According to med historian Dr Alun Withey, there were two reasons why men were growing beards with a vengeance by the mid-Victorian period. One had to do with its close association with manliness.
The second reason was that the medical benefits that came with it. Now, now, this sounds vaguely ridiculous, but actually seems to make sense as it apparently help to combat the ill effects of air pollution by keeping the air particles out. ‘A thick beard, it was reasoned, would capture the impurities before they could get inside the body,’ he wrote. Wow, who would have thought?