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Sideburns are a bit like marmite – you either love them or hate them. Throughout the hairy history of sideburns, there have been booms and lulls in their popularity. They are currently favoured by some, as part of the hipster look, but where did this facial hair fashion come from?

In the beginning…

While sideburns have been around since at least 100BC (one of the earliest known appearances is on a mosaic of Alexander the Great) they didn’t gain their name until the late 19th century. Sideburns were named after politician, businessman, and Union Army General, Ambrose Burnside, who sported mutton chop sideburns with a moustache and a clean shaven chin. We can see why his look started the trend!

A close shave

In 1901, the disposable razor was introduced and shaving became cheap and easy. Previously, it had been a big effort to shave with a cut throat razor and having sideburns reduced the amount of shaving required. The disposable razor sparked a fashion for being clean shaven and sideburn popularity diminished. During World War One, sideburns also fell out of favour as they prevented the effective use of early gas masks.

Sideburns for sport and stardom

After 1945, sideburns made a comeback with pop stars such as Elvis Presley and footballer, George Best, popularising sideburns as a fashion statement and making them cool again.

The sideburn revolution

Teddy boys in the late 50s and 1960s had a distinctive appearance which often included sideburns. This statement was a break from the respectable, clean shaven culture of previous years and served as a symbol of rebellion.

The return of the burn?

Sideburns have remained something of a retro style during the past few decades but they are currently experiencing a return to popularity. Cyclist, Bradley Wiggins, brought sideburns back into the public eye and hipsters have also embraced the facial fashion. Can’t grow sideburns? Stick on ones are readily available!

Would you ever experiment with sideburns or are you already sporting this look? Let us know over on Facebook or Twitter!


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