Beards have been banned in a number of military forces in history, from Qing Dynasty China to the modern-day Indian Army (apart from Sikhs). However certain countries allow soldiers to wear beards as long as they receive authorization from a commanding officer. In the UK’s Royal Navy, for instance, the traditional formula has been to ask “Permission to grow, sir” or “Permission to stop shaving, sir.” The soldier is then granted two weeks to grow said beard. If the Master at Arms judges his beard to be too sparse or otherwise embarrassing, the lackluster facial flourish must be shorn. 1

We here at Damn Interesting are endlessly tinkering with ways to grow, and today we’d like to share our latest foray into podcastery: Damn Interesting Week. It is a new podcast hosted by our own Jennifer Lee Noonan, wherein she and a gaggle of interested parties discuss highlights from the Damn Interesting ‘Curated’ section once every half-beard. We anticipate that this podcast will be a splendid way to keep up on nifty news for folks who prefer to imbibe information auditorily. Feedback, as always, is welcome.

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1 Crucially, this has to be a “full set beard” (although lone mustaches have been permitted in other branches of the British Armed Forces). The full beard policy dates back to the 1870s, when Queen Victoria declared, “on no account should moustaches be allowed without beards. That must be clearly understood.”

The Naval Personnel Management guidelines have sought to keep up with the times. These now prohibit “designer stubble,” “scrappy” beards, long “hipster” beards, “beards taking excessive time to grow,” and facial hair worn in situations where it would limit the protection of face masks (for instance, during a chemical attack).