Hardy and Charlie Chaplin. The latter of these two starred in a The Great Dictator, which satirized the brutal ideologies of the German leader.

Charlie Chaplin Great Dictator
Via: Charles Chaplin Film Corporation/Wiki Commons


With World War II raging on and military service the reality for most men clean shaven was the style that dominated this decade. However the pencil mustache, a thin and short affair that was somewhat distanced from the toothbrush mustache, was very en vogue for the hip crowd.

1940s soldiers with thin mustaches
Via: U.S. Office of War Information


Most men still went clean shaved everyday, but only a very few ventured into the realms of facial hair. During the 1940s when military service made facial less popular and that trend spilled over into the 1950s.

1950s family at Christmas
Via: Boston Public Library/Unsplash


President John F. Kennedy never wore facial hair, as was the norm at the time. But, there was a growing movement towards the Van Dyke and the soul patch, each of which signaled to the world that you were one cool cat. While other members of the Rat Pack didn’t wear facial hair, Sammy Davis, Jr. was one to play a bit more with the trends.

Sammy Davis Jr. 1966
Via: NBC/Wiki Commons


The wild and carefree ethos of the late 1960s bled into the next decade as many people decided to grow their hair long, shun formal clothes, and even young men began to wear beards again.

1970s couple walking hand in hand
Via: Donal Emmerich/US National Archives


Tom Selleck’s epic mustache influenced a generation of men to sport thick mustaches, though younger gents often went clean shaven.

Tom Selleck 1989
Via: Alan Light/Flickr


During the ’90s goatees were popular, particularly skinny ones with matching skinny mustaches.

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the scruffy look was in during the first decade of the 21st century, with overgrown 5 o’clock shadows that were barely beards being worn by many a man.

2005 Simon Pegg
Via: Paul Ewen/Flickr


The 2010s saw the rise of the man bun, which was often paired with lumberjack style. The best thing to go with both? A beard of course!

man with beard putting his hair into a bun
Via: Tim Mossholder/Unsplash


Beards and mustaches have made a big comeback, with some men rocking both to great effect. Products like beard oil and mustache wax have become popular in the world of facial hair as a self-pampering routine akin to the barbershop days of old.

2020s man with beard and mustache
Via: Tim Snuderl/Unsplash