Timeline: Men and their grooming habits

Soccer star David Beckham and wife Victoria arrive at a Vogue magazine party in 2003.
(Chad Rachman / Associated Press)
Los Angeles Times

30,000 BC: Stone Age man begins using sharpened flint and seashells to scrape the hair from his body, inventing the morning shave.

1150 BC: Biblical hero Samson, whose feats of strength allegedly included slaying an entire army with the jawbone of an ass, confides to Delilah that losing his hair means losing his strength, making this perhaps the earliest recorded lament about premature baldness.

1700s: Elaborate powdered wigs — for men, not women — become an 18th century status symbol in Europe. But, contrary to popular belief, that powdered head of hair George Washington sports on the $1 bill is his own.


1888: A now-forgotten inventor from Philadelphia gives the world Mum deodorant, often cited as the world’s first commercial body odor product.

1908: Mustachioed William Howard Taft becomes the last man with facial hair to be elected president of the United States.

1921: “The Sheik” hits theaters and so does the image of Rudolph Valentino, with his slicked back hair and smoldering good looks.

1928: The slicked-back look is still popular and going to get more so with a new product, invented in England. For years thereafter, savvy men knew that “a little dab’ll do you” with Brylcreem.

1931: Schick introduces the first electric razor, meaning men can scrape off their facial hair daily, without the fuss of suds and water. The cleanshaven look is in.

1940s: Leading men tend to be suave and handsome: Think Cary Grant, Clark Gable, David Niven. But then there’s Lon Chaney Jr., the classic “Wolf Man” from the movie released in 1941, showing male grooming at its worst with unruly fur and long nails.


1950s: A new breed of movie star — Marlon Brando, James Dean — play characters who wear rumpled T-shirts, messy hair and look like they might not have taken a shower that day.

1960: John F. Kennedy is elected president, bringing a clean-cut preppy look to the White House and taking the blame for killing the custom of wearing a hat, even though men had started abandoning the practice the previous decade.

1969: Woodstock. Half a million men and women converge on a farm in upstate New York. Three days of too much rain and mud and not enough attention to personal grooming ushers in the era of the unkempt hippie.

1984: “Miami Vice” debuts, and Don Johnson helps make the permanent five o’clock shadow cool.

1990s: Kurt Cobain, the straggly-haired lead singer of Nirvana and torchbearer for the Seattle Sound, manages to reset the bar for celebrity grooming standards absurdly low.

2002: Moisturized, highlighted, sarong-sporting, nail-polish-wearing British footballer David Beckham becomes a poster child for — and inadvertently popularizes — the 8-year-old term “metrosexual,” which immediately sets advances in men’s grooming back a century.

2007: A video of presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards primping his hair paired with the song “I Feel Pretty” becomes a YouTube must-view of the campaign season.


2009: Scruffmeister Johnny Depp, whose facial hair and grooming rituals seem to be more or less permanently adopted from his Jack Sparrow persona, is named People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive for the second time.

Nov. 2, 2010: A tonsorially diverse twosome — member of the clean-pate club Jerry Brown and the lusciously locked Gavin Newsom — are elected California’s next governor and lieutenant governor respectively (neither one by a hair).